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Posts Tagged ‘wet’


There I was standing in the middle of a forest with its floor filled with watering holes, it would have been heaven for wood ducks but the woods were empty. The autumn coloured leaves sparkled underneath the crystal surface of the water, it was just magical. The winds were extremely powerful blowing in from the West and as it enveloped the forest there was howling winds through the trees emitting strange eerie sounds. With the rattling of the branches and the trunks rubbing up and down against each other.

There was an intense cold with snow drifts sweeping in, I kept my eyes not only on the edge of the wetlands for ducks but also on the trees, as it was the perfect conditions for tree limbs to come down. I was scoping this part of the forest because of its proximity to the shore of the river and only meters away was the edge of the wetlands.

The dominant species of duck in my area are teal and mallards, but the teal do not always land in my zone, they rather fly nervously in groups of ten or more and then loop back to the very deep parts of the water and well out of reach, I might have a chance if I snuck up with my kayak. But the mallards it is a different story, they are extremely resilient to the cold and are found until late in the season even if there is lots of snow on the ground, they are generally hidden close to shore in the tall grass. If you are a jump shooter type of hunter, then walking along the shores in a stealthy fashion you are sure to get a harvest or two.

When I set off on a hunt from my house later in mid-season, I have to pass over a bridge in my community and there is a beautiful waterway which snakes all the way to the river and I always sneak a peek over the barrier down on the muddy shores near the golden grass and if I can spot a few mallards, this is usually a good sign for my hunt on the river.

I have been coming to this area for several years now, and I used to be able to go just a few meters with my kayak and then launch off and start jump shooting from my boat. But since the beavers have moved in and with the changes to the environment this whole area is becoming a mush of swamp grass and only small segments of open water. A couple of years ago, I was out in a large area body of open water and I was able to climb out of my kayak and stand on my own two feet without sinking. I was standing on a mud island and over time it was very physically challenging to paddle in this soup. A paddle was now useless, what I needed was a long push pole.

Once I cleared the edge of the forest, I was now facing the Eastern side of the wetlands and I knew there were mallards dabbling further down, because if I were a mallard this is where I would have wanted to be about thirty meters from the shore. There was a small body of open water in the shape strange looking shoe. It was surrounded by golden coloured tall grass and some small wetland brush with several crane nest sticking out of the surface like oversized ant hills but they generally have a large ring of deep water around them and can be very dangerous with waders on.

Today I was going to try something new with my approach, I was not going to come in from the southern banks of the river and then circle around to the north to sneak up on the ducks, I was going to come cut diagonally from my start point, but this meant cutting off the top edge of the wetlands on foot, which meant he depths could range from my hips to the my knees with hidden pockets of dangerous depths. But my knowledge of the area helped me navigate and with over an hour of tracking through the muck, and pulling myself forward and out using large vegetation, I made it to my starting area.

At one point, I was startled by a small crane species and I raised my shotgun and was ready to release my shot but my experience caught me and I had identified the species within milliseconds which caused me to lower my shotgun. This is a skill that you will master even while off-season, find unique identifiers about each species of bird and learn to identify them before they are out of sight and you will see that in time you will be very accurate.

As I approached the edge of the bank, I took a short break, all that sloshing around was physically demanding and my breathing was very heavy. I looked over to the northern side and spotted several large dark animal like movements in the dark waters. They looked like dabbling ducks but I could not make it out for sure, I had to get closer.

I knew my approach was going to be a difficult one as I was already up to my knees in water surrounded by tall grass and small waterways which had depths unknown. It had begun, my sights were now on that body of open water beyond the tall grass well over thirty meters out. I would lift one foot ensure it was on a secure mud base then move the next leg forward, it was without a doubt treacherous.

I pushed forward and when I lost my balance from the suction of the water and mud vacuum on my waders, I would pull hard on a clump of tall grass and pull myself forward and out back onto a solid mud base. All the while keeping a low profile and my shotgun out of the water.

My backpack was not heavy but the straps were getting tight on my shoulders and causing them to get fatigued. There was no dry place to put down my pack, so I slowly slid it off my shoulders and down into the water and it bloated with water and stayed a float. I took note of the unique vegetation around it, so that I could spot where I had left it as I made my way closer to the edge of the open body of water which was now only ten meters away.

Only a few more steps forward into the dark unknown and now the weeds were wrapping themselves around my arms and shotgun like daemons wanting to take me down to the depth of the bowels of the dark waters. Combined with my sheer fatigue, I would force my shotgun forward which tore the weeds free.

