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Posts Tagged ‘cooey’


There was a light snow fall covering our surrounding wilderness with its white coat. The whole scene was quite picturesque and very serene. My tracking buddy and I were standing still in the low brush having a rest; he looked down at his watch and checked the time. It was only two in the afternoon and yet the sun was quite low, only a few inches over the evergreen tree line if we looked southwest. I removed my hunting hat with my bare hands and whipped off the sweat from my forehead and then we set off again. 

We had been in the woods since eight in the morning tracking some hare leads and just appreciating being out in the elements. Throughout the morning we were checking other animal tracks too and had a ruffed grouse fly out just a few feet in front of us. The bush was extremely thick and at times I was down on my hands and knees looking under the pine and cedar for hiding spots or simply pushing on through branches on very steep ridges. There was a deer trailing us for a while because we heard large branches crack and snap under its hooves but it never came within range for us to see her. 

The hare tracks we discovered in the morning were slowly disappearing under the snowfall. Now after several hours of tracking some more leads we eventually climbed the southern ridge near the gravel pit and headed into some heavy pine between the goose lake and a farm field to the west.

I had taken a mental picture of this spot from the last time I was out about a month earlier and wanted to save it for the final hours of the day. I knew that this pine forest was a gold mine and we just had to walk the hares. So, we followed the first lead nearest to us and continued until we found the principle trail with several other tracks, I often call this the “super highway” as it acts kind of like a main artery.

My tracking buddy was in the lead and I was trailing behind him about twenty feet to his left. Once it a while he would stop and so then I would take a knee look around under every tree, hole and tall grass. A few minutes would pass and then we were pressing forward again. About fifteen minutes had gone by and we came up to an island shaped brush pile full of pine filled with trails and droppings. By the time we got to the other side of the pile, there were two large pines bunched together to our front and just as soon as my buddy was about to push through, he set off “Big Grey.” The chase was on.

He barely had time to call my name and he leaped forward into the air between the two large trees and faded like a ghost leaving nothing but a cloud of snow. It was text-book, the hare took off like a bullet moving at about fifty-five kilometers an hour and he zigzagged dashing left and right and then completed a large circle to the left. The chase had begun and our adrenaline was pumping like mad. My tracking buddy said he was a fat grayish white hare and he would be an amazing harvest.

I stayed put and waited for the hare to circle as my buddy pushed forward and flushed “big grey” out. I was totally focused and looking for any kind of movement, I moved a few feet left making my way around the brush pile for a second time. It was very quiet and there was no sign of movement. I moved forward once again on a few feet and as I was stepping over a fallen log, swish, the hare sprinted directly to my front going from right to left in what seemed to be a second and then disappeared under the snow and brush before I could get a shot off. He was heading west to the edge of the western field and my tracking buddy shortly found his fresh tracks and so we joined up and pushed forward together.

We placed ourselves side by side and continued flushing left like a rake through the tall grass and searched until we completed a full circle but to no avail. The chase had lasted about an hour and it was one of the best hare hunts I had experienced.

“Big Grey” beat us today but we will be back on his track.

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I was standing on the ridge near the main gate of the cattle’s enclosure. My rifle was resting on some freshly cut wood stumps, freeing up my hands for the binoculars allowing me to get a closer look at the hillside and field below.   

There was a refreshing breeze coming in from the west and the silver-leaved poplars were dancing in the wind making a melodious rustling sound. The cumulus humilis clouds were also moving quickly through the sky, then the wind would suddenly pick up and a few darker clouds would come in and there would be a little drizzle but within a few minutes it was all cleared up and the sun would come out. 

The farmer had mentioned that there was a big woodchuck that came up along the fence not far from where he cut his wood a few days earlier. So my plan was to walk along the old wooden farm fence towards the north and investigate some potential holes. I looked down the ridge at a walking trail that resembled a trench line in the shape of a snake. Its vegetation had been beaten down and dry light brown sand had covered all the hay. The rest of the field was overgrown with green thorny plants and knee-high hay and scattered piles of manure both fresh and dry. There were also three large rocks scattered along the edge of the tree line to the south and so I decided this is where I would begin my search. 

As I started my descent down the ridge, my eye caught some movement and sure enough there was the big woodchuck coming out one of the holes on the southern ridge and it made its way down to the trail heading east. It would sprint, then stop and look around nervously and then it would set off on a sprint again. Since I was higher up and my silhouette was quite visible I got down very quickly on my stomach and took aim with my binoculars and focused in on the animal. 

