Sunday, November 29, 2015

2015 DEER SEASON--HELP WANTED!

    This fall has been warmer than usual here at home on Salmon River and this seems to be turning into a trend. There has been a shift in weather patterns and it has been quite noticeable during this past deer season. Usually, the last week of the season sees freezing temperatures and at least a skiff of snow but not this year. A lack of cold temperatures and no snow seems to have stalled the rut and the bucks were just starting to move towards the end of the season. This makes taking a mature buck much more difficult because about the only time they let their guard down is when they are rutting heavy and get running around. They will stay in a nocturnal pattern and remain cautious until the does start to come in heat. Only then will they break their routine and start travelling outside their comfort zone. This is the time when most deer hunters want to be in the woods. Big buck hunters know this is the best chance to get that old Monarch of the woods and they try to take their hunting time to coincide with the rut. But that's hard to do if the weather isn't co-operating.
     I didn't kill a deer again this year. I make no apologies or excuses because I have basically made a conscious decision not to do so. I haven't been happy with the deer situation in New Brunswick for a few years now and I haven't got the time or energy to pursue big bucks that just aren't there. I decided to check out all my old haunts from past seasons to see if things were really as bad as everyone was saying. Most older deer hunters have places in their hunting territory where they have had success in past seasons and I wanted to check as many of my good spots as I could to make sure I got the true picture of the state of our deer herd, at least in my area. I made my rounds to as many of the hotspots that I knew and I was shocked by the lack of sign. Some places were nearly devoid of deer while the very best spots had a few smaller deer but very few decent bucks. I figured if I covered enough ground I would find some good deer sign but the Big Woods deer are gone from the Crown land around Grand Lake. I finally found some deer in a place that most people don't equate with being good deer habitat, in the mud dumps or mine tailings that surround Grand Lake. In my youth, these lifeless moonscapes wouldn't support a rabbit or even a squirrel but forty years later things had changed...considerably. Lots of grasses and clover with a good cross-section of hardwoods for feed and enough mature woods and planted conifers to provide cover. That spells deer to me and I started seeing tracks immediately. It was then that the irony of this situation really struck home to me. Finding deer in the last place you would really expect to find deer. But was it? It was at that moment that I realized I had seen a destroyed piece of real estate naturally revert back to a life sustaining ecosystem that had an abundance of wildlife. Including deer.
    For those of you who have never seen the mud dumps created from open pit mining,let me assure you it's not a pretty sight. Many people don't realize that parts of Salmon Harbour, Grand Lake and some of it's tributaries were dug right to the water! This went on for around sixty years or more and some places were even dug more than once. I grew up in this environment, being raised in Minto, so I never thought much about hunting there but I did have a buddy who did quite well trapping the many ponds throughout the area. One thing I did notice was the older digs from the earlier years had actually reverted back to mature forest with an under-story of moss in the low spots and shrubs and grasses in the higher spots. All this growing on a series of small hills or mounds that a billy goat couldn't travel on. That was the way things were done in the early years. In later years, the ground was supposed to be leveled and either planted or seeded down and any viable ponds were stocked with trout for recreational fishing. The ponds were stocked for a few years and some new diggings were leveled but there is still a lot of work to be done in that area. But those areas that did receive some assistance turned out very nice. These are also the spots that held the most deer. It was a very pleasant surprise that changed my outlook on the future prospects for New Brunswicks' deer herd. If the coal mine tailings of Grand Lake can heal itself then clearcuts should be a joke to fix. I'll talk more about this subject later but here are a couple of photos of the area I hunted this fall.
 

    The deer season in New Brunswick wasn't a complete bust but it was one of the worst on record. Any hunter who took a deer this year likely worked hard to get it. In times like these luck isn't much of a factor. Hunters took 4,313 deer this season (preliminary figures) compared to 6935 taken last year. That's quite a drop in the number of deer killed this year.

    Jamie got a nice little buck again this year and I know he put a lot of time and work into his hunt. Jamie found the deer but Kenny helped him pinpoint the buck and set up a new stand on a ridge line the buck was running. When the buck stepped out Jamie was ready and dropped him in his tracks, Here is a photo of his buck.
 Jamie knows how to get the job done and is very good in the woods. His many kills at a young age proves this out. Good job Jamie!
    Randy-Micheal took a young buck with his bow. This was his second buck with a bow.
 
