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Monthly Archives: February 2019

ID the Morel – Spring’s Best Mushroom

When the spring gobbler season and shed hunting is in full swing, you’ll probably spending a lot of time in the woods looking at the ground for antlers and turkey sign. Something else you ought to be on the lookout for is a weird little pitted thing that looks like a small, lumpy, brown brain. This time of year, that organism is most likely a common morel mushroom, a popular item of spring foragers. Here’s how to properly identify this delectable fungus.

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ID a Morel
The common morel (Morchella esculenta) is a prized wild mushroom that grows in forests and shady areas, primarily in April and May. These mushrooms are usually 2 to 4 inches tall. The tan, gray, or brownish colored head with irregular pitting is well camouflaged against leaf litter. If you cut the mushroom completely in half, it should be entirely hollow inside. Look carefully for the cone-shaped head to be fully fused to the stalk at the lower end.

mush2If the head is only attached at the top, and hangs like a skirt, you are probably looking at a false morel, which can be very poisonous. False morels (the genera Verpa and Gyromitra) usually grow in the summer and fall, which are great times to avoid anything resembling a morel. Another way to properly ID an edible morel is to make a spore print, which, for a common morel is yellowish. Here’s how do that.

Make a Spore Print
1. Handle your foraged mushrooms carefully, and assume that any unidentified mushroom is deadly. Get the whole thing if possible, but the cap is the part you need for spore prints.

2. Wrap each individual mushroom in wax paper or a piece of aluminum foil for transport. Plastic bags will make them sweat, and putting multiple mushrooms in a bag can create confusion.

3. Place the mushroom cap gills-down on a piece of white paper and set a cup or bowl over it. Allow it to sit several hours or, better yet, overnight.

4. Remove the cover and lift the mushroom cap. Observe the color of the spores that were deposited, and use that color for identification. Some mushrooms deposit white spores, which are hard to see on the white paper. Set a strong flashlight beside the paper, shining across the surface, to assist in your identification of pure white spores. Check this color against several guides, and double-check the mushroom’s structures against similar mushrooms to ensure that you have the right mushroom ID.

How is the morel hunting in your area so far this spring? Have you ever had a bad run-in with a misidentified mushroom?

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Bargain vs. Premium Ammo

You get what you pay for. That’s an adage we generally believe in. But does it hold up with respect to ammunition? We set out to answer that question by testing the accuracy of a variety of value-priced .308 hunting ammo against more costly stuff.

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Methodology
Using three .308 rifles in the test—one hunting rig and two precision rifles that we knew would be ringers.

We put a number of budget and premium loads through all three rifles over the course of one day, ensuring the results wouldn’t be influenced by different environmental conditions. We also used a standard 5-shot-group protocol, and shot two groups with each load at 100 yards. As a control to establish a baseline level of accuracy for each rifle, we also shot 5-shot groups using Federal’s Gold Medal load with 175-grain Sierra BTHPs.

Using the baseline match load to calculate a ratio for each hunting load by dividing the size of the hunting-load groups into the size of the match-load groups. The closer to 1 that ratio is, the better the hunting load performed. None of the hunting loads outshot the match load, so all these ratios were greater than one.

Results
The outcome was interesting. The best hunting ammo was Hornady’s American Whitetail 150-grain Interlock SP. Compared to the baseline groups with the match ammo, this budget-priced load ($19.29 for a box of 20) shot nearly as well as the match ammo in all three rifles and had an impressive 1.41 average ratio. Federal’s Fusion, another bargain ammo ($21.49 for a box of 20) was second best among the loads, with an average ratio of 2.02.

The only expensive load that delivered consistent performance in all three rifles was Federal’s 165-grain Trophy Bonded Tip ($34.49 per box), The two Winchester loads had nearly identical levels of performance, though again, the less expensive 180-grain BST (2.11 ratio average) outshot the more expensive 150-gr. XP3 (2.81 ratio average).

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It’s worth noting when purchasing premium ammo that the promise of greater accuracy is certainly implied because it uses better quality components, but that much of its benefit is based on the idea that it will perform better on game.

Conclusion
It pays to try different loads in several different bullet weights in your rifles. Investing money to find an accurate load is the cheapest way to get the most from your rig.

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Black Bear Hunting – SIT Until Dark

We hear tales of bear hunters not sitting until dark and instead stand in time to get back to camp before it gets too late. CRAZY!

Just like in most types of hunting, “just before dark” is usually the best time for the mature animals to arrive. Sometimes the big ones will be there well before dark, but usually the last 30 minutes of legal shooting light is the best. Carry a flashlight; the bear usually won’t eat you. They are just as afraid of you after dark as they are in the daylight.

sunset bear

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Hi Bear!

wolf2Nathan was unsure of what to expect when he arrived at Wawang Lake.  He knew first hand that we produce nice bear as his father-in-law Randy had taken one the year before.  Randy had planned his return visit as soon as he landed his bear and knew he just had to bring Nathan.

