Raising and training hunting dogs is one of the joys I experience in life. Currently, I have two Brittanies; their names are Hera and Stella. Like the dogs who came before them, starting with Christie (my first dog) and followed by Maggie and Juno (all Brittanies), they are loved. I raise and train my dogs with a soft hand–Brittanies have sweet dispositions and are easy to train. I see that my dogs are well-trained and properly socialized. They are friendly and like meeting people and other dogs. My dogs, save for Maggie, lived to hunt–they are keen little huntresses. When I am out with my dogs, either hunting with them in the field or for their daily training runs between hunting seasons, I carefully observe the hunter safety protocols and do my best to leave a good impression with the people I meet. As a gun owner, hunter and dog owner, I am well aware of the need to maintain good relations with the public at large. By and large, my dogs and I go about our business without any trouble. Sadly, as hard as I try to live and let live when I am out with my dogs, there are times when I have run-ins with disagreeable people Continue reading
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.
Posted by Geoffrey
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 Hera grouse and woodcock hunting solo in the MarlboroughForest this morning. It was mild, though on the warm side, at about 15 degrees C and the skies overcast. A light rain fell. I started at the cover I call Schäfer’s Wood. We started our hunt at 8:45 am. Minutes into the hunt, Hera pointed a woodcock. I walked up her point, and the bird flushed. I fired once, missing spectacularly. Hera looked as though she lacked enthusiasm for hunting. She was not as lively as I remember from past seasons. She turns seven next month; she is not that old, and she is in good shape. I wondered if it was a lack of enthusiasm or maybe that she is seasoned enough that she knows to pace herself. We spent an hour sweeping Schäfer’s Wood, and no more birds were found. What I noticed as we hunted the cover is that we, for the first time in a long time we had the grouse and woodcock covers to ourselves. Continue reading
I made my first kill of the 2018 woodcock season late this morning. I was hunting in the Marlborough Forest at the patch of cover I call Schäfer’s Wood. I shot a woodcock over Hera’s point. I downed the bird with the second barrel of my Franchi Instinct SL in 20 gauge. We are two weeks into the 2018 Fall hunting seasons, and the weather is much improved. Still, conditions in my preferred hunting grounds are the driest I ever saw in all my years of hunting. I hope we get significant rainfall before mid-October. It took a lot of walking this morning, but Hera and I got into birds. I enjoy watching Hera working the covers we hunt for birds; watching her work the covers leaves me wondering at times if I trained her as a hunting dog or if it is she who taught me as a hunting dog owner. Continue reading
Got out with Jason yesterday to the farm near Spencerville where we gun for woodcock and grouse and hunt deer. We promised Val, the owner; we would clear downed trees from the trails that run through the wooded areas on the property. We make a point of treating our gracious hostess with courtesy and respect and help out where we can assist in the management of her property. We do this to express our gratitude for access to her property for hunting. The weather was warm and sunny, and we made it ahead of bug season. We brought Jason’s ATV and chainsaw to carry out our plan. We got to the farm late in the morning; we took our dogs for an early morning run before heading to the farm. We toured the trails, riding on Jason’s ATV with the trailer in tow, and checked on three of our ladder stands. They are all in order. The mineral salt blocks we set out last year are gone, so we made a note to return and put fresh ones out. Yes, success in hunting involves a great deal more than grabbing your shotgun or rifle and heading to the fields and marshes come hunting season. Jason and I keep busy year round preparing for the fall hunting seasons we enjoy.
We got to work clearing the downed trees. It proved nowhere as big a job than I imagined. Still, we took our time and made sure we observed due safety. Jason took care in checking his chainsaw ensuring the chain was installed correctly before proceeding.
Jason got to work with his chainsaw, cutting downed trees as needed and in short order we cleared the trails.
With the trails cleared, we stopped in to see Val, our gracious hostess, whom we found had prepared a hearty lunch for us. We dined on BBQ chicken, roasted potato, coleslaw, salad, bread and fruit salad with ice cream for dessert and had a nice visit with Val.
We took our leave and drove back to Ottawa. On the drive home, we discussed how well everything went and how quickly we completed clearing the downed trees from the trails. We chatted enthusiastically about the season ahead and decided to install a ladder stand, currently not in use, we have in September. We got back to Jason’s house, and then things took a dramatic turn. Jason summed up what happened in this post on his Facebook page:
Accidents happen & this time we got lucky… NO INJURY! Here’s what happened… After a successful trip to our deer spot in Spencerville cutting downed trees for the owner Val, Geoff & I were putting the atv back into the garage & the yarding wheel collapsed, causing the tongue of my atv trailer to smash through the garage door!
Geoff & I went & got a new yarding wheel and with my brother Maurice’s help we took it apart & bent it all back into shape & reassembled.
Dad & Mom came by to see the successful repair tested & were impressed.
One thing I learned over the years is that hunting is not without its dramas, no matter how carefully you prepare for a hunt and how carefully you conduct yourself. As Jason said, “Accidents happen & this time we got lucky… NO INJURY!” Today’s adventure goes to show that hunting is great fun, but it requires a lot of effort and is not without risk. It is anything but easy.
Posted by Geoffrey
I took up whitetail deer hunting in earnest in 2011, and every following season I learn more about the sport and become more proficient as a deer hunter. I hunt with a “Gang of Four.” There are four of us in our cadre of deer hunters: myself, my friend and hunting buddy Omer and my friends and hunting buddies Jason and his wife, Fran. Jason is a seasoned deer hunter, and under his tutelage, I shot my first deer, a nice little doe, in the 2012 rifle season. One of the first things I learned from Jason is that you make certain to enter the antlerless deer draw every spring. Antlerless deer tags, or doe tags, are doled out by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources by lottery every year. The advantage of having a doe tag is that you are licensed to harvest any deer you see while hunting. Having a doe tag increases the odds you will bag a deer, so I make sure I enter the draw every year. I was disappointed when I was unsuccessful this season, so much so, I considered not hunting. Jason firmly reminded me that one does not get a deer sitting at home and not having a doe tag does not mean you will not see a buck. I heeded his words, but in the back of my mind remained pessimistic. As fortune proved, Jason got to tell me “I told you so.”
“Hunt the edges,” wrote Shirley E. Woods Jr. in his memoir Gunning for upland birds and wildfowl. This is sound advice if you want to get into grouse and woodcock while out hunting. In fact, I learned over the many seasons I hunted grouse and woodcock it is the premise on which successful upland gunning is founded. An edge is where two different types of wildlife habitat meet. Where three or more types of wildlife habitat meet is called a corner. These are the areas to hunt when you want to get into birds whether you hunt over a dog or not. I had this thought in mind Sunday morning, November 6th, the day before the opening of deer season, when I drove to pick up Akber, one of my newer hunting buddies, and his son Abbas who is ten years old. One of the pleasures of hunting for me is mentoring new hunters, sharing with them what I learned over the years and most importantly, guiding them to becoming safe and ethical hunters. Akber and I became hunting buddies three seasons ago if memory serves and this year his son Abbas expressed interest in coming along. I accompanied my father and uncle in the field when I was nine years old and enjoyed myself so I welcomed the opportunity to introduce Abbas to join us in the field. Continue reading
I never fully appreciated big game hunting until I shot my first white-tailed buck yesterday afternoon on the opening day of the 2016 rifle season here in Eastern Ontario. I took up big game hunting in earnest in 2011 under the tutelage of my good friend and hunting buddy Jason Quinn. Jay is an accomplished big game hunter with a lifetime of experience in the pursuit of white-tailed deer, moose and black bear. Under his guidance I shot my first white-tailed deer, a doe, in the 2012 rifle season. While killing my first deer was a thrill in its own right, the hunt I experienced yesterday was the culmination of all that is good in hunting: notably the challenges, camaraderie , effort, joys, sorrows and sportsmanship associated with hunting. The buck, my first, was hunted down and killed in a fair chase. I felled it using my Browning X-Bold Medallion bolt action rifle (left-hand) in 30-06 with a Winchester Super X 150 grain bullet. What this experience showed is I remain a novice deer hunter and with Jay as friend and mentor I am learning through trial and error.
It is Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada and this year Mika and I are hosting Nick Schäfer, a young German man with a passion for hunting, who is staying with us for a hunting holiday. Nick is a student, currently studying business administration at Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario. I spied a post he put up on the Ontario Hunters Unite group on Facebook in which he asked if he might accompany someone on a hunting trip while he is here in Canada. I was among those who responded to his post. I left a reply telling him if he were ever in the Ottawa area during hunting season I would happily take him into the field with me and my hunting buddies in pursuit of grouse, woodcock and wildfowl. I asked that he first get himself the proper permits: a non-resident small game license and a migratory game bird hunting permit. He responded to my offer and when he told me the fall break from school coincided with Thanksgiving Weekend, I invited him to come to Ottawa for a hunting holiday. What follows is an account of day one of his stay. Continue reading