    I was pleasantly surprised at the number of successful lady hunters this season. This photo shows a young lady with her first buck.
 
    This six point buck was also taken by a young lady hunter.
    
 The next photo shows another lady hunter with a beautiful 8 point buck she took this fall. This older lady was hunting with her boyfriend in the Riley Brook area.

 The next photo shows yet another lady hunter with a big buck that dressed out at 250 lbs.
 This young lady hunter took her buck with a .223
 Sonia G. took a beautiful 8 point buck on the first day of the season and got this nice photo in the field.

 Each year I see more and more women participating in the annual deer hunt and that can only be a good thing for this sport. I hope this trend continues into the future. 
    One of the bigger bucks killed this year was taken in the Riley Brook area. This grey faced old Monarch sported a 16 point rack. The hunter had found the sheds the year before and set up for him this fall. Luck and perseverance culminated
in the hunter putting this buck on the ground.
 This next photo shows a big 9 point that dressed out at 275 lbs.
 This 9 point buck with a nice heavy rack went over 200 lbs. dressed
 This buck has a nice 8 point rack and dressed out at 210 lbs.
 
The next photo is of a buck that was only a six point because it had no brow tines. It was a heavyweight though, coming in at 230 lbs dressed.
 
The next buck has a 9 point rack and dressed out at 210 lbs.
 
The next photo shows a proud hunter with a nice buck sporting a 10 point rack that dressed out at 199 lbs.
 
This next buck has a very distinctive set of antlers with good mass that comes around in a basket shape.
 
The next photo shows a big 12 point buck that was taken in the second week of the 2015 season.
 This photo shows a big, heavy racked 16 pointer that dressed out at 254 lbs. This buck was taken in zone 3 in northern New Brunswick.
 
Another heavy weight buck coming in at 270 lbs. dressed on the scale.
 
This big 10 point buck dressed out at 200 lbs.
 The next photo shows a nice 9 point buck that dressed out at 210 lbs.
  This buck dressed out at 205 lbs.

 Finally, this last photo shows Jason Curtis of   Blackville with a nice 8 point buck he got near the end of the season. Jason had quite a year this year. Not only did he get a nice buck under tough conditions but he was inducted into the Atlantic Salmon Hall of Fame earlier this year. Jason comes from a long line of Miramichi/Cains River guides and outdoorsmen and he's certainly living up to that tradition. Congratulations Jason on having a great year!
 



    I'd also like to congratulate all successful deer hunters this year. It was pretty hard going in New Brunswicks deer woods this season and hard work and perseverance paid off for some deer hunters.

    As you can tell from these photos, there are still some nice bucks running around New Brunswick's forests. Unfortunately, their numbers are getting very low. We are now at the critical stage and this is the time to act. I am confident that if all the players can act in unison, our deer herd can rebound in numbers quickly. This doesn't have to be difficult or expensive but all users of Crown forests must make a contribution. Since the biggest players are the forestry companies they should be the biggest contributors. What can they do without hurting their bottom line too much? (1) Stop spraying defoliant and herbicide so there will be an increase in food supply. (2) Plant cedar in the first 100 meters along all buffers. No loss in wood fiber and provides winter food and shelter. If they did nothing else, this small contribution would be a tremendous help. Hunters would contribute money through licence purchases and funds raised through Fish and Wildlife organizations. Trust Fund monies could be used to plant clover patches and for other ROW enhancement projects. Finally, put a bounty on coyotes. They kill a lot of deer and they aren't going away. Controlling their numbers has to be part of a recovery program. There, that didn't hurt too much did it? 

PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT AND FORESTRY COMPANIES

          ARE YOU LISTENING?

 If not,then be prepared for disgruntled voters and citizens. New Brunswick's 50,000 hunters have their backs against the wall and change is in the wind. I can feel it.

    I will continue with part two of my report on this years deer hunt in next months blog.

Until then, this is Dale Bauer saying "Happy Trails to You.....Until we Meet Again!"





