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Archive for the ‘General Hunting’ Category


Last year I bought myself a small kayak for duck and goose hunting, my goal was to have a boat that would allow me to travel light and go places where even canoes have a hard time. This also provided me with more control and maneuverability, for example having the ability to shift directions with a single stroke of my paddle to being right in line with ducks that are flying in low. The boat was not as long as the canoe.

Also loading it in the truck bed is much faster and not as hard on the back compared to loading a canoe on a roof of the truck.

I made quite a few modifications to the eight foot long-boat, built a camouflage skirt using burlap, attached my paddle to the boat using carabiners, and drilled two “Y” hooks into the front enabling me to rest my shotgun on the top on the bow and be at a constant ready state.

What I can do with this configuration is that when a shot presents itself I can let go of my paddle and switch to the shotgun in seconds and place a shot on the ducks without losing the paddle.

Now there are times when I go duck hunting and I wish to travel even lighter and this is without a boat. It is a little more challenging because I am limited to where I can go on land depending on the terrain in the wetlands.

When I am still-hunting, and I am ready for a shot, I paint the sky and duck with my eyes, follow the bird’s flight and try to calculate where it may land and this allows me to add more precision to my shots toward the birds I choose, so that after a shot they land near me or at an acceptable distance in the water where I can go retrieve them without placing myself in danger but also never leaving any bird behind.

During several bird retrievals, I have gone into the water up to my waist and used long branches to reach the birds with success. Even I know this not the best situation, especially the fact that I hunt alone several times through the season.

Like many other hunters, I appreciate outdoor shows and one of them happens to be “Swamp People”, in the show Willie Edwards uses a particular tool for alligator hunting and it is the very useful treble hooks which are attached to long cords.

While hunting light without a boat, I am a realist and the majority of my shots if they are not a miss, are usually just a short distance away. So my new project for next season is the rig up a treble hook with floaters attached to a line of about thirty feet in length, so that I can throw my hook toward the bird that is floating and pull it back to shore.

I’ve hunted ducks, from canoes, kayaks, duck boats, and blinds as well as using the still hunting method good old flushing ducks. This way, I improve all my skills in various hunting forms.

I hope my project is not a miss and a failed hook, we shall see in the fall.

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This year I did not harvest a deer in the fall; however I did add more knowledge to my repertoire for the next season. During many of my deer hunts, I either came across bucks that were too young, sporting small spikes or saw several does but did not have a tag for one.

One thing is for sure, I love deer especially white-tailed deer which is the predominant species of deer in my area. They are just incredible mammals and I never tire of seeing them in the evening by the road or across the creek in the woods near my home. I also learn so much more every time I pursue them in their environment.

This week I just finished a great book “White-Tailed Deer” written by Mark Raycroft. The photographic images were stunning and its text was very informative. As a biologist with several decades of research and proven time in the field, the author has collected some incredible knowledge, and like many books that I have read, I either want to challenge the author’s words in the field or learn from them.

Mark wrote that through experience he noticed that deer do not snort and or run off using their runways if only one of their primary senses is triggered. They are rather curious animals and will try to find out more about what you are, and see if you are a potential predator or not.

An example would be if a deer has heard you in the woods but may not have seen you, or smelt you then they may not raise their white tails and flee but rather in some cases circle around you in dense woods or come closer to you in an open field while keeping eye contact. I have experienced this many times in the woods. I found this to be a very interesting find and I want to put this theory to the test.

In addition he wrote about the fact that deer are very selective about their bedding which is sometimes used during the day to chew on their cud, rest but also keep watch for predators. The locations of the bedding are often found on slopes, with evergreen vegetation thus providing them with cover. I see this as allowing themselves to capitalize on the benefits of high ground which enables them to have a better chance to escape before being spotted by predators.

So with this newly acquired knowledge, I put on my boots and headed out to an area in the woods where I knew there were several does in a winter yard not far from my home.

I took my time walking along the creek and through the woods; my goal was to try to get as close as I could to one of the deer without triggering all the primary senses together triggering a raised white tail flush.

I was able to approach the doe within thirty meters from across the creek. She had seen me from far but was not alarmed, and we maintained eye contact the whole time until she heard my foot steps in the snow getting closer. This is when she stood up, snorted, raised her white tail and ran off heading south up the hill. She was bedded down under a spruce tree on a slope. Five more deer that were hidden near her took off up the hill as well. It was a textbook case and I had just lived it.

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Chest Deep


I can still remember the experience of getting my first pair of waders like it was yesterday; I remember driving to the store, trying them on, placing myself in various shooting positions, looking in the mirror, bending my knees ensuring they were the right fit. I was incredibly excited and could not wait to get into them and hit the wetlands. I had conducted research and read reviews but I was not too familiar with brand names and their types, one thing was certain they had to be chest high.

I ended up purchasing the Blue Bill Camo Breathable Bootfoot Waders made by the Allen Company. I love my waders and I am very happy with the product, but at the time of the purchase I did not put too much consideration into their one year warranty for my waders but I remember thinking it was quite short. This is an element for some hunting products which I simply do not understand, if you make a great product and you know it is a great product, why not have a lifetime warranty?

