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Posts Tagged ‘hunting’

male and female pheasant

 In the past week, pheasants with a death wish crossed my path twice on separate occasions while I was driving.  The first time, the corner of the vehicle caught a female who continued her flight into the woods after leaving a flurry of feathers in the air.  The second time, an enormous male came within inches of the windshield as he flew to safety across the road.  

Female Ring-necked Pheasant

There is an amazing wildness to the look of these large ground birds when seen up close.  Feather patterns are strikingly beautiful and eye and beak colours assumed to be a dull grey from a distance, are anything but.  

Although pheasants are visible year-round in Cow Bay, and are often seen crossing the roads in a leisurely manner, they seem even more out in the open at this time of year.  I don’t recall seeing so many females along the side of the road in years past.  I’m either getting better at spotting them or they’re getting bolder.  Maybe they’re just trying to get out of the woods where hunting season is in full swing for their species until December 15th.

Earlier this week I noticed a male working very hard at directing a female’s movements in the front yard.  I’m not sure what that was all about.  Mating season is over and males usually congregate by themselves as the winter approaches.   Maybe he was trying to tell her to stay here where it was safe, instead of wandering into the more dangerous woods.

Yesterday a ruffed grouse that didn’t want its picture taken suddenly appeared in the yard.  They are much more secretive than pheasants and quick runners.  Their feathers certainly help them stay well camouflaged, so it may have been hanging around for some time before I managed to see it. 

November’s shorter daylight hours bring about a change in the colour of snowshoe hares, making them easier to spot on the landscape.

Snowshoe Hare in November

A favorite resting area for them during the day is under the spruce and fir trees.  Although they’re visible year round, their lighter fur in the fall is more eye-catching than usual, even on grey rainy days such as this one. 

This particular one looks quite rounded and ready for the winter.  But if the snow doesn’t fly soon, it will have to be extra careful to keep itself hidden from predators.

Snowshoe hares, ring-necked pheasants and ruffed grouse are all hunted in Nova Scotia at this time of year. 

For more information on regulations regarding hunting small game in Nova Scotia, see http://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/hunt/smlgame.asp

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bridge before dawn

Canada Goose Bridge

Even on a flat trail, there are many disadvantages to walking in a salt marsh in the dark:  you don’t always see the puddles or the uneven wood planks on the bridge; you can’t enjoy fall’s beautiful colours; and, you never know what’s lurking in the woods, or ahead of you on the trail.  However, the hour before dawn is ideal for seeing shooting stars and listening to herons, ducks and seagulls as they awaken.  During migration season, it’s also wonderful to listen to the flocks of hundreds, if not thousands of geese that rest overnight in the salt marsh.

geese in the dark

Geese in the Dark

Although they could be heard talking to one another in the darkness yesterday morning, by the time I arrived near their resting area today, the geese were just taking  flight.  The sound was amazingly loud as they flew above the trees.  I wondered what had startled them so early.

A flashing light soon became apparent on the trail ahead.  Hunters!  In a conservation area!  They had walked into the park using the trail and were dressed in waders.  Carrying guns, they explained that they were waiting for a boat to pick them up and take them to a spot that was beyond the park limits.  Hmmmm…

conservation area

 A light from a very quiet boat could be seen approaching the shore.  It had set out across the water from a launch area situated next to nearby Rainbow Haven Provincial Park.

Canada Goose by John James Audubon

Canada Goose by John James Audubon

The first time I walked along the salt marsh trail in the Peter McNab Kuhn Conservation Area, hunters shot down a duck that was retrieved by their dog right next to the trail.  It was Thanksgiving Monday and not quite what I was expecting from a walk in the park.  From the trail, I could see hunters in camouflage gear lying low behind their blinds on a nearby island.  The area had probably been used for years by hunters who entered the area by boat and weren’t aware of the area’s new park status.

These days however, all hunters should be aware of park limits.  Regardless of how delectable a goose might be for Christmas dinner, somehow it just doesn’t seem right to be using a park trail to bring hunting gear into an area in order to stalk geese before first light.  Knowing the goose was hunted in that manner would certainly leave a bad taste in my mouth.

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mooseA lonely moose is all that remains of several sculptures of large animals that once stood overlooking Silver Sands beach.  He’s fairly well known in this neck of the woods and beyond.  I first heard of him when I was still living in British Columbia, on the other side of the continent.

Many people wonder why we have a bull moose instead of a cow in Cow Bay.  The ‘Cow’ in Cow Bay actually comes from the name of Robert Cowie, who once owned much of the land in the area.

I’ve never seen a moose in Nova Scotia, though I have seen one standing in a bog on the side of a road in Quebec.  They are amazingly large creatures.  Vehicle collisions with moose are often deadly for both the animal and driver.  Caution must be exercised while driving at dusk and dawn through wooded areas where they are known to roam.

cow bay moose

Moose hunting licenses in Nova Scotia are awarded through lotteries.  This past year, only 336 tags were awarded out of 10,000 tickets purchased.  Many non-hunters purchase tickets in order to tie up tags, which has lead to quite a kerffufle in the hunting community.

Swedes are the most enthusiastic hunters of moose in the world.  The moose population in Sweden reaches over 300,000 during the summer months.  Each fall, both men and women legally hunt and kill a third of that number of moose.  That is a lot of moose meat. 

Years ago, when one of my nephews visited from Ontario, I took him out towards Silver Sands beach early one foggy evening.  Since his side of the family are keen deer and moose hunters, I knew he’d be more than a little excited when I told him there was a moose that was sometimes spotted in the area.  His sharp eyes were the first to spot it in the mist…

Photo credits:  Jeremiah Bell

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Here comes Peter Cottontail,
Hopping down the bunny trail…
A hippity hop and a hippity hop,
And he’s on his way…

thesnare

There’s an art to setting a snare.  The key is to set it along a bunny trail.  No need for bait.   The rabbit or hare is simply captured as it hops along its regular path in the woods. 

Over the years I’ve come across several snares set up in the woods by trappers.  Many were cleverly arranged with branches that would prevent an unsuspecting hare from going anywhere but through the snare while travelling along the trail.  

Though snaring is illegal in many countries, Snowshoe Hares can be snared in Nova Scotia from November 1st to the last day of February.  Much snow falls during this time, making both animal and human tracks visible for some time afterwards.  It always bothered me when I’d see snares that were set before a snowfall, show no evidence of human activity anywhere nearby for long periods of time after the snow was on the ground. 

The cruelty was not in setting the snare (though many would consider this practice cruel enough), but in not checking it regularly once it was set.  If a snare isn’t frequently checked, some poor creature (not necessarily a hare) could die a slow painful death once caught.  Hopefully all snares will have long been removed from the woods by the time Peter Cottontail sets out on the bunny trail this year.

I hear a sudden cry of pain!
There is a rabbit in a snare:
Now I hear the cry again,
But I cannot tell from where.

But I cannot tell from where
He is calling out for aid!
Crying on the frightened air,
Making everything afraid!

Making everything afraid!
Wrinkling up his little face!
And he cries again for aid;
– and I cannot find the place!

And I cannot find the place
Where his paw is in the snare!
Little One! Oh, Little One!
I am searching everywhere!

~ The Snare by James Stephens 1882-1950

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