Days two, three and five of my hunting holiday over the Thanksgiving Weekend and the week that followed with my new hunting buddy, Nick Schäfer, were taken up with grouse and woodcock hunts in the Marlborough forest and on a farm near Spencerville with Hera, my Brittany. Nick is from Germany, he is here in Canada studying at Brock University in St. Catherine’s, Ontario. I met him when he posted a request on the Facebook Group Ontario Hunters Unite, asking if he might accompany a hunter here in Canada on a hunt. I responded to his request, inviting him to Ottawa for some upland bird and wildfowl hunting. He accepted my invitation and I introduced him to the pleasures of grouse and woodcock hunting in Eastern Ontario. Each day we set out at 7:00 am bound either for Schäfer’s Wood and Lester’s Square in the Marlborough Forest or a farm near Spencerville it was a cool, sunny morning with a light wind blowing. We grabbed coffee at a Tim Hortons on the way and timed it so we arrived just after 8:00 am to take to the field.
Is there a remedy for buck fever? The reason I ask is because before yesterday afternoon I foolishly thought I was immune to this affliction that sometimes strikes deer hunters. Yesterday afternoon’s deer hunt with my friends and hunting buddies Jason and Fran, a happily married couple who share a passion for deer hunting, started full of promise. Omer, our friend and hunting buddy, shot his first deer (a button buck) on the opening day of the rifle season in Ontario. I saw a doe that same afternoon, but passed up a shot as I had a buck tag. We tagged Omer’s button buck with my tag, leaving us free to fill Omer’s doe tag in party hunting. I saw another deer the second afternoon Omer and I sat, but not enough of the deer to risk a shot. The third afternoon we sat, I did not see any deer from my stand, but as we made our way back to the car two deer bounded across a meadow ahead of us in the dark. There are deer in the area.
Taking a moment to write these words before I make final preparations to go sit in my stand this afternoon. It is the opening of the rifle season for whitetail deer in Ontario. I am going to a property near Spencerville where my hunting buddies and I have our stands set up. Jason and I were out yesterday with our dogs, combining upland gunning, checking the trail cameras and relocating my stand. Until yesterday my stand was located overlooking a ridge on crown land adjacent to the property we hunt. We found a group of hunters operating a camp on the crown land and the last time I sat in my stand the previous season there was a hunter seated on the ground about 100 yards right in front of me. Even if a deer wandered into view on the ridge in front of me I could not very well shoot with another hunter down range. We moved the stand to the edge of the property, well away from where the hunters from the camp should be trying their luck.
We swept through some decent grouse cover with the dogs on our way to the first two trail cameras, but turned up no birds. Once we reached the cameras, Jason put the chips into his camera and we viewed what the trail cameras caught since we last checked. There were deer, coyotes, raccoons, Val and Peter (the owners of the property) and most interestingly, two young black bears. We hunted the property starting in 2011 and to date took three deer (two bucks and a doe) in following seasons. Never have we seen a bear or sign bears were in the area. Jason has a bear tag this season, so maybe he will put a bear in the bag.
We decided to move the trail cameras to cover the area closer to where our stands are located. We continued the hunt, working our way to check on the deer stands and reset the trail cameras. I hoped we would get into some woodcock and maybe a snipe in the bog next to Rick’s stand. Rick is a neighbour of our host and hostess who hunts the property also. No birds were turned up, but as we approached Fran’s stand Jason noticed deer trails crossing in front of it. We placed one of the trail cameras on a tree overlooking one of the trails. We moved toward Jason’s stand and the dogs got birdy. As I approached Jason’s stand a grouse hopped up before taking flight. I called to Jason “grouse!” I did not shoot as Jason was in front of me in the direction the grouse flew. I heard two shots from his autoloader. He thought he winged it, but we searched with the dogs and turned up nothing. We made our way back to Jason’s stand and carefully placed a trail camera to watch the area.
We concluded the hunt after moving my stand and resetting a trail camera to watch the area. Now we have our stands set to cover the hardwoods and cedars at the edge of the swamp the deer use to travel across the property. This season everyone has a doe tag except me so I hope a buck sees fit to amble past my stand before the season closes. Time and fortune will tell.
Posted by Geoffrey
Continuing preparations for the 2014 white-tailed deer season in Ontario, Jason and I set out to the farm in Spencerville to relocate the deer stand used by Jason’s wife Fran. We took the dogs, Hera and Nos, so they could enjoy a good run on the property. We brought Jason’s wheeler, it is proving to be an asset in our big game hunting. We were on the road shortly after 8:00 AM. We arrived at the farm shortly after 9:00 AM and set out. The cool weather took care of the mosquitoes. We were able to get on with the task without putting on insect repellant. It was a nice cool and sunny day.
Our objectives were to put up Jason’s two trail cameras and relocate the deer stand. It was located on a patch of crown land in an area where hunters from a hunt camp in the vicinity cross. Jason thought it would be more productive to move the stand onto the farm to a spot that attracts more deer and fewer hunters. We found what looks to be a very good spot on the farm to set up Fran’s deer stand. It is in a woodlot overlooking where two deer trails cross: a crossroads. I cannot help but think of the superstitions concerning crossroads and the Devil. There are legends concerning people having made deals with the Devil at crossroads and interestingly we are hunting a creature with cloven hooves. But these are just stories, right?
The trail cameras are in place and Fran’s deer stand is relocated. The whole expedition was carried out without any trouble. The dogs had a good, long run and did not run into porcupines. We put a great deal of time and effort into deer hunting, scouting the area and carefully placing the deer stands. We will be back when the archery and rifle seasons open in hopes of bagging a deer. Nothing is guaranteed, but we enjoy the experience no matter what fortune brings.