My hunting buddy Doug Hopwood (who is from Jamaica) contacted me and asked if I would join him, his brother Andrew and their father Martin (who were in town visiting Doug and his family) for some skeet shooting at Stittsville Shooting Range on Sunday August 7th. I happily accepted his invitation. I brought my 20 gauge Winchester side-by-side and my Browning O/U. The Winchester is one of my upland guns as is the Browning. I brought the Browning for Andrew to use on this trip to the shooting range. Doug brought his Remington Model 1187 autoloader and shared it with his father. Doug’s father and brother gun for doves back home in Jamaica and the season was due to open later in August. It was a great opportunity to get out for some target practice, to shake off the cobwebs, before dove season in Jamaica and woodcock season here in the Ottawa Valley come October. Andrew shot very well with my Browning. Doug and his father shot well also. As for me, I hit an appreciable number of the clays, but the cobwebs are a little thicker on me. Here are some highlights from our trip to the range.
Woodcock taken over Hera’s point with my 20 gauge Winchester side-by-side.
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 →
Got out with Hera today to the Marlborough Forest. It was cool, about 5 degrees C and a little windy. We started the hunt at Lester’s Square at 8:40 am. I brought my Browning 12 gauge over and under this morning as my Winchester 20 gauge side by side has a small piece of the butt stock chipped. I have no idea how that happened. The over and under has 26 in. barrels and is choked skeet and skeet. I bought this gun in a private sale when I was sixteen and it is a fine upland gun. We made our way through a patch of cover that often holds grouse and in minutes Hera flash pointed a running grouse in a stand of cedars. The bird flushed wildly, unseen, not a bad start to the morning. Continue reading →
In a lifetime of shooting with shotguns I can safely say I am a fair wing shot on the target range and a good wing shot in the field. I consistently hit a fair number of clays on the skeet range, stations 3-5 give me the most difficulty and I do not bother with station 8 as for me is is just shooting the air full of holes. In the field, with my hunting buddies, I usually limit out on Canada geese in gunning over land and water. In the uplands I do very well gunning for woodcock, though this has a great deal to do with having an exceptional gun dog to find and point the birds for me. This sets me up for the shot and as woodcock are consistent in towering when flushed, always heading for the open sky, I usually find the mark, though often with a quick follow up shot with my Winchester 20 gauge side-by-side double barrelled gun. The reality is you are not going to hit every target you shoot at, be it a clay bird on the skeet range or a game bird in the field. I have racked up a great number of spectacular misses, both on the skeet range and in the field, over the years as my hunting buddies can attest. Missing when you are shooting with a shotgun comes with the territory, but therein lies the fun that comes from shotgunning. If you hit every target you would quickly grow tired of the sport. Continue reading →
I am by no means a poor man, but I work for a living. I have a good job and together with Mika our combined incomes allow us to live comfortably. As nice as it would be to have my clothes tailored on Savile Row, and my shotguns custom-designed by Churchill, Cogswell & Harrison and Purdey, I rather contentedly buy my clothes off the rack at Mark’s Work Wearhouse and my shotguns from retailers such as Sail and LeBaron Outdoor Products. My first shotgun was a Savage single shot, 16 gauge, hammerless, with a 2 3/4 chamber, a 28-inch barrel and full choke. It belonged to my father. I have a fleeting memory of the day he purchased it at a gun shop in Baltimore, Maryland in 1965. I was four years old at the time. I remember him talking to the proprietor of the gun shop, then the proprietor wrapping the shotgun in brown paper. My dad paid $49.00 for the gun. My dad enjoyed gunning for cottontail rabbits in the 1960s. He used this gun masterfully on his rabbit hunts he took with my uncle in the countryside outside Kingston, Ontario. When I turned 14, my dad offered me the gun and I happily accepted it. Continue reading →
Sunday morning, October 27th, 2013, was clear skies and a very light west wind blowing. I picked up Akber Hussain shortly after 7:00 am as planned. We had planned on getting out hunting together last season, but were unable to because of problems with competing schedules, but finally this morning we got out together. We arrived in the field at Lester’s Square shortly after 8:00 am. I noticed on the drive in the competition was there ahead of us. I could hear the bell of their dog in the distance when we parked and got out of the care. No matter, we were careful to keep our distance from them and were underway, walking the trail toward a familiar pocket of cover. Hera made a flash point on a woodcock in a thick patch of the cover. The bird flushed as I was walking up her point and I dumped it cleanly with a single shot. I showed the downed bird to Akber who had never seen one up close before. Continue reading →
Got out with Hera on an impromptu hunt Tuesday morning, October 22nd. Dropped the newly acquired 9.9 horsepower Mercury outboard motor at Laurentian Marine for examination on the way to the Marlborough Forest. We arrived at Lester’s Square shortly after 10:00 am. It was cool, sunny and blustery, not the best weather for upland gunning, but Hera needs experience so we get out every chance we get. Within minutes of starting the hunt a grouse flushed wildly unseen along the trail we took. We continued the hunt, sweeping carefully through pockets of woodcock cover further along the trail, turning up no birds. We crossed through a stand of cedar and pine to a meadow and hunted the edges alongside the meadow. A woodcock flushed wildly in a patch I expected we might find a bird. I shot twice, missing cleanly. We moved on, checking more of the edges; a skittish grouse flushed from under a pine as Hera and I approached. No shots were fired and the grouse made good its escape. A short time later Hera startled a hare that ran across my path. This time I found the mark, killing it cleanly with one shot. We made our way back to the car and from there drove to the cover off Paden Road.
Four woodcock flushed at Paden: the first was pointed by Hera in the cover next to where I park. Two more flushed in the tight cover along the trail close to the beaver pond. First bird was pointed by Hera. She was staunch. Bird flushed, towered and was dumped with one shot. I spied two hunters in the brush ahead of where I retrieved the downed bird. Hera pointed dead for the retrieve. Said hello to the hunters and told them we were headed away from where they were standing. They wished us a good day. I continued the sweep and flushed a woodcock on my own. Shot twice and missed. Hera bumped a grouse in the tight cover where she pointed the woodcock I shot. The bird was too far to risk a shot and I let it go. Sweeping the cover on the other side of the road where I park, stepped on another woodcock. Shot twice and missed. I had an anxious moment when Hera came upon the carcass of a porcupine. I gather another hunter must have seen and shot it, leaving the carcass at the edge of a widely traveled trail. I called her away from the carcass and was relieved to see she had not gotten any quills stuck to her.
It was a good day in the field, despite the blustery weather. Hera is pointing and remaining staunch, having pointed both grouse and woodcock. This is most impressive for a dog who has just turned one year old. I will say I am surprised we are seeing so few woodcock as the conditions in the covers are the best I have seen in many seasons. We will continue to go afield in pursuit of woodcock for the balance of the season.