Nathan had a very eventful first night with plenty of action….from the wolves!  As he returned to camp the first night, he was so excited to tell us that he was ‘almost eaten by a wolf!’.  As he sat his stand, there was a full wolf symphony surrounding him and echoing in the trees.  At the last minute, he caught a flash of white from the corner of his eye and caught the tail end of a wolf leaving his bait site.

On the second day of their hunt Nathan got his bear.  A nice 175 lb black bear and very credible with beautiful black/blue cape and all.174
While waiting for the others in his group to come by to pick him up Nathan amused himself by walking out to the road to see what he could see, when suddenly he saw a HUGE black bear walking right towards him.  Quickly thinking, he made himself bigger by raising his arms above his head and yelled ‘Hi Bear!!”, however, his voice cracked from anxiety and came out in a high-pitched, girly, squeal instead .  Just as the bear veered and went into the bush Nathan turned around and noticed a couple more bear walking out from the other side of the road towards his bait site but these ones paid him no mind.

bear (2)It was beginning to get dark and Nathan started walking towards the junction where he was to meet up with his hunt party, he turned and shuddered – ANOTHER BEAR and this one was glaring right at him from out of the brush just behind where he stood.  The hairs on the back of his neck stood right up as again Nathan said in a high pitched voice while waving his arms high above his head, ‘Hi bear!!’ hoping to scare it off.   The bear disappeared back into the dark abyss of the shadowing timber.

After seeing numerous bear all around he abuptly went into a hunting stance, now alert as he pointed and aimed his bow, swinging in all directions – getting ready for the attack.  It didn’t happen and at that very same moment the truck drove up as Nathan sighed in relief – it was a welcome sight.

It was a tense moment there for a while, one we’re sure Nathan will never forget and that he’ll repeat over and over for years to come of his encounter with multiple bear during his first black bear hunt at Wawang Lake.

The truth is the bear were only interested in the bait site and the alluring, delicious smells it was emitting.  It goes to show just how active our baits really are, and, Nathan got to see first hand when we say our baits have multiple bear on the baits – we’re not stretching the truth – not one bit!
multiple bear

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Tips On How to Shoot Fast

by David E. Petzal

How_to_Shoot_Fast

The sign of a first-rate intelligence, said F. Scott Fitzgerald, is the ability to hold two conflicting ideas in the mind and still function. So it is with fast rifle work. Riflery is a sport of deliberation and precision, but the demands of the real world very often make deliberation and precision impossible. Gunsite Academy sums it up to a T: “A good fast shot is better than a slow perfect shot because you won’t get time for the perfect shot.”

What follows is about shooting quickly after you have positively identified your target. It’s not about blazing away at sounds or snap-shooting at what you think is an animal.

Develop Your Mental Clock
The first step in shooting fast has nothing to do with shooting. It involves learning how much time you have to shoot, and whether you have to shoot fast at all. Much of this can be acquired by watching critters and reading their body language. A whitetail aware of evil nearby does not act like a whitetail whose greatest worry is where he’ll find a date that evening. An animal that’s 400 yards away does not act at all like the animal right under your tree stand.

On occasion, I’ve given the hunters with me heart failure because I waited and waited for a critter to move just a little bit to give me the exact shot I wanted. And I always got it because I knew that animals never stand still, and I knew that whatever I was about to drop the hammer on had no idea anything was amiss.

Eschew Perfection
Unlike shot gunners, who send out hundreds of pellets with every pull of the trigger and are happy if one or two of them get the job done, riflemen have it dinned into them that they have to be precise. It’s not enough to get a bullet in the 10-ring; you want to get it in the X-ring. If you’re shooting groups, you want to shave off every tenth of an inch you possibly can. And the way you do this is by being deliberate and getting everything perfect before you pop a cap.

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This is exactly the opposite of how a good game shot operates. Animals have not evolved with 10-rings or X-rings. What they have are hearts and lungs, and a hit anywhere in either counts. Modern hunting bullets are so destructive that catching a distant corner of a lung will result in as certain a kill as a shot right through the middle of said organ.

Don’t Forget to Aim

On the other hand, you still have to aim. Many misses occur because hunters panic, get the crosshairs somewhere in what they think is the general vicinity of the beast, and yank the trigger. (The closer the critter, the more this seems to happen.) A little while back I listened to a Wyoming outfitter recounting in disbelief how a client, resting his rifle on shooting sticks, had managed to shoot an elk in the buttocks at 60 yards. “How do you hit an 800-pound animal in the ass at 60 yards?” he asked me, still indignant. (He tracked the poor creature for two days and eventually lost it.)