Last weekend I was on an early morning duck hunt, I had harvested my first wood duck of the day and it landed on my left in the creek, the depth was just below chest deep . The black lab which we had with us that morning was further down the creek; therefore I decided to retrieve the bird on my own.

I made my shotgun safe and stepped into the cold waters, everything was going well, until I felt my wallet in my back pocket starting to getting wet and then it dawned on me, I had a hole in my waders and my warranty was up.

I was gutted! First thing I did when I got home is I started to do additional research on how repair holes or tears in waders and came across the McNett Aquaseal product. The YouTube video was great. Now three days have passed and I purchased the McNett Aquaseal product, identified the three holes in the waders and applied the urethane rubber sealant in a rectangular shape using small flat Popsicle stick over the holes.

It is now curing as I am typing; and I shall be back on the river very soon and you bet your ducks I will be keeping an eye on this product.

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My woodchuck woodburn

My woodchuck wood-burn

The groundhog numbers this summer at the farm have almost been non-existent with only two harvests recorded so far.

Last year I harvested close to eleven groundhogs and I know that this has had an impact on the overall population in the area; also if we take into consideration disease during hibernation when the parasites attach themselves to the groundhog before they go into their dens for the winter months or if the animal hasn’t stored enough fat it starves.

On my property alone, I removed five and now the only young single groundhog from this spring, is very cautious and only comes out to eat in short periods of time and also later in the evening which is not usual behavior.

If he was part of last years family, then there is a possibility that similarly to crows their awareness of danger is passed down through the genes and learned in the field no pun intended.

So, when I got to the farm and started to still-hunt, my skills would have to aid me in my search of the groundhogs.

They were no longer in the open at their ordinary times taking in sun rays. Neither were they found near their dens but instead they were using the tree line and rock formations just meters inside the forest to use as cover.

I started my way into the western field but had to wait until the cattle crossed over to the south before I could push further west. I then worked my way southeast and parallel to edge of the woods.

It was extremely hot and my sweat was dripping off my forehead like a tap, drinking was so important but also taking breaks. The bugs were also harassing me and my hat came in very handy, not only against the sun.

I finally reached the far side of the field and found the rock formation stone cold with no groundhog in site. I scanned the edge of the woods and this is when my eyes caught some movement up near the base of a tree.

It was lightning quick, I froze in my spot and waited for more movement, if groundhogs are alerted, they will whistle then run and hide either in deep brush to find and escape hole or dart directly for the den but they will come back out if they think that the danger is no longer present. Normally, in small steps and they might even thump their paws and let out sharp whistles, almost like there are provoking the potential danger in order to get a reaction as well as alerting others.

So, I waited patiently and sure enough he came out from hiding but this time he was in the high ground on my left or south. He was moving in an out of the grass and disappearing momentarily in the dark green vegetation, even though he was visible, he was not in a safe shooting position because of the large rocks behind him and a barn on the right.

I chose to wait and this is when the groundhog jumped up on a log and ran along it in short bursts, stopping to check for danger, his nostrils were moving very quickly. I did not move an inch, I waited for him to move further along the log to the east and then I swung around at the same time then got into perfect alignment with his vitals with a well-chosen back stop of solid dirt.

He was indeed the log runner, I took my rifle off safe, fired and released a single shot, it was my third harvest and one varmint less for the farmer.

 

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GooseThe winds on the banks of the Saint Lawrence river were incredibly strong; with hundreds of birds flying over head. The sights, smells and noises were so powerful and something out of this world.

I was about to start my two-hour treat alone, all the other hunters including the guide and his chocolate lab went back to the camp for a quick nap.

They asked me if I wanted to come along but I pleasantly declined. The Saint Lawrence with its strong currents, ice flows all such beautiful scenery, the basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré it was all mine to savour.

The decoys were well placed and the digital callers were calling out, doing their jobs attracting waves of birds.

I looked around, starting applying all the basics techniques of a stand up blind hunting.

A group of thirty snow geese flew in overhead and then swung around and came back heading north right above me.

Then three birds dropped down lower and swung around losing height.

When I noticed that one of the birds came even lower, I swung out from underneath the burlap and fired right into the bird’s chest.

It flipped over and flew fifteen meters to my left and landed in the high grass.

I unloaded and existed the blind and went to retrieve my harvest.

Sometimes it all happens so fast if you do not see your bird landing in the bushes below, for a moment you are not sure if you lost it or not, this is without the dog of course.

Now back in the blind with my harvest, I stood for a few more minutes for what seemed an eternity then a group of forty snow geese flew in from the north, right over top and not one bird called out.

So I stood still and bent my knees to get lower, then another gaggle came up along the west side and almost hovered over my spot.

I waited for the perfect opportunity, looking up in an awkward fashion, with my upper body twisted.

I moved away from the front part of the burlap and set myself in a good shooting position and then I unloaded in the bird which was the closest. It tumbled in the air, kept on flying and landed in the river.

