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Posts Tagged ‘boots’


The sun was high in the sky and it was simply a beautiful drive out to the farm with only a slight breeze coming in from the West. The truck slowly made its way up the dirt road like it has a hundred times. During the spring time though I had to carefully manoeuvre the steering wheel, so that the tires did not veer off forcing the truck into the mud fields to the East. The pre-existing tire tracks had two miniature creeks developing right down the middle of each one from the melting snow, this made it a delicate drive. At the main gate of the farm, the electric fence had already been opened, making it a little easier to get to my favorite parking spot.

This was also indicative that the cows were out in the field and not sitting around the main barn, this was positive. When I get to the farm, I always like to know the cattle whereabouts because they can impact the choice of a shot or not, especially when hunting rock dove. Too close is a no go for a shot.

Rock doves can fly in and adjust their flight path to their entry spot into the landing zone. They are always checking for potential danger and maneuvering accordingly. For example if I am standing by the main gate with my orange hunting vest and they spot me, they will circle in from the North and come in from the forest edge using the cover to mask their approach for the landing. Rock doves can fly in straight overhead or often circle in from either side from where you are standing completing wide arcs.

I like to try to harvest them while high in flight or when they are really close to the ground. About an hour had passed since I got to the farm and I was already walking along the edge of the forest when I came upon an old kitchen chair. I fixed the back rest placed it near a large tree and sat down for a few minutes. It was heavenly and I was taking in the view of the valley and low ground of the farm and also watching the cattle graze. When you take the time to observe cattle, you realize how remarkable they truly are as animals.

While sitting and looking out a thought crossed my mind. I told myself, I just have to be patient and maybe the rock doves will come back as they had flown away while I was sneaking through the woods earlier. Speaking from experience, it is more challenging for a young hunter to stalk the pigeons and take shots for a harvest, but it can also be done using patience and concealment, just sitting and waiting. Very similar to duck hunting, you can walk and flush them or you can set up and sit by the edge of the swamp and the ducks will eventually fly in and offer a shot. Sure enough two rock doves came in, looped around over head and I just sat very still and waited.

Once they circled directly in front of me to the south, I waited for the first one to come within two feet of the ground and I released my shot. He fell into the mud and small feathers floated into the air at the point of impact. I was pleased with my first harvest of the day and was anxious to go pick him up. I cleared my Remington 870, stood up and made my way toward my harvest, I carefully stepped over the electric fence which was just about waist high and climbed over. I walked for about another four meters and all of a sudden my boots hit a slippery spot and up I went. It all happened lightning quick. I was in a horizontal position almost still in the air with my back facing the ground and then I came down hard and landed on my full right hand side.

I was completely soaked in a soup of mud, urine, water, cow manure and hay. I could not believe it, this was my first fall in a long time and I was drenched in cow soup. After a good loud laugh and a quick check over for injuries, I got up and just like a cow getting a good scratch on the barn walls, I walked along one of the old barns and rubbed the gunk off my clothing as best I could.

I had my first harvest alright for the day but I also had a manure filled soup to go with it!

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With my fingers slowly going numb, and my wool gloves soaked from holding onto the drenched icy cold rope attached to the bow of the kayak. I kept pushing forward, my legs were burning with pain from pulling the kayak through the narrow frozen creek and breaking through the ice along the banks.

The wind was blowing in from the north, blinding me with its blizzard like snow flakes being carried along transforming the horizon into a greyish white haze, the trees in the distance had become just a black patch of nature. The darkness was moving in like a mist.

Ducks took flight around me as the ice cracked below my boots and the ice sheets cut into my shin bones. The sweat on my forehead dried instantly with the cold winds as my wind tears rolled down my cheek, it was now time to make my way home alone after a brutal few hours in this November weather.

You could smell the fresh waterfowl flesh from the birds lying in bowels of my boat, and as the kayak slid over the frozen mounds, the dirty water and weeds inside its hull would rock from bow to stern, moving the birds in a bloodied bath along with empty shells and the paddle blades.

