Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘quebec’


There are no doubts that crows are intelligent species, especially when you observe their ability to use other objects placed into their bills to retrieve food found in difficult places. I believe the same can be said about Rock doves or pigeons, the simple fact that they were used to carry messages during wars and also seen in their social behaviour speaks volumes.

In the province of Quebec it is an interesting time of year right now for small game hunting, as the season is nearing its end at the end March and a new cycle begins; snowshoe hare, cotton-tailed rabbit along with coyote will soon close, but pigeon is open all year round. In addition, nothing compares to a pan-fried pigeon with Montreal spices, it is just as delicious as Mallard duck breast.

I have proven over time that pigeons are extremely observant and can identify specific vehicles and people, for example when ever I get to my friends farm for a morning or afternoon hunt, if the pigeons spot me before I do, they generally leave the area and do not return until it is time for me to leave. So, as mentioned in previous blog entries, I have to change my arrival, either I pretend to be the farmer by carrying a white bucket for seed but in my case it is empty, or park my truck in the low ground at the entrance of the farm.

This way, I can get my kit ready and sneak up the side of the tree line and barns for a good shot. On Saturday, I took a chance and parked near the house and jumped out and walked up to the barn to have a quick look before getting my kit ready. I played around with the Beagle and gave him a few hugs and then started to get ready.

There were three pigeons down in the mud not far from the cattle feeding away at some left over corn from the cow feed. Unfortunately they spotted me first and flapped their wings aggressively and dove to the right into some evasive flight and disappeared over the tree line to the East. Well darn it, I hadn’t even unpacked my kit and my potential harvests were gone.

At least I thought so, when I heard some claws scratching the aluminum roof of the barn to my right, and there he was the odd one out, looking down at me. He was a character, he had this funny look in his eyes and was checking me out the whole time. It seemed like something out of a cartoon movie, he looked a little funny.

I kept my eyes locked with his and we were in a deep stare, I started to move slowly to the edge of the barn, so that part of the roof would cover my movement and all the while I swung my 870 around and popped a shell into the chamber and pushed locked the safety in one single motion like I have done thousands of times.

He called out and then flapped away but banked to the West and landed near the cattle, this is a no shot zone. So, I watched him land and bounce around the cattle, this gave me some time to head to the East and loop around the barn and into the woods off to the North. The snow was still thick and I was sinking pretty deep and quite frankly it was noisy and simply frustrating as I kept tipping over. So I chose to walk along the tree line and leave an open shot to the South facing the open fields.

Something scared the odd one out into the air and he seem to accelerate when he noticed me in my shooting position, just like crows if you aim at them and they are used to being shot at, they break their flight and conduct evasive flight, Canada geese do this as well. This puts your shooting skills to the test and if you are not quick or skilled you will miss.

I swung around in the mud and completed a full pivot all the while conducting my lead and released my first shot, the pigeon was hit but spun around and headed into the pine trees to land in the North, which is quite unusual as they prefer trees that are open without many leaves. It was like he was trying to lose me or trick me into not seeing him like snowshoe hare do as well.

So I waited patiently, all the while keeping my eyes on the large bulls just meters away. My patience paid off, the pigeon set off a second time and this time I completed a downward swing in my lead and released my shot. In seconds, I had harvested my first pigeon of the day and he landed just meters away. Some feathers were still floating down from the aerial point of impact, it was a difficult shot but a harvest just the same and great practice for fast flying ducks like Teal.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


GooseThe winds on the banks of the Saint Lawrence river were incredibly strong; with hundreds of birds flying over head. The sights, smells and noises were so powerful and something out of this world.

I was about to start my two-hour treat alone, all the other hunters including the guide and his chocolate lab went back to the camp for a quick nap.

They asked me if I wanted to come along but I pleasantly declined. The Saint Lawrence with its strong currents, ice flows all such beautiful scenery, the basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré it was all mine to savour.

The decoys were well placed and the digital callers were calling out, doing their jobs attracting waves of birds.

I looked around, starting applying all the basics techniques of a stand up blind hunting.

A group of thirty snow geese flew in overhead and then swung around and came back heading north right above me.

Then three birds dropped down lower and swung around losing height.

When I noticed that one of the birds came even lower, I swung out from underneath the burlap and fired right into the bird’s chest.

It flipped over and flew fifteen meters to my left and landed in the high grass.

