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Posts Tagged ‘environment canada’


Environment Canada is doing a great job with its migratory bird program and for me purchasing my migratory bird permit has become a very important tradition in September.

One can purchase it online but I still love the feeling of walking into the post office downtown.

Opening those large metal doors and walking in amongst the attractive people in suits and dresses, my walk is poised and confident, a proud outdoorsman. The interior of the building is simply majestic with its high ceilings and beautiful framed historical stamps fill the walls. 

I stand in line and wait for my turn, some are sending money, others letters and me purchasing my migratory bird permit.

It is not just about paying and getting a piece of paper with a stamp, it is a privilege. After filling out the forms and paying, I walk out and hit the sidewalk with pride. I am excited about the season ahead about sharing it with great friends and family.

My harvests could be in lush fields or the dark waters of the river, either way it is a powerful experience that those before me have lived, cherished and shared for centuries. It is a sacred activity that goes beyond first impressions and judgement; it is exclusive and very personal.

In the confines of your family you become a legend with life experiences and stories that are worthy of campfires and passed through the generations.

Last weekend I went through my backpack, my Remington and got everything sorted and cleaned, I am hoping to have an incredible season.

We have good friends coming for a visit soon and I wish to offer them some great tasting sausages and Rillettes.

So in closing, I hope that your permit purchase this year is as special as mine and I wish you all a safe season and wonderful harvests. 

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My painting of Canada Geese

The Canada goose also named Branta Canadensis is one of my favorite types of waterfowl hunting. For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere and witness those large “V” formations in the spring flying over head along with the sound of their calls, makes for a very powerful experience and my sense of pride for the North-American wilderness is enriched.

In the province of Quebec, Canada geese may be hunted during their respective hunting season which is always during the fall months, with the exception of Snow Geese that can be hunted during a special spring hunt.

In Quebec, a hunter needs to have in his or her possession, the waterfowl permit plus the stamp (included) and also have their provincial small game permit for that year both for fall and the spring hunts. Waterfowl hunting is managed by Environment Canada; and all the information needed may be found on their site.

During the summer months, when I am not out hunting rock dove or groundhog, I like to take canoe trips to nearby lakes not only to enjoy the lush wilderness around me but also study the Canada geese that flock by the thousands and setup their nests by the shores.

It is now the middle of the month of June for the year of 2012 and the goslings that I had seen weeks before now have grown in size but still stay close to their parents in the water and shores. Being out in nature, studying the waterfowl is one of the best ways to learn about their habits, habitat but also their language and behavior. This knowledge is essential not only for conservation but also as a hunter.

During my last outing, I turned my canoe bow toward the northern edge of the lake and started to slowly paddle along the shore in order to get as close as I could to two groups of Canada geese. There were four adults which included two males that can weigh up to thirteen pounds and about twelve goslings that were already starting to lose the yellow plumage and turn grey. They were scattered, two adults in one group to the east and the other two adults to my left or north-west of the lake and the goslings were also scattered with three on the shoreline and the rest in the water.

The birds never sounded off an alert call as I closed the gap between them and me and this I found surprising. At the start of the waterfowl hunting season when it is open in farming areas first, quite often a few geese standing guard in the farming fields will sound off loud danger calls and soon the flock will fly away hastily in the face of danger.

Now just four meters away the male nearest to me, started to shake his head and upper part of his neck what seemed like a rhythmic dance, then the adult female soon followed and did the same, within a couple of seconds the three goslings on shore came into the safety of the water, then the entire flock came together in one tight group and starting swimming away to my left or west very quickly. I was being watched very closely, the other two adult geese to my right or east, started the head dance as well, first the male then the female both shaking their heads in this rhythmic dance and then they swam off towards the shore then caught up with the other geese.

It was clear to me that the rhythmic head shake was a clear message that danger was near but that it was not considered life threatening and that all geese and goslings should come together in a tight group and move away fast without making a single sound.

This would indeed be a perfect defense against a fox or coyote that is raiding the shorelines of the lakes and waterways. If the predator was spotted but the flock did not want to give away their position, they could send a silent alert signal to the rest of the flock to get into the safety of the water and stay close together thus giving the impression of strength in numbers. A veteran hunter once told me that the males can really pinch with their bite if you get too close, and their flapping wings can be intimidating.

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In one of my previous blog entries: Furred & Feathered Game, I typed up some bird names that were listed on the MNRF website, its link was also made available. These are in fact birds that you can hunt in the Province of Quebec, under the small game or migratory bird license permits. 

