Monday, November 12, 2007

Back from the hunt

I'm back. From deer hunting.

(Fair warning: long post about deer hunting. If you morally object to hunting skip this one. My next post will be about zucchini [don't know if that is better or worse].)

My father-in-law told me that his hunting group needed a couple more people to go deer hunting with them this year as they were getting a little low on young blood. I got Friday off and we headed up to Lake Memesagamesing Thursday.

I was very excited but also very nervous. I didn’t grow up with people that hunted and I always envisioned them being crazy rednecks. I’m not really a “man’s man”, if you know what I mean. I also don’t do all that well around blood. Way out of my comfort zone.

I bought all of the gear I needed which really only consisted of clothing of the orange variety. Fluorescent orange toque and jacket, plus insulated rubber boots. Add a compass to that and a couple of things you should always have with you in the woods (matches, knife...) and I was ready to go.

Quick explanation for those who don't know how this works (I was in this category until Friday)

The group hunts from about 8:30 until 4:00 each day, doing 4 or 5 runs each day. A run consists of two groups of people: the watchers and the doggers. The watchers line up in a row and wait. The doggers walk or boat short distance (500-1000m) away and start walking to the watchers, barking occasionally. Yes, I said barking. The point is to scare the deer to the watcher line at which point the watchers will hopefully shoot one.

At this point you've probably realized that the watchers need to have guns, but the doggers don't. I don't have a gun. I ended up dogging every run. That's somewhere between 7 and 10 km of walking each day, through the bush, half the time without a trail. Noon the first day I started to hurt and the hurt lasted right until the end. I am out of shape.

We hunted Friday and Saturday. We got a deer on the last run of the first day. The run was on Burnt Island; the doggers making a line across the island and the watchers on the shore or in a boat. We accidentally let a deer get behind the line so we had to double back and then go forward again, walking the length of the island about 2.5 times. I was so tired after that run that I couldn't move. I just sat down and watched the deer being cleaned (no photos posted of that - you're welcome). I don't know if it was the fresh air or the fact that I was dead tired, but I watched the whole thing without getting queasy.

The second day was more and less eventful. Less because we didn't get a deer even though we walked a lot more than day 1. It was more eventful because I found a dog. In the bush. I crested a little hill and there was this little female beagle, just sitting there with one paw in the air. I tried to feed her but she wouldn't eat. I tried to get her to follow me, but she would do that either. She was close to skin and bones and I couldn’t just leave her there, so I put her on my shoulders like I would a lamb and dogged that last ¾ of the run with a 30 lb dog on my back.

We tied her up at the boat and continued hunting. At the end of the day we brought her back to the cottage with us. She belongs to a hunting group just up the road from where we were. The guys figure that she took off after a deer or rabbit and couldn’t find her way back. I’m just glad I found her and brought her back (even though I got a bit of ribbing for carrying a dog through the bush).

After each day, everyone from the hunt, plus their spouses and kids, plus others from the group of cottages all gather somewhere for drinks and food. Here the stories come out about great hunts, getting lost, or someone's folly. Everyone was ultra-friendly and made me feel right at home.

The guys who hunt Memesagamesing are a great bunch of guys. They accepted me without hesitation. I got my fair share of teasing for not having a gun and for rescuing the dog, but it was all without malice.

There is tonnes more to talk about, but I'm sure I've bored you long enough.

So I’m back. I didn’t get lost in the woods (not a huge concern) and I didn’t faint at the sight of a deer being gutted (a big concern). And I’m thinking of getting my firearms license and a doe tag and going up again next year.

(FYI: this is my 100th post)


Tim said...

I would say that's a pretty good synopsis of the hunt. You did forget the part about cooking sandwiches over the campfire at lunch though... But, it was great to have you out! I will need to take a look at the rest of your pics though!


Michael S said...

I have fired a shotgun exactly one time in my life. As it happens it was at a zucchini. It was four meters away and I missed.

rescuechick said...

what a great guy you are for getting that beagle!