The tide was out now about sixty meters and large pieces of ice which covered the dark waters just weeks before broke apart and littered the bottom of the Saint Lawrence creating a maze of ice and mud, rendering it incredibly dangerous to retrieve my harvest. I marked off the spot where the bird landed on the edge of the Saint Lawrence and called on the guide and his dog.

It was an amazing thing to watch, the relationship between the guide and his dog and within fifteen minutes the dog completed several section searches disappearing into the ice and mud sometimes out of sight for several seconds and then there he was with my beautiful white bird in its mouth.

It was a proud moment for many, nature is so fascinating.

 

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Last Sunday, I went out to the farm on the lookout for groundhogs and rock doves, but there was no such activity; however there were quite a few black birds. Upon my arrival, I stood in the mud facing the southern fields looking over the partially flooded areas from recent the snow melts and showers.

It was a very windy day and the rain which was predicted by the weather network had turned into a mist, and the sun was also much stronger early in the afternoon bringing up the overall temperature.

I was hidden between a hay bale and a cattle wagon, the fields to my front and sides combined made the shape of the letter “T”. Separated by a creek and mixed trees, I had a very clear view of the southern part. Several minutes had passed and I could now hear a flock Canada geese calling out, short but numerous confident calls, every bird in the flock were calling out; in this first wave I counted fifteen geese.

They flew in from the northwest and flew in around my front to the south and landed in the field to the east, they had cupped their wings and ended up all facing the flooded area in the adjacent field. They were strategically placed in the high ground allowing them to see the flooded area over the tree tops.

Within seconds a second wave of four geese flew in calling out with the same sharp shortened calls and completing a full circle scan of the fields and headed straight down on the flooded area.

Then a third wave of two geese cupped their wings and dove sharply then landed right next to the second wave, beating their wings aggressively seconds before setting foot, slowing them right down for a smooth landing.

It was fascinating to watch, because when the first wave had seen the second and third waves land and some of them had already started swimming in the shallow waters with a couple of mallard ducks.

The first wave immediately called out with the long goose calls which we are all familiar with, then they lifted off, completing a full circle over the three fields and ended up right near the flooded area for their final approach for the landing. Bring all three waves together in the same area.

Now many of us have seen Canada geese fly in for a landing, and it is a beautiful thing to watch unfolding but the majority of us might not put that much more thought into what had actually occurred in front of us.

Observation is an incredible tool during the off-season, and it is the small details that can help improve your hunts.

The geese were constantly communicating with one an other, if at anytime danger presented itself, all the birds would be alerted and would take flight immediately.

Some of the geese once on the ground had already stretched out their heads and were keeping watch for the rest of the birds. Also these Canada’s came in three groups; each wave doing its own aerial scan of the ground below prior to landing and the first wave in particular landed in the adjacent field to the east using the high ground to watch for danger even before second and third wave had landed.

So, if you are a still hunter or even hunting from a blind, you do not want to be caught moving around right away because although some birds may have landed there is a good chance there are others.

Listen to the calls and watch their body language, if the Canada geese start swimming around or laying down in the ground, they are starting to get more relaxed or trying to get warm or now shifting their focus on rest and feeding. If you can identify the birds on watch thus avoiding them if possible and you get closer for your shot, then a time like this would be best. This way if they burst into the flight, they will not be as far and as high allowing for straight and effective shots.

With practice you will be able to interpret their calls by the length, type and by the loudness of it whether or not they have detected your presence.

Observe, listen and take notes, soon enough you will start seeing patterns which will benefit your approach and hunts.

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My pyrography tribute to Philip R Goodwin

My pyrography tribute to Philip R Goodwin

I often wonder what it is about Philip R Goodwin’s outdoor art which captivates me so. Why do I love his work so much or the work of many artists like him? Carl Rungius is another who even taught Philip how to fine tune his hunting skills.

When I see the men in his paintings, why do a feel such a strong connection with them?

It is like I can feel the cold in the waters of the rapids on my hands as they dip their cast iron skillet into the freezing water near the campfire. I can feel the itch on the back of my neck from the wool shirt collar. It is nature in its purest of forms, wild life in every sense of the word.

Cougars, bears and mountain ranges which provide the vast space for your spirit to rise high into the snow-covered tops and your imagination to run wild through the dense evergreen forests and down to the winding creeks.

As a person, you may live in today’s world but at night while you lie in bed waiting for sleep, you can stare into his art hanging on your wall and allow yourself to drift away in that far away place, surrounded by a mysterious and infectious force.

The huntsman in his element, the dark forest which contains life that is more spectacular than you can imagine.

I find peace in the woods, I find calm in the woods, I feel strength in the woods. I understand why men like Philip R Goodwin traveled into those far places and so graciously shared through his paintings the hidden shadows behind a rock and the hidden world of our wonderful wild life and the men who dared to venture into the raw wilderness of North-America.

I am proud of being an outdoors-man, and when I stand in the woods, I feel an energy pulling me deeper into its core.

The other night while sitting on the edge of the woods, I closed my eyes and listened to its sounds and I heard the beating wings of a wild turkey followed by a couple of yelp calls.

I heard it and that was mine to savor.

Now I understand why I love his work.

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