Category Archives: Hunter safety

Every cloud has a silver lining

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Sighting in my new Remington Model 700 left-hand bolt action rifle in .270 Winchester.

“Be careful what you wish for, lest it comes true,” goes the adage. In deer season last year, I saw my hunting buddy Jason bag a six-point buck with his 1974 vintage Marlin 336 in 35 Rem lever-action rifle. It was an exciting hunt, and I was so impressed with how Jason handled his Marlin rifle, I decided I wanted the same rifle for myself for the next deer season. Jason agreed to search for a Marlin rifle for me, and he came through. He found me a 1960 Marlin 336 lever action in 30:30 in short order. Not long after, Jason found the right scope for my Marlin rifle: a Bausch and Lomb Elite 3000. Jason installed the scope on the rifle for me; he has the skill and experience for such delicate work. With the new rifle and scope assembled, I looked forward to getting it out to the range to try it out.

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My Marlin 336 lever action rifle in .30-30 rests on the bench at the rifle range.

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Don’t call me surly!

 

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James breaking a clay on the trap range.

I got out to the Stittsville Shooting Ranges with my new friend and hunting buddy James Burnside. We met at the range at noon; it was our first meeting in person. I like to go to the range with new hunting buddies to get acquainted. I like to see how they conduct themselves on the shooting range and show them that I am experienced and safety-conscious in handling firearms. I went to sign in, pay for four rounds of skeet shooting, and purchase four boxes of 20 gauge ammunition. I brought my Franchi Instinct SL in 20 gauge. I had the skeet and skeet choke tubes installed. James went to his car to retrieve his Remington 870 Express pump-action gun in 12 gauge. The skeet range was free so, we walked on to the field with our shotguns, ammunition, and my camcorder on its tripod. As I placed my gun on the rack next to the first shooting station, James advised me that a man standing with a couple of his shooting buddies had concerns about the camcorder. Continue reading

Dick Cheney I’m not

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It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and forget about the whereabouts of your hunting buddies when a game bird flushes and offers you a shot. I am strict about hunter etiquette and safety in the field, and my perfect record on hunter safety is a testament to my adherence to hunter etiquette and safety. The fact that carelessness is an issue in hunting came to mind on a weekend grouse and woodcock hunt with Hera, my six-year-old Brittany. My hunting buddy Nick and his ten-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer, Cocotte, accompanied Hera and me on our weekend grouse and woodcock hunt. We got into birds: four woodcock and several grouse, but succeeded in spectacularly missing when we got shots away at flushing birds. Continue reading

Hunting is easy.

 

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Jason at the wheel of his ATV with his chainsaw in the trailer.

 

Got out with Jason yesterday to the farm near Spencerville where we gun for woodcock and grouse and hunt deer. We promised Val, the owner; we would clear downed trees from the trails that run through the wooded areas on the property. We make a point of treating our gracious hostess with courtesy and respect and help out where we can assist in the management of her property. We do this to express our gratitude for access to her property for hunting. The weather was warm and sunny, and we made it ahead of bug season. We brought Jason’s ATV and chainsaw to carry out our plan. We got to the farm late in the morning; we took our dogs for an early morning run before heading to the farm. We toured the trails, riding on Jason’s ATV with the trailer in tow, and checked on three of our ladder stands. They are all in order. The mineral salt blocks we set out last year are gone, so we made a note to return and put fresh ones out. Yes, success in hunting involves a great deal more than grabbing your shotgun or rifle and heading to the fields and marshes come hunting season. Jason and I keep busy year round preparing for the fall hunting seasons we enjoy.

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Jason with my ladder stand in the background.

We got to work clearing the downed trees. It proved nowhere as big a job than I imagined. Still, we took our time and made sure we observed due safety. Jason took care in checking his chainsaw ensuring the chain was installed correctly before proceeding.

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The trails cut through prime woodcock cover.

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Trail with downed trees slated for removal.

Jason got to work with his chainsaw, cutting downed trees as needed and in short order we cleared the trails.

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Jason firing up his chainsaw.

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Jason cutting a downed tree for removal from the trail.

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Geoffrey is not afraid of hard work. He can stand an photograph it all day if necessary.

With the trails cleared, we stopped in to see Val, our gracious hostess, whom we found had prepared a hearty lunch for us. We dined on BBQ chicken, roasted potato, coleslaw, salad, bread and fruit salad with ice cream for dessert and had a nice visit with Val.

