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Posts Tagged ‘snow goose hunt’


Last spring on our snow goose hunt just north of Quebec City, I found myself along with my mates putting a lot of trust into a very young guide at a local outfitter. One of many! This was our second season and the previous year we had chosen terrible guides.

I often asked myself. What does it take to be a guide? Being a guide must not be a job which can be taken lightly. You would have to deal with a tremendous amount of pressure; coming from your clients who paid lots of money and sometimes expect the impossible. You would have to be very confident and very skilled. Of course you would also have take into consideration that being a guide is a business, so there is also this whole added world, the existence of the business, your presence on the Internet, marketing and much more.

Were the guides skills and knowledge passed down through a teacher or were they acquired through years of experience? You must have a successful record and great reviews.

As a client though you also have a responsibility of being respectful and most of all being reasonable, most hunters know that the guides have no control over the weather, neither bird or mammal behavior. So be patient and do not allow yourself to get frustrated. I have the perfect example of this.

We had being lying in our blinds for well over an hour and the birds were staying close to the shoreline in groups of five or six and were out of range to the west. So, a couple of impatient and frustrated hunters got up and decided this would be a good time to take a much-needed break, I don’t blame them it was getting really warm. Within ten minutes of them being gone, a group of snow geese flew in nice and low just overhead and I harvested two.

Actually, I just about blew my shoulder off as I was trying out new ammunition and had used two Remington hypersonic steel shells and I found it way too powerful. I much prefer the Remington Sportsman Hi-Speed Steel, three inch, #3 shot for goose and duck and it is very effective.

This is different of course if you are hunting at an outfitter which has a fenced in territory in which case you are pretty much guaranteed your trophy or harvest.

The guide must have the same if not superior knowledge in our case about snow geese. This means being familiar with their feeding patterns, knowing and understanding the tides, the winds and this has a direct impact on your blind placement.

The task at hand can be a very challenging one indeed. This is a topic which I will continue to explore throughout my hunting seasons and over time, I will be able to choose the best guides for my classic hunts.

In the end I realize that if you are a true hunter at heart and you can appreciate the knowledge and experience of the guides you chose then this makes the experience a much more enjoyable and memorable one regardless of age.

Turns out our guide was very skilled and we had a great harvest but most of all, we had a blast. The waterfowl season is only a few weeks away now and I am, like many others extremely excited!

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It was just another ordinary lunch hour at work for me, as I stood up after having eaten my lunch and carefully walked over to my bookshelf, reached into my plastic container which was full of loose change and grabbed a few coins, no more than two dollars as this would normally suffice.

If time permitted, I would walk about a block and pick-up a coffee but my first order of business was always going to the library bookstore to find treasures to read. Sometimes, I would go several days without finding a thing and then eventually I would spot a great book or magazine to buy.

When I walked into the shop, I would say hello to the volunteers working there, and then my search began. I have several key words in mind for my particular day which I use when scanning the book shelves on the lookout additionally it did not matter how the books were placed. My eyes would scan along for the keywords that I had in mind, then they would literally jump out from the books and I then grabbed it my hand and usually within seconds had already decided if it is worth holding or not.

With my amazing snow goose hunt still fresh in my mind and just a few days old, I noticed the words “Shotgun” and “Digest”. Any book with the word “Digest” is almost always a great read and I learn so much or it is a great review.

I pull out the paperback from amongst the other books and it was the “Shotgun Digest” by Robert Stack. Today I thought to myself I scored! The author’s name did not hit me at first, until I started reading the book on the way home that evening and read the Dedication which was written for Clark Gable.

Robert Stack from the Unsolved Mysteries television show was a champion skeet shooter and loved waterfowl hunting as much as I do. I could not believe that he wrote a book about shot gunning, additionally he was great friends with Clark Gable who was also an accomplished marksman and waterfowler.

He also wrote about Lee Marvin another accomplished hunter in the book on page forty-eight which had the chapter title of dynamics of dove downing. These old pages are a true pleasure to read, and you can find the following topics: Choosing the right shotgun, fitting the gun to you, shotshell, reloading techniques, facts on recoil, ballistics and chokes, skeet and trapshooting hows and whys, and the chapters I can’t wait to finish are Waterfowl and Upland Game Shooting Techniques.

Through these old pages, I will be learning and reviewing and it is such a treat. Veterans, actors and hunters a fine read indeed.

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There I was standing in my kitchen by the fridge getting myself something to drink, the milk container carefully placed on the counter top, I opened the cupboard door with my other hand in order to reach in for a glass.

Glass in hand, I spun around and faced the milk then the glass slipped out of my grip; fell to the floor sending chards of glass everywhere. I was quite upset and let out a few swear words but after all it was done, I just had an accident. I was mad because I knew that it could have been avoided, if only I had been more careful or moved slower.

For every accident this is the unfortunate truth, they can be avoided but sometimes other factors weigh into the situation and cause them to occur. Road conditions, your mental state or even over confidence and many other reasons can be a trigger.

