“Be careful what you wish for, lest it comes true,” goes the adage. In deer season last year, I saw my hunting buddy Jason bag a six-point buck with his 1974 vintage Marlin 336 in 35 Rem lever-action rifle. It was an exciting hunt, and I was so impressed with how Jason handled his Marlin rifle, I decided I wanted the same rifle for myself for the next deer season. Jason agreed to search for a Marlin rifle for me, and he came through. He found me a 1960 Marlin 336 lever action in 30:30 in short order. Not long after, Jason found the right scope for my Marlin rifle: a Bausch and Lomb Elite 3000. Jason installed the scope on the rifle for me; he has the skill and experience for such delicate work. With the new rifle and scope assembled, I looked forward to getting it out to the range to try it out.
“Remember, it’s a repeater,” my hunting buddy Jason reminded me after an afternoon deer hunt. Jason, his wife Fran and myself were seated in our deer stands on the farm near Spencerville where we have permission to hunt deer. It was Saturday, November 10th, and I remember it was a blustery afternoon. The tree to which my ladder stand is attached rocked in the high winds as I sat and watched for a deer. At approximately 4:30 pm my chance came when a deer bounded into view directly in front of me. The deer stopped, partially hidden in the brush. I raised my rifle (a Browning X-bolt Medallion in 30:06, loaded with a 150-grain bullet), and found the deer in the crosshairs. The deer stepped forward, offering me a view of its vital areas. I tried to steady the rifle, then squeezed the trigger. After the shot, I watched to see if I found the mark. The deer sauntered back in the direction it came, offering a clear broadside view as it made its way back into the brush. I sat in my stand–like a deer caught in the headlights–watching as the deer went on its way. Continue reading
Saturday morning, December 17th, started out a little unusual. Mika’s flight to Regina, originally scheduled for the day before, was cancelled due to bad weather in Toronto. I was supposed to drop him off at the airport for 9:00 am Saturday morning, but this flight was delayed. The plan was for me to drop off Mika at the airport then pick up Jason and his dog Nos (Hera was already on board) for a morning dog run. Along with the dog run Jason and I were going to tend a few errands. Jason needed to go to the bank to deposit a rebate cheque he received from Browning. I needed to take my Browning X-bolt Medallion rifle to Gunco, the gunsmith we use, to have the broken cleaning rod removed from the barrel. I needed to get a replacement cleaning kit for the rifle also. As Christmas is a week away, I still needed to buy a few more gifts including one for Jason’s daughter, Rose. It was well after 10:00 am when I arrived at Jason’s house. We hit the bank on the way to Gunco. The cleaning rod was safely removed from my rifle barrel and as we browsed the array of second hand shotguns and rifles for sale I caught sight of a left-hand bolt action rifle. It was a Tikka T3 in .300 WSM with a synthetic stock. “Nice gun,” I thought and the price (between $800-$900) was reasonable. 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.
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.
November 2, 2015, opening day of the rifle season for whitetail deer in Ontario and what a memorable opening day it was for Omer and me. This hunt goes into memory as the culmination of camaraderie, sportsmanship and teamwork between me and my hunting buddies, notably Jason and Omer. By the end of legal shooting time at 5:18 pm, we had a button buck and a coyote in the bag. I saw a doe from my stand too. It is going to be very difficult to top this hunt in this and succeeding seasons. Continue reading
As a new hunting season approaches I look forward to setting out on grouse and woodcock hunts with my dog Hera. As I look to the season ahead I remember the first grouse I shot 41 years ago in Limerick Forest. I was out with my dad and as we drove along one of the forest roads a grouse ran out in front of us. We stopped and got out of the white Volkswagen van he drove in those days. I was carrying my first shotgun, a Savage hammerless 16 gauge single shot with a 28 in. barrel and full choke. The grouse ran off the road and escaped, but my dad and I found there was a covey of birds. As we swept the cover there were multiple flushes with the birds flushing unseen. This was both exciting and frustrating for me, but my chance came when finally a grouse flushed and offered me a shot in a gap between a couple of fir trees. I mounted my gun and fired, a snap shot just like I read in the CIL guide to upland gunning. My dad heard the shot and asked if it was me. I replied it was me and walked up to the gap between the trees and there on the ground was my grouse. I sure was excited and cried out repeatedly “Dad, I got a grouse!” What I remember most about shooting my first grouse was the feeling of triumph and touch of sorrow I experienced when I retrieved the dead bird. Continue reading