Some of these birds such as the Rock Dove may be hunted all year round; other birds like the Red-winged black bird or Ruffed grouse hunts will normally be managed with the use of specific hunting seasons which include variable dates depending on their provincial zones (Quebec). For the rest of Canada this list may vary slightly; as an example one of the factors could be that your area may not have suitable habitat for certain bird species.

For more information on waterfowl hunting, check out the Environment of Canada website.

This article however does not focus on hunting seasons or zones; it is about mastering the skills of bird identity. Learning is part of the joys of bird watching and this is also true for hunters, but as a hunter we have an added level of responsibility when it pertains to correctly identifying our birds. This is absolutely critical before taking our shots.

I recently finished the book The Birds of winter. I have to say it is quite easy for any of us to pick up a similar book about birds and turn to a page where there is a photograph of a bird we wish to harvest. In my situation it was on page 48 of the book where there was a black and white photograph of a Ring-necked pheasant. I then turned back to page 46 and on this page there was a same sized black and white photograph of an eastern wild turkey in the exact same position. They looked somewhat similar from a distance and with additional factors such as rainy weather, thick grass or woodlands you could begin to understand, how at first glance you could fail to differentiate the two. Yes, the pheasant has bright colors indeed when comparing them to eastern wild turkeys, however when studying some duck species as mentioned in the book Birdwatching, A guide for beginners they write about the word: eclipse.

Eclipse is a term used for dull plumage color, a great example of this is the grayish brown colors of a mallard hen. Some male ducks will lose their eloquent colors once the mating season is over, in turn becoming dull. The change in color of plumage could make it more challenging to identify a specific bird. In my photo gallery page, I have a photograph of two ruffed grouse near a stump and I consider it a great illustration about how easy it can be to walk right past them while still-hunting. When considering behaviour, the eastern wild turkeys will quite often be in a group called rafter.

In the book Birdwatching, A guide for beginners, the authors did a fantastic job in outlining what they consider to be the five major clues to bird identification. I describe these clues in my own way.

Silhouette: In other words the outline of an object in our case a bird; this can help you identify which group of bird they belong to. I am pretty confident that most of us remember our plastic ducks found in almost every bathtub across North-America and if someone were to hold one up you could most likely identify it as a duck just by looking at its outline and noticing its short flat bill or tail.

Plumage: One of my favorite birds to help explain plumage is the mallard drake duck. With its bright green head and white ring color plumage on its neck, it is a rather large duck, and also easily identifiable from far. Study the colors of the birds you wish to hunt and take note of their distinctive colors patterns.

Behaviour: When I am hunting Rock dove, knowing their behaviour as a flock helps me get closer, knowing what movements will cause them to fly away. Pigeons are gregarious and this provides added security, more eyes to help notice danger. I use my environment for the approach, either using low ground or a barn as cover. I can then get closer and identify them as Rock Dove.

Habitat: Eastern wild turkeys normally stay within a five-mile radius of their roost and they can often be found near the edge of tree lines and hay or corn fields. Knowing the habitat of a specific bird will enable you to get closer and identify them. Avoid wearing red, blue or white and use extreme caution during the turkey hunting season when moving around.

Voice: Duck calls are a great example to use for voice identity, the greeting call, or hail call. When you are sitting in the marsh, and you hear such a sound this confirms that there are ducks nearby and eventually you will be able to identify different duck species through their calls.

Have a great season!

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At the start of every hunt, one of my preparatory steps is getting all my documents and cards ready, so that I am stacked for my outing. This can include maps of the hunting areas, my federal firearms card, and a copy of the firearm registration certificate for the gun that I will be using on that particular day, my permits, and sometimes a copy of the hunting regulations. In Quebec, where I most often hunt it is not necessary to carry your hunter’s card with you during the hunt but if I was hunting in Ontario, I would carry my non-resident permit and the Ontario outdoors card.

Now even though it may only take me a few minutes to complete this process, every hunter that has taken part in the Federal Firearms and hunters courses knows that there is both a lot of time and money invested into acquiring all the permits and cards. Furthermore there is also the purchasing of hunting equipment and all of this is mixed up with the anticipation of finally being able to practice the sport you love.

Ok! Now I am ready but where can I hunt? There are several methods to finding out where you can hunt, you can call the Ministry of Natural Resources or consult their websites, you can book with an outfitter, and you can hunt on crown land, on friends or family farms or wooded properties if permitted by law. Sometimes you can discover great hunting spots just by speaking with other hunters or store owners in your area. This is not always easy because some of them treat their sites like a great fishing spot and do not wish to share their secrets.

