Geoffrey's Hunting Diary

My Photo
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Why create a blog about being gay and a hunter? As a gay man with a passion for hunting I have experienced negative attitudes and prejudice for both being gay and a hunter. I haves a passion for hunting and the outdoors and keep a hunting dog, a Brittany named Hera. I enjoy documenting my hunting adventures and thoughts on being gay on Youtube and the internet.

Monday, November 14, 2011

This past weekend I enjoyed a range of hunting experiences. Saturday afternoon I went out on my own for a deer hunt. Jason was off on a guided goose hunt with his younger brother and Chris, a friend visiting from New Brunswick. The drive out to Pete and Val's farm for the deer hunt was slower than usual as I was stuck behind a funeral procession under police escort. I arrived at the farm around 1230 pm and after checking in with my hostess made my way to my ladder stand. Saw no deer on the walk in, but noticed deer trails passing through the conifers close to where my stand is set up. It was a cool afternoon and unusually quiet I thought. Unlike the Monday and Tuesday before it seemed barren. I did not see and hear bluejays, crows, Canada geese. I climbed into the tree stand easily enough, taking care to heed the safety rules. I brought some dried cranberries to snack on. I made an effort to make as little noise as possible during the hunt. I knocked my carrying bag off the foot rest accidentally. It fell to the ground with ample noise. It made me think of how careful one must be while hunting from a tree stand. I stayed in the stand until 5:00 pm. By then it was after sunset and too dark to see to make a shot. It was a blustery afternoon and no deer were seen. On the walk out in the dark I saw a couple of bunnies along the trail. I texted Jason to let him know I had returned safely from the deer hunt and was homeward bound, but without a deer.

A short time later Jason called me back asking if I were interested in going goose hunting on the recently harvested cornfield at the farm in Russell we hunt. He said he had spoken to Eric, our host, and he said the field was black with geese. I agreed it was worth a try and we set up a plan to depart from Jason's home with his friend Chris, Jason and Chris's dogs, littermates, Nos and Nero. As it happens Sunday November 13th was the dogs' birthday. We made our way to the cornfield, finding it was harvested the best way for goose hunting with stalks and leaves aplenty still on the ground. We set out Jason's life-like goose shells and my eleven floaters and two feather decoys, finishing just in time for legal shooting time at 6:30 am. There were geese roosting on the Castor River, we considered returning for a roost shoot if the field shoot proved a disappointment, and the geese on the river took off unusually early as we put the finishing touches on the blinds. Jason and Chris used layout blinds and I used my tried and true method of laying on the ground with a tarp between me and the earth and camouflaged burlap over top of me covered in corn stalks and leaves, my head propped up on my ammo box. Jason and I parked the vehicles by the barns and walked back to the blind site. We got into our blinds and watched the skies.

It was slow for a while as Canada geese are typically up later than ducks. As the morning wore on we saw large numbers of geese in the air. Many flocks passed by taking a cursory look at our decoy spread and thinking better of it, continuing on to another field. We had several birds decoy, with some landing in the decoys around us. I found I am getting too old for the rustic blind I am using. I kept getting cramps as I tried to sit up and my right arm was aching something fierce. I made a series of clumsy mounts, missing spectacularly on decoying geese, including three shots at a goose passing barely ten feet in front of me. Jason and Chris were shooting well, downing decoying geese and their dogs were in top form making the retrieves. The dogs found it hard waiting in the blinds between seconds of action when geese decoyed. We were treated to a chorus of whining as the dogs anticipated the next retrieve. One of the highlights of the hunt was a passing flock of snow geese. They ignored our decoy spread and my calling, but it was a thrill to see them. Another highlight of the hunt was when a passing flock of mallards offered us a shot. I downed a really nice drake. In spite of my poor shooting, I succeeded in bagging geese, including a very lively cripple that landed in the next field. Jason took Nos and they tracked down and retrieved the bird. As the hunt wore on we had twelve birds in the bag. Close to 10:00 am, the time we decided to call an end to the hunt, a flock of four geese approached. I called and they responded, decoying nicely. We each got a bird from the flock. I killed the bird I shot cleanly, which was a good way to end the hunt, pulling myself out of my shooting slump. We let the fourth bird go as we had limited out.

