Ducks and drakes, what the English call the game of skipping stones across water, came to mind as Nick and I made ready to set out on our second duck hunt during his stay with Mika and me. Ducks and drakes were what I hoped we would get into on this hunt, notably ringbills, a species of wild duck commonly found on marshes in Eastern Ontario in the Fall hunting season. This time the hunt took place on a stretch of the Rideau River a short distance beyond Merrickville. Thursday, October 13th was the sixth straight day Nick and I got out hunting together. I was woken by my clock radio at 3:00 am, but lingered in bed several minutes. I heard Nick’s alarm sound up in the loft where we put him up during his stay. I heard Nick’s alarm sound a few more times while I had a quick breakfast and gathered the shotguns, ammunition, cameras and thermos bottles to load in the car. Nick joined me at 3:30 am, sleepy, but raring to go. He had two pieces of toast for breakfast then we finished loading the car, hooked up the boat trailer and were on our way by 4:00 am. We stopped at a Tim Hortons to fill the thermos bottles with piping hot coffee and arrived at the launch site shortly after 5:00 am as planned. Continue reading
It is Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada and this year Mika and I are hosting Nick Schäfer, a young German man with a passion for hunting, who is staying with us for a hunting holiday. Nick is a student, currently studying business administration at Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario. I spied a post he put up on the Ontario Hunters Unite group on Facebook in which he asked if he might accompany someone on a hunting trip while he is here in Canada. I was among those who responded to his post. I left a reply telling him if he were ever in the Ottawa area during hunting season I would happily take him into the field with me and my hunting buddies in pursuit of grouse, woodcock and wildfowl. I asked that he first get himself the proper permits: a non-resident small game license and a migratory game bird hunting permit. He responded to my offer and when he told me the fall break from school coincided with Thanksgiving Weekend, I invited him to come to Ottawa for a hunting holiday. What follows is an account of day one of his stay. Continue reading
I got out with Hera yesterday afternoon for an impromptu grouse and woodcock hunt in the Marlborough Forest. Our destination was the patch of cover newly christened “Schäfer’s Wood,” the same patch of cover in which we started the season last Sunday. I opted for this patch of cover as there is a beaver pond nearby: a spot where Hera could cool off after hunting hard in the cover. We were on the road shortly before 4:00 pm and thankfully, traffic was light. I noted with enthusiasm mallards and wood ducks resting on pools of swamp water in the forest next to Roger Stevens Drive. I look forward to getting out for some duck hunting over the Thanksgiving Weekend. Nice to see there are ducks in the region. It was sunny, warm and the wind was light. The wind died down as evening set in. We arrived at Schäfer’s Wood shortly before 5:00 pm. This gave us just over two hours of hunting until the end of legal shooting time at approximately 7:20 pm. It was a brief, but very memorable hunt.
Cock up! This is the cry that goes out during a driven grouse shoot in England when the beaters flush a woodcock. This was in the back of my mind as I got out with Hera this morning for the opening of woodcock season 2016 hoping we would turn up some birds. We were on the road shortly after 0700 bound for the Marlborough Forest. The weather was near perfect for upland gunning: sunny, cool (hovering near 0 degrees C) and virtually no wind. This was my first hunt with the new Franchi Instinct SL o/u in 20 gauge I acquired in August. I have it choked with skeet and skeet tubes as most shots at grouse and woodcock are at close range. I stopped for a coffee and apple fritter en route and remembered as we drove along Prince of Wales Drive I forgot to bring water for us to drink. I stopped at an Ultramar station and bought a bottle. I expected the forest would be drier than I would like, given the drought we endured over the summer months. We had some rainfall in the weeks leading up to our hunt this morning and I tried to remain optimistic, but feared the lowland bogs that hold woodcock would be dry. As we neared the forest, my fears were justified. Two of the streams that cross Roger Stevens Road were dry. A patch of swampland at the edge of the forest still held water, but it was much lower than usual. Undaunted, I pressed on and as it turned out, Hera and I had a good morning in the field.
My hunting buddy Doug Hopwood (who is from Jamaica) contacted me and asked if I would join him, his brother Andrew and their father Martin (who were in town visiting Doug and his family) for some skeet shooting at Stittsville Shooting Range on Sunday August 7th. I happily accepted his invitation. I brought my 20 gauge Winchester side-by-side and my Browning O/U. The Winchester is one of my upland guns as is the Browning. I brought the Browning for Andrew to use on this trip to the shooting range. Doug brought his Remington Model 1187 autoloader and shared it with his father. Doug’s father and brother gun for doves back home in Jamaica and the season was due to open later in August. It was a great opportunity to get out for some target practice, to shake off the cobwebs, before dove season in Jamaica and woodcock season here in the Ottawa Valley come October. Andrew shot very well with my Browning. Doug and his father shot well also. As for me, I hit an appreciable number of the clays, but the cobwebs are a little thicker on me. Here are some highlights from our trip to the range.
Posted by Geoffrey
The first thing I heard in the news this morning while out running Hera with my friend and hunting buddy Jason and his dog Nos was that of the terror attack in Orlando Florida. The attacker, Omar Mateen, gunned down 50 people and injured at least 53 in a gay night club called Pulse in the early hours of Sunday morning. He was killed in a shootout with police. According to a report in CNN, the attacker allied himself with ISIS. He was armed with a Glock pistol. His family said he disliked gay people. I am horrified and saddened by the news, but accept all there is to do when such an atrocity is perpetrated is bury the dead and comfort the living. Unfortunately, it will not be so simple. I am bracing myself for the histrionics and finger pointing to follow as it always does. The attacker was Muslim and in lawful possession of a firearm. People are going to point the finger at Muslims and gun owners alike in assessing blame for this horror.
I am a lifelong gun owner and hunter. I count among my friends and hunting buddies men who are observant Christians and Muslims. They know I am gay and in a relationship with my husband Mika and accept me. Like me, they judge a man according to the content of his character and nothing else. Here we are, a gay huntsman, Christian and Muslim family men who own and use guns for legitimate and peaceful sporting purposes. One of my friends and hunting buddies, Omer, with whom I have gone hunting since we met in 2000, made this observation on Facebook.
I’m also concerned of the inevitable conclusions against guns and Muslims. Whether or not there’s a connection, I’m afraid that is going to be the narrative by the media.
Such a heinous crime, I don’t have words to even condemn it properly.
I understand his concern and share it. What Omar Mateen did in the name of his faith is unconscionable. He was insane, and the fact that ISIS and its sympathizers praise him posthumously for this is beyond the pale. Yes, he was inspired by an interpretation of Islam to perpetrate this atrocity, but no, it does not mean every Muslim is somehow guilty by association. Yes, he used a legally acquired gun in his killing spree, but no, it does not mean every gun owner somehow shares the blame for his act of insanity. My friends, my hunting buddies and I, Muslim, Christian and of no faith alike, share a passion for hunting and the shooting sports. We will carry on, taking to the field this season as we have for many seasons before. The fact remains we are nobody’s enemy for being men of faith and gun owners. Though I never knew any of the people gunned down and injured in the attack, I am keeping them in my thoughts as they and their families mourn and get on with their lives.
Posted by Geoffrey