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Ducks and drakes

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Nick posing with my Browning BPS on our second duck hunt together.

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

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Shoo, turkey! Shoo! Shoo!

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Coping with the lingering, dry cough left over from a nasty virus that took hold of me the week before last. This did not stop me from meeting Jason at his house at 8:00 AM to head out to the farm near Spencerville to check on the trail cameras we set up to watch a spot we think turkeys are using. We brought our dogs, my Hera and Jason’s Nos, so they could enjoy a nice morning run ahead of the bug season. I asked Jason to drive as I am taking cough syrup with codeine. It is supposed to suppress my cough, but only seems to make me sleepy. Jason brought along a 22. caliber rifle in case we ran into porcupines; they are a threat to the dogs, Nos in particular as he attacks without hesitation. Jason brought a shotgun, a well-worn autoloader an acquaintance of his wanted to sell. Jason found a prospective buyer for the shotgun, but he wanted assurance it is in good working order before proceeding with the sale. The plan was to test fire it in the field.

When we arrived at the farm a little after 9:00 AM, we checked in with our host, Peter. He told us turkeys were moving through the meadow behind his house all week. As we stood in the back garden we heard a gobbler calling in the nearby woods. Jason sent out a few calls with his diaphragm call, but there was no response. We made our way through the meadow and along one of the trails through the woods to where the trail cameras were set up. The dogs ran through the woods, joyfully in search of game. They heated up rather quickly and Nos stopped to wallow in a puddle to cool off. We reached the trail cameras and it looked as though turkeys were by and scratching in the sandy soil. Unfortunately, nothing showed up on the trail cameras. Jason adjusted the distance settings on the cameras, thinking any turkeys that came by may have been beyond the range of the sensors on the cameras.

We moved on, exploring the rest of the property and while I lagged behind, tending to a coughing spasm, I heard Jason call out “rabbit, it ran left across the trail.” I looked to my left to see if the rabbit would run past and saw a turkey making a run for it. I could not tell if it was a hen or a gobbler. At least we know there are turkeys on the property! We moved on and Jason tried out the shotgun. He checked to see if it was plugged so it could only hold three cartridges when loaded. It was. He fired five shots, five Winchester Heavy Game Load cartridges, and the shotgun jammed every time. The gun is not fit for use and certainly not for sale, except maybe to be mined for spare parts.

We continued our sweep of the property and made our way back to the vehicle to put the dogs on board. It was about 11:00 AM. We park in the driveway in front of the house, distressingly close to the road. I say distressingly close, because Hera spied a robin perched at the end of the driveway on the other side of the road and bolted after it. Thankfully, there were no trucks or cars passing. From now on, Hera goes on leash before we reach the house so I can be sure she gets on board safely. She reasoned it is easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission before impulsively chasing songbirds and squirrels. It is not that I do not trust her; I do not trust the situation. I do not want my dog to suffer grievous or fatal injury in getting struck by a car or truck.

We spoke to Peter before leaving for home. We asked if we might hunt the meadow behind his house. It is 200 yards or so from the house and it is where the turkeys were seen all week. We heard the gobbler again as we were speaking with Peter about hunting the meadow. Peter was fine with this. He knows us and trusts us to conduct ourselves respectfully and safely. I took myself out of the hunt as with my lingering cough no turkey will come near me. Jason is busy at home these days with his baby daughter Rose, so he opted out of a hunt tomorrow morning and graciously offered the opportunity to our buddy Omer. With any luck Omer will be the first in our cadre of hunting buddies to bag a wild turkey tomorrow morning. It was a good day in the field for us and the dogs