It is November 5th, Guy Fawkes Night in England, and I spent a good part of the day out with Hera in the Marlborough Forest. I hoped we would turn up some woodcock, stragglers left from the Autumn migration. I left Ottawa with Hera on board shortly before 8:00 am. I stopped at a Tim Hortons to grab a coffee and chocolate glazed doughnut en route and arrived at Cowan’s Corner shortly after 9:00 am. It was sunny this morning and there was virtually no wind in the forest, which suits me fine. The ground is still nice and boggy and Hera was raring to go. From the get go, Hera found old scent left by birds that were long gone. I walked up a number of points only to find there was no bird. I wonder if this contributed to me watching in dismay as Hera bumped the first two birds she pointed before I could walk up her points. We turned up nine woodcock and two hares in the five hours we spent in the field. I shot at one of the hares, missing spectacularly, and three of the woodcock, also missing. Most of the woodcock flushed were found in the densest, most impenetrable cover and flushed unseen. Continue reading
Got out with Hera today to the Marlborough Forest. It was cool, about 5 degrees C and a little windy. We started the hunt at Lester’s Square at 8:40 am. I brought my Browning 12 gauge over and under this morning as my Winchester 20 gauge side by side has a small piece of the butt stock chipped. I have no idea how that happened. The over and under has 26 in. barrels and is choked skeet and skeet. I bought this gun in a private sale when I was sixteen and it is a fine upland gun. We made our way through a patch of cover that often holds grouse and in minutes Hera flash pointed a running grouse in a stand of cedars. The bird flushed wildly, unseen, not a bad start to the morning. Continue reading
Thursday, October 2nd I got out to the Marlborough Forest with Hera in hopes of intercepting some migrating woodcock. We arrived at Lester’s Square, my preferred cover for woodcock, shortly after 8:00 am. A coyote ran across the forest road as we drove in. It was much cooler this morning than the previous Saturday when the heat and humidity was stifling. We had the cover to ourselves, also. We made our way through the cover, checking areas that I consistently found woodcock over the years, but we turned up up none in the first two. Finally, Hera locked up on point in a stand of birch and poplar. I walked up the point, but the bird made good its escape, putting a tree between me and itself. No shot was fired.
Moving on to a stand of mature hardwood where a grouse or two can be found, there was a wild flush. I heard the grouse take off, followed by the “putt, putt, putt” sound of a clucking grouse. Backtracking to the cover where Hera pointed the woodcock, she bumped a woodcock, possibly the same one she pointed earlier. It made good its escape. We gave the cover a thorough sweep and no more birds were found. Although, I saw a grouse at the edge of the forest road as we were driving out to Roger Stevens Road. The grouse scurried into a woodlot that was posted “no trespassing” so I let it be.
As the morning wore on the temperature rose, but I decided to try another patch of cover, Cowan’s Corner, in hopes of turning up birds. It was late in the morning when we set out at Cowan’s Corner and it was at the entrance of the forest road I first noticed the sign with an illustration of a hunter aiming a gun with a line crossed through it. I stopped to read the print under the sign and it states that there is a ban on the discharge of firearms in the Marlborough Forest, except for lawful hunting. There are a couple of sand pits in the forest I know of where people go to sight in their rifles and to shoot clay targets. One of these sand pits is strewn with litter left behind. I think this is what the regulation is intended to address; however, I cannot help wondering if this is just an incremental step toward banning hunting in the Marlborough Forest altogether.
The sweep of Cowan’s Corner turned up two woodcock, one of which Hera pointed. I fired haphazardly and missed most spectacularly. At 1:00 pm it was uncomfortably warm so I called it a day and we headed home. I hope we turn up more birds as the season progresses.
My friend and hunting buddy Jason Quinn shares my passion for hunting, dog training and the great outdoors. Oh yes, when people who see us together ask if we are father and son, I am quick to tell them, “no, he is not my father.” We are both gun owners, no surprise there, but Jason surpasses my interest in guns, being an avid collector and afficionado. He has membership in the Eastern Ontario Shooting Club, moderates the popular gun forum, Canadian Gun Nutz and has a vast knowledge of the history and the technology of the gun. He makes a point of being his own ombudsman when it comes to defending his right to own and use guns lawfully and peacefully. He and his wife Frances, a keen huntress herself I might add, were present in the House of Commons to witness the vote on Bill C-19 in 2012 that abolished the hated long gun registry. They were among those invited to the reception that followed and were introduced to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The long gun registry may be gone, but unfortunately the Firearms Act that spawned it is still in force. In a nutshell, this is a major problem in that the Firearms Act allows for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to amend the accompanying regulations without having them reviewed and approved by parliament. The RCMP has arbitrarily released a new list of prohibited a class of rifles manufactured by Swiss Arms, types of rifles that were lawful for Canadians to own since 2001 and cost between $3000 to $4000. It is estimated there are 2000 of the rifles in question in the hands of lawful owners in Canada. Understandably, this news is distressing to the owners, to say the least. They can take heart in the knowledge that there are men like Jason who refuse to roll over and go along with the arbitrary decrees of the RCMP. He wasted no time, drafting a letter to Prime Minister Harper, pointing out the glaring problem gun owners in Canada face with the Firearms Act in its current form still in effect. The text of his letter to the Prime Minister is listed below.
Posted by Geoffrey