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Archive for February, 2011


The term furred game can be used to describe an animal that you may hunt and it could be as large as a deer or as small a squirrel. The fact remains that this type of example can be found throughout several online articles and books written about furred game. In a sense they are the same; both are considered wild game and each of them have fur.

Yet we know that this is not entirely true and that we can easily identify their definite differences and not just by noticing the group of species they belong to or their sizes, but there is more.

In the world of small game or varmint hunting, their differences can also be in the lengths of the season, which tend to be much longer than big game or turkey. Small game seasons are also not limited to only a few weeks in the fall. For example some varmints may be hunted all year round. Now concerning bag limits, unlike Cervidae hunting, which only allows for one tag per year or two tags on the Island of Anticosti similar to that of Caribou hunting. Small game bag limits amounts will vary but will always be greater compared to that of big game hunting.

These are only some of the reasons why I consider small game hunting such an enjoyable pass time: Longer seasons, more choice of game and different bag limits. I wanted to take the time and provide you with the province of Quebec ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP)and link to the page for hunting periods and bag limits with concerned to small game hunting and then also list the species of furred game below.

It is also important to take note of the gear allowed to be used for the respective game, and know the hunting zones where hunting is permitted for a specific game, as well as the season dates.

Furred Game: (Specific to Quebec)
Eastern Cottontail
Arctic Hare
Snowshoe Hare
Coyote
Wolf
Woodchuck
Raccoon
Silver Fox
Crossed Fox
Red Fox

Feathered Game: (Specific to Quebec)
Ruffed grouse
Spruce grouse
Sharp-tailed grouse
Gray partridge
Rock ptarmigan
Willow ptarmigan
Red-winged blackbird
American crow
European starling
House sparrow
Common grackle
Brown headed cowbird
Rock dove
Quail
Northern bobwhite
Pheasant
Francolin
Rock partridge
Chukar partridge
Red legged partridge
Guinea fowl

Migratory birds (Feathered):

With concerns to Migratory Birds make sure you check out the Migratory Birds Hunting Regulations. I have placed the link for all provinces and territories for 2016 year to provide you with an example of the layout and content. I have also listed some of the birds below:

Ducks (other than Harlequins Ducks)
Woodcock and Snipe WATERFOWLER HERITAGE DAYS Ducks (other than Eiders, Harlequin Ducks, and Long tailed Ducks)
Geese (other than Canada Geese, Cackling Geese and Snow Geese)
Snipe Canada
Geese and Cackling Geese Eiders
Long–tailed Ducks
Coots
Moorhens Woodcock

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Opening in the Woods

Opening in the Woods

Every inch forward was laborious as I slowly lifted up my legs readying them for the next step; my boots were cutting through the thin crust of snow and then systematically sinking to the depths of my knees. I could feel my heart racing and my breathing was getting heavier, not only from the fatigue but also because of the excitement of tracking a fresh hare lead that was shadowed by a coyote and that of a grouse. After having made my way up the dirt road going west for about thirty yards, I turned to my right, walked up the ditch and headed north onto the western farm field along the edge of woods.

Experience had taught me that it was much easier to stay close to the base of the trees because the snow was not as deep and more compacted thus making easier to walk. Unfortunately for me I was not as light as the hare or coyote and on this particular day I did not pack my snowshoes as part of my kit. So it was slow-moving, which was ideal because you do not want to plow through the woods or the hares would rush ahead and the white ghost would live up to its name.

I followed the first hare lead I found until it wandered off to my left, for that particular moment I was more interested in the coyote tracks, which seemed to be that of a large male and they were bunched together close to the tracks of a grouse. I carefully followed both tracks for about twenty yards and as I got to a large pine tree, I noticed the coyote tracks had stopped, so did the grouses but there were also ten scratch marks in the snow in groups of five. It was like someone had spread their fingers and dragged them through the snow. It was clear to me that this was the spot where the grouse lifted off, because only a short distance away as I continued to follow the coyote tracks I was suddenly startled by the grouse, which took off only a few feet in front of me heading deeper in the woods.

The temperature was fifteen below zero and there was a cold north-westerly wind that chilled the air. Once in a while my shooting glasses would fog up and I needed to stop then clear them before I could follow the leads again. A couple of hours had passed and I was still on the western side of Goose Lake and in just a few more hours it was going to be lunch time. I started to make my way back to the car following two more leads in an out of the cedar and pine, leading up over a very high ridge.

