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Posts Tagged ‘skill’


The truck edges forward in its slow advance rolling over the sharp rocks, you can hear the rubber under stress from the weight of the truck. But then seconds later it is all over and the truck is brought to a complete stop. I swing it into park, unlatch the door, jump out and land on my two feet. It is a perfect landing, I have done this a thousand times before and then I look around my surroundings, stretch out my arms on either side taking in a deep breath.

Finally I was back where I belong in the Canadian countryside surrounded by farm fields, forests and the wetlands. My eyes see it all, I do not miss a thing, my soul absorbs its substance. Many years have gone by now and I have learned that I too have a special connection with nature. Today is my fourth time out this season for waterfowl but on this very day things seemed quite different, my knowledge reveals itself in my stature, calm and confident and as for nature well it just lives.

It is true that skill as a waterfowler will aid you in your hunts but it will never be the deciding factor on whether or not you harvest. I tell myself every time that it is what nature will offer you on that particular sortie, this is part of the excitement and challenge. The Canada geese may be in the fields waiting or not, they might be in the swamp or maybe not, the ducks might be hiding along the edge of the creek or not.

Yes for sure there will be game out there but where this is the true experience. After a great conversation with my farmer friend and getting the lowdown of the area, I step back into my truck and drive down the southern field across the creek heading toward the wetlands. Recently I have started to try something different, rather than spending several hours out in the bush, instead I leave later in the day with just two hours before sunset to set myself up in my kayak blind with my back to the forest on the northern side of the swamp.

My plan is to sit still in the boat until the ducks come in for the evening and attempt to harvest my limit before the time was up. Last year I wrote about the magical last thirty minutes of hunting which is the final thirty minutes after sunset. On my third time out this year, I barely had the time to push off the shore with my kayak and it was already raining wood ducks, some landing just feet from me. Hearing their wings swish through the air is just an incredible feeling followed by their landing splash.

I usually park several meters from the swamp, put on my waders and get my kit ready, I then sneak up to the shore to see if there are any birds. The small bushes and trees provide great cover for this, sometimes I harvest one of two birds and then go back to pick up the kayak to retrieve them. Sometimes I have to move in and around the beaver dams through the maze of swamp grass to find them. After this is when my waiting game begins, I will bring all the kit I need into the kayak and then paddle out through the swamp and setup. Generally, I choose a spot with tall grass or dead bushes or trees.

When the darkness finally covers the swamp and the fog moves in, it becomes a magical place. The shadows of the evergreen in the horizon create amazing silhouettes. The water below comes to life with beavers, bugs and fish. Strange sounds come out from the nearby woods and if you are a person with a rich imagination, it is enough to give you the shivers. It is a beautiful place with no words that can truly describe what your senses experience with every ounce in my body is filled with joy.

Then they start to flying in, woods ducks in small groups of three of four with the swish of their wings against the air as they circle all around, you slowly raise your shotgun and fill the sky with muzzle blasts of fire.

There is one thing that rings true, you are a Canadian woodsman.

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Golfers standing at their first hole just know when he or she has hit a great ball. You can hear the ping sound as your curved wood follows through the air chasing the perfect ball right after contact. You can also feel a slight vibration come up the pole and into your hands. Your swing was flawless and your muscles are totally relaxed yet in full control.

It is a wonderful feeling to see the ball fly directly into the air dead center down your lane. Your game no matter what the score feels great.

It is in fact incredible to finally see that your skill is showing and that you have mastered the stroke. But then there is this unexplained bit. Almost faith; you have taken the shot and you expect to hit something but it could be a slice or maybe not. You know one thing it felt right!

On my last rock dove hunt just a couple of weeks ago, I was walking up the western ridge of the farm heading east. I spotted four pigeons flying around in a spiral formation and then landing out of sight to my front. I kept on walking slowly toward them, and made my way over the gate between the two barns and then reloaded my Winchester 97 pushing a shell into the tubular magazine below until I heard the click and then pumped the action to chamber the shell. It is a beautiful piece of history made of steel and wood.

Now only thirty meters away but well within sight, the rock doves burst back into flight in a diamond shape going south, I shouldered my shotgun and lined up the bead sight directly in line with the last pigeon and moved it one inch to the front of its beak just as Robert Stack had recommended to do in his shotgun book.

I slowly squeezed the trigger and released my shot. This all happened within a few seconds. And once the smoke cleared, I released the action pushing on the slide lock release plunger pin, and the empty shell ejected and spun through the air leaving a spiral of smoke, just like a cigarette would when you flicked it out of your fingers before stepping on it.

The rock dove tumbled and dropped like a stone, I knew it was an incredible shot, part of this success was skill and experience but there was a little bit of faith. After all hunting is never a guarantee.

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The first time we drove up to my friend’s hunting camp, we decided to take one truck in order to save on gas. We left late in the afternoon the day before our hunt actually started, so that we could also take advantage of the early rise the following morning.

My friend drove north along the river on its winding roads and as he looked around during our two-hour trip, he had a gift for spotting every deer found along the tree line and in the open fields. Even the ones that were quite far away, as time went on and dusk was nearing, they became more difficult to spot but not for his trained eye.

