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Posts Tagged ‘dawn’


Well it was about that time in the morning that I stood with everyone else at the stop waiting for the bus to head into work. Most people were still half asleep, others were glued to their mobile devices; some were smoking or simply talking to the person next to them.

As for me, my eyes were up in the sky looking at the geese flying overhead coming in from the river just south, heading to the fields about two kilometers north for the day to feed. I was listening to their calls, watching them fly over in formation but I also kept an eye on the time.

Hunters can head into farm areas or wetlands and hope to harvest a duck or two all throughout the day but you can definitely increase your chances of having greater success, if you choose the right time of day to hunt.

To the others in my queue at the bus stop, the geese were either part of the fall scenery or simply nuisance birds, but what they do not realize is that these birds were sharing vital information regarding their resting and feeding spots in addition they were also providing the exact time when a waterfowler can maximize his or her chances of having a great harvest.

I have found that the golden minutes at dawn are thirty minutes before sunrise and at dusk they are the half an hour after sundown. The advantage at dawn is that you can continue hunting throughout the morning but at dusk, it is a very small window of time and managing this period is very important to give yourselves the opportunity to set up your blinds and decoy spreads in order to capitalize on the exact time.

There are great tools at your disposal, websites containing the sunrise and sundown information and some GPS models even have it integrated and can provide you with the sunrise and sundown time for your geographical area.

I always carry a head lamp, my gun case and trigger locks with me for the hunts at dusk, so that I can secure my shotgun in accordance with the federal and provincial laws, it is safe and you will also avoid heavy fines.

Have a great time and be safe!

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Ducks

The sun was slowly setting over the hunting camp with its bright pink lines cutting through the cool October sky.  Six field dressed ducks sat in the freezer as our duck hunt had come to an end for the day. Now we were all sitting around the table sharing stories, laughs about family, life and the day’s hunt. Each of us with our cold drinks, and various snack bags, bottle caps littered the table top along with a chipped crystal clear ashtray where seniors’ cigarette was smoldering and its smoke was spiraling into the ceiling fan. Wet pants hung on the line right above the wood burning fire-place, and the boots stood neatly by the door. In the morrow, we would set out for the wetlands again, so I took a few minutes to clear the shotguns outside and put a light coat of oil on them before calling it a night.

During my quick cleaning, I grabbed my Remington 870 pointed it in a safe direction cleared the shotgun running though the action to activate the ejection steps, nothing came out since it had already cleared twice before down by the creek. Always treat a gun like it is loaded eh! I inspected the chamber first visually and then with my fingers and also checked the tubular magazine making sure it was also cleared. Once I deemed it safe, I squirted a few drops of Break Free oil on some swabs and gently covered all metal parts of the shotgun. I then proceeded to use my cleaning rod and pulled through the barrel several times first with my wired brush and then with a lightly coated swab, then with my shotgun barrel cleaner.

The action was pulled back to the rear of the receiver and the shotgun was aimed down on an angle, so that I could see down the barrel; it can be difficult to see if the barrel is clean and cleared of swab lint, gun powder residue or debris, depending on the lighting. Break-Action shotguns are much easier to look down the barrel once you have pulled through with the cleaning rod.

My friend handed me a piece of white cloth and I placed it at the back of the receiver, so that I can still see in through the ejection port. I then turned the gun around and looked down the barrel. Having the white cloth or even a white piece of paper allows light to reflect and now I could see clearly down the barrel with the outside light.
It was all clean and free of any obstructions, ready for the next outing.  I always practice the ACTS & PROVE when handling a firearm or preparing it for cleaning.

ACTS
Assume every firearm is loaded.
Control the muzzle direction at all times.
Trigger finger must be kept off the trigger and out of the trigger guard.
See that the firearm is unloaded – PROVE it safe.

PROVE
Point the firearm in the safest available direction.
Remove all ammunition.
Observe the chamber.
Verify the feeding path.
Examine the bore.

Be Safe!

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Snare2

Snare2

The early morning air that surrounded me in the woods was crisp and cold. It was almost like time was standing still and every sound in the forest was amplified. The trees had a pure white coat on them after a light January snow fall at dawn.

The temperature was thirty below and the twenty gauge wire that I was working with for my snares was burning my hands as they slowly went numb. I had been tightening the wire around a broken support branch that I had placed overtop my hare lead at its narrowest section.

After carefully placing twigs creating a funnel cone toward the opening of my snare, it was now time for me to tie up my trail marker tape identifying the second snare spot. I was only on my second setup and my goal was to have five more completed by mid morning.

At about eleven o’clock all my snares were in place and had been inspected. A friend and veteran snare hunter had taught me that after the holidays around mid January it was a good idea to adjust your snare openings. Making them slightly larger than the size of your fist and instead of having the wire around five-finger widths from the ground, he suggested it be around three.

Satisfied with my snares, I packed away my gear and prepared myself for the drive home; the anxiety for the next morning’s potential harvest was slowly consuming me. As an avid hunter my excitement level was about the same as someone would experience while waiting to open their gifts on Christmas day. It was now time for nature to take the lead no pun intended.

For those who are familiar with nature, especially North American animals there is a belief that badgers have an interesting relationship with coyotes. This relationship gets even more interesting when they are hunting for food together. Let us imagine they were pursuing a ground dwelling rodent, the badger would attempt to dig him out. The coyote on the other hand would simply wait at one of the escape holes and grab the rodent as it escapes.

Now it is also a known fact that coyotes are smarter than foxes. The question is then: Is it just smarts or is it simply theft? Another interesting fact about this relationship is why the badger doesn’t just kill the coyote that is stealing or trespassing during the combined hunt. Opportunistic or instinct, is it theft or just survival?

The following morning had come and the temperature on the thermostat was showing twenty-four below zero. My goal was to get to the site before nine in the morning, check all my snares and then plan to be home in time for lunch. So I loaded up my gear and headed out to the woods, which was about an hour drive north.

My first snare was intact and although there were fresh tracks in the new snow, they did not lead to my opening, so I slowly removed the wire and marker and placed it in my pocket and prepared myself to move to the second snare. I had put on my yellowish tint shooting glasses, which offer such a visual advantage during the winter when sifting through pine and cedar. I also brought along my .22 bolt-action Savage in the event that a hare may break into a full chase, so with this in mind I decided to stalk between my snare spots.

When I got up to my second snare, I instantly noticed the scattered blood droplets on the white snow and branches. There were obvious signs of a struggle, I also saw several droppings scattered on the fresh snow and there were tuffs of fur stuck on the branches and the log nearby.

My shiny twenty gauge wire had been torn and was still tied off to the main log. I tirelessly looked for a blood trail around the leads but the hare had just vanished and although there were three other leads heading up the ridge there was no sign of blood.

I did however notice prints in the snow heading north-west that looked like coyote tracks; they were headed directly into heavy cedar underbrush and into an area that was quite dark even in daylight. I spent the next forty-five minutes searching the area around the second snare site but did not see any sign of my hare. I gathered up my remaining snares and prepared myself for a challenging season.

The tell-tale signs indicate that I had successfully snared my first hare this year but ended up getting badgered by the local coyote. This most definitely adds a more positive spin to my snowshoe hare and small game season this winter because I now have an added challenge ahead of me.

I do not wish to be badgered again.

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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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