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Archive for November, 2011


Kit & George Harrison wrote in their book “The Birds of Winter” “that pigeons and doves are not really gallinaceous (chicken like) birds. They are plump birds with short necks, small heads, and short bills that are ideal for pecking at seeds, which account for 98 percent of their diet. Strong fliers, they can evade predators on the wing. The fact that they are gregarious and are often found in large flocks in winter is undoubtedly a survival tactic to facilitate finding food and cover and to avoid predation.”

The majority of us might recognize them as pigeons or pests, with black, grey and sometimes even white feathers but to me the rock doves are an awesome bird and a very enjoyable small game hunt, gregarious and evasive indeed.

What I really like about rock dove hunting is that it’s open all year round in Quebec under small game and it can be a really fun and a challenging sport. It involves careful still-hunting, great stalking skills and also approach tactics when dealing with your advance to your shot.

Sometimes, I find myself at my friend’s farm hunting duck, grouse or even snowshoe hare but either the weather is not cooperating or other negative factors can affect my choice of game, such as large farming equipment or dogs making noise. One thing I can always count on as a backup activity is rock dove hunting. Easily scared off, they will often fly away for twenty minutes or more but they will always come back.

At the farm, they will normally stay close to a barn where their nests are located and then they will fly around feeding on seeds near the cattle. For my approach, I like to pretend that I am going about my normal business chatting with the farmer or just walking around, actually what I am trying to do is place myself strategically for my advance to my shooting spot. Just like crows, they are watching you and they see very well. Once they burst into flight, it takes a skilled shot gunner to get a confirmed harvest as they are extremely quick and almost seem to dance around your shot.

I find that one rock dove is plenty of meat for one meal with an average size of 11 to 13 inches but with several rock doves you can make very nice dishes such as: Salmis De Pigeons. I have included a picture of a rock dove that I field dressed for supper.

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Allan A Macfarlan writes the following under Indian Hunting Secrets with concerns to reading tracks and foreseeing animal moves. Page 205. Survival Wisdom & Know-How.

After a boy or a man has taken a fair share squirrels and rabbits and has scored on a few deer as a lone stillhunter, he begins to develop something akin to the skill of an Indian hunter or frontiersman. He starts doing the right thing at the right time without thinking too much. That type of skill can’t be learned from any book, but there are some useful things that a book can point out.

The tracks in this book appear on the page as they would in soft snow, damp sand, or mud, though clear prints are rare on the leaf-strewn forest floor or on hard, dry ground. The experienced tracker going into a new region seeks out likely areas where he can clear prints in order to take his own census of the animals in the area. Good trappers are expert at it, and Indians hunters were good too. The trapper doesn’t think in terms of exact number, but somehow, the tracks that he finds tell him whether or not there are enough pelts in the area to make running a trapline there worthwhile.

I wanted to share this excerpt with you because this is the kind of writing and knowledge that needs to become part of you as a hunter. This book compiled by Amy Rost is a true prize. I will also include one of the many tracking tips from Mr. Macfarlan:

Changing the Angle of Vision:
The light is very important because of the shadows it throws. From one angle, the tracks may be almost invisible unless you look closely. From another angle with favorable light, the line of slight depressions or disturbed earth or leaves is clear because or leaves is clear because of the shadows that they cast. If tracks fade or disappear, try the Indian trick of moving from side to side to get the light right.

These pictures are identical with different light, notice how the hoof mark in the top or darker image is more visible.

Survival Wisdom & Know-How: Everything You Need to Know to Thrive in the Wilderness. From the Editors of Stackpole Books. Compiled by Amy Rost.

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Several hours had passed now and I was still tucked away between three trees on top of a ridge of rock overlooking a clearing to my left, a swamp directly to my front and dense brush to my right mixed with pine, cedar, birch and various other trees, very soon it was going to be time to start heading back to the motor boat before it got too dark.

The wind would pick up; brush along the forest ceiling and create a ghostly sound right above me and then a few branches would crack and you kept as still as possible just in case a buck came out within shooting range for the last few minutes of daylight. I know that deer are intelligent enough to move only when the sound of the breeze covers the sound made by their steps especially in the dry autumn leaves and twigs.

Last year in my tree stand I turned my head for a second while the wind was blowing and when I looked toward my shooting spot, a doe was standing there as if she had dropped out of the sky, unfortunately for me I did not have a doe tag.

The red squirrel in the tree nearby kept me company and was busy rustling through the leaves and would call out if something moved. The blue jays also sang as they foraged through the forest floor and then flew away hastily to the nearest tree offering just enough height to keep them away from the danger below.

I could now hear more branches cracking on my left about one hundred yards out and it was getting louder and then I saw a bright orange square, which turned out to be a hunting vest. It was one of my hunting partners and he had been scouring through the eastern ridge all afternoon to see if he could still-hunt a trophy buck.

If you are a composed, experienced hunter and not an eager beaver full of piss and vinegar bouncing with nerves, you can make out another hunter pretty easily and the orange vest is really visible. I slowly unloaded my rifle and then made my way down the ridge where we met up and then started to make our way back to the boat. He was in the lead and with fifteen yards between us; we were scanning the whole way back looking for any sign of white-tailed deer.

The country was breath-taking with steep ridges, mixed and pine forests, sometimes the trees were quite far apart and the forest floor was littered with timber wolf scat, deer scrapes and droppings. It was without a doubt one of my favorite hunting areas and heaven for any outdoorsman/woman. This land was magical, and comparable to the forest scenery from the movie “Lord of the Rings”.

Once our gear was all packed up in the motor boat, we took our twenty-minute boat ride back to the truck, leaving the dark forest behind us and then drove another forty minutes or so through winding dirt roads back to the hunting camp. We were going to be spoiled after having spent an awesome day in the bush; we now had a delicious warm supper waiting for us that had been cooking in the Crock Pot. One of the guys had prepared some black bear that we ate with fries and melted cheese curds and gravy.

After having spent a couple of hours at the dining table and playing darts, sharing stories and laughter, we all jumped in our beds and went to sleep fairly early because we were going to have yet another early rise.

The alarm rang for five and by six we were all up and ready to go, breakfast and all. The radio was turned on and we were listening for the days forecast. It was snowing and we had a strong westerly wind blowing across the lake with the temperature at minus one degree Celsius. We thought that the water would be a little too rough at the bigger lake to use the boat in order to get across to our hunting grounds, so we decided to go duck hunting instead in the morning.

Because deer season was still on, we wanted to stay clear of the farmer fields and nearby forests, so we chose to hit the narrow river crossing with the canoe. The only problem was that we had left the motor boat at the other spot along with the paddles. But this was not going to deter avid duck hunters like us. The river crossing was not very wide and we only wanted to make our way to the island in the middle. This was prime duck property. So, we loaded up the canoe on the trailer with our boat safety jackets and made our way to our drop off spot and we each had our own shovels as paddles. It worked like a charm but I would not recommend it for anyone who does not have experience with Canadian canoes and no white water skills. Within the hour we had harvested two common mergansers and one mallard. We were proud shovelers but not the duck!

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