I was instantly hit with a foul smell and my hands, chest and knees were soaked. I had just laid down in some fresh cow muck. Well at least I would fit in better to my surroundings and the hunt well it went on. Still using my binoculars I followed the woodchuck along the trail until it disappeared behind a large bush. 

It had vanished right before my eyes, so I got up and very carefully walked down about one hundred yards to the exact spot and there were no holes to be found. So, I followed the trail along some more also heading east and it brought me back to one of the barns only a few feet from the car, so I stopped for lunch. 

Before it disappeared at least I had located the woodchuck, so I needed to give it some time to get back to its comfort level and continue to look for food. An important thing I learned is the following: If you scare the woodchuck, leave the immediate area and place yourself a good one hundred or more yards away and wait, if the sun is out the woodchuck will come out, maybe not in the same hole but it will come. So, I finished up my lunch and decided to check out some other fields to the north. 

By the time I finished up with the northern fields, I found myself on the far western side opposite to the ridge where I had been standing in the morning. So, I unloaded my rifle made my way over the wired fence and moved in close to the tree line and stayed in the low ground. This is so that I would not accidentally scare any woodchucks that were bathing in the sun. 

It was a great idea to stay close to the tree line except that I found myself under a tree that must have had about four crows and potentially a nest because they let me know real quick that I was not welcome and they also alerted all the animals around them of my presence. So, I pressed forward and moved along further up the edge now heading east. I tried my best not to make too much noise and the cow muck, combined with the mud made it very easy to move through the forest edge without making a sound. 

I picked up my binoculars and took a quick look at one of the three main boulders and sure enough there was a big woodchuck sun bathing on its surface. The only problem is that it had a perfect one hundred and eighty degree view of the field to his front and I was smack in the middle of it. 

So I kept moving forward through the muck and mud in order to close the gap between me and the woodchuck on the other side of the field. My feet did not make a sound; every step was calculated, purposely avoiding sticks and leaves, slowly moving down along the bottom part of an embankment. The woodchuck was still perched up on the large boulder and looking right at me. I quickly studied the field in front of me and noticed that there was some low ground, so I got down on my hands and knees climbed the embankment and started my approach towards the boulder. 

As I got closer, I noticed that it was not just one large boulder but a combination of four extremely large stones in the shape of a star. I would move a few steps and stop, then carefully look up over the crest with my binoculars, and then once again move a few steps. Now with only thirty-five yards between us, the birds starting chirping in the trees to the south, they could see me coming across the field and in their alert calls all wildlife scattered including the woodchuck. 

So, I got up walked over to the stones found the hole and had a look, the woodchuck was gone. So, I moved south about twenty yards and placed myself right on the forest’s southern edge facing the hole and the field. I sat on a large rock and stayed there for thirty minutes but the woodchuck never came. 

The large rock was not the most comfortable object to sit on, so I decided to move east still staying just inside the forest edge to investigate the two other large rocks that I had noticed earlier in the morning. Once in a while I would turn and look at the star-shaped boulders, sure enough on the third or fourth time I looked over, there was the woodchuck. Not on the boulder but heading south from inside the forest. “What a bugger!” It had been watching me the whole time as I stared at its hole. 

I saw it scoot along the forest floor right over to the large rock. By the time it had reached the large rock; I had turned around and started to make my way back going west. I was only fifty yards away but I had to get closer for a clean shot without scaring it. The woodchuck was now back at the boulder and started to feed. It would lift its head every few seconds and look around then start feeding again. 

We were taking turns moving, every time it put its head down; I took a few steps and then froze like a tree. I got within shooting range at about twenty yards facing west; I then slowly raised my Cooey and took it off safe. The woodchuck was positioned just slightly to my right with its left flank exposed, allowing me to line up my iron sights with its shoulder-blade.  Crack! The first shot rang out and the woodchuck did not move. 

I started to sprint north-west towards the woodchuck, all the while I cocked my rifle, lined up the iron sights. Crack! The second shot rang out; this time the woodchuck ran down the side of the large boulder and bolted towards its hole. 

Once I broke the forest edge and leapt over a smaller log and was now facing the east and had a view right down the hole. My second shot had struck it in its side and it was struggling to move deeper into it’s borrow. Crack! A third shot rang out and everything went quiet. 

I recovered my harvest and covered the hole with large stones. It wasn’t long after I left the area and started getting ready to go home that the herd of cattle moved in on the exact spot and began grazing.

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