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The answer is simple. When the moment comes, most hunters can only think: “OMG, this is the only chance I’m going to get!” Everything else, such as the fundamentals of riflery, goes right out of their heads.

Furthermore, too many hunters don’t practice. For them, the mechanics of mounting the gun, acquiring the sight picture, and pulling the trigger are about as familiar as those of piloting a space capsule.

What to Do?

I can’t tell you how to acquire cold blood. Jerry Fisher, the great custom gun maker, once told me that after you take about 300 head of big game you calm down. That sounds about right.

Short of that, the way to learn to shoot fast is roughly this: First, know your animal. There is no shortage of game-critter anatomical charts that you can study. Know where the lungs are. That’s always the percentage shot.

Second, when it comes time to shoot for real, envision an aiming point on the beast and hold for that. And the nanosecond the cross hairs are even close to it—not precisely on it—shoot. Fast, good shots, remember?

To practice shooting fast, you need a .22 rifle and a whole bunch of NRA 50-Yard Slow Fire Pistol targets. These have an 8-inch bull that’s just about the size of an animal’s boiler room. Set your scope at its lowest power and, at 20 yards, fire a five-shot string, lowering the gun from your shoulder between shots. What you’re trying to do is get that round off the instant the cross hairs are anywhere in the bull’s-eye. If the bullet hits in the bull, it counts. If it doesn’t, you missed.

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It takes me about 1.7 seconds to mount the rifle, aim, and get the shot off. Since my skill with a gun is legendary, bordering on mythical, this is a good time for you to try to match. When you can get all five rounds in the black, every time, back up 5 yards. Eventually you will be shooting from 100 yards, and if you can put 20 out of 20 shots into the bull at that distance, shooting fast, I will buy you a cigar. Or you can buy me one for telling you this stuff.

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HOW SCENT ACTUALLY WORKS

scent2Scent is a mysterious  and often grossly misunderstood aspect amongst those who not only pursue game with hounds or other hunting dog breeds, but all hunters in general.

Scent is simply comprised of micro parti­cles of disturbed vegetable matter and/or released dead body cells drifting from the targeted subject. Vegetable matter can be crushed plant material or even minute surface dwelling bio-material living upon hard surfaces like concrete or rock.  Dead body cells consist of drifting dead skin, fur or feather cells eventually falling to the ground.  This may also include fluids, oils and vapors the body expels.

How long does a scent trail last?  That depends on given environmental conditions. The trail won ‘t exist very long if it has been hot and windy over dry surfaces.  In contrast, it will sur­vive much longer in cool, moist conditions upon grassy areas with no wind exposure.

Here are some Myths about scenting:

1.
“Animals can’t smell me when I apply scent-free products like special soaps, sprays or even wear scent free clothing.’   If you are liv­ing and breathing, you are giving off scent.  Although these products may lessen the scent intensity from your person, a Bloodhound can find you in the woods within minutes.  It is impossible for any human to be scent free.

2.
“Hounds can’t run a scent trail in the rain.”  Scent parti­cles tend to be hydrophilic, meaning they readily soak up moisture and create an effluvium of scent for the canine olfactory system.  Hounds have successfully found humans and animals in the pounding rain.  Any good hunting breed should be able to trail game in light to moder­ate rain.

3.
“My dog sometimes ground scents and other times he air scents.”  I suppose if your dog’s nose is on the ground, you can call that ground scenting and if it’s in the air, you can call that air scenting. Is it called water scenting if he sniffs a running creek or tree scenting if he barks up a tree?  Scent is scent!

imagesY2AQPWJMThe canine’s nose is attracted to the strongest scent source available at that moment during trailing.  The canine has thousands more scent receptors than humans. A roaming nose is a hunting nose; let it be.

If you want to see how your dog scents, ignite a brightly colored smoke bomb outdoors with plenty of room to observe and follow the pock­ etc. of floating smoke. Watch how clouds of smoke slowly break apart, climb high into tree tops, sink down into ravines or just lazily snake over the high grass. Wind, atmospheric pressure, humidity, temperature, etc. ….all affect the smoke as it does with scent. That is why your trailing dog runs, stops, circles around, runs again ….. Let him work it out without interference from you. Scenting is his world, not yours.

You can improve your game scent trailing by taking advantage of the best environmental conditions available, as well as staying away from proven scent killers, i.e…..hot and dry surfaces, vehicle exhaust fumes or petroleum products. Trying to scent a hound on a fresh track next to a chugging hunting rig is like us trying to smell a rose over a smoky camp fire.

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As much as we now know about scent, there is still plenty of scientific work to be done. As a hunter, you must understand how scent works whether you use a canine partner or not.  Whether hunting birds or bear, scent is always there.

Keep the wind on your face, the sun to your back and hunt like a predator!

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DUI & Other Offences

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