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
It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and forget about the whereabouts of your hunting buddies when a game bird flushes and offers you a shot. I am strict about hunter etiquette and safety in the field, and my perfect record on hunter safety is a testament to my adherence to hunter etiquette and safety. The fact that carelessness is an issue in hunting came to mind on a weekend grouse and woodcock hunt with Hera, my six-year-old Brittany. My hunting buddy Nick and his ten-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer, Cocotte, accompanied Hera and me on our weekend grouse and woodcock hunt. We got into birds: four woodcock and several grouse, but succeeded in spectacularly missing when we got shots away at flushing birds. Continue reading
“Good luck in all weathers,” Shirley E. Woods Jr. wrote to me when he signed my copy of his memoir “Gunning for Upland Birds and Wildfowl.” I met him at his home in Rockliffe Park where he lived in the 1970s. His memoir is an account of his experiences hunting upland game birds and waterfowl in the Ottawa Valley and Quebec. Weather indeed is a significant factor in hunting. Weather conditions determine whether it is safe or worth to go hunting. Yes, the weather is but one of the factors that play into the vagaries of fortune in hunting, but I learned over the years what a significant role weather plays in successful hunting. Weather conditions over the summer of 2018 made for a rocky start to my upland season this year. 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.”
Yesterday I took delivery of my 2017 Jeep Patriot High Altitude. I traded in my aging Tucson for the newer vehicle. Just before I left to pick up the new vehicle I checked Facebook and found a message from one of my hunting buddies, Nick, whom I had not seen for three years as he was posted to the Canadian Consulate in New York City all this time. He is back in Ottawa now and contacted me, asking if we could go hunting this morning. I was happy to hear he still has his dog, Cocotte, a German Shorthaired Pointer who is nine years old now. I met Nick at a dog park when Cocotte was a puppy, the same age as my beloved Juno. Cocotte is Nick’s first hunting dog while Juno was my third so I offered to help with her training. We trained our puppies together and hunted them successfully as they grew into young gun dogs until my Juno was felled by cancer at four years old. I happily agreed to take them hunting, they were the first passengers in my new wheels.
What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, I got home from a disappointing morning hunting Hera and felt my enthusiasm for going out the next day evaporate. She pointed woodcock and jumped the gun yet again. I planned on going duck hunting with my hunting buddy Omer, but the threat of inclement weather made him lose interest and he cancelled. My hunting buddy Jason wanted to go out to the farm near Spencerville the next day to add more corn to the bait piles in anticipation of deer season next month and I agreed to accompany him. I suggested we bring our dogs and take them upland gunning before we tended to the bait piles. I wanted to see if there was any change in Hera, whether she would remain staunch on point this time. Jason accepted my suggestion even though the weather forecast called for high winds and light rain. Jason is off to moose camp next weekend and this is our last chance to tend the bait piles before the opening of deer season. I met Jason at his house at 8:00 AM on the Ides of October and off we went to see what fortune would bring.