We took our leave and drove back to Ottawa. On the drive home, we discussed how well everything went and how quickly we completed clearing the downed trees from the trails. We chatted enthusiastically about the season ahead and decided to install a ladder stand, currently not in use, we have in September. We got back to Jason’s house, and then things took a dramatic turn. Jason summed up what happened in this post on his Facebook page:

 

Accidents happen & this time we got lucky… NO INJURY! Here’s what happened… After a successful trip to our deer spot in Spencerville cutting downed trees for the owner Val, Geoff & I were putting the atv back into the garage & the yarding wheel collapsed, causing the tongue of my atv trailer to smash through the garage door!

Geoff & I went & got a new yarding wheel and with my brother Maurice’s help we took it apart & bent it all back into shape & reassembled.

Dad & Mom came by to see the successful repair tested & were impressed.

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Doubling up the yarding wheel on the ATV trailer.

 

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Garage door good as new after repairs effected by Jason and his brother Maurice.

 

One thing I learned over the years is that hunting is not without its dramas, no matter how carefully you prepare for a hunt and how carefully you conduct yourself. As Jason said, “Accidents happen & this time we got lucky… NO INJURY!” Today’s adventure goes to show that hunting is great fun, but it requires a lot of effort and is not without risk. It is anything but easy.

Posted by Geoffrey

 

Down the rabbit hole with Mike and Maggie

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Mike with Maggie on an October woodcock hunt.

Imagine my dismay this morning when I saw the weather forecast this morning after I got up to take Hera out after grouse and woodcock. Rain and high winds with even higher gusts and unseasonably warm temperatures were forecast for this Sunday morning. This is not good weather upland gunning. I arranged to go hunting with Mike and his eighteen month German Shorthaired Pointer Maggie this morning. I half expected Mike to text and cancel, but he was there waiting at our meeting place, the Old Co-op in North Gower, at 7:40 AM when I drove up. It rained heavily as I put Hera in the car and loaded my gear, but by the time I met up with Mike the rain stopped. The high and gusting winds continued unabated and I knew this would be an issue. High winds make grouse skittish and also make it difficult to keep track of your dog. The sound of the gusting wind drowns out the sound of the cowbell on the dog’s collar. I anticipated this hunt would be more of an armed run than anything else you never know what fortune brings.

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Hera, a work in progress

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Hera during a break in our morning hunt at the Marlborough Forest.

Hera turns five next month and by and large is a seasoned hunting dog in her prime. I remember how impressed I was with her when she pointed grouse and woodcock in her first season in 2013 when she was barely a year old. The other three Brittanies who came before her did not make their first points on wild birds until they were in their second seasons and closer to two years old. Hera started her career as a hunting dog on a firm foundation, but in her second season she took to breaking point and bumping birds before I could walk them up. This proved frustrating for me, but I was patient with her and over time I got her back to remaining staunch on point. She was fine in her third season and her performance last season was superb. She remains staunch on point on woodcock she finds in the fields I run her every day through the year. Typically, she finds woodcock in these fields early in spring. They are migrants returning from their wintering grounds. Imagine my dismay that now, in her fifth season, she experienced a relapse and took to breaking point again.

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“Hunt the edges” — Shirley E. Woods Jr.

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Akber and his son Abbas at Schäfer’s Wood after a morning of upland gunning in the Marlborough Forest.

“Hunt the edges,” wrote Shirley E. Woods Jr. in his memoir Gunning for upland birds and wildfowl. This is sound advice if you want to get into grouse and woodcock while out hunting. In fact, I learned over the many seasons I hunted grouse and woodcock it is the premise on which successful upland gunning is founded. An edge is where two different types of wildlife habitat meet. Where three or more types of wildlife habitat meet is called a corner. These are the areas to hunt when you want to get into birds whether you hunt over a dog or not. I had this thought in mind Sunday morning, November 6th, the day before the opening of deer season, when I drove to pick up Akber, one of my newer hunting buddies, and his son Abbas who is ten years old. One of the pleasures of hunting for me is mentoring new hunters, sharing with them what I learned over the years and most importantly, guiding them to becoming safe and ethical hunters. Akber and I became hunting buddies three seasons ago if memory serves and this year his son Abbas expressed interest in coming along. I accompanied my father and uncle in the field when I was nine years old and enjoyed myself so I welcomed the opportunity to introduce Abbas to join us in the field. Continue reading