We gathered the downed birds, posed for photos and took care to gather up our spent shotgun shells and wads before departing. For next season I am going to buy myself a layout blind and a set of good goose decoys like Jason has. In all, it was a great morning's hunt. Everyone had a good time, particularly Chris. Our Sunday morning goose hunt was far superior to the experience Jason and Chris had on their guided hunt the day before.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Discovered the pleasures of deer hunting this season, thanks to my new hunting buddy Jason Quinn. Hitherto I had only tried deer hunting once, spending an afternoon seated on the ground at Banin Farms, freezing my arse off, hoping to see a deer. I really had no idea what I was doing and no deer came into view. On that basis I had pretty much lost interest in the sport. This all changed when Jason, a seasoned deer hunter, shared his knowledge and experience with me. A week before the opening of the rifle season we scouted an area at Peter and Val's farm where deer are crossing, putting up two trail cameras and selecting sites for tree stands. We returned the day before the season opened and found the cameras had captured does and an eight point buck using the crossing. We set up the tree stands and eagerly anticipated the next day's hunt.

We arrived in good time the morning of November 7th, the opening day of the two week rifle season and made our way to the tree stands. We hit a snag when I was overcome with vertigo when seated in the tree stand. I told Jason I could not do this and he graciously allowed me to take up a position on the ground with my back against a pine tree in a stand of pines, giving me a view of the deer crossing at a distance. We stayed there until noon, seeing no deer. Jason proposed I try a ladder stand. He had purchased two from LeBaron Sports the week before. He called to ask if they had any left in stock. There was one left which they agreed to hold for us. We picked up the stand and made our way back to Pete and Val's farm. As we were assembling the stand we had our first encounter with a scruffy neighbour who had stopped by to complain that someone was trespassing on the farm and interfering with his hunt. The alleged trespasser turned out to be another neighbour who was hunting the property with permission. We made our way to our hunting spot with the assembled ladder stand with Jason in the lead, carrying his rifle in the event that we saw a deer on the way in. Sure enough, two does appeared in front of us in the meadow which my stand would overlook. Jason scoped one of the does, but passed up the shot as they were bounding away. He did not want to risk crippling or maiming the animal. Good on him. He sets a very good example for a novice deer hunter. We ran into the neighbour who was hunting with permission and introduced ourselves. He knows we are there with permission too and offered us the use of his stand when he is not using it. We decided to return for a hunt the following afternoon.

The next morning I met Jason at the garage where he was having winter tires put on his vehicle. He had his dog Nos with him. We took Nos and Juno for a good run then had breakfast at a diner. We left Nos back at Jason's home and Jason grabbed his gear. We took Juno home and I grabbed my gear and we made our way to Pete and Val's farm. When we reached our hunting site, Jason put the finishing touches on my ladder stand, clearing away some of the pine boughs so I could have a clear view of the meadow and deer crossing. I climbed into the stand and found it much better. It consists of a seat with arm rests and a bar in front to rest my rifle on. I can shift about comfortably without fearing I am going to topple and fall which is not something I want when I am seated sixteen feet above the ground. Jason handed me my Club Monaco bag containing water, first aid kit and snacks, then my rifle. I felt a little ancy at first as I loaded my rifle, vertigo took hold very briefly, but I soon settled down. Jason made his way to his stand, located in a pine tree giving him a view of the meadow and another portion of the deer crossing where a buck has been scraping. As I waited and watched we had our second encounter with the scruffy neighbour. At first I thought it was the neighbour who was hunting with permission. I waved my hat to get his attention, she waved back and passed by me, calling out "good luck." I realize it was not the neighbour who was their lawfully when I saw she was carrying a shotgun. She had not spied Jason in his tree stand and he overheard her speaking to the man we had spoken to the day before over a radio, telling him "Rick is hunting in his stand, should I continue?" She must have been given the green light, because after passing by me in my stand she started baying like a hound. She made her way through the property, trespassing, baying peridodically, for the next forty-five minutes. I texted Jason asking is she was trying to sabotage our hunt. He replied she was pretending to be a dog, thinking she could move the deer about, but all this was doing was alerting them that there were humans on the property. He was not pleased. He took this up with Val after the hunt and she said she would have Pete speak to the neighbour and ask him to tell his son to keep off the property as there are three people hunting there with permission.

