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Posts Tagged ‘swamp grass’


The front part of the keel was slicing through the water making sputtering sounds as the canoe pushed through the thick weeds with the momentum from my last powerful stroke. With my right hand wrapped firmly around the grip, I slowly lifted my shoulders and arms readying myself for the next stroke. I brought the tip of the blade down into the water once again and with my left hand at the throat of the paddle; it pierced the surface of the cold black water. As I pulled hard, launching the bow forward, I could see the reflection of my gold ring sparkle in the underwater emptiness.

Just moments before I had navigated through a narrow passage of swamp grass, and found myself in a small bay with a beaver lodge directly to my right to the south surrounded by jagged logs sticking up out of the muddy water with scattered miniature islands of weeds and bog soup.

The beaver lodge was an active one; it had several fresh mud slide markings left by the beavers belly and paws as it brought branches to the upper part of the lodge and then slid down like a child on its water slide.

There was a strong wind blowing in a south-easterly direction, pushing me along and like the current of a river and it swallowed me whole, then within seconds I could see the leaves from the deciduous trees fluttering to my right on the bank. Staying close to the edge of the shoreline enabled me to avoid a hard fight with the winds but also capitalize on the hidden ducks.

The smell, sights and sounds of the fall enriched my hunting experience and as I pushed forward and slowly disappeared in the bowels of this amazing Canadian wilderness. Memories of my grandfather and the many trips to the family camp flood my soul.

This was teal country indeed, and with my shotgun stowed by my right knee loaded with three shells which included the one in the chamber, I was at the ready for the duck flight bursts. My paddle strokes allowed me to glide several meters and with the wind at my back; I would alternate putting down the paddle then shoulder my Remington 870 for about half a minute and then switch back to the paddle once I started to lose speed.

All my senses were at a heightened state and my breathing was controlled, taking only deep breaths thus preventing myself from getting too excited ensuring safe and solid shots. Once I reached a short distance passed the lodge toward my first mini island of tall grass, I heard a sharp whistle and three teal burst into the flight to the south-east only meters in front of me.

With my Remington 870 shouldered, I pushed off the safety catch and fired my first shot at the third and last bird but he reacted to the muzzle blast and dove to the right in flight and flipped on its side and then swerved back to its left just like a rock dove and then blending in with the tree line and I lost sight of the bird, it was a miss. Pumping the action, I now changed focused on the second bird which was more than twenty meters away on my left, I gave the bird some lead and released the second shot, the bird kept flying towards the north breaking away from the group and then dropped down and lost altitude gradually then plunged into the weeds below.

I placed the 870 on safe and paddled very quickly to the spot where it landed; this triggered two more teals to burst into the flight toward the river to the south on my right but I was not at the right angle for a safe shot and my priority was to find my harvested teal. After a few minutes of searching I found my blue winged teal. They are magnificent birds with their bright blue feathers and lightning fast flight. It was another fantastic hunt and a great way to end the day.

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Canada Goose

With the four doors open, I carefully removed each strap which was holding down the canoe to the roof; releasing their individual locks with my key for the ammunition box because the lever locks were too tight to unlock with my fingers. I then placed the straps inside the cab and climbed up into the back of the flatbed, setting myself under the canoe facing the cab rear window. With my knees slightly bent I then picked up the canoe onto my shoulders placing them exactly into the grooves of the yoke stabilizing the bow and stern with both hands on each side of the gunwales. I then spun the canoe around in the air, made my way to the back of the truck and once I was facing the river to the south, I jumped off the tailgate onto the wetlands muddy ground. I threw my hips once again into the opposite direction pushing up with my right arm, then lowered the canoe onto my thighs and gently placed it into the swamp grass to my left.

It took me just a few minutes to load my paddle, shotgun, life jacket and backpack with all the necessary kit I would need into the guts of the canoe. I moved toward the bow and grabbed its carrying strap, and started pulling the canoe through the tall grass heading south-east.