The only thing we can do is be prepared for them with the right tools, whether they be in the form of knowledge or hardware such as a first aid kit, field craft kit like matches, a compass and other important items.

With the river now covered in ice, my waterfowl season is over until the spring snow goose hunt. This means, I will be spending long hours in the forest practicing one of my favorite hunts during the winter months, looking for the snowshoe hare.

Every time I step into the cold white forests, an accident could occur and the one I wish to focus on this time is getting lost. I consider myself an experienced woodsman, and even though we do not wish for it to happen, getting lost is very real and in the winter especially being unprepared could prove to be deadly.

My experiences have taught me that the sooner you accept the reality that you are lost and that now you must deal with it; your situation will have already improved. Last year, I read a book about wilderness survival and the author wrote that if you are lost, and your family or friends have a general idea where you are then they will come and find you so stay where you are. Make yourself comfortable! There was even mention of bringing a cigar or cigarette along to smoke, my interpretation was maybe this is to help you relax and prevent your mind from wandering too much, thinking about family and about predators such as bears and wolves or other potential dangers such as hyperthermia.

We know that every situation is unique and in some cases you might have to attempt finding your own way back, in this case travelling earlier in the day is best, so that you avoid getting stuck travelling at night. Because of the poor visibility at night you could walk right off a cliff or ravine and add additional challenges to your current situation. Always make sure you stay current and practice your map and compass skills prior to setting out, in case your GPS fails. When I go hunting, I always let my family know where I will be, I also provide them with a map and emergency contact numbers along with a cut off time to call if they do not hear from me.

ShelterSo, for this situation or blog post, if I were lost, I would plan on staying where I am until I was found and therefore building a shelter is absolutely necessary giving me a chance of survival. It can also offer protection against the wind, rain, snow and ultimately provide some comfort in your current predicament.

For well over two decades, I have spent many nights out in the wilderness, during all seasons using all kinds of shelters, lean-to, 3 sided lean-to, ice shelters, A-frame ponchos tents with bungee cords, tents, arctic tents as well as without any cover at all.

The 3 sided lean-tos is one of my favorite and is the one that I will be illustrating for this blog entry. One of the reasons, I really like the lean-to is because if you have rope and a small axe, then your shelter can be built really well but tools are not always readily available during an emergency or accidental situation and yet a lean-to can be built without the luxury of tools and rope.

Paul Tawrell in his book on camping & wilderness survival book writes about panic and fear, he actually says, “keep your mind busy and plan for survival”. Building a shelter can help with this very element of fear and by focusing on building your shelter, you prevent your mind from racing.

I actually spent three days alone in the woods and worked constantly at perfecting my shelter; I even went to the extent of removing all the rocks one by one from my lean-to all the way down to the river’s edge. First we should focus on choosing a spot to build the 3 sided lean-to, you will need to find two large trees about 7 feet apart , each one having a limb stump on the same side  and at the same height. I like to have mine just above the waist height; the reason for this is that you do not want to lose too much heat during cold weather ensuring your heat/fire reflecting wall where you will provide you with the most heat.

If you are building a shelter in cold weather, find a naturally covered area with lots of evergreen trees and avoid slopping areas, so that water may not run down into your shelter. Avoid open areas where snow can blow in and cover you with snow.

Find a cross beam pole about 8 feet long which will hold poles for your roof, if you have rope secure the two corners and prepare yourself by finding as many roof poles about 9 feet long and as many as you need to complete your roof and secure them with snow and debris at the base. Heavy snow works well.

For the two sides of the shelter find gradual sized logs and place them up against the side of the shelter and use snow and vines to hold them in place. Once all the three-sided framing is in place, if you have a poncho or even in some cases a parachute, place it over the roof part and cover it with snow and cedar and pine boughs and layer it, some even recommend using latticework in order to secure your shelter.

Once the outer part of your shelter is ready, you can now start focusing on the inside, you can make a rectangular mattress like shape with snow and then cover it with lots of evergreen boughs to provide a pocket of air between you and the snow. This creates a natural mattress and will help with keeping you dry and warm. If you have lots of wood readily available you can also place two small logs vertically the length of your body and then place small sticks across from top to bottom, then place cedar branches above this thus making a natural bed.

Now that the 3 sided lean-to shelter is complete, you can now focus on building the fire reflector wall. Bernard Mason in his book “Camping Craft” shows the distance from your lean-to entrance and the fire wall being at about 7 feet away. This is acceptable and shall reflect the heat back into your lean-to but will also be at a safe distance away.

The reflector wall can be built using two or four posts, two at each end spaced out from each other and by placing several logs about 6 feet long between them thus creating the wall, the fire is then placed and started in the inside part of the wall facing you. A teepee fire will work just fine, also make sure you choose your wood carefully for example choose Ash, Birch, dogwood or oak, you want to use wood that will burn for a long time provide good coals but also produce lots of heat once the flames have died down.

There are many great resources on the Internet as well as great books available and even companies that offer survival courses. On my OKB page, there are several books listed which I have read and used as references throughout the years.

Stay warm and be safe!

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