Archive for July, 2013

Its large horizontal branches were a safe haven for the crows and pigeons of the farm; it was a majestic tree standing taller than the evergreen and poplar trees which stood by its side. It was a prominent mark in the landscape, a true symbol of the natural beauty and grandeur which surrounded me on my many hunting trips, with its height of over thirty meters it helped me countless times to find my way out of the snowy wilderness.

Just a fortnight ago we were hit with an extremely powerful storm which passed through the region and tore down trees and power lines leaving thousands without electricity.

The winds were so strong they seemed to have turned in an inward direction from the open fields then curled right into the tree line at the farm and ripped several large trees completely out of the ground.

Their roots which were now exposed formed dark mud caves and new habitat for wildlife and the downed trees would become firewood for the local farmers.

The landscape had changed indeed and the wilderness which is very much a part of my being had left me with a deep feeling of emptiness, the storm had taken our dead tree.

Silly? Perhaps, however to the true hunters we know that we are very much part of this wilderness which surrounds us and we are all constantly reminded to respect it and to adapt to our natural environment all the while enjoying its beauty for it is the home of our wonderful wildlife.

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She flew gracefully over the water as she headed to my right, all the while letting out a screeching call. It was clear to me that she was drawing me away from her nest, where the red wing male had just landed seconds ago then disappearing into the brush at ground level near the edge of the fresh water creek. It wasn’t a straight flight climb either across the sky like a duck; it was almost like she was rolling over small slopes going up and down until she chose the appropriate tree branch to land on.

The water was cold and fast flowing to the east. Also the part of the creek where I stood was quite wide and made for a difficult crossing. I had been trying for about half an hour or so to get into a good shooting position for a harvest.

I was on my third try of doing some back and forth along the shoreline for about twenty yards in an attempt to flush out two of the red-winged blackbird males. Now on my knees, hidden behind some tall grass, I tried to get as low as I could to enable me to use the vegetation as cover but it was difficult to pivot in the damp mud.

This is when I looked up and saw one of the blackbirds land in front on a small tree directly across from my position.

I quietly loaded a shell directly into the Winchester 97 chamber through the ejection port and ran the action forward cocking the gun readying my shot. His movements were rushed and sharp as he called out frequently, very loud chirpy call. Like he was saying “Whooooo Weeeeeeee.” It sounded like it was practically rattling its tongue at the end of the distinct blackbird call. Some describe it as the following: conk-la-ree!

He could sense that something was not right; he had the same behavior that common house sparrows display when a cat comes to close to their feeder.

I brought up my body from behind the grass about at the height of the vegetation tip, slowly keeping my barrel directly on the bird; aligned my bead sight with the bird, then lowered the bead sight half way, controlled my breathing and released my shot.

It was my first harvest this season and a very challenging hunt indeed.

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