It never ceases to amaze me as to how easily a train of good fortune can go off the rails without warning. Until this afternoon, my grouse and woodcock season went well–given the less than stellar conditions in the woodcock coverts. I got into birds every time I took to the field with Hera. James, a new hunting buddy, got a woodcock on his first hunt for woodcock over a gun dog. Stella is making progress in her training as a gun dog. She is not gun shy, and she is quartering through the wooded areas in the parkland where I take her and Hera for their daily training run. Initially, I thought Stella would not be old enough to accompany Hera and me in the field this season. However, I decided to bring her along on my last three hunts, as I am pleased with the progress she made to date. Everything seemed on track with Stella and her training; I could not be happier. What could go wrong? Continue reading
I took the plunge this morning and brought Stella for her first hunt when I took Hera out to the farm for some grouse and woodcock hunting. Stella is six months old and quartering through the cover on her daily run. Yesterday afternoon I replaced her puppy collar with an adult dog collar and put her cowbell on for the first time. She took to her new collar and cowbell without incident. The weekend before, I fired several shots with a starter’s pistol while out on her daily run. She took no notice of the shots from the starter’s pistol. I concluded that she is not gun shy but still wanted to see if she would react to the sound of the 20 gauge shotgun when I took her into the field. I brought Hera and Stella out to the farm near Spencerville–the farm where three of my hunting buddies and myself hunt deer during the rifle season–this morning. We arrived at about 9:30 am, a little later than I anticipated. I try to get into the field by 8:00 am, but I found my bed so comfortable this morning that I was slow getting up to go hunting. Continue reading
The 2019 upland game, small game and woodcock seasons opened in Eastern Ontario this morning. The weather was near perfect for the opening day of these seasons. The sky was clear, the winds were minimal, and the temperature was hovering at about 10 degrees C. I set out for the farm near Spencerville with my new hunting buddy James and Hera, my Brittany, shortly before 7:00 am. It is about an hour’s drive from my house in Centretown Ottawa to the farm. James and I arranged to meet Mike, another of my hunting buddies, at the farm for 8:00 am. Though James is not new to hunting–having hunted small game with his buddies in Cornwall in previous seasons–this would be his first woodcock hunt. It would be his first hunt over a bird dog also. We stopped at a Tim Hortons on the way–I have to have my morning cup of Joe–and arrived at the farm in good time. Mike came with his dog, Maggie, a German Shorthaired Pointer, not long after James and I got there. We started our hunt not long after 8:00 am, eager to see what fortune would bring. Continue reading
I had a good day making ready for the upcoming upland game bird and whitetail deer seasons. My day started with me meeting my friend and hunting buddy Mike at the farm near Spencerville, where I hunt upland game birds and deer. The objectives today were to relocate my deer stand, check conditions at the farm for grouse and woodcock season, and to look for a sign that deer are moving in the area around the deer stands set up on the farm. I arrived at the farm at about 8:40 am. Mike arrived just after 9:00 am. Mike brought his chainsaw and the tools he needed to free my deer stand from the tree it is mounted on so that we could move the stand to its new location. Mike and I found a spot last season we thought offered a better view of the ridge in the wooded area I watch for deer. We marked the tree the previous season to which we intended to move my deer stand. We loaded Mike’s chainsaw and tools into the back of my Jeep and set out to check out the trail that leads to my deer stand. Continue reading
“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
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.”