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Posts Tagged ‘waterfowler’


The truck edges forward in its slow advance rolling over the sharp rocks, you can hear the rubber under stress from the weight of the truck. But then seconds later it is all over and the truck is brought to a complete stop. I swing it into park, unlatch the door, jump out and land on my two feet. It is a perfect landing, I have done this a thousand times before and then I look around my surroundings, stretch out my arms on either side taking in a deep breath.

Finally I was back where I belong in the Canadian countryside surrounded by farm fields, forests and the wetlands. My eyes see it all, I do not miss a thing, my soul absorbs its substance. Many years have gone by now and I have learned that I too have a special connection with nature. Today is my fourth time out this season for waterfowl but on this very day things seemed quite different, my knowledge reveals itself in my stature, calm and confident and as for nature well it just lives.

It is true that skill as a waterfowler will aid you in your hunts but it will never be the deciding factor on whether or not you harvest. I tell myself every time that it is what nature will offer you on that particular sortie, this is part of the excitement and challenge. The Canada geese may be in the fields waiting or not, they might be in the swamp or maybe not, the ducks might be hiding along the edge of the creek or not.

Yes for sure there will be game out there but where this is the true experience. After a great conversation with my farmer friend and getting the lowdown of the area, I step back into my truck and drive down the southern field across the creek heading toward the wetlands. Recently I have started to try something different, rather than spending several hours out in the bush, instead I leave later in the day with just two hours before sunset to set myself up in my kayak blind with my back to the forest on the northern side of the swamp.

My plan is to sit still in the boat until the ducks come in for the evening and attempt to harvest my limit before the time was up. Last year I wrote about the magical last thirty minutes of hunting which is the final thirty minutes after sunset. On my third time out this year, I barely had the time to push off the shore with my kayak and it was already raining wood ducks, some landing just feet from me. Hearing their wings swish through the air is just an incredible feeling followed by their landing splash.

I usually park several meters from the swamp, put on my waders and get my kit ready, I then sneak up to the shore to see if there are any birds. The small bushes and trees provide great cover for this, sometimes I harvest one of two birds and then go back to pick up the kayak to retrieve them. Sometimes I have to move in and around the beaver dams through the maze of swamp grass to find them. After this is when my waiting game begins, I will bring all the kit I need into the kayak and then paddle out through the swamp and setup. Generally, I choose a spot with tall grass or dead bushes or trees.

When the darkness finally covers the swamp and the fog moves in, it becomes a magical place. The shadows of the evergreen in the horizon create amazing silhouettes. The water below comes to life with beavers, bugs and fish. Strange sounds come out from the nearby woods and if you are a person with a rich imagination, it is enough to give you the shivers. It is a beautiful place with no words that can truly describe what your senses experience with every ounce in my body is filled with joy.

Then they start to flying in, woods ducks in small groups of three of four with the swish of their wings against the air as they circle all around, you slowly raise your shotgun and fill the sky with muzzle blasts of fire.

There is one thing that rings true, you are a Canadian woodsman.

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District F in Quebec is where I hunt my duck and geese; this year opening day is scheduled for September 20, 2014. What I like to do before opening day is spend a few afternoons or early mornings in the wetlands and fields then check out their whereabouts and activity.

This helps with the overall planning and preparation stage but also testing the gear like the duck boat and kayaks, and other equipment in addition checking the water levels and the wetlands to see if anything has changed from the previous season.

Where I hunt waterfowl it is public land anyone can set up a blind and hunt on opening day. A common practice in my area is for hunters to mark off a small section with a sign which has a name and the year of the season, this lets others know that this spot has been taken.

Most waterfowlers will respect this and move on to the next spot, unfortunately not everyone is respectful or let alone safe. Signs have been removed and thrown into the water and some hunters are so dangerous during opening day they are a hazard to themselves and to others shooting in every other direction, and when shooting starts a half an hour before sunrise, well you can imagine the situation. There have also been incidents when some hunters, even push-off others out of a certain areas, which is known to be opened to the public.