I wanted to take a much-needed break and so I chose the strange-looking tree at the top of the ridge on the western side. I found the dead tree standing in the middle of the ridge surrounded by small bushes, tall grass and deadfall. Its trunk was dark brown and all the bark was stripped off, the branches had fallen around it forming a natural wooden cage.
It was quite unusual to see wood naturally fall like this creating similar shapes to that of mangled barbed wire. It reminded me of the scene from the movie “The Edge” when the bear was chasing Charles Morse (Anthony Hopkins) through the woods and the actor was able to jump into a similar pile of wood and seek shelter without being reached.

Some of the branches were held up at a forty-five degree angle and big enough to walk on, with the upper part still connected to the tree. So, I went up one of the larger branches and stood two meters off the ground. I had a full view of the south-east and western side of the area and I was scanning the area looking for any small game activity.

I stood there for about fifteen minutes, just listening and watching over the vast area and for that moment I felt a great sense of high and freedom being so high off the ground and feeling the elements all around me. Here I was in the dead of winter, alone, surrounded by wilderness and I was being absorbed by it all.

The land owner had told me that this particular male coyote was posing a threat to his three new calves. Not only this, I had been badgered by the very same one a few weeks prior with my hare I had snared.

Therefore he had asked me to help with this endeavor. I gladly accepted as I had just purchased a new three caller kit from “Quaker Boy” and was anxious to try it out. I know he was around because I had seen his fresh tracks all morning on both sides of Goose Lake.

When I got back to the sand quarry, I setup on one of the highest knolls and sprayed some synthetic rabbit urine and let out some distress calls and then various coyote calls. After about an hour of on and off calling, I decided to continue my chase for the elusive white ghost.

On the north-eastern side of the farm there is an old barn that is surrounded by dense woods and by its entrance there were old washing machines and snow blowers and various machine parts. This is heaven for rabbits and hare and I remember reading about this in one of my books. So I found a fresh lead and followed it in and out of the woods and the old machinery.

This was becoming fun and after having had lunch and a short break, I was now ready to actively chase again. This lead and its tracks were very fresh and for the first time in a while, I had a very strange feeling come over me, it was kind of like some form of energy, hunter intuition that surrounded me like I knew this lead was not dry but there was something for sure nearby if not at its end.

The chase was on and this lead was making me work hard, it eventually came up to the road heading north on the eastern side of Goose lake, I found two more leads, one going north and the other south. So, I slowly walked through an opening in the woods towards the lake and then headed south to the quarry.

Earlier in the year during the month of October, I had seen a mound that was about sixty feet long at the edge of the woods facing south and on the side facing the woods there was a series of hollow openings offering great shelter for small game. I had also noticed droppings and urine stains plus well-travelled leads. That particular area was filled with low cedar and it was very dark inside and I knew that it could be promising habitat.

So this time around, I began to scan very slowly to my left as I was walking by the cedar and this is when I spotted the black shiny eye. There wasn’t a sound just this very still Canadian snowshoe hare looking right at me in his freeze pose. There was no doubt that he was well hidden behind this natural screen of cedar leaves and branches. He was as white as the snow in his background with only a touch of grey on the top of his hind legs.
 
We made instant eye contact and yet neither of us moved, then I re-adjusted my eyes quickly and focused on him again. This time the rest of his silhouette was now clear. I only had a few seconds to react. I quickly raised my 870 and in one single motion unlocked the safety and fired a clean single shot.
 
The leaves and branches of the cedar shield disintegrated and when the snow settled my harvest was confirmed.

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Snowshoe Hare Stew

Ingredients: (Serves 6)
1 Snowshoe Hare cut in pieces (Marinated in a coarse red wine overnight)
6 Carrots cut into pieces
6 Medium sized potatoes peeled and cut in pieces
5 Slices of bacon
15 Sliced Mushrooms
1 Minced onion
3 Cloves of garlic
3 Bay leaves
3 Cloves

Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven at 350 Fahrenheit
2. Cook onion in canola oil until translucent then add the pieces of hare to sear until brown.
3. Put the hare pieces in a cast iron roasting pot with the garlic and onions.
4. Add carrots and potatoes to the cast iron roasting pot.
5. Brown bacon with mushroom slices, and then add them to the pot.
6. Add Bay leaves and cloves to the pot also and mix everything together.
7. Add two cups of the same wine used to marinate the meat.
8. Cook in the oven for two and half hours.