The wind howled around me like a mad spirit and brought with it the smell of burning firewood from a distant shack. To me this was soothing and awoke old memories, from years ago, when my family would drive into my grandfathers home town. It would be in the middle of the night after a long highway drive, only a few days before christmas and quite often during a snow storm. The colourful seasonal lights were glowing in the dark from the nearby homes and the smell the burning wood fires filled the neighbourhood air.

Only one mile left and I would get closer to those glowing lights in the distance and to the warmth of the truck after an incredible afternoon of water fowling.

True comfort in the air indeed, just like the song by Jim Reeves “The Blizzard.”

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I drove carefully through the creek, it was going to be a quick crossing; just minutes before I had put on my Allen waders and walked across it to see how deep it was, this also let me find the sharp rocks sticking out of the muddy bottom.

As the tires pushed through the creek, three mallards that were hidden in the dense grass burst into flight heading westward, they were climbing gradually but their flight lightning fast, one drake and two hens. I was heading to the edge of the marsh to the south-east.

When I first arrived at the farm I noticed the southern field was empty with no Canada geese in sight. I wasn’t sure how my hunt was going to turn out on this fall day but I always try to be creative and remain optimistic.

The cows were scattered all around the barns and open fields, I was hoping for a good day but there were no birds in sight. I took a few deep breaths and with my binoculars in hand, I started to scan the landscape. Over a kilometer away in a south-westerly direction, I noticed long black objects poking out the swamp grass, they were moving very little but just enough that I could make out the difference from the tree stumps left by the beavers and a goose neck.

I stood there on top of the ridge for a few more minutes, raised and lowered my binoculars several times trying to get a better look at the thin black sticks. Once I cleared the creek, I turned toward the west and moved along the ridge driving in the low ground, and my plan was to park away from my start point for my stalk.

With the truck now parked exactly where I wanted it, I opened the driver door and stepped out onto the moist field. It was a cold windy day, so I put on my Remington hunting jacket and zipped it up just below the chest pouch fitted with a magnetic strip of my waders giving me easy access to my shells.

With my 870 ready and placed on the field floor I took three Challenger shells and loaded them and pumped one into the chamber and placed the safety on. The whole time I was kneeling beside the truck, I kept my eyes on the cattle more particularly the big black bull.

They were only a few meters away and I only had small spruce trees and dead tree stumps, between them and I and they got pretty weary with me crawling around them.

I now had to move my way closer to the water’s edge without triggering any panic among the geese, especially the one’s on watch. As I came around the front of the truck and headed to the water, I would sneak up behind some trees, then move my way around to freshly cut stumps left by the beavers. The ground beneath me was transforming into a muddy sludge mixed in with rotten pieces of wood and rock.

With my green balaclava pulled over my face; every few steps I would stop and check my alignment with the spotter geese and then adjust my movement forward, so that they could not see me.

I was now only twenty meters away but it felt like a longer distance than this as I could no longer finish my approach slouched forward. I had to get down on my hands and knees, and with every pace forward, I would meticulously place my shotgun onto swamp grass mounds just high enough to keep my barrel cleared of the muck.

A few weeks earlier I had observed my cat stalking some common house sparrows in the tall grass. Everyone of her muscles were moving in a calculated fashion then very often she would stop and just watch, then adjust her position again and move forward with only her front legs and then minutes later she would bring in her bag legs forward, thus allowing her to jump forward with the maximum reach allowed. It was incredible that a large black object like her could move ahead closer to the birds without sending them into flight.

I was now knee-deep in the cold waters, my hands were breaking through the very thin layer of ice and then sinking into the muck, my fingers were starting to burn because of the cold waters but I was so focused on my approach that I did not give much thought to my uncomfortable movement.

I finally got into the position but my left boot was stuck in the mud, I had to figure out how to shift my hip forward and get into a good shooting position without getting too high. I grabbed a chewed beaver stump placed my fingers carefully around tip and pulled myself up.