As I sat in my stand listening and watching, I heard lots of bluejays and crows sounding the riot call. They must have found one of the owls we heard hooting the evening before. A squirrel was shuffling through the dead leaves. I heard something making its way through the pines behind me to the left. I carefully looked over my left shoulder and spied a doe making her way toward the meadow. My heart started racing and I carefully raised my rifle, anticipating a shot. The doe made her way into a pocket of the meadow in my blind spot. Pine boughs obstructed my view and though I tried to manoeuvre into position to make a shot I could quite get into position to risk a shot. Though I pleaded and cajoled in my mind while my heart raced, the doe eventually made her way into the thicket and escaped unharmed. Like Jason the evening before, I passed up the shot, because I did not want to risk crippling or maiming the animal. It sure was exciting though having a deer come by. We stayed until the end of legal shooting time and no more deer were seen. I cannot wait to get out again.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Kicked off my annual hunting holiday with a sweep of Lester's Square with Juno. We had the whole cover to ourselves. It was sunny, coll with a light wind. Juno took to the field with enthusiasm. Two woodcock were found where I expected they would be. Both were wild flushes. I shot haphazardly at the first one, deep in the cover at the edge of the trail leading into the midway point, on its second flush. A short time later in the cedars at the edge of the meadow Juno locked up on point. I walked up the point but there was no bird. As she moved on and I took a step, a bird flushed to the left of me. I shot and missed. Juno went into the thicket and bumped the bird. It flew over me and I got a second shot and missed. We made our way through the rest of the cover. She made another point in the edge at the opposite end of the meadow, but again there was no bird. We swept through the cedars across the forest road and found no birds.

On the way to Paden I saw three turkeys at the edge of Roger Stevens. At Paden a grouse flushed wildly in the pines at the edge of the meadow across from the buckthorn hedgerow. I caught a glimpse of it as it made good its escape. Deeper in the cover Juno locked up on point and yet again there was no bird until I took a step after she moved on. The bird was several feet away in the opposite direction. I shot and missed again. We made our way through the rest of the cover and she made another point on an old scent in a little clump of birches that usually holds woodcock. Looks as though the woodcock are moving through, but not staying long. The ground is still too dry. I hope things pick up as the season progresses.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, October 03, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Met up with Jason and his dog Nos just a few minutes late, after 0700, for some upland gunning. We were underway in short order. Nos and Juno got along well enough in the back of the van. Eventually Nos moved to the back seat. Thankfully there had been a few rainy days since my outing on Monday with Juno. Water levels are still very low, but the rain moistened the ground sufficiently that migrating woodcock should find it tolerable. Time will tell. The road in to Lester's Square was high and dry, as compared to last season. On the drive in we passed by some of the familiar hordes of hunters.

We made a sweep of Lester's Square, finding it quite barren. I am not surprised as the week before it was dry as a bone. Any local woodcock would have left the area in search of lowland bogs where they can feed. A grouse was flushed in the hedgerow off the meadow, twice. Jason shot at it the first time and missed. Along the way to finding this bird we checked out the beaver pond, finding some hunters set up, hoping to bag some ducks. I cannot think of anything more futile than setting up on a pond that does not normally attract ducks, especially the weekend after a dismal opening day. We spoke briefly to some of the hordes on our way back to the van.

We moved on to Paden and found more of the same barren coverts, but there were a few more wild grouse flushes and one woodcock was put up. Juno pointed one of the grouse, but it flushed wildly before I could walk it up. Nos put up a grouse and Jason dumped it. It flushed close to where I bagged one over Juno the Monday before. He shot twice at the woodcock and missed. Nos and Juno run well together. Should make for a good season once the migrants start passing through.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday September 26, 2011

Took Juno for her first hunt of the season. Headed to the cover at Paden Road after work. The drive out at this time of day is always a challenge, but once I get beyond the city and the idiots who are forever trying to barge ahead of me on the road, the drive is not so bad. I was dismayed when I saw how dry it is in the Marlborough Forest. Does not bode well for the woodcock season. We set out checking a familiar stretch of cover, finding no woodcock, which is not unusual this early in the season. Does not help that the ground is dry and hard as concrete. In a hedgrow across the access road we had our first wild flush. A grouse took off before we got near it. Juno picked up the scent and locked up on point. She is learning that grouse are not like woodcock. She seemed puzzled, like "hey there should be a bird here." We continued the hunt, making our way along the forest road where we scattered a covey of grouse. I fired in desperation at one of the birds through the trees, missing cleanly. On we went, heading to the beaver pond. It was a warm day so I wanted to get Juno to water. Egad, the beaver pond had dried noticably. There was a mudflat where usually there is water.