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2 Hounds and Bear

I wanted to thank the author Olaus J. Murie and everyone who assisted him in producing this great book from the “Peterson Field Guide Series” on animal tracks. It has now joined the rest of the books I have read on my OKB page, which I consider to be a digital treasure shelf.

I also wanted to include a quote that Olaus put in his book by Henry David Thoreau: “If I were to make a study of the tracks of animals and represent them by plates, I should conclude with the tracks of man.” Now I am pretty sure what he meant as a philosopher, was indeed his interpretation of the evolution of man. I wanted to share this quote from the book because as a tracker it is important to have an open mind, add some flavor of philosophy and abstract thinking to your skill.

Tracks are signs of life and confirm the presence of a species in its respective geographic area, basically its habitat. Animal tracks ignite a curiosity in all of us, and as a hunter it does for me even if it means that sometimes I may not harvest even though I have found a set of tracks. It is the joys of constant learning!

Droppings, tracks, scrapping on trees, small nibbling off a bush all tell a story. My belief is that a good tracker can piece together clues and then interpret actual events and if you are also a good hunter ultimately you could potentially find the game that you are pursuing.

So when hunters type the following key words in a search engine “Small Game Tracks” what is it they are looking for? Technical information or the philosophy behind tracking? If this question can be answered but also be understood, then they may start the hunt following animal tracks and conclude the hunt with the tracks of man.

Check out my Photo Gallery page for my growing collection of animal tracks and droppings.

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Remington 12

Choosing the right shotgun ammunition for small game hunting is not only a very important choice for a potential harvest but also for your safety.

Whether you own a combo gun, 12, 16, 20, 28 or a 410 shotgun it is very important to choose the right shell length specific to your shotgun. Shotgun shell lengths, shot size, chokes as well as the gauge are all a must know before you purchase ammunition.

It is not necessary to become an expert in the subject because there are always professionals on hand to assist you in the stores during your purchase. But it is advantageous to be informed, so that you make a safe and experienced choice.

The firearm I use the most for small game hunting is my 12 gauge pump-action Remington 870 Express, which shoots 2 3/4 & 3 inch shells and has a five shot capacity.

Familiarize yourselves on shotgun choke types because understanding the patterning and shot concentration over specific distances will have a direct impact on the type of shot you wish to achieve. After all, a one shot harvest is what we all wish to achieve. Insuring a tight pattern once the pellets leave the barrel is one of the responsibilities of the choke. The website “Shotgunworks.com” is great source for this information.

When I choose shotgun shells for my small game hunts, there are several points that I take into consideration. Below I have listed a few:

-Use the right shotgun shell lengths based on your gun’s specifications and design.
-Consult Federal and Provincial regulations, for example where I live in Quebec there is a specific page on the ministries website that provides the acceptable shot dimensions to be used for small game:

-Know and understand shot sizes and their standards. This can mean being able to recognize your game after a shot and actually being able to enjoy a nice meal.
-Consult your local hunting store pro’s, talk with other hunters, and join web forums, read books. These are all great ways to find out about new types of available shot and get expert advise.
-Consider ethics and the environment, with concerns to avoiding unnecessary suffering of the game and also doing your part in maintaining a healthy environment by avoiding the use of lead shot.

One of the books that is listed on my OKB page is the “Shooter’s Bible” and it is a great reference moreover on page 498 of the #89, 1998 edition there is a detailed “Shotshell Game Guide” by Winchester. Other similar tables can be found on the Internet.

The following Wikipedia page provides tables and good explanations for “Shotshell guide” you can find a similar tables that provides a list of game, shell shot size, chokes and gauges.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shotgun_shell

Standard shot sizes tables are another great tool, they show the shot number using black circles in varying sizes and are very informative; they often incorporate the shot pattern over a specific distance. I find these very handy because it shows you the distance of the shot using a drawing in a shape of a cone or bar graph and provides you with the effective distance to get a confirm harvest shot. These shot numbers are: 9, 8, 71/2, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1, BB, BBB, and T.

Safe hunting and wish you all great shots.

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