Category Archives: Big game hunting

Trial, error and a nine point buck in the bag

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My first white-tailed buck, a nine point, taken on opening afternoon of the 2016 rifle season in Eastern Ontario.

I never fully appreciated big game hunting until I shot my first white-tailed buck yesterday afternoon on the opening day of the 2016 rifle season here in Eastern Ontario. I took up big game hunting in earnest in 2011 under the tutelage of my good friend and hunting buddy Jason Quinn. Jay is an accomplished big game hunter with a lifetime of experience in the pursuit of white-tailed deer, moose and black bear. Under his guidance I shot my first white-tailed deer, a doe, in the 2012 rifle season. While killing my first deer was a thrill in its own right, the hunt I experienced yesterday was the culmination of all that is good in hunting: notably the challenges, camaraderie , effort, joys, sorrows and sportsmanship associated with hunting. The buck, my first, was hunted down and killed in a fair chase. I felled it using my Browning X-Bold Medallion bolt action rifle (left-hand) in 30-06 with a Winchester Super X 150 grain bullet. What this experience showed is I remain a novice deer hunter and with Jay as friend and mentor I am learning through trial and error.

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Frankly, my deer, I do give a damn

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An apple tree laden with fruit that was barren the past few seasons.

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Six point buck caught on camera by Jay’s deer stand.

Jason and I got out with our dogs to the farm near Spencerville to check on our deer stands and the trail cameras over the Labour Day Weekend. We picked up a sack of corn and a gallon of molasses en route at the Old Co-op in North Gower. The corn and molasses was to replenish the bait piles we set out in the spring. As we neared the farm what struck me was how dry the area is. There is a lot of swampland adjacent to the farm and the surrounding areas. One patch of swampland we pass on the way to the farm was completely dried out. The drought we experienced over July and August took its toll. It only got worse. Jay’s deer stand is situated at the edge of the swamp that borders the farmland we hunt. We count on the swamp, its cool, fresh water, for our dogs to cool off in after a vigorous run through the meadows and woodlots in search of grouse and woodcock. The swamp was dry as a bone. This does not bode well for the woodcock season that opens September 25th. I sure hope we get some torrential rainfall between now and then else it promises to be a dismal woodcock season.

Fortune smiled on us, however, in that the apple tree (a landmark in our stand placements) is laden with fruit for the first time in many years. Moreover, it looks as though deer are feeding on the apples and browsing the lower foliage on the tree. We checked the trail cameras we set out last year (watching the trails at Jay’s, his wife Fran’s and my stands) and found lots of photos of deer and one bear, going back months. Jay and I will return to the farm on the 24th, bringing another sack of corn and the container of molasses, and check the cameras once more before archery season opens October 1st. I hope to bag a deer with my crossbow this season. We will watch the weather and sit with crossbows if the temperature is cool enough that should we can kill a deer, we can dress it, then take the carcass to the butcher before the meat spoils. Otherwise, we will wait for the two week rifle season that opens in November. We will see what fortune brings us this deer season and based on what we found I am feeling optimistic.

I documented our expedition to the farm on the video that follows.

Posted by Geoffrey

O Canada, Canada, Canada…

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White-throated sparrow in song.

“O Canada, Canada, Canada” is the tune of the song of the white-throated sparrow. I heard one singing this morning out on the property where Jason and I took our dogs (Hera and Nos) for a run. When I heard the tune, I said to Jason, “that’s the call of a white-throated sparrow.” The bird was good enough to pose for me and I got some decent photos of the bird. The property is the one near Spencerville where we hunt deer. Our primary purpose for being there this morning was to put out 50 lb. bags of corn and salt-licks for the deer. We were on the road by 0800 and stopped at the Old Co-Op in North Gower to pick up the sacks of corn and the salt-licks. We took Jason’s wheeler along. This made getting the corn and salt-licks out to our deer stands much easier. Continue reading

Who me?

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Barred owl roosting on a telephone wire in Centretown Ottawa.

It is April 17th 2016 and winter is finally behind us. Saturday evening I noticed a small crowd of people standing on the sidewalk in front of the house. I wondered what they were doing there and when Mika and I left to go out for supper I saw why. A barred owl saw fit to roost on a telephone wire across the street. I quickly retrieved my camera and got some nice photos of the bird.

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Jason posing with Nos and Hera in the field.

This weekend Jason and I took the dogs out to the property near Spencerville to check on the trail cameras we set up along deer runs we are watching. Before setting out Sunday morning at 0700, however, I made the final payment for the john boat, trailer, outboard motor, gas can and oars I bought from Jason. Now I am the proud owner of two duck boats. The john boat is better suited for some of the rivers and marshes I gun for ducks and geese than my boat with the v-hull. Omer, another of my hunting buddies, will help me construct a blind frame so we can turn the john boat into a floating blind like my other boat.

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Hera tracking a woodcock in the thicket.

We arrived at the property shortly after 0800 and found Peter, our host, at home. We stopped by to check in and let him know what we were up to. He was happy to see us and we set out with the dogs who were eager to get into the field. As we entered the thicket, Nos (Jason’s dog), turned up a woodcock almost immediately. We pressed on an moments later my three year old Brittany, Hera, pointed a woodcock in the thicket. I walked up her point and off went the bird. In all, five woodcock were found and flushed by the dogs this morning. In addition, one grouse was bumped and we heard two drumming in the wood.