So when it comes to opening day, is it worth it? Does it deserve all the hype? I do not think so. I prefer to wait a few days and once the storm has settled, when the temperatures drop, this is the time to hit the waters. The cold weather will keep the trigger happy gunners inside and the seasoned waterfowlers will be able to enjoy a safe outing and possibly harvest a few birds.

The season closes on January 3rd, 2015 in my district, so there will be lots of time to be on the water and break through the ice with an axe to get to the ducks. Don’t forget your waterfowl permit and stamp and in my district make sure your small game permits are still good.

For more information on your district, PMU’s or zone for waterfowl hunting check out the Environment Canada website.

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On one of my day trips into the wetlands, I met a fellow waterfowler and we exchanged stories during a brief conversation. He had told me about a time when he was out in the marsh and another hunter had shot a Canada goose. He saw the bird fall on the other side of the pond but the shooter failed to retrieve the bird, because it was too difficult but not impossible to reach. The shooter said that it was a great shot but he did not see any reason why he should retrieve it. He was convinced nature would take its course and the coyotes would get to it in the evening. In most provinces this is illegal to abandon game or allow it to spoil.

Unknown to this careless hunter, the other fellow I met sent in his dog after the goose and he soon assisted in tackling the goose and finally harvesting it in knee deep water. This could have been considered spoiled game but because some of us actually respect nature the bird was spared and a family benefited from a nice evening meal.

Spoiled game is very similar to spoiled meat that you may encounter in the local grocery store if the dates are entered incorrectly. The meat will have a strong odor and bacteria will grow, the meat may become slimy in texture; the meat may also become sticky. Depending on where the animal is hit, it is important to properly field dress and remove all its internal organs with the use of latex gloves. It is also a good idea to carry plastic bags, cheese bags, a bottle of water, a good cutting knife and small axe if needed. Some hunters even use small chain saws to break the chest cavity of the moose or large elk. These are all steps to ensure that the game remain fresh and avoid spoiling the meat after the shot has been taken.

During our hunters’ education course, we are all taught where to aim in one specific place normally just around the shoulder blade in order to minimize the suffering, hitting vital organs such as the lungs or heart. This also minimizes the damage done to the game in order to be able to enjoy a nice meal as well as the trophy. Time is of the essence when retrieving the game and if you do not get an accurate shot the first time you will have to take a second one and this might hit an area where spoiling the game may be the outcome. This is a great way to avoid spoiling the game meat and stress to the animal. A great example of this was depicted in the show “Safari Hunters Journal” hosted by Steve Scott on Wild TV hunting and fishing network. On one of his brilliant hunts they harvested an elephant that was harassing the local corn fields and once the elephant trophy was taken, the meat was then distributed throughout the local village. The trophy was achieved but the meat was not wasted.

Lead poisoning, what about it? Extensive research has been conducted in the US and other countries in order to prove that bullets with lead can potentially poison wildlife and humans. In the UK, there has been talk of attempting to ban bullets containing lead which are used in stalking rifles for deer. My aim is not to focus on this debate; I would rather not use ammunition with lead if at all preventable. Does it spoil the meat? I would think it depends on the levels of lead in the game after the shot is taken.

When any large or small game is shot, it is a good idea to field dress it right away in order to avoid any type of bacteria or contamination to take place. Many websites and field dressing manuals encourage the bleeding out of the animal and keeping it cool as well as removing all its internal organs, this is good practice to avoid spoiling the meat. Sometimes ice is added to the chest cavity and the rest of the carcass to preserve the meat during transport. Field dressing game is a whole blog entry on its own. Cooler bags are brilliant for large game.

Any game that has been hit by traffic would be considered spoiled game as the bones and damage done to the intestines or other organs could cause bacterial and toxic poisoning. The same applies to game that has been hit in the intestines by a bullet or other organs containing fluids that could become hazardous.

Be a good hunter, respect and follow the laws concerning abandoning game. Try to use environmentally friendly ammunition if possible such as steel instead of lead and spend some time at the range working on the accuracy of your shots. Review the types of ammunition and ballistics used for the type of game you are attempting to harvest. Do not spoil the sport but spoil yourself!

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