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Posts Tagged ‘duck’


It was raining heavily with the winds howling all around me, in an Easterly direction. I had been walking for several minutes now through the wetlands, between the ice sheets and the cattails. As the bottom of my boots crushed the crisp swamp grass, with my every breath and step, I was nearing the edge of the dark forest and the river bank.

I was all alone heading deeper into the fog, brought on by the warming temperatures. As I breached the tree line, I was engulfed by the pure white mist. I stopped for a moment, looked back and then stared at the hidden frozen watering holes in the woods, capturing the absolute.

It was only half past three in the afternoon but it felt much later than this, as the darkness creeps in earlier this time of year. I pushed forward toward the banks and soon was met with the wall of ice about twenty meters in length. Its outer edge was cut and had jagged pieces of ice sticking out, it was rubbing against the central ice sheet located in the middle of the river, and this piece was hundreds of meters long.

Just like the earths tectonic plates, the ice sheets were crushing each other and producing this incredible sound of shattering glass. I had already experienced duck hunting this time of year and knew that I could make it out about my waist in height to retrieve a harvest but that any further would be deadly. I would have to plan all my shots, so that the birds would land in a safe area.

Moments later, I was now well hidden behind some majestic trees, right along the edge of the river, I started calling geese and ducks, followed by many minutes of silence. Finally, my calling and patience paid off, I had a flock of Canada’s fly over but they were too high and out of range. They responded to my calls and I tried my best to imitate their call and attempt to interpret which call would draw them in best. I worked them hard, as I have successfully in the past, but they soon disappeared into the fog.

I had a second faint call in the distance and soon realized that it was a lone goose, floating through the middle of the river amongst the great ice pieces and dark waters. I called and was waiting for a response, I worked on this bird heavily but it was all in vain, the current carried the Canada right down the middle and it did not bite and come back over the ice. It flapped its wings and responded but it too disappeared into the mist toward the East.

Just like the final page in a book closing itself, my season on the river was coming to its end, and the last image I had was that of this Canada goose, calling out faintly and fading away in the white mist amongst the ice sheets of this northern land.

I went home without firing a shot but this is sometimes the reality of the hunt, and as a seasoned waterfowler, I am grateful for my time in our great Canadian wilderness.

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Last Sunday I took advantage of some spare time and drove out to the river to see if I could spot a few ducks in open water. With not very many days left in my waterfowl season, I wanted to see if mother nature would give me a last go, until next fall.

After having spent about two hours walking along the shores of the river and through the wetlands, it was clear that my waterfowl was nearing its end. The ice was getting thick and the open waters of the river were well out of range with the ice about forty meters wide from the edge of the shore and about two inches thick.

There was no doubt that the view was spectacular and the wind blowing in was refreshing and complimented the snowy banks of the river, just a perfect match. It is always a bitter-sweet feeling, knowing that my waterfowl season is coming to a close.

The year’s season was an interesting one and to be honest, as I went out on all my outings during this season, I seem to have lost count of my harvests and had the impression that I hadn’t had as good as season as last year, especially with the warmer weather lingering longer at the start of the season.

On my drive home from the river, I was happy about the idea of getting back into a warm spot but knew I would miss my days on the river until next fall. Over the next few days, I took out my harvests out of the freezer and let them defrost and then marinated the meat over night and began the lengthy process of making our Rillettes.

It is pretty neat to feel how much pride comes from making delicious traditional Rillettes with your own harvests, and also being able to share it with friends and family who appreciate them, especially during the holiday season.

Twenty one jars later and a clean kitchen, I can now look back on all the great moments of my season with satisfaction and pride as well as the lessons learned and only hope for the best next fall.

Remember to be safe and happy new year to all of you who share this passion of ours.

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“The darkness and the cold envelops you like a blanket, the wind howls and makes sounds like that of wicked spirits calling out. Tis the season of toxic mud gases and weeds that weigh a ton, and wrap themselves around your paddle like mad fingers who wish to pull you down into the depths of the black waters. A few more powerful strokes and the harvest might be yours or not, it is unyielding and painful yet so rewarding. It is healing, it is medicine for the soul.” CSGH

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There is no better way to treat your soul than spending time in the woods, it is not only refreshing but it also allows you to recharge your inner battery. You are free of all the city madness and its sounds. With the snow melt now in effect, and the sun coming out in full strength I couldn’t have asked for a better day to spend time in the elements.

I decided to bring a friend along and we were going to try our luck with rock dove and woodchuck, since their seasons are open all year round in my hunting zone in Quebec. The rock doves are incredible flyers and can perform amazing aerobatics in the air and sometimes can avoid shots thus making it a true challenge, pigeons also learn quickly and recognize danger and can fly away without offering a chance of a harvest.

After a couple failed attempts on the rock doves, I chose to give them a few minutes to calm down and swing back into our wooded area, so we set off to the other side of the creek and head south to try my luck at the woodchucks in the rock formations atop of a hill. The creek current was faster than usual with the water icy cold as there were still ice and snow chunks floating down along with a few Mallard ducks and three Canada geese.

The creek was too wide and we only had our hip waders on, and the depth of the creek was too deep. There were no boards available to make a makeshift crossing, but nature has a way of providing. And in our case it was a land bridge, made by one of the most impressive builders in the animal world, a beaver.

The dam is about eighty meters long and makes for a great land bridge, and it was only six hundred meters West of our current spot, the tricky part was getting there because the bush was extremely thick. I used this opportunity to share my knowledge of moving through the brush, looking for directional signs, such as the position of the sun and the vegetation, for example such as broken twigs, and on our way back we located our foot steps in the mud and snow as guidance.

The forest floor was saturated with snow and mud; sometimes you found yourself sinking into mud holes that resembled quick sand, holding on small trees and walking on the mud islands and downed trees worked great. Also early in the spring, if you are planning on following a creek I tend not to get too close to the edge as the ice sheets overlap the river and if you are not careful, there is nothing but water below the sheets of ice, that have become thinner with the increased temperatures in the spring.

It is a great idea to use a tall walking stick for balance, while crossing the dam wall and ensure that every step is on solid parts of the dam, being aware of the spillway. Once we had reached the other side it was simply magical, just the wind and birds keeping us company. The view overlooking the ridge was just breath-taking. Total mastery of the woodlands is not just a positive feeling but it is also incredibly rewarding. Their dams are not a barrier, but rather a passage.

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Almost every time I take a friend along with me waterfowl hunting, either they get too cold or wet and it ruins their first experience. Now unless they truly fall in love with the sport, it seems they never want to come back out. Why? I hope it is not because I am bad company, just kidding! It is simply that they are cold and wet. Now I am always well equipped and usually have a spare set of hip waders, warm jackets and gloves as well as toques or balaclava to lend. But the reality is that every living person has different levels of tolerance for cold, bad weather and being wet. I suppose this is why I end up going out quite often alone, because it would take some very incredible conditions to break me.

When ever I put on my waders, I break a sweat even if I am well dressed underneath with sweat absorbent clothing and good socks. Also unless you put on your waders at home before leaving it can be very unpractical and uncomfortable to put them on in the field. I like to have good pants underneath my waders with pockets and a sweater that looks presentable when going into the gas station or local store either before or after a hunt. Imagine having a pair of comfortable pants like jogging pants or a light pair of stretch trousers that would be made of a quick dry material. They could have waterproof pouches as front pockets fitted with zippers to keep your permits and licenses dry and safe.

The other nuisance part of waders is the fact that unless your socks are knee-high, you are constantly having to pull them up as they tend to slip and slide down until they are a wet ball under the ball of your feet. How about having comfortable trousers attached to the pair of socks. The socks could be made using Merino wool or a similar material which can breathe, dry quickly and be very comfortable and offer some cushion effect to the feet inside the waders.

