My dogs, Hera and Stella, out for their daily training run.
As if living under the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic is not challenging enough, the news broke of mass murder in Nova Scotia. Details of the tragedy are being released as I write these words. In brief, the perpetrator is identified as a middle-aged man who had an obsession with the RCMP. He used a gun, the make and model not yet made public, and carried out his rampage disguised as an RCMP constable. The fact that several people are dead, including the attacker–he was killed in a shootout with genuine RCMP constables–is horrific. Sadly, with the lockdown in effect, the families, friends and acquaintances of the victims will be prevented from gathering to mourn and hold funeral services for them. It is a sad situation all around. That said, I am not going to dwell on the tragedy that took place in Nova Scotia.
The usual suspects wasted no time in blaming guns and white men for the crime. I will not mention individuals or groups by name, just as I will not mention the name of the perpetrator. I will turn a deaf ear to the abuse hurled at Canadian gun owners. I am writing these words to express my thoughts as a Canadian who has a lifelong passion for hunting and the shooting sports. I published several articles discussing what life is like for gun owners–what is right and wrong–in Canada. Yes, gun ownership for collecting, hunting and the shooting sports is an integral part of Canadian culture and heritage.
Along with writing about my life as a gun owner and hunter in Canada, I actively formed partnerships with many men and women over the years. I learned more about the game I hunt, where to find it. I took up raising and training gundogs. I tried out different makes and models rifles and shotguns in various calibres and gauges. I discovered that I like left-hand bolt-action rifles for big game hunting, double-barreled shotguns (over and under and side-by-side) for upland gunning and the Browning BPS pump-action shotgun for waterfowl hunting.
I am a seasoned hunter at this stage of my life and happily mentor younger and less experienced hunters who want to learn more about the sport. My forte is in upland gunning over my Brittanies Hera and Stella. I enjoy introducing new hunters to the pleasures of gunning for grouse and woodcock over pointing dogs. I published numerous articles on the blog detailing my hunting and fishing adventures. I posted videos of hunts on YouTube. I am not ashamed of my love of hunting and that I am a gun owner. I am not going to lose track of this because of a random atrocity. It has nothing to do with me as a gun owner and hunter. No, I am not going back into the closet as it were because of some people’s hatred of gun ownership and white men. I will stand up for myself as a gun owner and hunter as I look forward to new hunting adventures in the fields and marshes in the 2020 hunting seasons. I urge every gun owner and hunter who reads this to do the same as we look to better days.
Posing with James and Stella after a day of woodcock hunting in the Marlborough Forest.
I got into the field this morning with my new hunting buddy James for our third hunt together this season. I brought both Hera and Stella for the hunt. Stella is six months old and coming along nicely in her training as a gun dog. Still, I had a sobering reminder that she is still a puppy on the hunt I had with her and Hera last Friday. Stella got a hold of two of the woodcock I shot over Hera and ate them. My best guess is that she does not understand yet that downed birds are not carrion. Neither does she get, however, that she is hunting for me. I decided on our hunt today to keep Stella under control when we had a bird down. She will not learn anything if I leave her crated at home. I met James in North Gower at 8:30 am, and he followed me in his car as I drove to Cowan’s Corner in the Marlborough Forest. We arrived at about 9:00 am and set out to see what fortune would bring. Continue reading →
It never ceases to amaze me as to how easily a train of good fortune can go off the rails without warning. Until this afternoon, my grouse and woodcock season went well–given the less than stellar conditions in the woodcock coverts. I got into birds every time I took to the field with Hera. James, a new hunting buddy, got a woodcock on his first hunt for woodcock over a gun dog. Stella is making progress in her training as a gun dog. She is not gun shy, and she is quartering through the wooded areas in the parkland where I take her and Hera for their daily training run. Initially, I thought Stella would not be old enough to accompany Hera and me in the field this season. However, I decided to bring her along on my last three hunts, as I am pleased with the progress she made to date. Everything seemed on track with Stella and her training; I could not be happier. What could go wrong? Continue reading →
Grouse and woodcock shot in the last minutes of the hunt.
I took Hera and Stella hunting in the Marlborough Forest this morning. We started our hunt at about 8:50 am at the cover I call Schäfer’s Wood. The last time I hunted Schäfer’s Wood earlier in the season–with Hera alone–I noticed that Hera showed little enthusiasm. I let Hera and Stella out of the Jeep and off we went in pursuit of grouse and woodcock. Hera quickly lost interest, and in short order, we were back at the Jeep. I do not know what to make of her antipathy to hunting at Schäfer’s Wood. My best guess is that her bird dog’s intuition informed her that the cover is not worth her time. “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink,” goes the adage. I put the dogs back on board and drove them to the cover I call Lester’s Square. When I arrived a Lester’s Square a short time later, I heard shots in the distance. “Ah,” I thought, “we have company–even on a Monday morning.” No matter, there is room enough for everyone. Continue reading →
I took the plunge this morning and brought Stella for her first hunt when I took Hera out to the farm for some grouse and woodcock hunting. Stella is six months old and quartering through the cover on her daily run. Yesterday afternoon I replaced her puppy collar with an adult dog collar and put her cowbell on for the first time. She took to her new collar and cowbell without incident. The weekend before, I fired several shots with a starter’s pistol while out on her daily run. She took no notice of the shots from the starter’s pistol. I concluded that she is not gun shy but still wanted to see if she would react to the sound of the 20 gauge shotgun when I took her into the field. I brought Hera and Stella out to the farm near Spencerville–the farm where three of my hunting buddies and myself hunt deer during the rifle season–this morning. We arrived at about 9:30 am, a little later than I anticipated. I try to get into the field by 8:00 am, but I found my bed so comfortable this morning that I was slow getting up to go hunting. Continue reading →
James with the woodcock he shot on his first woodcock hunt.