I unloaded and existed the blind and went to retrieve my harvest.

Sometimes it all happens so fast if you do not see your bird landing in the bushes below, for a moment you are not sure if you lost it or not, this is without the dog of course.

Now back in the blind with my harvest, I stood for a few more minutes for what seemed an eternity then a group of forty snow geese flew in from the north, right over top and not one bird called out.

So I stood still and bent my knees to get lower, then another gaggle came up along the west side and almost hovered over my spot.

I waited for the perfect opportunity, looking up in an awkward fashion, with my upper body twisted.

I moved away from the front part of the burlap and set myself in a good shooting position and then I unloaded in the bird which was the closest. It tumbled in the air, kept on flying and landed in the river.

The tide was out now about sixty meters and large pieces of ice which covered the dark waters just weeks before broke apart and littered the bottom of the Saint Lawrence creating a maze of ice and mud, rendering it incredibly dangerous to retrieve my harvest. I marked off the spot where the bird landed on the edge of the Saint Lawrence and called on the guide and his dog.

It was an amazing thing to watch, the relationship between the guide and his dog and within fifteen minutes the dog completed several section searches disappearing into the ice and mud sometimes out of sight for several seconds and then there he was with my beautiful white bird in its mouth.

It was a proud moment for many, nature is so fascinating.

 

Read Full Post »


Crow hunting is really making a come back in Quebec but it is still not as popular as it was in the 1960’s when they had serious competitions located both in the United-States and Canada. José Boily with his TV show Québec à vol d’oiseau has done great job in bringing back the interest into the sport of crow hunting and cooking. He filmed a really great segment on crow hunting and its cuisine; his shows are really entertaining but also educational.

I started hunting crow a few years ago and never used decoys or an actual caller, I just used my mouth and hands to copy various crow calls and managed to call in just a few, they were really intelligent and kept their distance, just outside my shooting range.

I thought to myself it was now time to get the right kit for some serious crow hunting, but just like any other type of hunting, it takes time and money to build up your accessories and kit in order to have a fun but also a successful hunt.

The other night I went out for supper with some friends and I had the pleasure of meeting a very generous American named Troy. It was a great night full of stories some about trapping and hunting.

I went home that night thinking of ways to improve my hunts, especially crow hunting, I decided crow and owl decoys would be my next purchase list. Little did I know, within days of meeting Troy, he had a gift for me.

Three crow and one great horned owl decoy, I was so happy, it was an awesome gift. I plan on trying out my new set using the “Crow Fighting” setup and hopefully enjoy a great meal. The American crow may be hunted under your Quebec small game permit and the dates are July 1st, 2013 to April 30, 2014. (Dates may vary depending on your zones)

Check out my video on how to field dress a crow.

Read Full Post »


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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »


It was the middle of the month of March now and the sun was extremely bright and very high in the sky almost directly above me and only a few minutes shy of high noon. The day was an amazingly warm wintery day, I could feel the warmth on my face and I had already stripped down a layer. The reflections from the sun transformed the surface of the snow into a very large mirror, with the temperature sitting at around one degree Celsius. I had been tracking snowshoe hare and a coyote tracks for the most part of the morning.

I made my way down the ridge to the north-west heading south and followed the coyote tracks right through the frozen swamplands then over the river and afterward headed to the south-west. The coyote tracks would be occasionally space out, at times you could only make out three paw marks and then there were gaps of about a meter and a half or so in length as the animal would break out into a trot; then around the thirty meters distance mark it had stopped at a watering hole very close to the beaver lodge and then it climbed up on a large boulder to have a better look around. The coyote then continued around the front of the rock formation on the southern edge of the forest and disappeared in the snowy cedar and pine.

It is incredibly rewarding to be able to read natures signs, almost like a book and piece together a story, of this lone coyote who roams the same pristine lands as I. The snow surface had hardened from last night’s freeze creating a thick crust of ice thus making it much easier to walk. Every few steps one of my boots would break through and after a few tough steps I would stand steady onto of the surface once again, just like the other creatures which were lighter than me.

My goal was to harvest a snowshoe hare but I was also on the lookout for the intelligent American Crow. Another hour had passed and once the snowshoe hare leads had gone dry, I put my focus on the Crows which were flying around to the north.

I followed them as they flew over head; which lead me directly into the bowels of the white wilderness and within minutes I was surrounded by trees and pure solitude. There was a small clearing in between the pine and maple trees, so I made my way to the opening and looked up through the tree canopy to the bright blue sky.