How about even going further and having an outfit that is similar to a onesie but instead of using all the same material, you would start off at the bottom with very good socks, attached to the stretch trousers at the ankles and then attached at the waist of the trousers would be a sweater or similar long sleeve shirt that can absorb moisture, odours and dry fast. Heck you could even design it with your own camouflage pattern. Waders often have designs that have a front pouch with zippers or magnets to keep the flaps closed.

My model of waders made by Allen, even have an inside small zipper pouch that I love this is where I put my keys and phone. Designers could take it to another level and add additional chest level waterproof pouches on the sweater part, either to waders or top part of the onesie. I have seen onesie fleece outfits for fishing but the fleece is not resistant to water and you can get cold fast, also the socks are not attached on certain models.

I would love to see a three section design from sock, trousers to shirt. It would be a perfect outfit to wear under the waders and possibly my friends would continue to come out with me more often. I would call it the STS design and give a name like “The Beast”.

Until then stay warm and dry and most of all safe!

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District F in Quebec is where I hunt my duck and geese; this year opening day is scheduled for September 20, 2014. What I like to do before opening day is spend a few afternoons or early mornings in the wetlands and fields then check out their whereabouts and activity.

This helps with the overall planning and preparation stage but also testing the gear like the duck boat and kayaks, and other equipment in addition checking the water levels and the wetlands to see if anything has changed from the previous season.

Where I hunt waterfowl it is public land anyone can set up a blind and hunt on opening day. A common practice in my area is for hunters to mark off a small section with a sign which has a name and the year of the season, this lets others know that this spot has been taken.

Most waterfowlers will respect this and move on to the next spot, unfortunately not everyone is respectful or let alone safe. Signs have been removed and thrown into the water and some hunters are so dangerous during opening day they are a hazard to themselves and to others shooting in every other direction, and when shooting starts a half an hour before sunrise, well you can imagine the situation. There have also been incidents when some hunters, even push-off others out of a certain areas, which is known to be opened to the public.

So when it comes to opening day, is it worth it? Does it deserve all the hype? I do not think so. I prefer to wait a few days and once the storm has settled, when the temperatures drop, this is the time to hit the waters. The cold weather will keep the trigger happy gunners inside and the seasoned waterfowlers will be able to enjoy a safe outing and possibly harvest a few birds.

The season closes on January 3rd, 2015 in my district, so there will be lots of time to be on the water and break through the ice with an axe to get to the ducks. Don’t forget your waterfowl permit and stamp and in my district make sure your small game permits are still good.

For more information on your district, PMU’s or zone for waterfowl hunting check out the Environment Canada website.

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The eagles tail feathers and wings were spread wide open and pointing downward as the bird danced in the wind high above the dark blue waters of the Ottawa river. We had decided to take a late afternoon drive in the country to enjoy the sights and sounds then finish near the water’s edge to enjoy the sunset; little did we know it was going to be an evening to remember for a long time.

At first we could not make out what the eagle was after as it dove several times down to the choppy waters, dipping only its powerful claws into the frozen depths then with a splash, it would spring up back into the air several meters and swerve around to regain control and almost hover above the exact spot where it dove moments earlier. We pulled over on the right hand shoulder of the road or south and quickly turned on the four-way flashers.

There was an incredible hunt unfolding right in front of us and we were not about to pass on this amazing experience, it wasn’t until we moved up a little closer that we realized the eagle was after an American black duck which was rolling in and out of the waves on the river’s surface with one broken feather on its wing bent straight up; the eagle had managed to grab its prey but the duck dove below the surface just long enough to break away from the deadly talons.

The eagle dove down four more times with incredible speed and precision but the duck hen dove instantly below the surface and disappeared momentarily into the darkness sending the eagle back into the sky. The musculature of the bald eagle was so impressive even without the help of binoculars, its legs were stretched right out and its claws were clearly visible. After several more attempts the eagle, which was now showing signs of fatigue from fighting the strong winds, gracefully glided to a nearby willow tree and set itself down on one of its highest branches then looked around.

Then without any warning the bald eagle leaped into flight and faded toward the horizon heading south-east to Ontario.

Lucky duck indeed!

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