Undaunted we continued along the trail that swings around and brings us back to where we started. Another grouse flushed wildly around the bend of the trail. Soon after I saw two birds on the trail. We walked up stealthily and Juno found the scent, again expressing confusion when no birds were found. The birds had run several yards up the trail and flushed wildly as we approached. Further along the trail at the edge of a dried wetland that usually holds snipe and woodcock I heard and saw a grouse running in the trees. I sent Juno in and stood ready on the trail. Sure enough this time three birds flushed ahead of Juno and one offered me a crossing shot. I remembered how to shoot this time dumping it cleanly with my first barrel. I called Juno and directed her to the downed bird. No more birds were found as we made our way back to the van. In all, we had ten grouse flushes in one hour of hunting. It is a good start to the season, but I hope we get a torrential rainfall in the next two weeks, else it looks like very few woodcock will be stopping over during the migration.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday September 23, 2011

Kicked off the 2011 hunting season heading out to the Greater Rideau Lake with Omer and his friend. We had a few minor dramas, like the cheap, less than useless, flashlight I bought on clearance at Canadian Tire. We ran just a little late, but were in position just as legal shooting time started at approximatel 0620. We saw some birds, a few approached our decoy spread, but flared before coming into range. We heard lots of shooting all around us. Omer's friend had difficulty with his autoloader which spoiled his chance of bagging a passing wood duck. I shot twice at a pair of passing wood ducks, firing haphazardly and missing spectacularly. As we were picking up the decoys at 0900, a trio of black ducks approached on a bee line to our decoy spread, typical.

We took Omer's friend's boat which is big enough to hold the three of us. He and Omer did a masterful job of constructing the blind. Having three men on board made setting and retrieving the decoys much easier.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Labour Day Weekend - 2011

Kicked off the weekend, Saturday morning, taking Alice and two of her friends skeet shooting at Stittsville. Poor Juno got very excited when she saw me get out the shotguns. She thought we were going hunting and was disappointed when I left her behind. It was hot and humid which may account for there being few people at the range. This was just as well as I was able to teach the three of them to shoot without holding anyone up. Brought my Browning skeet gun and Lanber pheasant gun. I broke an appreciable number of targets and racked up some spectacular misses. Got lots of photos. Everyone had a good time. Alice missed all the targets. The Browning does not fit her very well. One of her friends hit one target and the other fared better, hitting several.

Took the boat out with Omer to the Tay River Monday morning to scout out sites for opening day. New hitch worked fine, problems with the wiring persist. Launched and recovered the boat with no trouble. Ran into Gord Mercier and his dog Abby on the river. This was a pleasant surprise. Had lost contact with Gord some time ago. He is coping with health issues that are keeping him from the field. He told us there are lots of wood ducks about. Hope we see a few on opening day. We saw a few mallards, opreys, kingfishers, herons, Canada geese and a few mergansers while we were exploring the river. During the drive out to the river we checked in with Eric Campbell, our host on the Castor River, and got the green light to proceed this season.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

As summer winds down and hunting season draws closer I notice in Juno the same increasing enthusiasm on her daily run as I remember seeing in Christie and Maggie. I wonder if dogs recognize familiar scents and the change of temperature as hunting season draws nearer. Juno found and pointed a rabbit during her run yesterday. She gave chase, briefly, but quickly came back, looking for me. What a relief! Juno does not pass up opportunities to pounce on prey, mice and rabbits particularly, when she has occasion, but she is first and foremost a bird dog. I stopped shooting rabbits and hares while I had Maggie as her favourite pasttime was chasing them. I go back to shooting rabbits and hares if I can be certain that Juno will not take up the habit of chasing them.

Labels: , ,