I let out a few crow calls using my hands also adjusting the shape of my mouth and within a few minutes some crows flew right over me but were too high to reach with my 870, then the murder circled away to the west. I leaned up against a large tree and used its branches as cover because I remembered that during one of my previous pigeon hunts, the birds saw me from above and by the time my shot rang out they had maneuvered around my pellets. It was incredible!

A few more minutes had passed and now I was turning around to start my way back to the farm when all of a sudden I heard a crow call out from above, I was able to tell right away the direction he was calling from even without having seen him yet and knew he was going to fly right over head in my direction.

I swung around one hundred and eighty degrees shouldered my shotgun did a quick visual check, released the push safety and shot all in one single motion and hit the crow directly in flight; he landed directly to my left only five meters away. He was a beautiful bird and it had almost as much meat as a teal duck. It was a great hunt and feast!

Read Full Post »


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.

Read Full Post »


It is very difficult at times for the general public to see or even believe that modern sport hunters are not blood thirsty parasites who have no regard for wildlife and conservation. This has never been the case and in fact it is rather the contrary. Modern sport hunters have a deep connection with the outdoors, with wildlife also and wish to perserve it. Hunters may even do more as a whole toward conservation and protection than the majority of the public when it comes to contributing to both these points. Sometimes, hunters themselves aren’t even aware that they are contributing to wildlife management programs and land conservation projects.

It can be as simple as purchasing hunting accessories or clothing that have a logo of a conservation organization such as Ducks Unlimited. The purchasing of waterfowl permits including stamps, and also simply by registering your game once it has been harvested. Stamps on a waterfowl permit or purchasing gear allows for some of the funds to support wetland conservation programs. The registration of big game and wild turkey allows for the crucial collection of the numbers of species harvested when dealing with population control programs as well as provides great statistical information in direct support of research.
In Quebec where I hunt, it is mandatory to register big game animals or wild turkeys at a registration station authorized by the provincial government. The concept of registration for big game and wild turkeys is also very present in other provinces, territories and states. For more information on this visit your local ministry of natural resources or fish and game websites. Below is the Quebec page on the MRNF site: 

http://www.mrnf.gouv.qc.ca/english/wildlife/registration-stations/index.jsp

A registration center can be any establishment that is recognized by in Quebec’s case the province, this can be a local hunting shop, provincial building belonging to the Ministry or even a corner store. These registration centers will all have the following panel outside their building.

Authorized Registration Center in Quebec

 

The ministry of natural resources and fauna in Quebec state the following:

“In order to take advantage of the maximum availability of registration services, the Department recommends registering your game as close as possible to the harvesting site, rather than near your residence.
Some registration stations are open during all hunting and trapping seasons. Other stations are open only during hunting seasons and, in this case; the hours of operation may vary. When in doubt, hunters and trappers are invited to contact the registration station to avoid needless travel.
For more information on the location and the dates and times when registration stations are open, consult the lists below. You can also get in touch with the Service à la clientèle or one of our regional offices. All of this information is also posted on the door of our offices.”
In order to find the registration center nearest to you in Quebec go to following website on your portable device or print out the centers located in the area where you will be hunting big game and wild turkey.

http://www.mrnf.gouv.qc.ca/english/wildlife/registration-stations/big-game-stations.jsp

Then select the region on the link above and then the local municipality, there you will find a list including, the type of organization, their contact telephone number and their hours of operation. The cost of registering big game and turkey is six Canadian dollars.
When you register your game make sure you look up the rules in regulations with concerns to the transportation of the game, for example not removing the wings of the turkey during transportation thus making it easier for identification purposes. Ensure that the transportations tags are attached. (I personally like to use twist ties)

When you register the game, the officer/agent/store owner will visually inspect the animal or turkey, transportation tags; record the date and time as well as a location using GPS software where it was harvested. He or she will record the type of weapon that was used. You may also have the animal or turkey weighed. After the inspection, an electronic form will have been filled out and you will receive a printed receipt.
Registering your game and having an officer/agent/store owner congratulate you on your harvest, is also part of a successful hunt as he or she may be one of the first persons to validate your harvest and make it legitimate. This is confirmation that you did your part and that you are a respected member of this exclusive club of outdoorsman/Woman 😉

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: