Monday, November 14, 2011

Canada Hunt 2011

My brother-in-law, Boone, and I went to Ontario Canada again this fall to hunt whitetail deer. From Moab, it was a 28 hour drive each way with 7 days in camp. We stayed at Silver Birch Camp north of Lake of the Woods. The camp has a main lodge and cabins with electricity and running water. But cell phones and the internet are non-existent (nice and quiet). The boreal forest is mostly tundra and moss with thick pine forests living on top of granite (there is little to no top soil anywhere). Where there is not forest, it is either one of thousands of lakes or flat marsh with clump grass and willows. Beavers create ponds and fill marshes with streams everywhere. The deer use the ridges to move about and bed, but they cut through the marshes along the willow edges and to cross from ridge to ridge. Last year, I did not have any experiences calling in deer (other than the one I shot), but this year, I called in deer almost every day and sometimes more than once per day. Last year, we were still figuring things out, but this year, we felt like everything went perfect. I ended up shooting a small 8-point after getting impatient on Thursday (after 5 days of hunting hard). Boone, though, shot a really nice 11 point buck on Thursday night in the last minute of shooting light. We were pretty stoked.
We crossed Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, (slipped into Minnesota for Cabela's), crossed the border into Manitoba, and then entered Ontario. The entire trip, I kept telling Boone when I was too hot or too cold in the truck, and he named me Goldilocks.
The day I was leaving to meet Boone, I was double-checking everything, and somehow my passport was out of my suitcase. I looked for 2 hours, but couldn't figure out where it had gone. I had put it into an inside pocket and zipped it closed. I went and picked Matthew up from the baby sitter, showed him Brandi's passport, and said, "Did you take this?" He went into his room and came back out with it. "I just liked reading it," he said. He had opened my luggage and dug it out just to read. After that heart attack, the trip went smooth from there.
In Minnesota at the Cabela's for last-minute supplies. Boone had to help me put my hat on correctly after this photo because I struggle.
Boone is basically a Chinese grizzly bear.
Looking svelte. We have now taken 3 deer from this marsh over the past 2 years between us. Some days were warm - in the 30s, and other days were really cold (probably in the teens or single digits with wind chill). It snowed two days and rained one day.
A night shot of Boone's 11 point buck. He spotted him in the last 5 minutes of light crossing the marsh about 300 yards off. He had hung a tree stand about 25 feet up in this pine tree on the marsh edge. I was at the base calling for him. He shot several times and inexplicably missed (probably from shivering in the cold up in the tree). He pulled a bullet out of the gun stock sleeve and yelled at me to "Stop him!" I grunted on my call really loud and the deer stopped right at the forest edge. Boone put him down with the single shot just as he was about to enter the forest. We tracked him in the dark and were totally excited to find such a good deer.
Thursday morning, Boone tried to 4-wheeler out through the marsh to meet me about a mile out but he got stuck in the swamp. We lifted the entire back end up and out and swung the whole thing around 180 degrees.
Trying to jump onto a beaver dam to cross a creek through the middle of the marsh I shot my buck in. It didn't work with 60 lbs of meat on my back, and I got soaked. You can see all five forms of the landscape in this photo: water, marsh, willows, pine forest, and granite (the granite cliffs are snow covered in the background.
I hiked out about 1.5 miles and onto a ridge. From the top of a 100 granite cliff overlooking a vast marsh, I called in two bucks at 9:00 am after 5 days of hard hunting. They wouldn't come out into the open from the willows across the marsh, but kept looking for the "fight" my rattling horns were making. This buck came in second and ran the first buck off. Thinking he was the dominant buck, seeing he had antlers through the willows, and hoping he was a good buck, I foolishly took the shot through the willows from 200 yards and put him down. Two hours later, Boone had joined me and we had hiked in to the buck. I was thoroughly disappointed to find such a small buck. However, I was glad to have game on the ground after so many days of hunting. I took his hide to have it tanned. We loaded up the meat, and packed it out the mile or so to Boone's stuck 4-wheeler. That night, Boone shot his buck.
Everything grows on granite, so the ridges will often have blown over trees. This one formed a "cave" from the tundra growing around it's base that came up with it.
A snow storm blew in one day and covered everything (my pack and gun are in this picture) in white.
Trying to stay warm. The hunt was amazing this year. We had the time of our lives. We laughed constantly, enjoyed Church on Sunday morning in Kenora, loved our cabin, learned a lot more about hunting and calling whitetails, and saw huge bucks and deer almost everyday. I can't wait to go back again.

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