This was all done in an exaggerated slow motion, so that I did not alert the spotter geese. I could hear one of them calling out nervous short calls. But before I could shoot, I needed to get one final look at the main group of geese in behind the marsh grass and ensure that my first shot was going to be perfect and safe.

The group formed a sort of broken circle with three geese lined up with two on each side. I took several deep breaths then looked down into the water, my heart was beating like crazy and I was breathing like I had just run several kilometers.

I was ready and had all my shots planned out, I did the slow controlled push-off of my safety button just like Wade Bourne had shown in one of his videos. I slowly raised myself up behind thin branches of a dead tree that came up out of the water like a cypress tree in the shape of the letter “y”, my ruse worked for a few seconds until the geese started calling out aggressively and pushing off into flight. I released my first shot when the birds where just inches off the water and my shell shot snapped the first three geese and brought them down. I aimed for the head and neck just like turkey hunting.

I could not believe it, I had just brought down three geese in one shot, the first one fell hard into the water and the two others spun and flipped back into the water right after, the first two were down but the third tried to fly again and I released a second shot.

With three harvested, I turned to my right or north-east and released another shot and hit a fourth bird and it fell and spiralled hard into the water. I had to reload, so I reached into my pocket and pulled out two more shells and loaded them then pumped and twisted to my left now in a full standing position I released another shot and brought down the largest bird of my harvest.

Once the water calmed below my feet and the empty shells floated near my boots, I had five Canada geese lying in front of me and I could not believe what had just happened.

I had just reached my daily bag limit in a matter of seconds and I was in total disbelief, my years of work to becoming a better waterfowler had just materialized before me and the future could only be brighter.

It took me several minutes to get the birds back to the truck and then drive back to the barn on my way home. While loading my kit in the back of the truck, six rock doves flew in from the east heading west over the barn by the cattle gates.

I grabbed my 870 and snuck in behind the southern barn and made my way around the front, the pigeons where flying just two meters above the ground in formation. I loaded one shell of number three and released a single shot into the flock, taking down two birds.

I have gone weeks without a single harvest but days like these taught me to never give up and learn as much as you can and spend as much time as you can in the field. It does not matter where you are in the world, after all it is in our blood and I understand!

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When I thought of the good pair of boots for the sport, I first made a list of my requirements. The price for sure, the fit, the color, its durability, the warmth, the height of the boot; waterproof or not and also, I wanted to know if I must put them on site or could I drive with them?  I wished for them to be very light and also offer great ankle support and if possible without laces, which is not always practical during the cold winter days.

So, my adventure began, I purchased a very expensive pair of SWAT team style boots and within a few weeks, the sole detached at the front and once the water got in the leather began to break down and the boots were no longer usable. The laces were also replaced several times throughout my hunts. Also just in case you asked, yes the boots were treated with an expensive product which did not work. I have used several leather army boots acquired through surplus stores and although they look fantastic with their Vibram soles, however they were only good for dry terrain, I also used GORE-TEX socks. A few winters ago, I purchased inexpensive NAT’s boots which came with only one repair kit, within two years; I had punctured them while walking on rough terrain with jagged rocks and sharp branches. They were incredibly light and the price was right but they unfortunately did not survive my punishment. I also found them extremely wide and it was difficult to drive when going from one hunting spot to another.  The warmth was acceptable but my toes still froze while in the tree stand last fall and during the winter snow kept on getting into the upper part of the boot and my socks were soaked several times. A friend of mine suggested Canadian Mukluks’ boots, but I have used them in the past in the winter and I found my feet sweat quickly during heavy walking or snowshoeing with the inner liner and the outer part gets wet and freezes up. One advantage with Mukluks is that snow does not get in around the top part of the boot.

