For day four of the rifle season for deer, November 6, 2014, Omer and I opted for a duck hunt on the Tay River. I saw goldeneyes on the Rideau River while running my dog Hera earlier in the week and hoped we would find some on the Tay, a goldeneye hotspot for us in seasons past. I was up at 3:00 am, having breakfast and loading my cameras, shotgun and shells–the last items I load in my SUV before setting out–and made my way to the garage where I store my boat and trailer. I arrived there in good time, the plan was for Omer to meet me there at 4:00 am and we would make our way together to the Tay River, which is about one hour’s drive from the city. Omer was running late, so we met up en route and continued on to the edge of the Tay River, shortly after 5:00 am, still in good time. Legal shooting time started at 6:20 am. This allowed us time to make our way to our site and set out the decoys with time to spare. So far so good it was, but what followed is a hunt that will live on in ignominy. Continue reading
Looking back on old entries from my hunting diary I found one detailing a late season diver hunt on the Tay River on November 5, 2006; what is memorable about this hunt is the triple I made on a decoying flock of ducks. The only catch was they were hooded mergansers. I only realized this as I slapped the trigger and three birds fell dead on the water. Readers familiar with mergansers know this species of wild duck is unfit to eat as they eat fish and taste of it when cooked. For this reason, I try to avoid shooting them. It was a good hunt. I enjoyed the effort and the company of my hunting buddy Gord. Continue reading
A particular article I read when I was my mid-teens in one of the old hunting magazines my father collected resonates with me to this day. The article in question was penned by a retired US Army officer who lived in Maine. He enjoyed duck hunting on the Penobscot River, gunning for black ducks and goldeneyes in the late season. He hunted with a friend, a man named Dave Bell , a serving officer in the US Army, and noted carver of working duck decoys in Maine. I so enjoyed reading his article as it really piqued my interest in gunning for the common goldeneye. I really wish I could find a copy of the magazine with the article and believe me, I have tried over the years to find one with no luck. I remember learning the colloquial term for the goldeneye in reading this article. Goldeneyes are commonly called whistlers, due to the distinctive whistling sound they make when beating their wings in flight. The author likened the sound of goldeneyes in flight to that of the sound of artillery shells as they approach the target. I spent many years learning the finer points of gunning for the goldeneye and it is something I look forward to every hunting season. Continue reading
I learned only yesterday of the death of a man I knew and respected for many years. Barry Cowan was a good and decent man, a keen hunter and conservationist and skilled craftsman renowned for his skill at carving wildlife figures and for taxidermy. Long before I met Barry, I remember being acquainted with his sons as we attended high school together. In the years since I met Barry, he carved two sets of working duck decoys for me: a beautiful set of puddle duck decoys including mallards, black ducks and wood ducks and a set of goldeneye blocks that are so life-like I once mistook one, while out hunting, that had drifted from the decoy spread for a live bird. He also mounted a number of game birds for me over the years attesting to his skill as a taxidermist. I have a pair of giant Canada geese mounts he provided me I include in my decoy spread when hunting geese on land.
Barry lived a long, full life, peacefully passing away at his home on July 16, 2013 at the ripe old age of 82. I extend my sympathy to his family and keep them in my thoughts. I feel blessed that I have in my possession samples of his carvings and will take care to preserve them. My hunting buddies and I will be reminded of him and his legacy every time we take to the field in pursuit of waterfowl. May he rest in peace.
Posted by Geoffrey