In North America the majority of us have become so dependent on our grocery stores to provide us with food that we have lost some of these basic skills that I believe are still extremely important.

In Haiti after the massive earthquake struck in 2010; shelter, water and food became some of the most important life saving necessities. In situations like these money was now just paper and what mattered most was getting food.

When disaster strikes or in any emergency situation having basic skills is what saves lives. Basic skills like being able to spot game for means of feeding a family, a group or yourself is critical.

For me today spotting game is just one of the components of a sport that I Love so much but it is a skill that I am constantly trying to improve. Whether it is during hikes with my family or driving along country roads, I am always looking for life.

I have seen deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, coyote, ducks, grouse and geese all from my vehicle during late afternoon or early morning drives. I have spent thousands of hours learning wild game, where and when you are most likely to see them.

Knowing their habits and what to look for, such as various shades of color or their movements and understanding the land, vegetation used for cover or the proximity of water.

Practice makes perfect indeed, once you have studied the right material now comes the time to practice, go for a drive or next time you are out in nature add some flavor to your outing and look for game and ultimately life. The safest practice on the road is to have someone else drive for you, so that you can focus on looking for game.

Many of us have seen wildlife before, sometimes they are in plain sight or in some cases you had to look a little harder. In time you will have mastered the gift of seeing game and it may even become instinctive, you will know exactly what you are looking for and catch it with your eyes even before your mind registers it. Almost every time, almost.

Until then see you!

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The skyline was bright pink and the sun wasn’t fully up yet but my hunt had already started a half an hour before sunrise. I was all geared up and ready to go. The car was locked and then I carefully placed my magazine into the Enfield rifle and started my way up a dark forested trail surrounded by fog. This was familiar territory for me as a small game hunter still-hunting up the trail but this stalk though was quite different from the others and it was only going to last a few minutes because my sights were not on a snowshoe hare or grouse but rather on a buck. Over a period of three weeks, I was going to spend a total of twenty-eight hours in my tree stand at the trails end.

The author Larry Koller wrote about snowshoe hare hunting and said that it was reserved for the tougher individual, who was able to withstand the cold for long periods of time during the winter months and that without dogs it was almost an impossible harvest. Also that getting close enough to hare for the shot was even more difficult. I had to be the judge of this and find out for myself and with concerns to the cold, well I am from northern Ontario. Several hunts later, I finally found the white on white ghost and harvested one in the dead of winter without the use of dogs.

Furthermore he wrote about hunting from a tree stand or sitting on a stump and said it had “no connotation of skill” and that it was not in a sense a true form of hunting. Once again I had to find out for myself what he truly meant. So, I signed up with a local outfitter for this year’s deer season.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion and some of us who have the privilege of being able to write about it and even sell books are truly lucky but not necessarily right. Sure, if we want to keep the hunt “raw” or in its purest form; still-hunting a deer and harvesting is really something to be proud of but I believe there are more risks involved. The truth is safety is a factor and when you have thousands of anxious hunters that head into Crown land trying to harvest a deer; in which case your orange vest may not suffice to protect you unless it is made of Kevlar.

Tree stand hunting does have its dangers such as the risk of falling asleep or accidentally slipping while coming up and down the stand. During my first ten hours in my tree stand, I was told by a property owner that on the same weekend a hunter had fallen in his stand and that his rifle which was by his side and loaded with no safety on went off and almost struck him in the head and he could have lost his life. I still believe that tree stand hunting has its advantages when you are considering safety.

When you sign up with an outfitter and are assigned a tree stand, that area is yours and if there is someone else there besides you, they are trespassing and are most likely a poacher. Therefore the risk of accidentally shooting another hunter is lower compared to still-hunting through the woods, especially if you look and study your target before you shoot and know what is beyond it.

I was standing very still in my tree stand for about an hour, with my arms resting on the front cross-bar and aiming directly to the north across from my blind. I moved my head slowly to look toward the west after hearing some branches crack off to my left and when I turned back to my original aiming spot a deer was standing right in front of my stand about one hundred yards out. She had made her way down the trail heading east and she gave me the impression that she had just dropped out of the sky. My crosshairs from the scope were perfectly aligned and right on target but she had no antlers, she was a doe, so this was a no shot for my tag.

So, I put down my rifle and I took out my mini binoculars and watched her for about three-quarters of an hour and then she disappeared behind some pine trees just on the edge of the swamp to the east. Tree stand hunting can give you the impression that you are playing the lottery and it is a once in a million chance but with the use of bait and a lot of time your chances of success are increased. You are not out of the woods yet, because you are still at the mercy of the deer.

If the weather is not right such as being too windy then the deer will not roam as their scent is being spread around and it is one of their weaknesses with concerns to predators such as wolves, bears and coyotes. If you fail to mask your scent they will not come either and deer do look up, so do not move around too much. The skill levels required to still-hunt may be slightly different from tree stand hunting but having skills, such as the ability to remain still, mask your scent and ultimately and taking an effective shot does require some level of skill and it is in fact still hunting.

I have about eight hours remaining in my stand with still a chance to harvest a buck, but whether the small gamer like me succeeds or not, I have learned that patience and skills are most definitely things you want to have with you on the stand.

The link below was really great for techniques: Outdoor Adventure Network

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