I have tried about five different pairs of boots and none of them have been able to deliver for my hunting style, which is hunting all year round, in all seasons in extremely tough terrain. My boots of choice right now are and the pair I love the most that I inherited from my grand-father, which is your very basic rubber garden boots and depending on the weather, I just add layers of wool socks.

Until I find the perfect pair of boots, I will continue live by the principles of a farming friend of mine, every year he buys himself a new pair of insulated rubber green or black boots. I have seen Le Chameau boots and also the RUT MASTER from Irish setter and similar styled boots, I am very impressed.

Until my next purchase, I will keep on walking and doing research.

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It is very difficult at times for the general public to see or even believe that modern sport hunters are not blood thirsty parasites who have no regard for wildlife and conservation. This has never been the case and in fact it is rather the contrary. Modern sport hunters have a deep connection with the outdoors, with wildlife also and wish to perserve it. Hunters may even do more as a whole toward conservation and protection than the majority of the public when it comes to contributing to both these points. Sometimes, hunters themselves aren’t even aware that they are contributing to wildlife management programs and land conservation projects.

It can be as simple as purchasing hunting accessories or clothing that have a logo of a conservation organization such as Ducks Unlimited. The purchasing of waterfowl permits including stamps, and also simply by registering your game once it has been harvested. Stamps on a waterfowl permit or purchasing gear allows for some of the funds to support wetland conservation programs. The registration of big game and wild turkey allows for the crucial collection of the numbers of species harvested when dealing with population control programs as well as provides great statistical information in direct support of research.
In Quebec where I hunt, it is mandatory to register big game animals or wild turkeys at a registration station authorized by the provincial government. The concept of registration for big game and wild turkeys is also very present in other provinces, territories and states. For more information on this visit your local ministry of natural resources or fish and game websites. Below is the Quebec page on the MRNF site: 

http://www.mrnf.gouv.qc.ca/english/wildlife/registration-stations/index.jsp

A registration center can be any establishment that is recognized by in Quebec’s case the province, this can be a local hunting shop, provincial building belonging to the Ministry or even a corner store. These registration centers will all have the following panel outside their building.

Authorized Registration Center in Quebec

 

The ministry of natural resources and fauna in Quebec state the following:

“In order to take advantage of the maximum availability of registration services, the Department recommends registering your game as close as possible to the harvesting site, rather than near your residence.
Some registration stations are open during all hunting and trapping seasons. Other stations are open only during hunting seasons and, in this case; the hours of operation may vary. When in doubt, hunters and trappers are invited to contact the registration station to avoid needless travel.
For more information on the location and the dates and times when registration stations are open, consult the lists below. You can also get in touch with the Service à la clientèle or one of our regional offices. All of this information is also posted on the door of our offices.”
In order to find the registration center nearest to you in Quebec go to following website on your portable device or print out the centers located in the area where you will be hunting big game and wild turkey.

http://www.mrnf.gouv.qc.ca/english/wildlife/registration-stations/big-game-stations.jsp

Then select the region on the link above and then the local municipality, there you will find a list including, the type of organization, their contact telephone number and their hours of operation. The cost of registering big game and turkey is six Canadian dollars.
When you register your game make sure you look up the rules in regulations with concerns to the transportation of the game, for example not removing the wings of the turkey during transportation thus making it easier for identification purposes. Ensure that the transportations tags are attached. (I personally like to use twist ties)

When you register the game, the officer/agent/store owner will visually inspect the animal or turkey, transportation tags; record the date and time as well as a location using GPS software where it was harvested. He or she will record the type of weapon that was used. You may also have the animal or turkey weighed. After the inspection, an electronic form will have been filled out and you will receive a printed receipt.
Registering your game and having an officer/agent/store owner congratulate you on your harvest, is also part of a successful hunt as he or she may be one of the first persons to validate your harvest and make it legitimate. This is confirmation that you did your part and that you are a respected member of this exclusive club of outdoorsman/Woman 😉

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In one of my previous blog entries titled “Double Edge Sword” I wrote about the differences between necessities and wanting, when it pertains to purchasing equipment for small game hunting. It is about asking yourself the following question before you make a purchase. Is it something you really want for hunting or something you need?