When I first started hunting in my region, I found it difficult to locate great hunting spots even with the resources listed above, besides I did not have many friends that were hunters or that owned land. So, I did some searching on my own and in time I discovered a series of great spots for hunting, especially for waterfowl.

These Quebec hunting sites were all located along the 148 on the shores of the Ottawa River (Rivière des Outaouais ) and the majority have parking spots available. The sites may vary some being accessible only by boat and others on foot. In order to find these hunting sites, look for the following sign boards.
These sign boards are found at each of the parking lot entrances and show you a wealth of information including the access paths with an informative legend.

The legend shows the wetland boundaries, the pathways in orange, the boundaries for public access land, parking locations and the boundaries for the land belonging to Ducks Unlimited. Also part of the legend is a series of activities listed; the one’s that have a check mark beside it indicates which activity is permitted for that specific site. The board signs also have usually thirteen regulations listed under the code of ethics for people using that site. There is also the following number listed on the sign in order to get more information: 1-800-565-1650.

I have translated some examples of the code of ethics for the persons using the sites: Use the paths and managed access ways that are provided. Do not damage the agricultural terrain, do not use motorized vehicles in the wetlands, follow all the laws with concerns to safe weapon handling and to the type of vehicles or boats being used, keep a safe distance from any building or residence including other hunters, respect others persons lookouts or blinds. Use non-toxic shot (Steel as an example) and pickup all your spent shotgun shells, respect all the laws and regulations that are in place for specific species, the zones and the seasons for that time of year. With concerns to hunting, immediately pick up your harvested game, either using a floatation device or boat or a dog that can retrieve game, Do not put up more than one sign per hunter site, At the end of the fall season pickup and remove all blinds, lookouts and caches from the site, share the site with others for example: Fall hunters for migratory birds, or bird watchers in the springtime etc, pick up and remove any garbage at the end of your outing.

I have not only enjoyed great migratory bird hunting because of the awesome work being done by the following organizations: Ducks Unlimited, The North American Waterfowl Management plan, Société de la faune et des parcs du Québec, but I have also enjoyed quiet walks amongst bald eagles, blue herons and hundreds of bird species.

Conservation is key to this spot!

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The term furred game can be used to describe an animal that you may hunt and it could be as large as a deer or as small a squirrel. The fact remains that this type of example can be found throughout several online articles and books written about furred game. In a sense they are the same; both are considered wild game and each of them have fur.

Yet we know that this is not entirely true and that we can easily identify their definite differences and not just by noticing the group of species they belong to or their sizes, but there is more.

In the world of small game or varmint hunting, their differences can also be in the lengths of the season, which tend to be much longer than big game or turkey. Small game seasons are also not limited to only a few weeks in the fall. For example some varmints may be hunted all year round. Now concerning bag limits, unlike Cervidae hunting, which only allows for one tag per year or two tags on the Island of Anticosti similar to that of Caribou hunting. Small game bag limits amounts will vary but will always be greater compared to that of big game hunting.

These are only some of the reasons why I consider small game hunting such an enjoyable pass time: Longer seasons, more choice of game and different bag limits. I wanted to take the time and provide you with the province of Quebec ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP) link to the page for hunting periods and bag limits for to small game hunting and also lists the species of furred game below.

It is also important to take note of the gear allowed to be used for the respective game, and know the hunting zones where hunting is permitted for a specific game, as well as the season dates.

Furred Game: (Specific to Quebec)
Eastern Cottontail
Arctic Hare
Snowshoe Hare
Coyote
Wolf
Woodchuck
Raccoon
Silver Fox
Crossed Fox
Red Fox

Feathered Game: (Specific to Quebec)
Ruffed grouse
Spruce grouse
Sharp-tailed grouse
Gray partridge
Rock ptarmigan
Willow ptarmigan
Red-winged blackbird
American crow
European starling
House sparrow
Common grackle
Brown headed cowbird
Rock dove
Quail
Northern bobwhite
Pheasant
Francolin
Rock partridge
Chukar partridge
Red legged partridge
Guinea fowl

Migratory birds (Feathered):

With concerns to Migratory Birds make sure you check out the Migratory Birds Hunting Regulations. I have placed the link for all provinces and territories for 2018 year to provide you with an example of the layout and content. I have also listed some of the birds below:

Ducks (other than Harlequins Ducks)
Woodcock and Snipe WATERFOWLER HERITAGE DAYS Ducks (other than Eiders, Harlequin Ducks, and Long tailed Ducks)
Geese (other than Canada Geese, Cackling Geese and Snow Geese)
Snipe Canada
Geese and Cackling Geese Eiders
Long–tailed Ducks
Coots
Moorhens Woodcock

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