Posts Tagged ‘wade bourne’

I drove carefully through the creek, it was going to be a quick crossing; just minutes before I had put on my Allen waders and walked across it to see how deep it was, this also let me find the sharp rocks sticking out of the muddy bottom.

As the tires pushed through the creek, three mallards that were hidden in the dense grass burst into flight heading westward, they were climbing gradually but their flight lightning fast, one drake and two hens. I was heading to the edge of the marsh to the south-east.

When I first arrived at the farm I noticed the southern field was empty with no Canada geese in sight. I wasn’t sure how my hunt was going to turn out on this fall day but I always try to be creative and remain optimistic.

The cows were scattered all around the barns and open fields, I was hoping for a good day but there were no birds in sight. I took a few deep breaths and with my binoculars in hand, I started to scan the landscape. Over a kilometer away in a south-westerly direction, I noticed long black objects poking out the swamp grass, they were moving very little but just enough that I could make out the difference from the tree stumps left by the beavers and a goose neck.

I stood there on top of the ridge for a few more minutes, raised and lowered my binoculars several times trying to get a better look at the thin black sticks. Once I cleared the creek, I turned toward the west and moved along the ridge driving in the low ground, and my plan was to park away from my start point for my stalk.

With the truck now parked exactly where I wanted it, I opened the driver door and stepped out onto the moist field. It was a cold windy day, so I put on my Remington hunting jacket and zipped it up just below the chest pouch fitted with a magnetic strip of my waders giving me easy access to my shells.

With my 870 ready and placed on the field floor I took three Challenger shells and loaded them and pumped one into the chamber and placed the safety on. The whole time I was kneeling beside the truck, I kept my eyes on the cattle more particularly the big black bull.

They were only a few meters away and I only had small spruce trees and dead tree stumps, between them and I and they got pretty weary with me crawling around them.

I now had to move my way closer to the water’s edge without triggering any panic among the geese, especially the one’s on watch. As I came around the front of the truck and headed to the water, I would sneak up behind some trees, then move my way around to freshly cut stumps left by the beavers. The ground beneath me was transforming into a muddy sludge mixed in with rotten pieces of wood and rock.

With my green balaclava pulled over my face; every few steps I would stop and check my alignment with the spotter geese and then adjust my movement forward, so that they could not see me.

I was now only twenty meters away but it felt like a longer distance than this as I could no longer finish my approach slouched forward. I had to get down on my hands and knees, and with every pace forward, I would meticulously place my shotgun onto swamp grass mounds just high enough to keep my barrel cleared of the muck.

A few weeks earlier I had observed my cat stalking some common house sparrows in the tall grass. Everyone of her muscles were moving in a calculated fashion then very often she would stop and just watch, then adjust her position again and move forward with only her front legs and then minutes later she would bring in her bag legs forward, thus allowing her to jump forward with the maximum reach allowed. It was incredible that a large black object like her could move ahead closer to the birds without sending them into flight.

I was now knee-deep in the cold waters, my hands were breaking through the very thin layer of ice and then sinking into the muck, my fingers were starting to burn because of the cold waters but I was so focused on my approach that I did not give much thought to my uncomfortable movement.

I finally got into the position but my left boot was stuck in the mud, I had to figure out how to shift my hip forward and get into a good shooting position without getting too high. I grabbed a chewed beaver stump placed my fingers carefully around tip and pulled myself up.

This was all done in an exaggerated slow motion, so that I did not alert the spotter geese. I could hear one of them calling out nervous short calls. But before I could shoot, I needed to get one final look at the main group of geese in behind the marsh grass and ensure that my first shot was going to be perfect and safe.

The group formed a sort of broken circle with three geese lined up with two on each side. I took several deep breaths then looked down into the water, my heart was beating like crazy and I was breathing like I had just run several kilometers.

I was ready and had all my shots planned out, I did the slow controlled push-off of my safety button just like Wade Bourne had shown in one of his videos. I slowly raised myself up behind thin branches of a dead tree that came up out of the water like a cypress tree in the shape of the letter “y”, my ruse worked for a few seconds until the geese started calling out aggressively and pushing off into flight. I released my first shot when the birds where just inches off the water and my shell shot snapped the first three geese and brought them down. I aimed for the head and neck just like turkey hunting.

I could not believe it, I had just brought down three geese in one shot, the first one fell hard into the water and the two others spun and flipped back into the water right after, the first two were down but the third tried to fly again and I released a second shot.