This is not because you are being cheap but rather because hunting equipment can add up very quickly. One important point that I must mention is that if you are starting in the sport, there will be initial costs just like buying a home. But the neat part is that once you have your clothing, hardware and accessories, you can start adding to it and improve it constantly. This is also very fun!

For me the right handling of a double edge sword is finding a balance within your budget so that you do not cut yourself financially. Hunting rifles or shotguns, clothing, ammunition and permits are necessities that must be acquired. It is also about being comfortable, well equipped and enjoying the sport without over spending on unnecessary accessories and supplies.

The question often comes up “How much does a small game hunter spend on equipment?” We should also ask: How much does the necessary equipment cost for small game hunters?

In response to these questions I have decided to break down some costs looking at the necessities and show you how much I have spent in Canadian dollars. In my case I already own a bolt-action rifle which cost about $150 dollars in 1962, but today you can easily spend a couple hundred dollars depending on the model and if you wish to add a scope. My Remington 870, which is my versatile work horse cost me $400 dollars and it allows me to save money because there is no longer a need for a different gun for each type of small game you hunt.

Ammunition does not need to be expensive either, I can get a box of fifty rounds for less than $15 dollars for my .22 bolt-action rifle . For my 870, I can buy a box of #6 shot for under $25 dollars.

My first pair of hunting boots cost me $200 dollars but I got a second pair of NAT’s boots just under $80 dollars. They are ultra light and waterproof and come with its own repair kit in the event of tear.

For a resident of Quebec your small game permit cost $18.83 effective Sept 2, 2012  (2017-2018 is now $24.58). If you are hunting on Crown land it is free but if you hunt in a SEPAQ park like me it can cost you around $18 dollars for a day hunt.

Now for clothing, my hunting pants cost me about $150 dollars and my hunting jacket which is considered a 6-in-1 system cost me $200 dollars. Having said this I also purchased a second hunting jacket for friends when they come out with me at discount store for $20 dollars. If they wear layers using long johns and thermals worth about $40 dollars it is just as warm as the very expensive jackets.

When I go on a one day hunting trip it normally cost me between $20-$40 in gas and about $20 dollars in food.

Costs will also be affected depending on the time of year that you hunt as you may require specialized kit such as snowshoes.

So how much do small game hunters spend on hunting equipment? The answer to the question is, it depends on your budget but when it comes to necessities I have listed the costs below.

Examples of necessities:
Rifle or shotgun: $400-$2000 Canadian dollars
Ammunition: $50 Canadian dollars
Clothing and boots: $200-$500 Canadian dollars
Permits, park access: $20-$40 (Quebec resident)
Food and gas: $20-$100 (May vary depending on distance traveled)

Buying Small Game Permits:

Small game permits can be purchased at any local hunting store in your area as long as they have a permit printer. You may want to call the shop before hand to find out if they issue permits. For the cost of the permits in Quebec, you can go to the following website:

Hunting – Fishing – Trapping License Rates

Also make sure you bring your Hunters Certificate/Card with you in person when buying a hunting permits and have your Federal Firearms card when purchasing firearms and ammunition.

Shop smart and enjoy the sport!

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In life it is inevitable that we will all encounter challenging obstacles in some form or another and if time permits the best formula for success when facing them is going back to the basics or fundamentals. This means understanding the core principles, processes and applying them in order to overcome and succeed. 

One example of this is the following: When a brick layer is placing his first block which happens to be the starting point of a wall for a home that is supposed to last several hundred years, he must follow the processes in place for that trade and if the fundamentals are applied then we have ourselves a solid foundation. And if not then having to start over would be both costly and time-consuming, this applies to hunting as well. 

Last week I read the book: “Fundamentals of Bowhunting” written by Dwight Schuh and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was interested in the book not because I wish to purchase a bow or take up bow hunting but because in several of his chapters in the book he carefully covers all the basics of hunting, such as taking the shot and hunting gear and more. 

