Back from a few days of turkey hunting in the Ottawa area. Did not bag one. That’s hunting.
The turkeys were there. As expected, the general consensus by the people I talked to, was that turkey numbers were down from the year before. The hard winter in the Ottawa area was interpreted as one that was long, with lots of cold ( e.g., -30 C) and snow and without too many serious bouts of melting. Still, I saw turkeys over a wide area during my stay. Some white-tailed deer, too, although again, the consensus was that numbers were down.
The weather wasn’t bad for hunting, although conditions were only what I’d call ideal one morning. Bob and I called in what sounded like a big tom turkey from at least 500 m that morning. We talked with tom for well over an hour, but in the end the bird left without us ever having spotted him. We know what didn’t go our way, because hindsight is always perfect.
What I saw a lot of was geese. Tens of thousands of them. Maybe hundreds of thousands. Mostly Canada’s, but one day we also saw close to a thousand snows and blues. Licensed hunters have limited, but liberal harvest quotas only for snow/blue geese during the spring season, while Aboriginal and Metis hunters can hunt for both species without bag or possession limit restrictions. One morning we heard steady shotgun blasting for a few hours, which was later attributed to Aboriginal hunters who had obtained permission from a farmer to hunt on his property. Depending on the crop and other factors, geese in the numbers I saw certainly have the potential to do serious damage to crops.
Leaves hadn’t sprouted and only a few types of fields were green. Most of the landscape was various shades of yellow-brown, with some very dark brown to black patches that were exposed earthy fields. Apparently, widespread flooding had barely retreated, and farmers were just starting to be able to venture out on the land. Over the past few years, a lot of small woodlots had been converted to crop production, and this was reducing the suitability of some areas as turkey habitat. Woodlot removal impacts many species of wildlife, but may make fields even more attractive to species like geese.
Back at home, I wasn’t surprised to still see many patches of snow scattered throughout the forest, and there are still some sizable chunks of ice on the abandoned beaver pond in front of the house. A pair of Canada Geese are nesting on it, and it’s being used by mallards and other ducks. So far the ducks I’ve seen include about 10 different mallards, a few wood ducks and a single pair of green-wing teal, blue-winged teal and hooded merganser. It remains cold in the area, a pattern that appears to be widespread. There is still a lot of ice on the Great Lakes, especially Lake Superior. http://iceweb1.cis.ec.gc.ca/Prod20/page2.xhtml?CanID=11080&lang=en
Time to get serious about training our young Wachtelhund while watching and waiting for spring to unfold.