With three harvested, I turned to my right or north-east and released another shot and hit a fourth bird and it fell and spiralled hard into the water. I had to reload, so I reached into my pocket and pulled out two more shells and loaded them then pumped and twisted to my left now in a full standing position I released another shot and brought down the largest bird of my harvest.

Once the water calmed below my feet and the empty shells floated near my boots, I had five Canada geese lying in front of me and I could not believe what had just happened.

I had just reached my daily bag limit in a matter of seconds and I was in total disbelief, my years of work to becoming a better waterfowler had just materialized before me and the future could only be brighter.

It took me several minutes to get the birds back to the truck and then drive back to the barn on my way home. While loading my kit in the back of the truck, six rock doves flew in from the east heading west over the barn by the cattle gates.

I grabbed my 870 and snuck in behind the southern barn and made my way around the front, the pigeons where flying just two meters above the ground in formation. I loaded one shell of number three and released a single shot into the flock, taking down two birds.

I have gone weeks without a single harvest but days like these taught me to never give up and learn as much as you can and spend as much time as you can in the field. It does not matter where you are in the world, after all it is in our blood and I understand!

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I knelt very still on the south-western edge of the barn closest to the creek with just my head peeking out the bottom corner to the side toward the forest. But unfortunately for me there was too much open ground between the twenty geese and I. They were at the water’s edge and out of my shotgun range. I considered stalking them, by crawling on the muddy ground but it was not possible because the way the ground was shaped.

The geese which were on sentry duty had their necks stretched out and on high alert they were always adjusting their heads enabling them to have a complete view of their surroundings. Darn, if only I had some large rocks or tall grass I could have used as cover, this would have enabled me to get closer for the shot.

So, after taking several minutes to go through my plan, and since it still was very early and the start of a great waterfowl day, I thought I would take a chance. So I jumped up and started sprinting toward the birds hoping they would burst into the air toward me like they have in the past thus give me a clean shot or two. My gamble did not work; they actually lifted off and headed south out of range. This is alright; another group would eventually fly in, I just had to be patient. This was very different from sitting in a ground blind.

After all it was prime real-estate by the creek. So, I unloaded my tubular magazine of the three shells and headed back to the truck to prepare the canoe.

My initial plan was to drive up to the creek and park the truck on the north shore because the water level was quite high, then offload the canoe and portage it to the swamp which was about two hundred yards of rough terrain to the west. There I could attempt to harvest some mallards and wood ducks, then maybe use the canoe to recover them or even navigate through a few channels and flush some ducks.

It was very windy and it was about eleven degrees Celsius with scattered showers. Actually the rain would come down very hard for about fifteen minutes and then it would stop once the dark cloud passed and go back to slight drizzle.

By the time I got to the edge of the swamp, I put down the canoe and I walked in the same direction I took only a few weeks before when I saw several ducks flying.

Sure enough a two mallards shot out of the tall grass, let out calls and circled in behind me, each duck in their own direction, so I released one shot and missed, pumped the action and my second shell jammed. I cleared it and released my third shot but it was too late and both ducks were out of range.

I suspected I would have a jam even with the pump-action pushed all the way forward, I was using my left over Kent shells in my Remington 870, for me this was not a good mix. But I wanted to use up the shells and go back to my Remington Sportsman Fast steel #3 shot. In my district, it was the second official day of the duck hunting season but today was my first day out and therefore it was my opening day and it was important for me to do well and potentially harvest and not go home without a bird.

My day wasn’t starting well but then this is what hunting is all about, not allowing yourself to get discouraged and having the confidence in your abilities just like Wade Bourne wrote in one of his articles about successful waterfowl hunting.

So, I completed a second portage and brought back the canoe to the truck and left it sitting on the edge of the creek then decided to take a little break. After having had my sandwich and a drink of water, I started my way up the hill to the south in order to see if the groundhogs had been moving around up near the large boulders.

The creek separates the north and southern hay fields, and then in the middle of the southern hay-field which goes upward there is a large natural crest of with huge boulders and this is where the groundhogs have their den and network.

There is a very wide open area before I could reach the crest, by now I had several hundred of Canada geese flying in formation right above me and it was amazing to watch; when they called out it sounded like they were much lower than they actually were. Sound travels very well in the damp weather.

I kept on walking up the slope towards the crest keeping my eyes on the geese above hoping that a group would fly down to the creek or swamp to feed or to take a much-needed break.

I could have tried to call out using my goose caller but geese that are used to hunters do not like to call back as much and do not require so much calling.