Saturday, October 31, 2015

OCTOBER--A TIME FOR HARVEST

    The weather has been nice here at home on Salmon River after the deluge our province received a few weeks ago. This huge downpour raised the Miramichi River in the Blackville area over twenty feet. No, that isn't a typo error. That is a LOT of water! Salmon River only raised twelve feet so I guess we were lucky in that regard. Many salmon fishermen were thinking the worst but this big raise actually helped the salmon in their migration to their spawning grounds. It also helped the salmon fishermen in their quest to hook one of these great gamefish if you were fishing in the right location. Because of the ideal water conditions, most of the salmon were pushing right on through to the upper reaches of their habitat. The MSW Miramichi and the Cains River both experienced good fishing in their middle and upper sections, especially the Miramichi. I started off fishing in the Doaktown area of the Miramichi but quickly switched over to the Cains River near the 123 highway bridge. These photos show an upstream and downstream view of one of my favorite pools in that stretch of the river. The first one shows the downstream view of the pool.
 The next photo shows the view looking back upstream.
I managed to land a grilse and rolled a couple of others. I also got some bumps from more fussy fish that I didn't hook. That's typical salmon fishing for you. One thing I like about fishing the Cains River in the fall is the fact that one invariable hooks some nice brook trout. I think I landed a half dozen in the ten to sixteen inch range. Unfortunately, I was fishing alone and didn't get any photos but the grilse I caught looked something like this one I landed a few years ago on the Cains.
 One group of fishermen that were fishing down river about eight miles said they had very good luck. Their group landed several fish including some large salmon in the twenty pound range. Fishermen who were fishing in the Boistown area and on up above the village in the Juniper area also experienced some very good fishing. This is all great news for the salmon and the fishermen who pursue this great gamefish. After the terrible season last year, many folks breathed a sigh of relief when the counters reported very good numbers of fish returning. It turned into a year that was more in line with multi year averages and that sure put a smile on a lot of faces, including mine.  

    Reports from the lower MSW Miramichi are saying the striper fishing has been very good the last few weeks and the retention period saw many anglers fishing from shore, wharves and boats with good success. A quota of one fish per day and one in possession has been allotted to fishermen who wish to keep their catch as long as it falls within the slot size which is between 50 and 65 cm. total length. Stripers are very tasty when filleted and baked or pan fried. Most fishermen advise removing the lateral line of red meat to get rid of the strong fishy taste. Choice of lures include light colored swim baits as well as cut bait. Be advised to use non-offset circle hooks when using bait. This photo shows Ken with a keeper he caught during the spring retention period.

    The grouse and woodcock hunting has been pretty good this fall and I must say I was pleasantly surprised considering the cold, late spring we had. Although most hunters prefer birch partridge over their close relative the spruce partridge, both types are quite tasty but the dark meat of the spruce variety is a little gamey if not prepared properly. Soaking overnight in salt water will help remove some of the strong flavor. This photo shows a young chick that shows absolutely no fear of humans.
 This little guy was safely returned to his mamma after the photo was taken. No harm done. Mother hen grouse can get pretty aggressive when you get around their chicks and will sometimes fly up in your face to move you away. This next photo shows some birds my buddy Shawn S. got last week.

I want to report a flock of wild turkeys in a field on the # 10 highway this evening [ 10/31 ]. I estimated there to be between fifty and sixty birds in this flock with several large toms in the mix. I didn't get a photo but was able to watch them from the highway very easily. Quite an impressive site!

The duck hunt up our way was pretty much a wash out because of the flood from the huge rainstorm we had at that time. Jamie and Dallas did make a day of it by travelling to the lower end of the Grand Lake system and managed to get a few ducks before the water started to rise and they had to pack it up. There has been a few northern Black ducks around and the locals have been taking a few.

The fall black bear hunt is coming to an end soon and there has been a few nice ones taken from orchards and from bait stations. We usually have bear tags on hand during the deer hunt while the bear season overlaps because bears can wreak havoc at stands set up for deer when using bait. A fall bear is such a glutton it will eat all the deer bait you can lug and they will keep deer away from your stand as long as they are around. Jamie had one bear that was being quite a nuisance at one of his deer stands so he decided to take him one night when he came in. This was a young bear but he had a nice blaze mark on his chest. Jamie, Dallas and the rest of the boys all like bear meat, especially a young fall bear, They all pitched in and they had it skinned and cut in no time. Here is a photo of that bear.
 As it stands, our bear numbers are high and stable at the moment but a two bear season is sure to change all that in the near future. Not only will we see a sharp reduction in overall numbers but the size and quality of animals taken will be less. I have said from the onset of this two bear season that it should have been divided into a spring and fall season. This would have encouraged more fall hunting and distribute the pressure more evenly over the spring and fall black bear hunts. Wildlife management in today's fast changing world is as much art as it is science. Managers must be able to see the implications of new laws and skewed bag limits before too much damage is done. The goal must always be to have game numbers suitable for the available habitat of each species. This may sound like an easy thing to do but in my experience it can be anything but. Take white-tailed deer for example.

