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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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I must admit that this is one of the toughest choices anyone can be faced with, even for those who consider themselves experts. The simple reason is that there are so many factors, just like a vehicle purchase. You need to identify what you are looking for and what are your requirements. Examples of this are: Speed, looks, color, make, functionality, practicality, performance, load capacity and most of all keeping the law in mind.

Here are lists of tips that may help you with your purchase in choosing the best firearm for small game hunting:

1. Federal & Provincial regulations for hunting small game with concerns to the gear being used and its caliber or shot size, pellet sizes and speed with concerns to air guns. (Quebec)

2. Budget, my Remington 870 which is my work horse for migratory bird and small game/Varmint cost me just under $400.00 Cdn. The next firearm on my list to acquire is the Browning T-Bolt Composite Target/Varmint using 17 HMR ammunition and it is listed at $780.00 US. Now if you are new at small game hunting, you can get a fantastic firearm that meets all your needs without spending over $200.00. (Hunting magazines and your local hunting store is where you can find great firearms used or new for low prices, if you are just starting out.)
3. “Versatility” This is one of my favorite words because for me it represents savings, practicality, durability and ultimately outstanding performance. Example: I can change my shotgun shell shot size and hunt rabbit, then the next day put back the plastic plug that allows for a total of three shells in the shotgun chamber and tubular magazine then I am ready for Waterfowl. Heck, the 870 can be used for Black bear.
4. Ammunition, shot sizes & ballistics. It is important to know the difference between center-fire and rimfire. Knowing the distances and shot needed to be a successful and accurate small game hunter, is very important. The author Larry Koller mentions this in his book “Treasury of Hunting” he once used a .22 LR and shot a game through the chest cavity but it kept on running and got away. He suggested then using .22 rimfire with hollow point and it contained the shocking power he needed.
5. Action types and ease of disassembly and assembly when cleaning the firearms. I have cleaned bolt-action rifles, shotguns and various other types of weapons in my lifetime and the bolt-action and the shotgun were by far the easiest to clean.
6. Noise, kickback/recoil. Many web articles, books and experts suggest a .22 rifle, bolt-action or semi automatic or even combo guns such as the shotgun and .22 combined for the first firearm. There is practically no recoil on the one’s I listed and they are very accurate, especially with the addition of a scope and they are cheap. (Savage, Remington, Browning, Marlin are all great name brands) It really depends on the buyer, also look for a .22 that allows you to use various .22 Long Rifle or Short.
7. Know the game you will be hunting and study which ammunition would be most effective with the type of game you will be hunting.
8. Safety, Safety, Safety. If you buy a second-hand rifle or shotgun or an old military firearm, make sure it is usable and safe. Inspect the barrel for damage, the safety mechanism and also check the fore-stock or any external components for damages on the firearm.
9. Fitting. Make sure you hold the firearm in the shooting position with the assistance of a professional making sure the rifle or shotgun butt length is the right fit for you. Check the barrel length and make sure it meets the Federal  & Provincial Regulations.

On my “Kit List” page I have listed the firearms that I use for small game and varmint hunting. My Remington 870 pump-action is my latest addition to my collection of hunting tools and is without a doubt one of the shotguns I use the most when I hit the woods or farmland.

In his book “Treasury of hunting” the author Larry Koller did a fantastic job in giving us a few choices of rifles and shotguns for each type of game. List of his suggested firearms are separated into game type.

Small Furred Game: Hare, Rabbits
Remington Model 572, .22 rim-fire
Savage Model 94, all gauges
Savage Model 24 Combination-.22 WMR and 20 Gauge-Magnum
Mossberg Model 500 Pump Gun, in 12 gauge

Guns for Varmints: Coyotes
Winchester Model 70 Varmint Rifle
Browning Safari-grade Sporter
Savage Model 110
Sako Varminter, heavy barrel
Winchester Model 275 Deluxe, .22 WMR

Guns for Upland Birds: Grouse, Pheasant
Winchester Model 21
Winchester Model 59
Winchester Model 1200
Daly Commander, over/under
Browning Superposed, over/under
Remington Model 11-48

Guns for Wild Fowl: Geese, Ducks
Browning Superposed 12 Gauge, 3-inch Magnum
Remington Model 1100 autoloader
Remington 870 Pump Gun
Savage Model 750 Autoloader
Savage Model 30 Pump Gun
Winchester Model 1400 Autoloader
Ithaca Model 37 Deluxe Pump Gun
Winchester Model 101, over/under

In Canada in order to acquire/purchase a firearm you need to be certified and have successfully completed and passed the Federal Firearms Safety Course for the firearm categories you have selected during the registration of the course. Non-restricted is the most common category. You will need your firearms card in order to purchase a firearm and ammunition.

In order to hunt in Quebec with a firearm as a resident, you will also need to successfully complete the hunting course and obtain a passing grade. You will also need to purchase a small game permit at any hunting store that prints them. Migratory bird hunting will also require a permit that can be purchased at any Post Office across Canada and also Online. In Quebec it is important while hunting migratory bird to have your small game permit and Migratory bird permit + Stamp on hand at all times.

Local hunting stores, SAIL, Canadian Tire and many other locations are great places to start. Happy shopping!

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