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
The 2013 hunting seasons open next month and my hunting buddies and I eagerly anticipate taking to the field with our dogs. One of our favourite past times is waterfowl hunting. My hunting buddies and I have successfully gunned for wild ducks and geese over land and water over the years. My first duck hunting experience was in 1976 when I was fifteen years old. I was new to the sport and really clueless. My father and I sat, waiting, in our Ford Pinto for legal shooting time to start; it had not occurred to us we could be sitting in our blind waiting for shooting time to start. I may have been clueless about waterfowl hunting, but I had taken to heart what I learned in the Ontario Hunter Education Program about hunter safety. New hunters are required to take this course and pass written and practical examinations before obtaining a hunting license. I have been careful over the years to strictly adhere to safe and ethical hunting practices, but found, one morning while out duck hunting, how the most minor lapse in judgement can result in disaster (near disaster in my case). What follows is an account of events from that morning, October 8, 2009. Continue reading
Christie was my first gun dog. I brought her home on April 16, 1994 when she was between six and seven weeks old. She passed away on May 19, 2004. Her life came to an untimely end due to cancer. Her death was a devastating loss for me. Letting her go was difficult, but now I treasure my memories of our time together. She lives on in my memories, one of which I noted in my diary many years ago and will share with you here.
I remember fondly one magical day afield with Christie on October 14, 2000. I had planned to go afield that morning with Christie and Glenn Lester, one of my hunting buddies. It was raining when I woke up, and Glenn called to bow out because of the rain. Undaunted, I took Christie and we set off to a patch of cover in the Marlborough Forest I call Twins. By the time we arrived at Twins, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining. We arrived at about 8:00 AM. It was a Saturday morning. The temperature would climb to about 18 degrees C by mid-morning.
Christie and I set out on what would prove to be a most memorable hunt for woodcock. Christie locked up on point in minutes. I walked up the point and flushed a woodcock. It offered a fairly easy shot, but I managed to miss cleanly to Christie’s chagrin. No matter, it turned out, because Christie quickly pointed another woodcock. This time I did not miss. We moved on through the cover, working our way through the first of a series of meadows and through some pines. By the time we reached the second meadow, I had four woodcock in the bag, all shot over Christie’s points. This was exciting. We continued through the cover, working our way through the lowland bogs with aspen, alder, birch and hawthorn. There were more than thirty woodcock flushes that morning, most of which were over Christie’s points. By the time we completed our sweep of the cover at about 12:00 PM, I had seven woodcock in the bag. This is just one short of the daily limit of eight birds. I thought about stopping at one more cover on the way home to get the bird number eight, but decided that knowing I could do this was sufficient.
I will love Christie forever. May she rest in peace.
Posted by Geoffrey
Hera is due at the veterinary clinic this afternoon to be given the bordetella vaccine by Dr. Douglas Hopwood. He is the veterinarian who treats her; he is also a friend and hunting buddy. She recovered last week from a bout of kennel cough. She likes to play rough and tumble with other dogs and somehow in her vaccinations bordetella was overlooked. Otherwise, she is the picture of health, almost eleven months old now; she will be turning a year old come the start of the woodcock season in October.
Her training is coming along nicely. She is by far the most confident of my dogs, there were three Brittanies before her: Christie, Maggie and Juno. While I can say I have her obedience, she responds to the whistle and follows my directions during her daily training runs, she has her moments, particularly when it is time to head home from playtime at the dog park on Lemieux Island. She disobeys when I order her to kennel up. She gets the message when I get in the car and drive away without her, saying to her “fine Hera, stay here all night!”
She is very much a predator, having made a meal of a hapless cottontail leveret on her training run last Monday afternoon. She discovered the mallards on the river also, very doggedly swimming after them, though they easily stayed out of reach, finally taking to wing to get away from her. I am really looking forward to taking to the field with her this season.
Posted by Geoffrey