    The white-tailed deer herd in our area is suffering. I refuse to sugar coat the predicament that our deer herd finds itself in. Our hunting grounds and the areas south of us experienced a thirty percent loss of their deer herd over the last two seasons. A lot of this can be attributed to bad weather but the bottom line is if they have food, they will survive....usually. Cutting down on coyote numbers certainly helps. Most of the deer in our area are holding their own in and around the villages of Chipman and Minto but the Big Woods that surround us are predominately softwood and better moose habitat now than deer. Don't get me wrong. There are still pockets of deer with some good bucks in the mix but they are concentrated in the best available habitat and that is the various drainage's of rivers and streams that feed the Grand Lake system.

    Just so my readers know it's not all doom and gloom when it comes to the deer hunt in New Brunswick, I have some photos of bucks bagged in the bow season and the early part of gun season. This first photo shows one of the nicer bucks taken with a bow this year.
 Randy-Michael also took a nice little buck this year with his bow. Randy knows I love deer meat and I told him this buck was going to be mighty tasty. I think this is Randy's second buck with a bow.
 This next photo is of a nice buck taken on the first day of this years gun season by Sonia G. This is a great buck and the photo does the story justice. I see more and more successful lady hunters over the past several years and it's great to see women enjoying this sport.
 This next photo was a big hit on social media and it says a lot about the hunting tradition in New Brunswick. This lady hunter was hunting in the Riley Brook area with her boyfriend when she tagged a nice eight point buck. Both hunters are seventy years of age. Congratulations
to both hunters and a great story. Note the open sights on the rifle. I killed my first deer in Riley Brook many years ago before it was heavily logged and it was beautiful deer country. Big hardwood ridges sloping down to dense cedar swails where bucks would hide out during daylight hours before running the ridges all night. This next photo shows a hunter with a nice buck taken during the first few days of the season. He also killed a coyote that was trailing his buck. Good job!
 These photos are of resident  hunters and the deer taken were from various spots around the province. These photos make no attempt on my part to promote or favor any particular part of New Brunswick for hunting deer. I include these photos as an overview of the deer season and for the interest of my readers. As you can tell from my posts,  New Brunswick  has an abundance of fish and game to pursue.

This is Dale Bauer saying" Happy Trails to You.....Until we Meet Again!"


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

FALL IS FINALLY HERE!

The end of summer provided us with some beautiful weather here at home on Salmon River and it seemed as if the sun shone every day. I appreciate all that nice weather but we needed a good rain and it's on it's way as I write this. The forecast is for about 100-150 mm. of rain over the next four days. That's quite a dump of rain in a short period of time but I think it will put our rivers right back to a good level for the fall. This is going to provide salmon fishermen on the Cains River and the MSW Miramichi with some terrific fishing to end a very good year for returning salmon.
    I was thinking about the changing weather patterns and how many times, nowadays, we get large dumps of precipitation over a short period of time. After seeing the latest forecast, it really struck home how things are changing. This is a photo I took four years ago of the maples on Moon Island in all their splendor.
 That photo was taken a full five days earlier than this one I just took today which is the twenty-ninth. 
 That's a pretty drastic difference in color. Summer really did stay longer this year. The leaves have barely started to change this year. It makes me wonder if this is a trend or just a normal aspect of a bigger pattern of weather events.

    The pickerel bite stayed good right up until the first day of fall. That's the last day I fished before I hung up my spin-cast for the year. I did well each time I went out, catching at least a half dozen fish between 18-24 inches. This is a photo of the biggest pickerel I caught this year. It was twenty-four and one quarter inches. Not my personal best but still a trophy pickerel. Here are a couple of photos of this years fish.
I really like the plastic measuring board put out by Frabill. You can get quick, accurate measurements of your fish that will help to keep you honest and help get the fish back in the water quicker.
 These fish were hard fighters because the water stayed cool and conditions were perfect for this species. Here are some more photos of fish we caught.
 