On my final step, I slowly lifted my head and confirmed my findings, there were in fact about twenty ducks dabbling, I carefully selected the mallards closest to me. Then I lowered myself back behind the weeds and golden grass, I carefully slid my pump-action just a few millimetres in order to glance at the loaded shell in the chamber and then slid another shell into the magazine for a total of three ready.

I looked down at the water took a few deep breaths and got myself ready for the shots, then in an instant I raised myself above the grass and caught the ducks completely by surprise, they stretched their necks out called out and burst into the air, in a single motion, I pushed off the safe and released my shot into the closest bird and the mallard spun forward and flipped back into the water, I released a second shot and missed the group.

In a matter of a few seconds, it was all over, I had harvested my first mallard but the others were now sky-high heading east. The recovery was a tricky one indeed with water up to my chest, my Remington 870 was completely submerged in water but I was not going to let my orange foot duck be swallowed up by the black waters.

Once I got back to the safety of the river bank with my mallard in hand, soaking went and fatigued, there was no more humbling experience than this moment, it was just me and the northern elements. I am not sure where your imagination takes you when you think of folkloric tales of our great Canadian wilderness. I had just lived it, the cold dark waters all alone surrounded by raw wilderness and I not only mastered it but it was now flowing in my very veins.

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Almost every time I take a friend along with me waterfowl hunting, either they get too cold or wet and it ruins their first experience. Now unless they truly fall in love with the sport, it seems they never want to come back out. Why? I hope it is not because I am bad company, just kidding! It is simply that they are cold and wet. Now I am always well equipped and usually have a spare set of hip waders, warm jackets and gloves as well as toques or balaclava to lend. But the reality is that every living person has different levels of tolerance for cold, bad weather and being wet. I suppose this is why I end up going out quite often alone, because it would take some very incredible conditions to break me.

When ever I put on my waders, I break a sweat even if I am well dressed underneath with sweat absorbent clothing and good socks. Also unless you put on your waders at home before leaving it can be very unpractical and uncomfortable to put them on in the field. I like to have good pants underneath my waders with pockets and a sweater that looks presentable when going into the gas station or local store either before or after a hunt. Imagine having a pair of comfortable pants like jogging pants or a light pair of stretch trousers that would be made of a quick dry material. They could have waterproof pouches as front pockets fitted with zippers to keep your permits and licenses dry and safe.

The other nuisance part of waders is the fact that unless your socks are knee-high, you are constantly having to pull them up as they tend to slip and slide down until they are a wet ball under the ball of your feet. How about having comfortable trousers attached to the pair of socks. The socks could be made using Merino wool or a similar material which can breathe, dry quickly and be very comfortable and offer some cushion effect to the feet inside the waders.

How about even going further and having an outfit that is similar to a onesie but instead of using all the same material, you would start off at the bottom with very good socks, attached to the stretch trousers at the ankles and then attached at the waist of the trousers would be a sweater or similar long sleeve shirt that can absorb moisture, odours and dry fast. Heck you could even design it with your own camouflage pattern. Waders often have designs that have a front pouch with zippers or magnets to keep the flaps closed.

My model of waders made by Allen, even have an inside small zipper pouch that I love this is where I put my keys and phone. Designers could take it to another level and add additional chest level waterproof pouches on the sweater part, either to waders or top part of the onesie. I have seen onesie fleece outfits for fishing but the fleece is not resistant to water and you can get cold fast, also the socks are not attached on certain models.

I would love to see a three section design from sock, trousers to shirt. It would be a perfect outfit to wear under the waders and possibly my friends would continue to come out with me more often. I would call it the STS design and give a name like “The Beast”.

Until then stay warm and dry and most of all safe!

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When I thought of the good pair of boots for the sport, I first made a list of my requirements. The price for sure, the fit, the color, its durability, the warmth, the height of the boot; waterproof or not and also, I wanted to know if I must put them on site or could I drive with them?  I wished for them to be very light and also offer great ankle support and if possible without laces, which is not always practical during the cold winter days.

So, my adventure began, I purchased a very expensive pair of SWAT team style boots and within a few weeks, the sole detached at the front and once the water got in the leather began to break down and the boots were no longer usable. The laces were also replaced several times throughout my hunts. Also just in case you asked, yes the boots were treated with an expensive product which did not work. I have used several leather army boots acquired through surplus stores and although they look fantastic with their Vibram soles, however they were only good for dry terrain, I also used GORE-TEX socks. A few winters ago, I purchased inexpensive NAT’s boots which came with only one repair kit, within two years; I had punctured them while walking on rough terrain with jagged rocks and sharp branches. They were incredibly light and the price was right but they unfortunately did not survive my punishment. I also found them extremely wide and it was difficult to drive when going from one hunting spot to another.  The warmth was acceptable but my toes still froze while in the tree stand last fall and during the winter snow kept on getting into the upper part of the boot and my socks were soaked several times. A friend of mine suggested Canadian Mukluks’ boots, but I have used them in the past in the winter and I found my feet sweat quickly during heavy walking or snowshoeing with the inner liner and the outer part gets wet and freezes up. One advantage with Mukluks is that snow does not get in around the top part of the boot.