The 2019 upland game, small game and woodcock seasons opened in Eastern Ontario this morning. The weather was near perfect for the opening day of these seasons. The sky was clear, the winds were minimal, and the temperature was hovering at about 10 degrees C. I set out for the farm near Spencerville with my new hunting buddy James and Hera, my Brittany, shortly before 7:00 am. It is about an hour’s drive from my house in Centretown Ottawa to the farm. James and I arranged to meet Mike, another of my hunting buddies, at the farm for 8:00 am. Though James is not new to hunting–having hunted small game with his buddies in Cornwall in previous seasons–this would be his first woodcock hunt. It would be his first hunt over a bird dog also. We stopped at a Tim Hortons on the way–I have to have my morning cup of Joe–and arrived at the farm in good time. Mike came with his dog, Maggie, a German Shorthaired Pointer, not long after James and I got there. We started our hunt not long after 8:00 am, eager to see what fortune would bring. Continue reading →
Stella is taking a breather on her morning run with Hera.
Stella Mudd, née Grimes, is the Star Trek character who is the inspiration for my choosing Stella for my new pup’s name.
I am a lifelong Star Trek fan. I first watched the original series when it was broadcast in England in 1968-1969. I remember the character of Stella Mudd from the 3rd season episode I Mudd. The character, Harcourt (Harry) Fenton Mudd created an android replica of his deserted wife, Stella. The android replica of Stella is a shrew extraordinaire. In the latest Star Trek series, Star Trek Discovery, the characters of Harry Mudd and his fiancé Stella Grimes, are featured in season 1. Stella Grimes is an attractive and determined young woman with copper hair. She is nothing like the android replica; her estranged husband Harry created much later. When I saw the young Stella Grimes, it inspired me to name my new puppy after the character. “Stella, dear,” is the phrase Harry Mudd used to set off the android replica. “Stella, dear,” is the pet name for my Stella. It is one week since I brought Stella home, and she is coming along nicely. Continue reading →
Here is my first meeting with Stella at Ruffwood Brittanys.
Stella, after a morning run with Hera.
I brought home Stella, my eight week old Brittany pup on Saturday, June 29, 2019. The journey down to Cayuga, Ontario and back proved gruelling, but in the end, it was worth it. I drove down to my sister’s house in the countryside near Port Colborne and stayed the night. Driving through Toronto is always an ordeal. My appointment at Ruffwood Brittany Spaniels was at 10:00 AM, and despite issues with my GPS, I arrived at 10:00 AM on the nose. I met with the proprietors of the kennel, Mike and Donna Wilshire, and after Donna showed me my pup, we completed the paperwork to finalize the sale. With the formalities out of the way, I discussed with Donna and Mike, my plans to train Stella as a gun dog. Mike and Donna offered parting advice on how to properly care for Stella while she is a growing pup. Yes, caring for and training a puppy to be a gun dog is a tall order. Continue reading →
Mike and Maggie Mae on opening day of grouse season 2018.
“Good luck in all weathers,” Shirley E. Woods Jr. wrote to me when he signed my copy of his memoir “Gunning for Upland Birds and Wildfowl.” I met him at his home in Rockliffe Park where he lived in the 1970s. His memoir is an account of his experiences hunting upland game birds and waterfowl in the Ottawa Valley and Quebec. Weather indeed is a significant factor in hunting. Weather conditions determine whether it is safe or worth to go hunting. Yes, the weather is but one of the factors that play into the vagaries of fortune in hunting, but I learned over the years what a significant role weather plays in successful hunting. Weather conditions over the summer of 2018 made for a rocky start to my upland season this year. Continue reading →
Hera pointed a woodcock on the open ground and I missed cleanly with both barrels.
I took Hera into the field this morning. We started out in the Marlborough Forest at the patch of cover I call Lester’s Square. It was cool this morning, just a few degrees above 0 C and there was a light wind, lighter than was forecast, though it gusted at times. I noticed puddles on the forest road as I drove in, a welcome sign. The recent rainfall was heavy enough to leave puddles and I hoped the woodcock covers would be damper than they were at the start of the season. We had the cover to ourselves for the first time in a long time. This was often the case in years gone by when I hunted there with my first dog, Christie, back in the late 1990s. I know my way around Lester’s Square very well these days as I hunted there many seasons before. Still, I am always careful to take a bearing with my compass so I know which way is out. Even in the Marlborough Forest where civilization is half a block away, it is all too easy to get turned around and find yourself walking in circles in the brush. I arrived a little later than usual, closer to 9:00 AM, and set out with Hera to see what fortune would bring us this morning.