 The average size of the pickerel we catch would be around twenty inches. They will readily take a lure and give a good fight with light tackle. It's a great species to start young fishermen out on because they will usually co-operate by giving a good bite. This is a photo of me with a fish I got while out by myself one evening.
 I caught several nice fish that night and that was the pattern for most of the late season on Salmon River. I think this fish was the best one I got that night at twenty-three and a half inches. 
    We will be finishing off the fishing season with trips to the Miramichi and Cains rivers for fall salmon and it looks like the last two weeks will have lots of water throughout the province. 

    The Canada goose season started with a bang for my neighbor across the river. His fields are looked after by the local dairy farmer and the geese are regular visitors there. They will feed in his fields all day and then fly out to the bar in the river to spend the night. Rodney has been setting up for geese each fall for several years now and they have a good system worked out. Last numbers I heard was around forty birds for him and his shooters. I'm sure their hunt this year compared well to other years because they have had consistent shooting all along.
    A couple of other hunters who were hunting fields south of here, further down the river had some good luck one day. Randy-Michael L. and Cora B. were set up and watching flocks around them but they were staying just out of range. They sat tight and in the meantime while they were waiting for a flock to come in range, out comes a flock of turkeys! 
 They said the turkeys didn't bother the geese any and although they didn't mingle, they all shared the same dinner table and chowed right down. After a short time the turkeys moved on and the geese started milling around the field again in small groups and Randy and Cora were able to score on a few geese including Cora's first!

This photo shows Randy picking up a goose during their early season field hut. 
 Duck season is just around the corner and it should be a good season because there seems to be lots of birds around.

   The 2015 moose hunt was just completed and by most accounts it was a very good season. Although the afternoons were quite warm, the nights cooled off nicely and temperatures were into single digits. Most hunters said the moose were calling well but many times they were frustrated because the bull wouldn't leave the cow. If this happens, moving closer while grunting like a bull and thrashing the brush will sometimes bring him charging. This can be a nerve racking experience but it's quite a thrill also, if it ends well. There were some trophy bulls taken again this year with the bulk of them from the northern half of the province. We registered around seventy moose at the cache here in Chipman and that compares closely to last years total. Here is a photo of the first page registered when I stopped in at the half way point. 
 C. Shirley of Chipman had one of the first bulls registered as well as one of the biggest at 789 lbs. M. Jardine of Chipman brought in a twenty-two pointer that was bigger later on in to the season. There were fifty-three moose registered at the half way point. My neighbors group had three tags and filled all three. Another group from Minto who work at the local saw mill filled both of their tags in Salmon River. Here is a photo of one of the great bulls taken up north this season.
 That's one happy hunter right there! This next photo shows another great bull taken in the northern part of the province this year.
 Just one look at the bulls in these photo tells you that New Brunswick has some trophy sized bull moose walking around out there.  This next photo shows another trophy taken on the last morning of the season. This tremendous bull has twenty-seven points.
 
    The final tally for moose killed this season was 3728. This is 45 more moose than was killed last year. The southern zones had a decrease of sixteen percent less moose killed. This was offset by a similar increase in the northern zones. Another great year for moose hunters in New Brunswick.

    We just had a rare celestial event occur in our skies a few days ago. The "blood" moon was very visible in the skies around home and folks took advantage of this fact by getting some good shots of the moon as it was eclipsing. This photo shows the moon before the eclipse.
 The next photo shows the moon in full eclipse and in its "blood" stage.
 Brenda D. of Minto took some great shots of the event and I want to thank her for letting me use her photo,

    Since duck season starts tomorrow, I thought I would show my readers a couple of prints I picked up recently. The first one is entitled "Mallards Jumping". This print is dated 1953.
 The next one is a Canada goose print entitled "Canada geese. After a Squall". This print is also dated 1953 by Henry Holt & company, inc.

    I want to take this opportunity to wish all hunters a safe and successful 2015 season and remember to take a beginner, if you can find a likely candidate.
    This is Dale Bauer saying "Happy Trails to You.....Until we Meet Again!"

DEER SEASON 2017--A SMALL GAIN

    New Brunswick's deer season just ended a week ago and although the official numbers aren't out yet, preliminary numbers indicat...