Archive for November, 2013

It Exists

The snow was not very deep only coming up half way up my shin-bones. My socks were soaked with sweat and both had slipped down further into my boots. My leg hairs on the front were getting ripped out with my skin irritated from the rubbing of the lips of my boots with laces that were also soaked.

I was breathing heavy from all the pushing forward in the snow and I took a much-needed rest. It was the middle of the month of March and I had been tracking snow shoe hare leads while attempting to harvest the illusive varying hare.

Two hours had passed since the beginning of my hunt as I was moving in and out of snow-covered pine and cedar trees chasing my quarry. There was no shortage of coyote tracks along with fresh droppings and I knew there was more than one dog because coyotes normally form groups when hunting.

When I am out alone in the woods, especially during the winter, I try not to allow my fear or imagination to run wild concerning wolves, bears and coyotes. My awareness and respect for nature work as a guides and allows me to push a little further, deeper into the wilderness but I am not reckless.

By mid afternoon the snowy woods had become an incredible wilderness scene worthy of a painting but the shadows between and under the evergreen were getting darker. Now that I was rested, I continued my push deeper into the woods and there I found more coyote tracks with fresh urine, droppings and under a pine tree to my left or north, I found a cow skull with bits of flesh left on the cheek bones.

I stopped in my tracks, looked around and very carefully looking through the condensation of my breath. I was overcome by a very strong sense and deep within my gut telling me to stop and turn back toward the farm.

In front of me there was a wall of evergreen which separated me from the trees was an old farming fence composed of rotten wooden posts and wire. Behind the trees was total darkness, I could feel something almost like eyes were staring at me but I could not see a thing. I pumped the action of my 870 and loaded a shell into the chamber and pushed the safety on and brought the shotgun butt into my shoulder and completed a half a circle scan and then slowly moved backward and headed back to the farm.

That day I never fired a shot nor did I harvest a hare but I know to this day that I was not alone out there. There was an energy, aura of a sort and knew that it time to leave the wilderness for the day.

We are living creatures and I know that we give off energy and other animals can sense it and we can in hand sense them. The Mayans are known to have harnessed this knowledge in aiding them to hunt deer.

R.D Lawrence writes the following in his book: Paddy, Chapter 2, page 46. “Wild things, especially young ones, are acutely sensitive to mood and are able to pick up “sense waves” from that aura which, like some intangible breeze, seems to be given off by all living creatures. This is a phenomenon of life that defies comprehension at this stage of human enlightenment, but it does, nevertheless, exist-of this I am sure.”

I too know it exists.

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The pigeons flew in very fast over head from the south in a flock of seven or more, circling around and breaking apart into smaller teams of two or three and then eventually the lead bird flying ahead for a few seconds, playing in the winds, maneuvering with skill and grace.

They wanted to land in the mud filled with corn but they were hesitant after spotting my truck with the canoe strapped to its roof and I had just opened the driver’s side door. This sent them even higher into a panicked flight, circling two more times near the southern barns before setting off to the east and over the tree line.

I would have to wait now a few minutes for them to come back and attempt to harvest a few. So, I jumped out of my seat and began unpacking my kit for the morning hunt and laying it out neatly on the tailgate.

I reached into my backpack and took out my new Tasco binoculars which I had purchased just a week ago at SAIL. I brought them up and focused in on the low ground and open fields near the creek to the south. The cold air and winds were in my favor today but there were no geese down in the low ground near the creek, this was their usual spot, but I did hear a few of them call out from above but were too high for a shot.

I continued scanning the ground and I immediately noticed the ripples in the water close to where the cattle cross the creek and there were three mallards dabbling in the water.

My initial plan for the day was to try for pigeon and then check out the open areas south of the third barn near the creek and look for woodcock, duck or geese. Now that I spotted the three mallards, two drakes and one hen, I knew that I had the time needed to come up with a plan of approach as long as something did not scare or alert the birds.

I zipped up my jacket, put on my balaclava and then loaded three shells into my Remington 870 and stood still for a few minutes looking at my two approach options, either coming in from the west from the low ground in behind the third barn and potential harvest a duck from the western corner of the barn. Maybe… I thought, but a few weeks ago, I got stuck in this same situation and the geese spotted me and flew away and had plenty of time to put some distance between me and them. There was too much open ground to cover for this choice.

So I chose to come in from the east and run up the shrub line along the creek and move my way up along its shore to the cattle crossing area. Almost a year earlier I had harvested a mallard hen in the exact same spot.

I checked over my pockets and kit and then slipped under the electric fence and started my way down through the rough terrain and across the field moving away from the ducks circling around from the east. It was quite a detour but it allowed me to move in from the left. I made about forty steps and as soon as I got into the wet grass, I flushed a woodcock which flew directly in front of me but I did not take the shot because the mallards were more interesting for a meal being a larger bird. The shot would send them flying away into the air.

Now that I had reached the shrub line and was right on the edge of the creek, I slouched forward and slowed my pace right down. I was now in the final approach and did not want to spook them into flight. My shoulders were at the same height as the tallest bushes and this provided me with the cover that I needed to close the gap between them and me.

I must have covered around thirty meters, before I had a chance to straighten up for a look, and a mallard I hadn’t seen let out a two quacks then burst into flight. This set off a second duck which was only two meters in front of me and both flew away incredibly fast. I loaded a shell into the chamber pushed the safety on and started running after the ducks for about four meters and aimed but they were too far, then all of a sudden splash another mallard shot up on my left and started to gain some distance. I aimed and released my first shot at the bird and it dropped, swerved and then flew even higher.

Now around twenty meters away, I pumped and released my second shot. In my mind I thought this shot was too far and that the mallard will get away and as soon as my shot reached the bird its head leaned forward and the duck tumbled to the ground below. I could not believe the shot.

I made my 870 safe and ran through the shallow part of the creek and started to look for the bird because it fell in the high grass. I applied what I wrote in my last blog and traced back my shot from where I was standing using my arm as a pointer and then completed five back and fourths sweeping the grass, the duck was lying in a small recess in the ground. It was a magnificent mallard drake with beautiful coloration.

A great harvest and a sure long shot!

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