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Posts Tagged ‘snowshoes’


Last weekend I went snowshoe hare hunting with a good friend of mine and the snow was pretty deep in the woods with the recent snow fall that had dumped around one foot of snow. When I checked the weather network the night before, I was pretty happy about their forecast, because when it snows it is warmer and hare leads are much more visible along with the droppings and their regurgitated green cuds.

During my pre-planning for the hunt, I packed up some of my gear the night before and I was sure to have the snowshoes as part of the kit that was needed. I really like the new strap mechanisms on those new shoes but unfortunately they are not the best in the deepest of snow, the good old Michigan styles are by far the best which have a larger coverage for the foot placement and of course you do not sink to your waist every two steps and eventually tire yourself out.

Your firearm is by far one of the most important tools during your hunt and of course during your outing it will be exposed to the elements like snow, small branches and pure muck, this can most definitely have an effect on the working parts, along with the water which freezes on the shotgun as you move in and out of the snow-covered pine and cedar.

Years ago, when I purchased my Remington 870 Express, I purposely chose the pump-action, because I knew the type of harsh conditions I was going to expose my shotgun to and I was legitimately concerned that the mechanism would fail if I had gas operated semi-automatic actions. Not only was a pump the right price but the action was more reliable in our Canadian fall and winter months, compared to the semi automatic shotgun which is also double the price of an Express if not more.

After a few hours of tracking through the brush and not locating any hares, we made our way back to the southern barns on my friends farm and placed ourselves at the edge of the tree line. We were going to try our luck with the rock doves, there was a group of seven of them flying around the cattle and then setting themselves in some nearby trees.

I carefully directed my friend into a good shooting position and then placed myself to his right and we chose our birds carefully and prepared ourselves for the harvest. We loaded the shells and made our shotguns ready and when we released our shots, only one gun rang out. My friends semi automatic shotgun clicked into emptiness and no shot came out, two pigeons tumbled to the snowy ground. One step that made all the difference is prior to loading the shells for the pigeons, I rode the pump-action back and forth multiple times with an empty chamber and tube magazine to clear any small ice particles and warm up the slide, this you can do on a pump. This represented for me my third time this year to have had two pigeons harvested in one single shot of number six, but I was truly disappointed for my friend.

The semi-automatic was clear of any snow but the cold had such and impact on the action, that the firing pin was slow to release and come forward to strike the primer, in addition the trigger was frozen which prevented him from depressing it all the way toward the back. Simply releasing the action in order to eject the shell proved to be more challenging than it would have been in warmer weather. I always had my doubts about my choice but now the proof is in the snow.

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A few weeks ago, I decided take my brother-in-law out snowshoe hare hunting, it would be a great way for us to spend time in nature together. It was sure nice to have company on this hunt and for him it would be an enjoyable day on snowshoes.

The conditions were not the best, it was a cold windy day and the snow was quite deep with a thin snow crust on its surface.

We both had our own pairs of snowshoes, I gave him the more modern pair which were narrower but were fitted with gripping teeth under the toe of the boot. The teeth are great when you are crossing a frozen creek or lake covered in ice.

Myself I had an old pair of Michigan snowshoes fitted with an old leather binding set. It worked out for this hunt but at times it was quite frustrating, falling and fighting the snow with the older shoes.

The front part of my snowshoes would sink deep below the surface and every time I lifted my foot for the next step, I was shoveling heavy snow. Also in the deep woods, sometimes the shoe or its webbing would get stuck on branches or logs hidden under the snow.

This would cause me to fall over and it took time to get back up.

There many things that went wrong that day. The older leather binding was weak and provided no support around the front and back of the boot causing it to slip around from left to right or the other direction.

The movements of my boots alone caused the tail of the shoe to angle outward and this put me off-balance. Additionally, the front of the Michigan’s had been sinking down first making lift my heavy shoe and dump the snow. The front parts of these shoes were flat instead of being angled upward.

Another unpleasant problem was as I was struggling to lift my shoe out of the snow it would spit up frozen snow up my back-end and if I hadn’t been wearing waterproof pants that day I would have been soaked.

My brother-in-law let me break trail because one advantage was that I had a much wider base. The newer snowshoes worked great but they sank deeper because his steps where not very wide.

