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Posts Tagged ‘understanding’


As a kid growing up in central Africa in the ninety eighties was an experience that changed me for ever. I realize now even as an adult more than thirty years later that it was an absolute privilege to have lived on the periphery of the “Cite” in a row house, which was in an area where the majority of the locals lived. My life experiences were not just limited to living in a large home along the ocean with its extremely high walls or in the confines of the housing compounds owned by oil companies.

This meant going for days without electricity or running water but experiences like these enabled you to grow as a person and appreciate the true meaning of life. I learned the local language in less than a year and soon I was running free for hours into the neighbourhoods and shanty towns bare feet with my brothers. My parents were teachers and my father taught biology at one of the local high schools.

You got it, this meant that during the school year he needed to collect toads for the dissection classes; this was my job. So at a very young age, I would collect an empty can of powdered milk, a rake and a machete, then head out on my adventures to find toads. Now why would you need a rake and machete for that? Well where you found toads there were almost always pit vipers. I knew exactly where to find toads, under rocks or the papyrus or bamboo forests.

I would lean into the brush or flip a rock, if there was a viper, I would pin the snake with the rake and neutralize it with my machete, and then collect the toads. My best friend and I would normally be greeted by a snake hiss. There were all kinds of species of snakes but the most common was the pit viper and their hiss was a warning indeed and I learned to understand their body language. But ultimately it was more than just a sound of the tongue once it had left the Jacobson gland, it was a form of snake communication, “You reach in for the toad and I will bite”.

In the years that followed, upon returning from a weekend jungle trip, my parents had bought my brothers and I, a young crocodile as a pet, it was less than a meter in size. We kept it in the back yard and its temporary residence was a large empty sail boat hull. My brothers and I had best attempted to re-create its natural habitat along with a mud bank and water inside the boat. If we wanted to transport it out, for our friends to see, we would place the rake in the water, and as the crocodile would bite down on the metal part along with a fierce splash of water, and once its jaws had a good grip, we would lift it out of the boat and let it roam around the yard for a few hours.

If our dogs got too close, the crocodile would bend its body bringing its tail around for a strike and soon it would let out the infamous hiss. It was a fascinating pet and as long as you stayed away from its jaws, life was just normal in central Africa. Crocodiles are ordinary reptiles and I soon discovered that the hiss was not just a verbal warning like the pit vipers but also of course a form a communication because it did not always result with the animal clapping it jaws, it simply communicating.

Now this makes for wonderful childhood stories but what does this have to do with small game hunting in north America? Well for the past couple of years now in the spring, we have had two resident Canada geese setup a nest just across the creek from our home in the country and well where do think they feed? On my lawn. As long as they do not get too aggressive, I am fine with having two natural lawn mowers. And just like a coyote if you physically show them you are more dominant through verbal or physical gestures then they leave you alone. I suppose I should write don’t try this at home.

All wildlife adapt to their environments and with my family running around the back yard, this has become their new norm. The Chin Straps stay only lasts a few weeks and once the goslings are old enough they move along… well until the next year. The male’s role is to keep watch and you guessed it, if you get too close, he lets out a hiss, just like the snake and crocodile but the Canada also lets out some deep soft honks from his throat with it bill partially opened.

For the Canada geese, just like communicating with a child, I usually get down on my knees to limit my physical expression as aggression, putting myself at the same level as them and in this case the wild goose and then imitate his soft deep honk and hiss and I have confirmed something once again about this “hiss” it does not always trigger a physical response, it can be interpreted as aggression but a rather a form of warning.

Many outdoorsman/woman are some of the most experienced conservationists and have a deep understanding wildlife behaviour and communication, some without even noticing it, it is just another piece of the puzzle in our sport.

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With my every foot step on this stony path today, I was taken over by an overwhelming sense of happiness, I had just realized at that very moment that I have finally understood; what an incredible feeling it was. It has taken me a very long time and many years in the woods, but now I was able to listen, smell, see, read and tell.

Unless you truly listen to nature in every sense of the word; then I speak of a language that may only sound like the wind to you. The wilderness tells stories and holds secrets to growing and healing.

I soon discovered aspen wood chips scattered across that very path, where the beaver had dragged pieces of wood into his creek, really near to their lodge. I then picked up a pure beige walking stick with its bark completely removed by those incredible incisors.

A red-winged black bird was singing out from the cat tail right by my side, there were ripples in the black waters hidden behind the swamp grass and two morning doves on the ground just meters in front of me where not even startled to flight, my whole being was at a heightened state, I did not miss any of nature’s details and I could share it with others in the form of a story.

Wilderness is awesome and being a true outdoors-man is just incredible, maybe Henry David Thoreau is looking down at me and giving me a wink in acknowledgement saying you have finally understood.

When I wrote this piece, I was listening to “First Aid Kit – Emmylou” Their folk style was quite fitting.

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Whether you are in an elevator filled with strangers or waiting in line at Tim Horton’s coffee shop, one of the easiest ice breakers to get rid of that dreaded silence is to talk about the weather, especially here in Canada.

The weather is not only a social rescue tool but I also consider it to be one of the most important elements no pun intended in which we need to have some understanding and also take into consideration during the preparatory phase of your hunt and during the outing.

There is no need to become a meteorologist in order to have a more successful hunt but if you possess some of their knowledge, it can definitely enhance your chances of success. For example understanding how the weather impacts specific birds can be advantageous during a duck hunt, thinning air is harder to fly in. Birds sit it out before a storm. The skill of being able to interpret the warm and cold fronts is also very important during migratory bird hunting.

I always consult the Weather Network web site the night before my outing, thus allowing me to pack the right gear and to dress accordingly, so that I may hunt comfortably in any time of year.

I am always trying to learn more about the weather, so that I may be better prepared while out on a hunt, thus trying to improve my chances of a harvest but also to be prepared in the event that the weather changes. Knowing which birds or mammals is affected by the weather and how I may use this to my advantage.

One of my greatest treasures and tool to help me achieve this goal is the following book “Eric Sloane’s Weather Book” in his fourteen chapters Eric writes in such a way that it makes it easy to understand concepts such as cold and warm fronts, the air masses and about the winds amongst other interesting topics. One particular page I really enjoyed at the beginning of the book is the weather sayings of the old sailors and they are easy to remember but very informative.

I wanted to end this blog entry with a quote that the author also included in his book written by William Shakespeare: “In nature’s infinite book of secrecy a little I can read.”
I hope that in time, I will be able to read and understand some of the pages in nature’s book.

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