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 →
Maggie was my second dog. She was a timid soul, more of a house pet than a gun dog, but I got a couple of good seasons afield with her. What follows is an entry from my hunting diary summarizing an upland hunt with Maggie in the Marlborough Forest on October 15, 2006.
Deadeye Dick was I this morning. This morning while hunting in the Marlborough Forest with Maggie, more than twenty woodcock were flushed. I put seven in the bag by morning’s end. In the first thirty minutes Maggie pointed three woodcock. Each bird was taken on the first shot and nicely retrieved by Maggie. I made a few spectacular misses thereafter, but was back in form by the time we completed our sweep of Lester’s Square. I had four birds in the bag by then. We moved on to Paden where a few more birds were found. I shot birds five and six over Maggie’s points and number seven I put up myself. All the birds were retrieved by Maggie, including some fine blind retrieves. Without Maggie I would not have found a couple of the birds. Maggie found a slaughtered deer too. It was tagged and eviscerated. I expect the hunter will have come back for the carcass a short time later. The day was cool, a mix of sun and clouds and a light wind. Maggie was in excellent form. She has blossomed into a keen and competent little huntress. No grouse were seen this morning.
If Love’s a Sweet Passion, why does it torment? Good question, Hera is now about 19 months old, which in dog years makes her a a young lady coming into her own at 20 years of age in human reckoning. She is a spirited young lady with quite a will at times. She has captured my heart in these months since I acquired her. The decision to purchase her and bring her home at the end of 2012 was difficult. I was reeling from the untimely death of my beloved Juno (shown with me in the header photo) who succumbed to cancer in August of 2012. She was four years old when she was taken from me; it was a devastating loss and initially I contemplated never having another dog. The pain I felt at her loss was overwhelming, but in the end I found I could not be without a dog.
Hera came into her own as a gun dog in her first season. She distinguished herself in her first season in pointing ruffed grouse and woodcock for me when she was just one year old. She is very much a huntress. She lives for the hunt and is fearless. She was not quite staunch on point during her first season, but the fact she was finding and pointing birds for me at all impressed me no end. This weekend, on one of her daily training runs, she locked up on point and held point while I walked around and took photographs of her. As it happened, the bird was long gone, but I was well pleased that she remained staunch. In her enthusiasm for the hunt, however, she is still learning she is hunting for me. When she is absorbed in her task, she can be disobedient, particularly when she is chasing squirrels in the dog park. This taxes my patience, but I understand it is the exuberance of youth. We will continue training over the spring and summer months and look forward to getting afield in the fall to chase ruffed grouse and woodcock together.
This is a difficult post to write in that it requires that I draw on boyhood memories I spend most of my time trying not to recall. What prompted me to write this post is learning that Adam the 16 year old son of two friends of mine, Paul and William, made his first kill with the air rifle his grandparents gave him for Christmas. His dads posted on Facebook that Adam had shot a sparrow with his air rifle. I have been grooming Adam, teaching him hunting skills, hunting ethics and conservation preparing him to join us in the field this coming season. Adam is just starting out as a hunter and like every other hunter before him, I expect he will experience the five stages of a hunter. Continue reading →
Sunday morning, October 27th, 2013, was clear skies and a very light west wind blowing. I picked up Akber Hussain shortly after 7:00 am as planned. We had planned on getting out hunting together last season, but were unable to because of problems with competing schedules, but finally this morning we got out together. We arrived in the field at Lester’s Square shortly after 8:00 am. I noticed on the drive in the competition was there ahead of us. I could hear the bell of their dog in the distance when we parked and got out of the care. No matter, we were careful to keep our distance from them and were underway, walking the trail toward a familiar pocket of cover. Hera made a flash point on a woodcock in a thick patch of the cover. The bird flushed as I was walking up her point and I dumped it cleanly with a single shot. I showed the downed bird to Akber who had never seen one up close before. Continue reading →
Got out with Hera on an impromptu hunt Tuesday morning, October 22nd. Dropped the newly acquired 9.9 horsepower Mercury outboard motor at Laurentian Marine for examination on the way to the Marlborough Forest. We arrived at Lester’s Square shortly after 10:00 am. It was cool, sunny and blustery, not the best weather for upland gunning, but Hera needs experience so we get out every chance we get. Within minutes of starting the hunt a grouse flushed wildly unseen along the trail we took. We continued the hunt, sweeping carefully through pockets of woodcock cover further along the trail, turning up no birds. We crossed through a stand of cedar and pine to a meadow and hunted the edges alongside the meadow. A woodcock flushed wildly in a patch I expected we might find a bird. I shot twice, missing cleanly. We moved on, checking more of the edges; a skittish grouse flushed from under a pine as Hera and I approached. No shots were fired and the grouse made good its escape. A short time later Hera startled a hare that ran across my path. This time I found the mark, killing it cleanly with one shot. We made our way back to the car and from there drove to the cover off Paden Road.
Four woodcock flushed at Paden: the first was pointed by Hera in the cover next to where I park. Two more flushed in the tight cover along the trail close to the beaver pond. First bird was pointed by Hera. She was staunch. Bird flushed, towered and was dumped with one shot. I spied two hunters in the brush ahead of where I retrieved the downed bird. Hera pointed dead for the retrieve. Said hello to the hunters and told them we were headed away from where they were standing. They wished us a good day. I continued the sweep and flushed a woodcock on my own. Shot twice and missed. Hera bumped a grouse in the tight cover where she pointed the woodcock I shot. The bird was too far to risk a shot and I let it go. Sweeping the cover on the other side of the road where I park, stepped on another woodcock. Shot twice and missed. I had an anxious moment when Hera came upon the carcass of a porcupine. I gather another hunter must have seen and shot it, leaving the carcass at the edge of a widely traveled trail. I called her away from the carcass and was relieved to see she had not gotten any quills stuck to her.
It was a good day in the field, despite the blustery weather. Hera is pointing and remaining staunch, having pointed both grouse and woodcock. This is most impressive for a dog who has just turned one year old. I will say I am surprised we are seeing so few woodcock as the conditions in the covers are the best I have seen in many seasons. We will continue to go afield in pursuit of woodcock for the balance of the season.
Was on the road at 4:30 am to a harvested bean field in Russell with Maurice, the younger brother of my hunting buddy Jason, for a Canada goose hunt. Despite a forecast for rain, the sky was clear and a very light southwest wind was blowing. We arrived at the bean field shortly after 5:00 am and selected a site for the hunt. We got to work setting out the decoys, a mix of full-bodied and shell decoys, all of top quality. We had thirty-one decoys in all. We placed them in small groups consisting of feeders, sentries and resting birds. We set up our layout blinds a discrete distance from the decoy spread, making sure to set on decoy at forty yards from the blinds to mark the limit of range of our shotguns. By the time we finished setting out the decoys and camouflaging the layout blinds with chaff from the bean field, it was close to the start of legal shooting time at 6:55 am. Continue reading →