Still walking in a southern direction, all of a sudden a group of five geese flew in from the east with their feet spaced out and their wings curved and ready for a landing. I immediately laid down flat on the ground and remained absolutely still. They were now right above me circling like turkey vultures and the lead bird turned toward the creek to the north but noticed my truck and the cattle, so he completed a gradual turn to the west toward the swamp, the two other geese behind him followed and abandoned a landing attempt at the creek staying very low but still out of my range.

The geese which were now in two flying groups moved toward the swamp calling out to each other, it was really neat. I was so excited, I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest; finally the geese had come in and were now going to land exactly where I wanted them to land in the swamp.

The first two geese flew in and landed right away into the water around forty feet from the swamp’s edge but the three others kept on circling above calling out, as if they were completing a final fly over ensuring that it was safe to land.

I can remember that during one of my duck hunts I did not have any decoys in the water, after having called out a few come back calls, two common black and white golden-eyes flew in each completing a circle and broke their wings as if to come in for a landing, then they both completed a fly over and moved on. These were experienced and nervous birds and no strangers to hunters. This is a good example of the importance of being well concealed, using the right calls and having a good decoy layout.

Now that all five geese were in the water in behind small evergreen trees and swamp brush, I stood up very quickly and sprinted two hundred yards staying in the low ground hugging the edge of the creek which the swamp fed into heading south-west. The brush was also thicker along the edge of the creek thus providing cover.

Once I got within thirty yards of the edge of the swamp, I got down in a kneeling position, allowed myself to catch my breath loaded some shells into the tubular magazine and started my careful stalk behind the brush.

I now had to study each and every detail of the swamp foliage in front of me, every log under my feet as well as focus on the location of every goose because I now had ten eyes which could spot me.

I felt like a fox, lifting my feet very carefully without losing a boot in the thick mud trying not to make suction sound or even losing my balance while taking my next step. My free hand would grab onto small evergreen tree and prevent myself from falling over.

Every step was calculated and about every minute or so, I would lift my head and try to see in which direction the geese were swimming. They were now moving from my right going left heading south, passing in behind a dead tree stump one at a time.

Darn! I was no longer in a good shooting position, I now had to work my way back and relocate to my left or south and come back around, this was tremendous amount of work stalking through the swamp. By now I had closed in about thirty feet closer to the geese and I had to act quickly if not they would glide away into the tall grass and I no longer had my canoe by my side.

I waited for the first goose to pass and loaded a shell into the chamber, pushed the safety one and started to control my breathing and compensate my aim because of the ribbed shotgun barrel. Once the bead was perfectly line up with the bird, I slowly stood up from behind the swamp grass and released my shot into the first goose. It was about forty-two yard shot.

The goose flopped over instantly into the water and fell sinking half way below the surface, I pumped my action and released two more shots at the other geese but the last two shots were a miss.

I recovered my Canada goose with my canoe, it was a beautiful thirteen pound bird a great way to start my season indeed but my most important lesson was to have confidence in our abilities as hunters. Once again Wade Bourne’s wisdom and knowledge helped me again!

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Quick Tom

The truck drove slowly up the long dirt road between the north and south-western hay fields carefully avoiding the mud holes. The creaking sounds of the suspension faded into the country music that was playing low on the radio. Once we reached our spot, the driver put it into park and stopped at the top of the eastern ridge on the forest edge.

It had been raining for a few hours now and the temperature was starting to drop at about six degrees Celsius, we had lowered our windows, so that we could hear the nightly sounds and hopefully get a gobble or an owl hoot. I then carefully swung my door open, stepped out into the mud and moved my way to the back to the truck, unzipped my hunting bag and grabbed my crow caller.

It had been dark for about thirty minutes now and we were slowly sinking further into darkness. I cupped my hands around my mouth and started with a few owl calls and then waited a few minutes, then called again with my crow caller. This went on for a few minutes and would stop, listening with my hands cupped around my ears, and then I would start calling again. I was anticipating a call back from a gobbler but instead I heard crickets, geese from the lake nearby and some other nocturnal animals. The farmer had said that the field on our left was full of turkeys during the week and so we were attempting to find their roost.

After a few failed attempts, we packed up and made our way back to the cabin for the night. It was going to be a short sleep because we wanted to be back on site about half an hour before sunrise in order to get the best setup. Since I had not located the roost, we decided that in the morning we were going to still-hunt along the edge of the fields just like Ray Eye had done in his book. You must exercise a great deal of discipline while moving through the woods and fields, know your terrain, be patient as well as have a good eye.