Dwight wrote in his introduction that bow hunting has been around for several thousands of years and is a rich tradition. This is so true! And I have tremendous respect for the bow hunter. I am not a historian by a long shot but I am a firm believer that bow hunting has been around long before rifle hunting and besides the fact that the weapons of choice may be different the core principles and objectives are the same. And this is reason enough for me to review them or get new ideas from experts such as Dwight Schuh. 

I particularly enjoyed the chapters on hunting gear, physical conditioning, basic hunting methods, making the shot and the final chapters on the animals such as deer, elk and antelope to name a few. 

I wanted to share some points on Dwight’s chapter about hunting gear. In this chapter he breaks the basic elements into subsections and provides his recommendations for each. This is very helpful when focusing on one particular part in the hunting gear. Below are some of these recommendations and some of my personal experiences. 

“Hunting clothes must first contribute to stealth, which means they must be quiet, camouflaged, and soft and flexible, so you can move without restriction.” (Hunting Gear Chapter 8, page 103.) 

Dwight is right that gear alone can not substitute for hunting skills, but as I mentioned in one of my previous blogs entries being dry, warm and basically comfortable will leave you at an advantage. “The right clothing, footwear, camouflage, hunting pack, optical gear, and scent products can make you a better hunter.” (Hunting Gear Chapter 8, page 103.) 

Just as I do, Dwight loves wool clothing but he swears by synthetics in outerwear and the most popular are used in Polar Fleece which uses polyester. This type of clothing used with the principles of layering is brilliant and you can not go wrong while exposed to the elements. 

There is a lot of rave about Gore Tex jackets, pants or even socks and yes they are a great product but my experience with using the socks during long hours in the winter is that they may keep your feet from getting wet on the outside but if your feet sweat like mine, then it works as a trap and your feet end up freezing if you do not change your wool socks on the inside. I always carry a spare pair of socks and sometimes another pair of boots. 

“Head and Neck: Your head and neck are your major body-heat regulators, and keeping them warm helps to keep you warm overall. For cool and cold weather, knits hats are great” (Hunting Gear Chapter 8, page 108.) 

Tips on footwear from the book: In order to prevent blisters, wear smooth, snug-fitting socks next to your feet and lost, bulky socks over these to absorb shock and moisture. 

For backpacking and carrying heavy meat loads, heavy leather boots with Vibram or similar lugs soles are acceptable. (Hunting Gear Chapter 8, page 108.) 

Hunting packs, most hunting stores have all types of packs to suit the different types of hunts and their prices vary. I really enjoyed what Dwight wrote about hunting packs and I believe it is so true. 

“I consider a hunting pack a necessity. It not only contains items necessary for hunting, but it holds comfort and survival gear that allows you to hunt long and hard, knowing you can survive the worst conditions. A pack not only takes care of your needs, it gives you confidence.” 

Choosing packs made out of fleece instead of nylon which can be noisy, also choose a pack with lots of pockets that allow you to store vital gear like GPS, emergency food and flashlights and first aid kits. 

Binoculars and scopes, look at the different models, compare them and then choose one based on your demands such as designation numbers and objective numbers, size and color and overall performance. In my personal experience having good optics can help you identify if the buck’s spikes are legally long enough for you to take the shot or to see if there is in fact a woodchuck on the other side of the ridge. 

“No matter where you hunt, whether in deep woods or the open desert, you’ll see more and hunt better with good optics” (Hunting Gear Chapter 8, page 112.) 

Finally on scents and attractor scents, first to mask your scent and then use scents to attract game such as urine or the example the author uses is doe in heat attractor. There are tons of great products out there at your local hunting store, Canadian tire or Wal-Mart.

 In closing I have to say that out of these one hundred and seventy-nine pages of fundamentals, the chapters that also apply to rifle hunters is knowledge that you can not do without.

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