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A few weeks ago I drove into a Tim Horton’s coffee shop parking lot and found myself behind an older Chevy truck that was on his way out and just about done backing out of his spot, and on his tailgate there was a large bumper sticker which said: Kids who hunt, fish and trap don’t mug little old ladies. My first reaction was a smile but then I thought to myself that there must be some truth to this saying. This is a pro then.

If children participate in a fun and educational activity like accompanying their family while on a hunt for example then they are more likely to avoid getting into trouble. My son has been coming along on my hunts since the age of three and he has learned so much from just being out in nature.

It is a very healthy way for them to spend the day outdoors and they usually go back home rejuvenated, you can see it on their faces. For them it is a day of hiking and observing.

It is also a great way to spend quality time with the family, creating memories which will last a lifetime. When my son accompanies me on my hunts however there are pros and cons.

My son is very much involved in the preparation stages, like getting the snacks and lunches ready, packing the kit bags with the right gear, filling the cooler with its necessary content and then loading the vehicle. But this also takes more time. This is a con then. We have been out together in all seasons throughout the year and this makes for a lot of pre-planning, especially during the winter months. You are no longer preparing just for one person.

Your checklist becomes a little more loaded, ensuring that you have the extra orange safety vests, additional food, water, gloves and snow outfits. You now have to be extra careful in having spare clothing, a complete first aid kit, and allergy medication if it applies to your situation. This is a con then because your kit is a little heavier.

Your family member’s age or their level of experience as well as their knowledge can have a direct impact on the success of your hunt. Experience has taught me that when a young person is accompanying you, harvesting game no longer is the most important element which contributes to the definition of a successful hunt. It is having fun and learning!

A practice which I have adopted while hunting with my son is in order to keep it interesting and rewarding; I do not take him on big game hunts like wild boar or turkey hunting in the early hours of the morning. Rather I take him along for groundhog and pigeon hunting, which has just enough of a challenge but increases our chances of harvesting something. The advantage with this strategy is that there is no need to walk for miles in the woods and then in the end having to carry them in your arms or shoulders which is not very safe. Fun and safety are paramount!

Additionally during the winter months, the shorter distances means that we can go back to the vehicle warm up have a snack, drink some water and plan for our next hunting segment. During the summer months, we normally pick a large boulder to sit on or a fence under a very large tree which provides us with ample shade. This is also a great time for them to use binoculars and have a feel for the land and animal life which is around them or maybe even take some pictures. This is a pro!

Still hunting is my preferred way to hunt and this sometimes involves going through thick brush and rough terrain, when a younger family member has come along for the day, you are limited on where you can go and the distance you can cover. This is a con. They may get fatigued or the cold weather and wind will be too much for them to handle for long periods of time. It is not uncommon for me to spend up to four hours at a time hunting snowshoe hare being exposed to minus twenty degree Celsius temperatures. I do not recommend this for younger members of your hunting party, they will get cold quickly and your hunt will be cut short.

Of course let us not forget firearm safety; my gun is never loaded when I am with my son unless I am ready to shoot. My weapon is always pointing in a safe direction away from anyone or is aimed at the ground.

When I am ready to shoot, I always ensure my son is directly behind me with a distance of about four meters between us and I never take a shot without checking his position where he is standing or kneeling, this way he does not sneak up on me by accident. I use the principles which we have been taught during our courses. When I am out with a younger member of the family, I am extra vigilant and do not allow any room for error.

Accidents do occur but they can be avoided by using proper handing and firing but also for the storing of firearms. If you are taking a break during your hunt, you will want to unload the firearm and store it in a secure area like a gun case and a locked trunk. Inform yourselves on the proper storage and placement of the firearm in and around vehicles whether it is a truck or an ATV or even a boat. Additionally inform yourselves on who is permitted to carry and use a firearm depending on their age. In my case, I am the only person using a firearm until the person accompanying is old enough and has successfully completed his or her courses.

Federal firearms legislation and hunters

In respecting the guidelines and laws you will avoid expensive fines or worse a very serious accident.

If a young person accompanies you on a hunt, there are definitely pros et contras but the positives most definitely outweigh the negatives, it is so rewarding to have someone come out and learn and be as passionate as you are about nature and wildlife. And on the drive home when they are knocked out in the back seat from fatigue, let me tell you when I buy a hot coffee it is one of the best coffees in the world. Just me and the road!

Notion of family, age required to hunt and initiation license

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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