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Whether you are in an elevator filled with strangers or waiting in line at Tim Horton’s coffee shop, one of the easiest ice breakers to get rid of that dreaded silence is to talk about the weather, especially here in Canada.

The weather is not only a social rescue tool but I also consider it to be one of the most important elements no pun intended in which we need to have some understanding and also take into consideration during the preparatory phase of your hunt and during the outing.

There is no need to become a meteorologist in order to have a more successful hunt but if you possess some of their knowledge, it can definitely enhance your chances of success. For example understanding how the weather impacts specific birds can be advantageous during a duck hunt, thinning air is harder to fly in. Birds sit it out before a storm. The skill of being able to interpret the warm and cold fronts is also very important during migratory bird hunting.

I always consult the Weather Network web site the night before my outing, thus allowing me to pack the right gear and to dress accordingly, so that I may hunt comfortably in any time of year.

I am always trying to learn more about the weather, so that I may be better prepared while out on a hunt, thus trying to improve my chances of a harvest but also to be prepared in the event that the weather changes. Knowing which birds or mammals is affected by the weather and how I may use this to my advantage.

One of my greatest treasures and tool to help me achieve this goal is the following book “Eric Sloane’s Weather Book” in his fourteen chapters Eric writes in such a way that it makes it easy to understand concepts such as cold and warm fronts, the air masses and about the winds amongst other interesting topics. One particular page I really enjoyed at the beginning of the book is the weather sayings of the old sailors and they are easy to remember but very informative.

I wanted to end this blog entry with a quote that the author also included in his book written by William Shakespeare: “In nature’s infinite book of secrecy a little I can read.”
I hope that in time, I will be able to read and understand some of the pages in nature’s book.

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In his book The Life of Birds the author David Attenborough wrote that “Each kind of hunter has its own technique for deploying its weapons.” In the “Meat eaters” chapter he talks about birds of prey and the importance of their vision. My vision is without a doubt one of the first tools that I employ when hunting rabbits or hare. In my previous blog entry I demonstrated my technique in a mini video on how I scan the low ground and hideouts to find snowshoe hare; I then deploy my shotgun if I see one.

Our vision is so important to small game hunters as it is for all forms of hunting. Now unless you are hunting in area where there is a high population density of hare then the task of spotting a hare in the woods becomes that much more of a challenge especially during the winter months. White on White! All predators have binocular vision and I believe that this is one of the most used tools when hunting hare or rabbit. What is binocular vision?

The definition for this type of vision is well described on the Wikipedia website. As a human hunter we simply need to understand the fact that our eyes are placed in the front of the head just like several other predatory species this gives us an advantage to our field of view. This is estimated to be approximately two hundred degrees with the use of both eyes.

However having a large field of view can be considered a disadvantage, this really depends on the situation. For example in my rabbit hunting technique, once I have found a lead, I normally stop and look to the front and allow my peripheral vision try to pickup movement that is not considered normal for the environment that I am in. Trees moving in the wind, snow falling off the branches is natural in the woodlands but black furry tips moving very quickly raises a red flag as do shiny black eyes.

With binocular vision our ability to detect faint objects is enhanced, we have a stronger depth perception. Understanding vergence and stereopsis can help a lot when hunting.

Success in rabbit hunting is being able to spot them before they see or hear you and taking your shot before they attempt to run and hide. This rule also applies to meat-eating Buzzards. Eagles for example have adapted their flight attack pattern for this same very reason, so that rabbits do not scoot away from them before it is too late.

Vision is a very important tool; it would be awesome to have more rods in our retina thus improving the acuity of our vision, especially in low light.

Can you imagine the visual advantages we would have while hunting rabbit if we could see them flick their ears two miles away just like a Buzzard? The challenge then would be to come up with a great technique to close the gap just enough to take a clean shot. So if you can see the rabbit or hare from a distance and are capable of closing the gap with great skill then you may harvest.

Yet even Buzzards must adapt their approach of the attack when coming in for a kill, they cannot just drop down from above or the hare will see them and scoot.

So even with their superior sight they still need to concentrate their efforts into their descent flight gradually adjusting their height and coming down almost to ground level flapping their wings to grab the rabbit with great speed and surprise.

In closing the Buzzards vision is definitely more acute than ours because they have far more rods in their retinas as much as 1000000 in comparison to us 200000/mm2. So even with this visual advantage, they still need to complete the approach for the harvest.

Next time I hit the woodlands, I am going to try a new technique, I will find a lead and mark it with a branch. Then I will place myself off set from the lead about twenty meters away with my binoculars in the prone position and wait to see if the hare’s will move about and attempt to spot one. Watching from far just like a Buzzard. It won’t be my first time lying in the snow but I will make sure there are no coyotes around.

I don’t have the luxury of low-level flying like a Buzzard but being already on the ground I will try to get as low as I possibly can. I want to be able to find, see and close in on the hare and attempt to harvest. If it works I will call it the Buzzard method!

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