I have used all kinds of snow shoes and have spent many hours in the brush and although I enjoyed using my traditional shoes, and wish to continue to use them, I was going to improve them and test the shoes out in the field.

Since our last hunt I bought myself a new pair of leather bindings and watched a YouTube video showing how to attach the harness for the type of snowshoe I was using. I used the videos method but ended up improvising for my types of hunts, basically the harness is secured in several other places making it more stable with some 550 cord. I was in business.

I put on the pair and stepped out for a test run around the house down by our creek and into the woods. It was perfect; I tried jumping, running, turning sharply, bending over and even moving over logs.

Last night I was surfing the web doing research on trapper history. I found a neat painting on a site whereby the artist painted the trapper on snowshoes but they were turned around with the pointy end facing the front. This would provide the width and stability needed in deep snow and you would not shovel heavy snow.

What if? I asked myself, I have another pair of snowshoes; it is worth a try by placing the snowshoes the other way around with the tail in the front.

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In one of my previous blog entries titled “Double Edge Sword” I wrote about the differences between necessities and wanting, when it pertains to purchasing equipment for small game hunting. It is about asking yourself the following question before you make a purchase. Is it something you really want for hunting or something you need?

This is not because you are being cheap but rather because hunting equipment can add up very quickly. One important point that I must mention is that if you are starting in the sport, there will be initial costs just like buying a home. But the neat part is that once you have your clothing, hardware and accessories, you can start adding to it and improve it constantly. This is also very fun!

For me the right handling of a double edge sword is finding a balance within your budget so that you do not cut yourself financially. Hunting rifles or shotguns, clothing, ammunition and permits are necessities that must be acquired. It is also about being comfortable, well equipped and enjoying the sport without over spending on unnecessary accessories and supplies.

The question often comes up “How much does a small game hunter spend on equipment?” We should also ask: How much does the necessary equipment cost for small game hunters?

In response to these questions I have decided to break down some costs looking at the necessities and show you how much I have spent in Canadian dollars. In my case I already own a bolt-action rifle which cost about $150 dollars in 1962, but today you can easily spend a couple hundred dollars depending on the model and if you wish to add a scope. My Remington 870, which is my versatile work horse cost me $400 dollars and it allows me to save money because there is no longer a need for a different gun for each type of small game you hunt.

Ammunition does not need to be expensive either, I can get a box of fifty rounds for less than $15 dollars for my .22 bolt-action rifle . For my 870, I can buy a box of #6 shot for under $25 dollars.

My first pair of hunting boots cost me $200 dollars but I got a second pair of NAT’s boots just under $80 dollars. They are ultra light and waterproof and come with its own repair kit in the event of tear.

For a resident of Quebec your small game permit cost $18.83 effective Sept 2, 2012  (2017-2018 is now $24.58). If you are hunting on Crown land it is free but if you hunt in a SEPAQ park like me it can cost you around $18 dollars for a day hunt.

Now for clothing, my hunting pants cost me about $150 dollars and my hunting jacket which is considered a 6-in-1 system cost me $200 dollars. Having said this I also purchased a second hunting jacket for friends when they come out with me at discount store for $20 dollars. If they wear layers using long johns and thermals worth about $40 dollars it is just as warm as the very expensive jackets.

When I go on a one day hunting trip it normally cost me between $20-$40 in gas and about $20 dollars in food.

Costs will also be affected depending on the time of year that you hunt as you may require specialized kit such as snowshoes.

So how much do small game hunters spend on hunting equipment? The answer to the question is, it depends on your budget but when it comes to necessities I have listed the costs below.

Examples of necessities:
Rifle or shotgun: $400-$2000 Canadian dollars
Ammunition: $50 Canadian dollars
Clothing and boots: $200-$500 Canadian dollars
Permits, park access: $20-$40 (Quebec resident)
Food and gas: $20-$100 (May vary depending on distance traveled)

Buying Small Game Permits:

Small game permits can be purchased at any local hunting store in your area as long as they have a permit printer. You may want to call the shop before hand to find out if they issue permits. For the cost of the permits in Quebec, you can go to the following website:

Hunting – Fishing – Trapping License Rates

Also make sure you bring your Hunters Certificate/Card with you in person when buying a hunting permits and have your Federal Firearms card when purchasing firearms and ammunition.

Shop smart and enjoy the sport!

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