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Jason checking a trail camera on a deer trail.

We have trail cameras set up along deer trails watching for deer movement on the property throughout the year. Last season we put out corn and molasses in hopes of attracting deer during the muzzle loader season, but no deer showed. What we found on the trail cameras this morning confirmed what we surmised about deer movement during the rifle and muzzle loading seasons. The corn and molasses were left largely undisturbed until the end of the year. A few deer stopped by to feed in December, but only well after dark. Through the winter months several deer, mainly does but a six point buck also, came to feed. The deer are not stupid. They are adept at survival and know each year when hunters enter the area it is time to hide out in the swampy areas by day and come to feed after dark. We are happy the corn and molasses we left was consumed by the deer over the winter months when food is scarce. We will return at the end of the month to leave salt mineral blocks in place of the corn and molasses. With any luck this will attract deer through the spring and summer months and on into the fall hunting season. We shall see.

Posted by Geoffrey

Pride goeth before a fall

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Is there a remedy for buck fever? The reason I ask is because before yesterday afternoon I foolishly thought I was immune to this affliction that sometimes strikes deer hunters. Yesterday afternoon’s deer hunt with my friends and hunting buddies Jason and Fran, a happily married couple who share a passion for deer hunting, started full of promise. Omer, our friend and hunting buddy, shot his first deer (a button buck) on the opening day of the rifle season in Ontario. I saw a doe that same afternoon, but passed up a shot as I had a buck tag. We tagged Omer’s button buck with my tag, leaving us free to fill Omer’s doe tag in party hunting. I saw another deer the second afternoon Omer and I sat, but not enough of the deer to risk a shot. The third afternoon we sat, I did not see any deer from my stand, but as we made our way back to the car two deer bounded across a meadow ahead of us in the dark. There are deer in the area.

The husband and wife who deer hunt together, stay together.

The husband and wife who deer hunt together, stay together.

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One button buck and a not so wiley coyote

Omer with his first whitetail deer.

Omer with his first whitetail deer.

November 2, 2015, opening day of the rifle season for whitetail deer in Ontario and what a memorable opening day it was for Omer and me. This hunt goes into memory as the culmination of camaraderie, sportsmanship and teamwork between me and my hunting buddies, notably Jason and Omer. By the end of legal shooting time at 5:18 pm, we had a button buck and a coyote in the bag. I saw a doe from my stand too. It is going to be very difficult to top this hunt in this and succeeding seasons. Continue reading

Hunting the whitetail deer with a bear behind

Seated in my ladder stand.

Seated in my ladder stand.

Taking a moment to write these words before I make final preparations to go sit in my stand this afternoon. It is the opening of the rifle season for whitetail deer in Ontario. I am going to a property near Spencerville where my hunting buddies and I have our stands set up. Jason and I were out yesterday with our dogs, combining upland gunning, checking the trail cameras and relocating my stand. Until yesterday my stand was located overlooking a ridge on crown land adjacent to the property we hunt. We found a group of hunters operating a camp on the crown land and the last time I sat in my stand the previous season there was a hunter seated on the ground about 100 yards right in front of me. Even if a deer wandered into view on the ridge in front of me I could not very well shoot with another hunter down range. We moved the stand to the edge of the property, well away from where the hunters from the camp should be trying their luck.

We swept through some decent grouse cover with the dogs on our way to the first two trail cameras, but turned up no birds. Once we reached the cameras, Jason put the chips into his camera and we viewed what the trail cameras caught since we last checked. There were deer, coyotes, raccoons, Val and Peter (the owners of the property) and most interestingly, two young black bears. We hunted the property starting in 2011 and to date took three deer (two bucks and a doe) in following seasons. Never have we seen a bear or sign bears were in the area. Jason has a bear tag this season, so maybe he will put a bear in the bag.

Jason checking a trail camera.

Jason checking a trail camera.

Black bears caught on trail camera.

Black bears caught on trail camera.

We decided to move the trail cameras to cover the area closer to where our stands are located. We continued the hunt, working our way to check on the deer stands and reset the trail cameras. I hoped we would get into some woodcock and maybe a snipe in the bog next to Rick’s stand. Rick is a neighbour of our host and hostess who hunts the property also. No birds were turned up, but as we approached Fran’s stand Jason noticed deer trails crossing in front of it. We placed one of the trail cameras on a tree overlooking one of the trails. We moved toward Jason’s stand and the dogs got birdy. As I approached Jason’s stand a grouse hopped up before taking flight. I called to Jason “grouse!” I did not shoot as Jason was in front of me in the direction the grouse flew. I heard two shots from his autoloader. He thought he winged it, but we searched with the dogs and turned up nothing. We made our way back to Jason’s stand and carefully placed a trail camera to watch the area.

Jason took a six point buck from his stand two seasons ago.

Jason took a six point buck from his stand two seasons ago.

We concluded the hunt after moving my stand and resetting a trail camera to watch the area. Now we have our stands set to cover the hardwoods and cedars at the edge of the swamp the deer use to travel across the property. This season everyone has a doe tag except me so I hope a buck sees fit to amble past my stand before the season closes. Time and fortune will tell.

The buck stops here.

The buck stops here.

Posted by Geoffrey