When I first got to the wetlands, I carefully scanned the sky, tree line and marsh, which included two large bodies of open water. There was a very strong wind mixed with rain blowing in my direction of travel. I knew that it would be tough work coming back once the hunt had ended. I finally chose to go to the large body of water to my left, which had lots of vegetation which had grown in since the previous year; it was filled with swamp grass, mud islands and concentrations cat tail.

Once I reached the edge of the water, I set off with one foot in the canoe and the other outside the boat and pushed myself along using the small mud islands and vegetation as steps. It was hard work but I managed to find and follow a larger water trail which had formed in the middle. There were thousands of small water trails like a maze. With the strong winds and freezing waters any mistake could prove to be deadly.

After several hundred meters of pushing and paddling, I finally reached my first large portion of open water. I now had the time to orientate myself using two large distinct trees found near the river and a community water tower to the north. I programmed my global positioning system along with my compass then put them back into the backpack. The wind had turned the canoe diagonally towards the south but I was still going into the direction I was aiming for because I had seen about six teal ducks fly around very quickly and then land on the northern edge of the marsh.

I grabbed a hold of my paddle, took control of the canoe and made my way another fifty meters. I Passed a large patch of grass mixed with cattail to my right, it resembled a small island and the grass was high enough I could not see through. On the other side directly to my front was an even larger space of open water leading to the river with just a small river bank separating the two. There were also hundreds of small mud islands and patches of grass with thick weed roots.

I had no idea how much activity was waiting for me on the other side, so I placed myself really low into the canoe, stopped paddling and rested the paddle on the yoke and my left thigh then loaded three shells into my Remington 870, chambered a shell and instinctively put it on safe using the push button.

My chosen spot for waterfowl was perfect; there was a mallard out into the open to my left but too far for a shot, two groups of teal flying around in circles right above me to my front and roughly thirty Canada geese to my right behind two large mud islands. My heart began to race and I could feel the pounding in my chest, my breathing was also going steady, but I had to control my excitement and focus on my approach. I made myself even smaller in the canoe and stopped moving.

The canoe was once again being pushed along in their direction with the wind blowing in from the north-west. I was afraid of making noise with my paddle, so I carefully reached in over the gunwale with my left hand and placed it into the freezing water, grabbed hold of some weed roots and pulled myself toward the geese. I was now very close only thirty meters away.

The feeling was incredible; I was like a fox stalking its prey, it was a very intense moment. With the wind pushing and pulling along the weed roots with my hand almost numb, I made it across a small part of the open water until I reached the opposite side of the island directly across where twenty of the geese were gathered. With the ducks flying nervously above me but too high for a shot, something alerted the geese which were on watch duty and two or three of them began to call out. I could hear splashing, I could see several of them through the tall grass moving away to deeper water and then soon after the whole flock burst into the flight.

They took flight in all directions but they did not know where I was, so it took them a few seconds to get organized and finally choose one set path and that happened to be directly over me circling to my left heading north-west.

Canada Geese are large birds and they are quick but not as fast as a duck, which gives you a few milliseconds more to react. I shouldered my shotgun twisted my body to the left and released a shot into the air, and missed a bird by the fraction of a feather. I pumped the action, took a quick breath and applied the skills I learned. Chose one bird out the flock; placed my bead sight directly in line with the chosen bird adjusting my forward allowance accordingly then releasing the second shot.

It was almost the exact shot placement which I used for the Eastern wild turkey that I had harvested. I was aiming directly for the neck and the shot filled the air and the bird which was twenty meters high froze in mid-air like a statue and with its head tilted toward the water it fell to the surface. It was a hard fall! I cleared the last remaining shell from the Remington 870 and then paddled over to recover the harvest.

It was a long hard paddle and push back to the truck against the strong winds, having at times to step out of the canoe with one leg or use the paddle as a push pole but in the end it was well worth the effort. I had just harvested a beautiful twelve pound Canada goose.

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