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870 & Chuck

My hip was carefully placed up against the tailgate of the truck in an attempt to avoid shaking too much, so that I could focus better with my binoculars. I was looking toward the eastern field and standing just meters from the farm-house; scanning north to south and concentrating in and around the new hay bales which were freshly cut and rolled.

It was thirty-one degrees Celsius and the heat was almost unbearable. The cattle were down by the creek getting some shade under various deciduous trees, while others waded through the cool waters. Once in a while some cloud cover would move in and with it a fresh breeze would blow in, changing the colors of the various weeds and hay.

Earlier in the morning, I had climbed over the electric fence then headed down diagonally through the northern field closest to the farm-house and cut across the hedge row near the creek, just meters from the road. I then looped around to the south-east back into the other field where there was an opening for the tractors.

I had noticed the groundhog several weeks ago in the field to the east but the weather did not roll in my favor with heavy rains. I was forced to abandon my hunt because the groundhog had retreated below the ground.

The network consisted of two main den entrances at the start of the slope toward the west and with two other escape holes one near the fence to the east and the other in the center of the field where the grass was much darker and just high enough to provide good cover.

Only a few minutes had passed and finally I made out what I thought was a small brown animal on its hind legs. So, I adjusted the center focusing wheel on the binoculars and confirmed my findings. I slowly unzipped my right pocket on the orange hunting vest and pulled out my cell phone and checked the time, it was almost three in the afternoon and it was now going to be cooler and the animals would start coming out now; birds too since I had only seen two yellow warblers and four grackles.

I packed away my phone and binoculars, zipped up my pocket and then grabbed a single shell from my ammunition box on the tailgate and headed down the road to the north. I had to move quickly because I did not want the chuck to move underground.

As I made my way over to the eastern field, I was studying the low ground and aligning the groundhog with each hay bale, thus identifying which bale offered the closest shot and then chose the right bale to use as cover.

I decided on the second bale since it was slightly further away from the groundhog but directly in line with me. I moved in through the tractor opening for the second time of the day and turned in toward the low ground. Once in a while I would stop, catch my breath, because I was speed walking and crouched over. I normally pace myself and take about five to six steps then stop, listen and observe, breathe then set off again.

I was closing in on the groundhog and he still couldn’t see me. By the time I reached the first hay bale, I was only thirty meters out and the shot was possible one but I could not guarantee a confirmed harvest. I also wanted my shot to end up in the dirt and not go over the fence toward the tree line.

So, I stopped, took a knee along with a few deep breaths and prepared myself for the shot that would soon come. I leaned over to the right hand side of the bale and noticed that the groundhog was still standing on watch with its head very high above the hay. I then turned back in toward the center of the hay bale and got down on all fours and leopard crawled over to the hay bale to left or east.

I would crawl, and then stop; look up just popping my head above the hay line to make sure the groundhog was still there and then I would inch forward again. Twice I had to wipe the sweat from my forehead with my hunting hat. My forearms were cut and burning because of the grass blades and various insects. It was only six meters away but it took me a while to get across to the other bale.

Once I reached the second bale, I slowly stood up and had a look over the top of the bale and checked that the groundhog was still there. This time it heard something and let out a whistle but did not move instead it stretched its head further up for a better look much like me.

I loaded one shell into my Remington 870, lined up the bead sight with the target using the hay bale as a stabilizer and focused on my breathing. Once I was ready, I took the weapon off safe using the quiet push method, and then slowly squeezed the trigger…Vlam! Grass and dirt spat up, the groundhog was ejected from the den and fell flat on its back side.

I had harvested one of the largest groundhogs this year and it was now time to head back to the truck and find the groundhog on the southern field near the second barn. I took the time to reflect on the hunt and feeling good about having helped a farmer with his varmints. I decided to bury this harvest using one of the abandoned holes in the field closets to the fence.

My painting of Ron's Coyote

A couple of hours had passed and I was now back at the truck having a drink of water planning my next hunt in the southern field. The cattle had moved in closer to the barns for the evening, therefore shooting was no longer an option at least in the southern field; I had to prepare myself and maybe pack up for the day and head home.

I checked my 870 for a third time after my initial shot and cleared it to make it safe, then I carefully placed it on the ground near the truck on its cloth gun case. I then pulled out a granola snack bar and began to relax.

Once in a while, I would look toward the south then over to the east. The birds were singing louder now, the red wing black birds and grackles were flying in low to feed off the grain on the ground nearby.

I took another drink from my water bottle then placed it down on the tailgate and this is when something caught my eye to the south-east. I could not make it out at first as it stealthy made its way out of the tree line to the south just behind the fence about forty meters from where my harvest was buried. It blended in perfectly with the hay color.

As it got closer and within range I was now able to identify my visitor, I could see its ears were straight up and its fur had a healthy golden shine. The animal would stop; look with its tail straight down near its hind legs. It was incredible! I had seen this animal many times before but I was fascinated, this time it was much different.

It was only two hundred meters away just on the other side of the fence, she moved with such grace and prudence. Coyotes are very intelligent and extremely beautiful animals with an incredible sense of smell. It had picked up the scent of my harvest and she was going to get a free meal; this is something that I love about nature. The simple fact that nothing goes to waste and I was quite aware that my harvest would not last long in the soil.

The coyote was moving in toward my harvest and I snapped to; so I grabbed my binoculars and headed down to the creek to circle around. We were like two cowboys in a duel moving in toward each other but by the time I got to the edge of the creek, amid the excitement the coyote caught my scent and disappeared into the hay, through the fence and into the wilderness.

I did not consider this encounter a failure but rather an awesome experience with an amazing animal. For that very moment I was proud as always to be part of this northern wilderness with this Canis Latrans.

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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) link to the page for hunting periods and bag limits for to small game hunting and also lists 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 2018 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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