Turkeys can hear and see extremely well and it is absolutely critical that you know and understand the game you are pursuing.

It was now five in the morning and I awoke to some nice song birds. Within minutes we had eaten breakfast, which was a few pieces of toast and a cold glass of milk, and then we loaded the gear into truck and drove back to the very same spot. My good friend was carrying my decoys in a bag, along with green mosquito netting for cover. I had my Quaker Boy slate caller around my neck, a set of binoculars and my pump-action Remington 870.

The hunt was on and we were extremely excited, we slowly moved our way east through some copse of trees between the east and western fields and as we broke the forest edge two deer leapt into the tree line to our right and disappeared. We decided to go up the left hand side of the field north-east of the truck and then cut across about half way through as there was a crest in the field leading to a point which offered a great shooting spot.

As we slowly made our way up the forested edge of the third field, I went down on one knee and completed Wade Bourne’s Fly down Cackle hitting my hat against the tree bark and boy it sounded authentic.

I must have alerted some animals nearby because within an instant of finishing my call a coyote came trotting along the field to our right and then when he saw us he disappeared just as fast as the two does. We did however find his meal left over’s which was a porcupine carcass. Several minutes had gone by and now after having seen some wildlife our senses were set to high gear and then almost every dark object in the fields looked like an animal.

We must have taken around forty more steps and had stopped by a pile of logs when my friend tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to our left. We instantly took a knee and stared at the large black mark in the center of the field down in the low ground. As we looked on, I noticed that it was lifting and lowering its head but it was too far out to make out what it was. I whispered “It looks like a coyote” but my friend was not so sure, so I handed him my binoculars and he focused on the animal. He was several hundred yards away down in the low ground. Behind him was a beautiful valley and on its crest there were very large trees mixed with pine and aspen, oak and birch.

To his north there was a very large hay-field and a small lake behind some more trees which formed a sort of barrier between the two features. To his south there was another field and it was on its southern edge where my point and best shooting spot was located. By the time my friend handed me the binoculars to have a look, he had already whispered back that it was a very large tom and he had a huge smile on his face. It seems that my calls had worked and he was spreading his wings in a feathered dance then moving slowly into the direction of my calls. He was all alone with no other turkeys in sight.

We kept very low and slowly moved back toward the southern edge and decided to place the two decoys twenty-five yards from the brush. My friend walked back to the logs some thirty yards to the west providing me with a safe and wide shooting arc. Ideally, I needed to be further east on the point but I could no longer move as the tom was closing in on my decoys and would have instantly seen me.

I tucked myself into the bushes on the edge of the forest my back facing south with my decoys slightly to my left to the west about fifteen yards out. I carefully placed my Remington 870 aiming directly to my front and lifted my slate caller and let out a few cutts, yelps and purrs. I would then lift my binoculars, look for the tom’s position and reaction.

At first I could see him moving toward me but then he would fade into the low ground, and I thought to myself “Damn! He saw me.” Then I would see this very long neck pop up like a submarine periscope and then disappear again behind the grassy knoll. It was quite comical. What I found very neat is that he never once communicated with me, not even a few clucks or a gobble.

There was one thing which was clear and this is that this tom was quick and he was in a hurry to see my hen decoys. He was now fifty yards out to my right, I had tucked myself away into a ball and pulled my camouflage hood over my head, I looked like a Real Tree bush with just my eyes moving, he was moving quickly but cautiously towards my two decoys. He would complete another feather dance which was just breath-taking and you could see his beard dragging along the ground. He would then tuck his head back in and move forward a few more steps, then stop and move yet again.

My heart was racing like crazy and I kept on going through my shot scenarios and wanted to insure I chose the best time to take my shot, so I waited for him to walk directly to my front, I slowly raised my Remington 870 and unlocked the safety using the slow push technique which Wade Bourne had shown on his video. It made no sound at all, took my breaths and when he was twenty-five yards out, I lined up my bead sight with his head and neck and let out a shot of number four.

It struck him by surprise and made him jump into a winged frenzy, I instantly leapt out of the bushes and while on my second step toward the bird I fired a second shot. Upon the second impact he spun around and the twenty-three pound beast fell to the ground. I had just harvested my turkey on the second day of this year’s season and it was all over in less than two hours. Brilliant!

I may never meet Wade Bourne, Ray Eye and Preston Pittman in my lifetime but they were all present during my hunt. Thank you!

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