I have tried about five different pairs of boots and none of them have been able to deliver for my hunting style, which is hunting all year round, in all seasons in extremely tough terrain. My boots of choice right now are and the pair I love the most that I inherited from my grand-father, which is your very basic rubber garden boots and depending on the weather, I just add layers of wool socks.

Until I find the perfect pair of boots, I will continue live by the principles of a farming friend of mine, every year he buys himself a new pair of insulated rubber green or black boots. I have seen Le Chameau boots and also the RUT MASTER from Irish setter and similar styled boots, I am very impressed.

Until my next purchase, I will keep on walking and doing research.

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“You are what you eat!” There are several expressions about eating right that are used all over the world in several different languages and this is definitely one of them. It would also be fair to say that a great number of us have heard it at least once in our lifetime.

Understanding food and choosing the right types of foods and snacks to eat during your hunting trip has a direct impact on your mental and physical performance. Years ago as a young infantryman, I would spend several hours and sometimes days exposed to the elements such as snow-covered mountains in the Balkans. We patrolled over great distances all the while conducting very physical and mentally demanding work. Sleep was sometimes only a few hours and when it was time to eat, it was done quickly. This meant you had to eat and drink smart and also take into consideration small factors like the amount of noise you made and also being careful not to leave any traces of food or packaging.

My objective as a sport hunter today is not to have such a regimented life style anymore but to continue to make great choices with food and actually take the time needed to eat. I want to have lasting energy throughout the day, so that I can remain focused for a long time. Having a balanced food plan and a list of items you need to buy before going hunting is a process I use during my preparatory stage. This includes high energy foods that are good for you and provide you with the boost and nutrition your body requires to produce heat, feed your brain and muscles. Examples of this are beef jerky, dried fruits, fresh fruits, trail mix nuts. This may also include an emergency food kit like mine such as cans of sardines, spare water canteens and natural multigrain bars.

Still-hunting can be physically demanding and you burn a lot of calories moving through the woods especially on snowshoes. If you are sitting in a blind your body will also use up calories producing heat. This means calories being expended.

Some points such as not making noise while eating may apply if you are in a blind or tree stand but if you are still hunting, you can choose a nice spot to stop for lunch or go back to the car or truck. This makes it easier to dispose of your garbage and not having to carry it around with you in your daypack along with its scents. In one of the hunting magazines I was a subscriber to: “Chasse et Pêche” one snowshoe hunter and author wrote that during the winter months, he would light a fire during his lunch break just to warm up. This is a great idea but I would check with the park to see fires are permitted.

My experience has taught me that if I ate a muffin filled with processed sugar for breakfast at the start point of my day, my energy level would spike as soon as the sugar was absorbed into my bloodstream. As the morning went on however I would feel a crash and just be very tired. This would be an example of poor planning and eating, this could be dangerous if you are out alone in the woods. If you are hungry, your morale will be low and you will eventually become sluggish and tired. This will lead to mistakes being made, your body will weaken and hyperthermia may set in if you are exposed to the cold or wet. I drink a lot of water and stay hydrated; I also carry a bottle of Gatorade for extra carbohydrates and to replenish my electrolytes.

The night before I set out to hunt for the day, I normally have a hardy meal containing meats, vegetables, pasta and or rice. I also drink large amounts of water. Moisture is lost through sweating, going to the washroom and even your breath. Fluids are very important for our bodies.

Below is a list of food and snacks that I like to pack:

Natural granola bars
PowerBars
Trail mix nuts
Beef jerky
Water
Gatorade
Sweets or candies and gum
Canned beans
Sardines in water

Throughout the day, I will have small snacks like dried nuts and bars about every two hours or so and I make sure to drink around the same time. At lunch I have a meal which is normally a sandwich, packaged foods that are not difficult or noisy to open.  I also take into consideration the ease to pack and being lightweight, also that it does not leave too much garbage such as wrappings.

There are some great references on the web and books that are available to assist you in eating right while hunting. Every person has their own budget and system in place, feel free to suggest or comment on food ideas that can ultimately assist all small game hunters.

Bon Appétit!

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