Late fall turned into early winter yesterday. I can’t beleive the difference in the last 8-15 days (since the start of the hunt and the end of canadian Thanksgiving).
Some snow started last night and the morning ground is crisp with frost. I’m back to where I’ve spent most of my watches this week on Wolf Road. Waiting.
We’re down to 12 men now – we’ll be at 10 by nightfall. The meat was taken to the butcher today (ironic since the temperature is now plenty enough to hold it but we had to honour our appointment).
You can’t bring game to just any butcher – our laws and regulations are far too prohibitive. A butcher has to clear it’s shop of all domestic meat, clean, process the game, empty it out of their shop and clean again. This can be especially difficult as a balance of regular customers and a flood of animals are balanced (regular customers have to shop elsewhere during processing and cannot buy meat from wild game as its sale is illegal in Ontario).
Our butcher – a new one to us in the last few years is an oddity in that he disects the entire animal with only the aid of a knife. He does not use saws or other such technology. I can’t imagine the skill involved in preparing our meals like this.
we’ve also decided to have some sausage done (I beleive) this year. It’s been years since I’ve had moose sausage and it’s an exciting promise. The meat is mixed with about 30% pork (mostly fat) to create a rich taste of the hunt. This also makes moose a breakfast option and it’s nice to have the variety.
Another hunter just made a moose call – this represents the start of the hunt. Time to watch. And listen.
First run is over. Holding ground – doggers are walking a circle (about 4 kilometers) to start the hunt again from a different angle. Waiting.
Run hasn’t started. Still holding. Cold.
3 moose are appraently in play. A dogger has seen signs early on. This bodes well – there won’t be 3 cows together so there is lkely at least 1 elidgible animal near. It’s very early in the run though.
Doggers start. Waiting.
2 of 3 doggers are out – we will wait for the third before heading back to camp for warmth and soup. I’ll have a different outfit on this afternoon, it’s been a bitter morning.
Back on the watch – out for 2 runs and dressed for winter. Raining. Waiting.
15 minute reset. here we go again, waiting.
I was out until dark fell once again. Though I haven’t written about most of my evening hunts, I have been out each and every night this week until near dark. I tend to jump on the ATV and go for a ride through the woods on the off chance I will see something. I also like to keep an eye on who is in the forest these days (in terms of other camps and road hunters).
The early week was great for evening hunts. I nearly froze solid last evening and I thought I was going to be washed away tonight. I drove almost 40 kilometers on an ATV in the cold rain this evening with little to show from it. My gear will have to hang for a long time in the sauna to dry for the morrow.
Rain is tough to hunt in for those who wear glasses (myself included). You run out of dry material to clear your glasses very quickly and impaired vision is a definitive hinderance. Rain also fills the woods with sounds and hearing anything becomes a very difficult task. Of course it also has a nasty side effect of erasing any footprints. If all of that were not bad enough, many animals also hunker down and don’t like to move about in the rain. Unless you are tracking through the woods (of which I don’t nearly have the talent), hunting in the rain calls for a lot of luck or a good team of doggers. Solo hunting on an ATV in the rain is akin to buying a lottery ticket – you know you will likely fail but have to play just to confirm that.
As I drove a certain section of road I noticed that 5 chickadees emerged from the forest and flew by my side for a few hundred feet. This little act was barely notable except for the fact that they have been coming out to greet me every time I pass this stretch of road. It’s happened 6 or 7 times this week at the same place. It is always the same number at the same spot and I assume that these are the same group. I’ve now been in these woods for 8 days and this is the type of observation and interaction that you can only make after staying in the woods for a solid chunk of time like this. I feel welcomed by them and glad to be part of their week.
I called home on my way back to camp. It was a brief chat – tough to talk for too long when one is virtually swimming in the early dark and cold of winter’s start.
We laughed at ourselves toady – if people knew how often we simply sat still in the rain and/or cold I think they would calculate that we are daft. I’m pretty sure they’d be right. Time to relax with the guys, have a few beer and warm back up – tomorrow is the first Saturday hunt in a long time.