Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘ottawa river’


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!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


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!

Read Full Post »


The Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Fauna identify the geographic area where I practice sport hunting as Zone 10, for me it is known as the “Swamp” a twenty minute drive up the road or the “Real Woods” a two hour drive north to the woodlands of park Papineau-Labelle. 

The truth is that this land running along the Ottawa River as we know it today provided living, trading and hunting grounds for the Algonquin. Even with the arrival of the Europeans and ongoing skirmishes with the Iroquois, they managed to survive. I want to dig up and find their knowledge about hunting grounds, methods used and tools. In doing so, I will also discover a rich history that took place in my own backyard.

For sport hunters’ modern day hunting seasons are managed by the provincial and federal governments based on studies from data collected throughout the previous seasons and other methods used. Conservation is a critical element as it allows for wildlife to replenish itself from disease, overpopulation and predation as well as sport hunting. What is amazing is that the first nations did not have access to our databases or science labs to assist with these techniques and yet their hunting seasons perfectly overlap the hunting seasons of today. This reveals that they were quite aware of conservation and wildlife management.

It has been documented that the Algonquin would travel up the Ottawa River to the hunting grounds and hunt from late November to February. My small game season this year was practically the same except, I hunted snowshoe hare until the end of the month of March. Whether someone relies on migratory patterns, hunting seasons or data collected in two thousand nine analyzed by the government, we can say that we have followed in the steps of the first nations and have identified the first key. We are hunting at the right time of year.

A very important point of this blog entry is that I am a small game sport hunter and I wish to perfect my skills as a still hunter. Therefore allowing me to become better at my chosen sport, while respecting nature and doing my part as a conservationist and naturalist. However, for the Algonquin, hunting was a necessity for survival as it provided food to the community and for this reason hunting had to be perfected or sometime supplemented with other sources of food such as trading, fishing and agricultural items such as corn.
I want to be able to isolate the Algonquin trapping and hunting from the other trades, then chip away the rough and find information from historical documents, songs, documented stories from elders and finally folklore. Knowledge that will ultimately enrich us in our most humble existence and make us better hunters, as we are just part of the whole cycle of life.

Prior to the government land laws the first nations had no restrictions with concerns to hunting grounds and the invisible boundaries were dictated by migratory patterns and wildlife habitat. It can be said that this fact still applies today but there are still limitations. Today the natives can hunt for food on land in which they have access to; this can be done all year long and with no licenses. However this is different for the sport hunters as they are required to hunt in very specific hunting grounds under controlled hunting seasons and licenses. These grounds could be a pourvoirie, ZEC’s (Controlled zones), Sepaq parks, family, private or crown lands.

It is true that the Algonquin used bows and arrows, spears and knives for hunting large and small game; however trapping was a quicker way to hunt. A few weeks ago, I went hare hunting for a few hours with my .22 rifle, it was an excellent day but I did not harvest any hares. However, the week prior my friend went out and setup several snares in the same area and harvested three hares in a twelve hour period. This is proof that trapping is more efficient than hunting with a bow or a gun. There is a famous engraving done by Claude Collet 1619, showing a deer trap method used by the Algonquians’ that enabled them to harvest large amounts of deer, this would prove to be a great example of trappings success. Snares, natural tree fences or pitfalls where often used for trapping.

Hunting with a rifle makes for a great sport but it is not always a guarantee compared to trapping where at least your chances if done right were higher. The black powder guns that were brought over with the Europeans and then traded with the first nations did assist the natives in a positive way during hunting as it slowly replaced the bow and arrow and proved more efficient.

Let us look at some of the techniques used:

Camouflage:
Paintings have shown that the first nations would use camouflage in a masterful way, creating sort of parkas or ghillie suits with animal hide and fur as well as deer antlers, enabling them to blend in with the environment and get close to the game. This was a must if using a bow and arrow or spear.

Observation:
Algonquin hunters would use their cunning skills such as observing movement in the woodlands or listening for specific noises, this would ultimately aid in finding their game if they were hunting and not trapping.

Drives:
This is an interesting method also used by the natives and is still used in places all over the world. Several teams of hunters break up into the woods and make noise beating through the woods forcing the game into a killing zone, where other hunters are waiting with bows or rifles.

(More techniques will be added shortly)

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: