Archive for the ‘Firearms and Hunting’ Category

Coyote bounty

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

This news story took me by surprise.

Sask. offers $20 bounty on coyotes

The Saskatchewan government is offering a $20 bounty on every coyote killed.

Agriculture Minister Bob Bjornerud announced the bounty Tuesday as part of the Saskatchewan Coyote Control Program.

The program is to help farmers and ranchers who are having trouble with coyotes killing their livestock.

Coyotes have been a perennial problem in rural Saskatchewan, but the situation has been getting worse in recent years, Bjornerud said.

“Producers … have coyotes coming right in their yards and mixing with their cattle right now,” Bjornerud said. “It’s dangerous out there for farm families that have little kids and that, when they are coming right into the yards. In some cases. they are taking the yard dog and leading him out of the yard and killing him.”

A trial version of the program will run until March 31, 2010. After that, the province will look at extending the bounty.

(Full article here)

I expect some angry letters to the editor in the next few days about us slack-jawed Saskatchewan redneck yokels.  It should be entertaining.

But actually, I have mixed feeling about this announcement.  I’m all for letting nature find its balance, but if humans are going to produce the food that we need, I think that active management of predators is required.  The coyote population is high, probably due to a combination of factors, including several mild winters and reduced hunting and trapping as a result of low fur prices.  Part of me doesn’t like the idea of a coyote bounty, but I do sympathize with my farming friends who have lost farm animals to coyote predation.

Ideally I’d like to see fur go back into fashion, but until that happens, I guess a bounty is probably a valid solution to curbing the coyote population.

At least it’s probably preferable to the mange.

Got the no moose blues

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

You can sing a happy song if you’re glad

sing a protest song if you’re mad

but if you want to sing the blues

then boy you’ve got to learn how to lose …

… seems like I always lose

you’ve got to suffer if you want to sing the blues …

If David Bromberg in that song is correct, after our moose hunt I feel qualified to sing the blues.

This was the most brutal hunt that I’ve ever been on, for a number of reasons, including:

  • We were skunked.  Not only did we not get any moose, but we didn’t see any moose.
  • The weather was lousy.  It rained every day, except for the last day when it snowed.
  • The quad trail into our area was badly rutted and passed through some black spuce bogs, resulting in stuck ATVs.  Luckily the winches on both quads eventually worked, after Marv did some electrical work.
  • The moose must not have entered the rut yet, because the only calling we heard was from the other hunting party down the trail.
  • Because of the rainy weather the moose were not on the move, preferring to stay hunkered down.  Or maybe they just have left the area – though we did see some old sign.
  • And to top it off, Glenn developed kidney stones and Marv drove him out to the Preeceville hospital, from which he was sent to Saskatoon for further treatment.

But enough grumbling.  It was great just being out there.  I’ll be posting some pictures to a gallery (none of moose unfortunately).  Meanwhile here is one of Marv on our return trip yesterday.

Marv quadding back from the moose hunt

Marv quadding back from the moose hunt

Hunting for Alces alces

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

I depart early tomorrow with Marv and Glenn (Mike couldn’t make it this year) for a week-long moose hunt.  Moose (Alces alces) are my nemesis – I’ve shot a couple of elk, and I get at least one deer every year, but I have difficulty with moose.   I’ve even called them in close enough to hear them circling through the forest to get downwind of me, but not close enough to get a shot.

Luckily one or two of our hunting party of three or four usually manages to get a moose, but there have been times when all of us have been skunked.  Since our last couple of moose hunts came up empty-handed, our spouses are saying some very cruel things about us.

We are trying a new area this year, in Wildlife Managment Zone 56 in the Porcupine Hills, and it looks promising.  It involves travel by ATV about 10 km or so from where we’ll park the truck.  Hopefully there won’t be a lot of other hunters in the area.

I’ll be happy if we get one moose between the three of us, but two would be great.

(in case my sister-in-law Gillian is reading this, no we don’t bait the moose traps with really big chunks of cheese)

The moose Phil is going to shoot in 2009

The moose Phil is going to shoot in 2009

The Ratatouille effect

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

I have heard references at various times to the so-called “Bambi Effect”, the supposed effect of the classic Disney animated film, where Bambi’s mother is killed by hunters, as a contributing factor to the decline in hunter numbers across North America in recent decades.

There is no denying that deer are attractive animimals, and people understandably don’t enjoy the thought of them being killed, even if it is for food.

So I’ve been waiting to see if folks are going to start cuddling up to rodents, considering the popular success of the wonderful Pixar animated feature Ratatouille.

Some radical environmentalists are on record as stating that the earth’s population should be reduced by several billion people, perhaps by re-introducing diseases such as the bubonic plague.  Even Prince Philip is quoted as stating, “In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, in order to contribute something to solve overpopulation.“  If they play their cards right, they might be able to use the Ratatouille Effect to ban rodenticides, and they would be well on their way to their goal.

Personally, although I thoroughly enjoyed watching Ratatouille, I still detest rats, and will kill them at any opportunity.

But then, I also hunt deer.

A different ecosystem

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Being most accustomed to the ecoregions of Saskatchewan’s Boreal Plain ecozone, I am not very familiar with the prairie ecosystems.  The area we were in for our short mule deer hunt is in the middle of the Mixed Grassland ecoregion. I’ve hunted there several years ago, but it still took awhile to remember to check for cacti before sitting or kneeling on the ground.

We were in close proximity to the South Saskatchewan River, and the waterfowl migration was in full swing.  I have never seen so many sandhill cranes.  We saw lots of pronghorn antelope, sharptail grouse and other prairie species.  I even managed to shoot my first pheasant.

It’s a very scenic area, especially the breaks beside the river.  Apparently the Canadian made-for-TV movie “The Englishman’s Boy” (I haven’t seen it but now I’d like to) was filmed in the area.

I even learned a new card game.  Ken called it “The Card Game With No Name”.

And between the four of us we managed to get five deer, so this omnivore won’t be going hungry for awhile.

Busy week

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

It seems like this week has been even busier than most.  Part of the reason is that I’m getting ready for a short (2-day) Antlerless Mule Deer hunt with the muzzleloader.  Ken and Charlie have a good area where they hunt most years.  They started hunting today, and Eric and I will drive down to the area after work tomorrow, and will hunt Friday and Saturday.  It’s in Wildlife Management Zone 14, close to the South Saskatchewan River near Kyle.

Yesterday was particularly busy, since I’d scheduled an “Energuide” home evaluation which took a chunk of the afternoon.  I also made a batch of goose jerky, and racked two batches of fruit wine (chokecherry and saskatoon) that were finished their primary fermentations.

Janet has this unreasonable expectation that since we both are working full-time now, perhaps I should do a bit more of of the cooking than I have in the past, so tonight I cooked supper.  We’ve had some ruffed grouse taking up room in the freezer for a year, so that was the meat.  It went over well with the kids.

Now I’m waiting for the maps of the hunting area to finish uploading to the GPS.  I’d like to get a newer model with USB interface … 24 MB of map data is taking about 2 hours to transfer over the serial connection on my aging Garmin GPSmap 76S.

(After writing that last sentence, I checked the progress, and found that there was an error communicating … “please check the connection …”  Can’t spot anything wrong.  Re-started the transfer, and will leave it running overnight.)

At least I think I’m pretty well packed for the hunt, the tags have been purchased, etc.

Enough rambling.  G’nite.

Elk hunt finished, off to Slave Lake

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

Our elk hunt was semi-successful.  If the rut has started, we didn’t have much evidence, since about the only bugling we heard was the attempts of other hunters.  However Glenn saved us from being skunked by shooting a big fat cow elk that came to his Hootchie Mama call. Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera along, until Glenn and Mike picked up one of those cheap disposable cameras for me when they did the meat run.

Unfortunately I came back from the hunt having picked up a dilly of a cold.  It’s deep in my chest, and really not much fun at al.  I’ve been seriously thinking of not going to Slave Lake for the WESBOGY meeting, but if I’m not feeling worse by tomorrow, I think it will be a go.

So once again, things will be quiet around here for awhile.  I realize most of my readers (including the spammer bots) may not be interested in forest growth & yield technicalities, so I’ll probably spare you of insights gained this week.

Elk hunt update

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

We leave today for our elk hunt, which I posted about previously.  The groceries have been purchased, most of the equipment is ready to load on the truck or trailer, and I’m just hoping that I won’t forget something really important, such as my rifle or my elk tag.   We decided to set up camp today instead of tomorrow, for fear that another group might beat us to our selected camping location.  It will be nice to have a full day tomorrow for scouting.

I have been worrying a bit that if the weather is too warm the elk won’t be getting into the rut, and thus won’t respond to our calls.  However the 5-day forecast looks fairly normal for this time of year, unlike our hunt of 2000 in Greenwater, when every day was blazing hot and we heard hardly any bugles.  Showers are predicted for mid-week, which is OK as long as the rain doesn’t sock in for too long.  The nights are predicted to be fairly cool (getting down to 3 C).  A bit of frost would really get the elk in the mood for love.

I’m fairly optimistic about our chances of success on this hunt, but we’ve been skunked before.  I’ll try to provide an update next weekend, before I depart again (for the fall WESBOGY meeting at Slave Lake, Alberta).

Fort a la Corne here we come

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

As I posted a few days ago, we applied for elk licenses in the Big Game Draw, specifying Fort a la Corne as our 1st choice (Greenwater, where we have hunted a couple of times in the past, was our 2nd choice).

Although my tag hasn’t yet arrived in the mail, according to the Big Game Draw website, we have been drawn. So as of early September, our intrepid crew of four hunters will be trying out a new elk hunting area. A scouting trip sometime between now and the end of August would probably be a good idea. I’ve already spoken with a couple of hunters who are familiar with Fort a la Corne, but if anyone has any hot tips on where to locate elk in that wildlife management zone, please contact me.

Super A for elk

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Our hunting party of four guys is at Super A priority for elk this year.

For those who don’t know what in the world I mean by that sentence, a good article explaining the Saskatchewan Big Game Draw system can be found here.

One of the biggest thrills of my life was calling in a bull elk during our 2004 elk hunt. I’ll be thrilled if we are drawn this year, and very disappointed if we’re unsuccessful. I think the draw results should be posted on the Ministry of Environment – Wildlife Branch website sometime this week or next, but I’m impatient so I’ve been checking almost daily. We applied in a wildlife management zone we’ve never hunted before (Fort a la Corne, an “island forest” surrounded by agricultural land between Prince Albert and Nipawin), so if we do get drawn, a scouting trip or two would be a good idea.
Fort a la Corne (Google Maps)