Author Archive

Ice fishing just around the corner

- December 18th, 2014

My December Outdoors Guy column is out today in the  Pembroke Daily Observer.

Check it out online:

http://www.thedailyobserver.ca/2014/12/17/column-safety-first-when-ice-fishing-this-winter

 

Safety first when ice fishing this winter

Jeff Morrison, the Daily Observer's newest columnist, offers up his take on the great outdoors.

Jeff Morrison, the Daily Observer’s newest columnist, offers up his take on the great outdoors.

With ice-fishing season just around the corner, winter anglers are being reminded that safety always comes first when you’re out on the ice! Ice-angling enthusiasts who venture out on the hard top this month should advise friends and loved ones where they will be fishing and when they plan to return. Appropriate clothing and equipment are also vital to safety and comfort. Some winter anglers prefer to wear survival suits and carry a set of ice picks, while others go so far as driving modified ice vehicles with all the doors removed, in case of a plunge. Remember that ice does not freeze at a uniform thickness across most lakes and rivers; especially at the start of the winter season when near-shore ice is always thicker than ice further out. Before you hit the hard top this winter in search of your favorite game-fish, consider registering your hut.

The Pembroke MNR wishes to advise anglers that, not only is ice hut registration a requirement by law, it goes a long way in preventing wayward huts later in the season. Abandoned huts which end-up in waterways after the thaw create havoc for boaters and early season fishermen. For improved visibility, registration numbers on all huts should be at least 2 1/2″ inches in height. You do not need to register tent-style huts made of cloth or synthetic material, provided the base measurement is less than seven square metres(75.4 square feet) To register your hut in Pembroke District, please call the ministry office:613-732-3661 or e-mail Darwin Rosien: darwin.rosien@ontario.ca .

Testing, testing - The Lacrosse Alphaburly Pro Side-Zip hunting boots I field-tested this fall prove the great quality I have come to expect from a manufacturer who’s been in the boot business since 1897. The new Side-Zips are solid and form-fitting and no doubt the result of millions of miles of field-research. Featuring a new rubber compound and a full-length zipper, the new Side-Zips are much more flexible then some previous models and easier to get on and off. Lacrosse has also swapped-out the old fleece lining for an embossed neoprene liner for improved air circulation to keep your feet dry and comfortable. Dampness was my one beef with my old Alphaburly boots, but this model had addressed that concern. The standard adjustable neoprene gusset also helps stability and accommodates different calf sizes. The new Contoured Ankle-Fit design controls heel slippage, which can result in foot blistering after long hours of usage, something that can throw a wrench into a good day in the woods. I found the new Alphaburly Pro Side-Zips to be solid and comfortable and the improvementswell-received; perfect for any moose or deer season. For more information, contact Lacrosse Footwear at 1 (800)323-2668or online: http://www.lacrossefootwear.com.

Farewell to Whitetail Guru – This week the Ottawa Valley lost the ultimate steward of the woods with the passing of my old friend Rick Poulin, of Barrhaven. You may have had the pleasure of meeting Rick at one of the local Sportsmen shows. He was an accomplished taxidermist, avid hunter and conservationist and knew just about everything there was to know about white-tailed deer. Those of you who’ve followed my articles over the years, will know who Rick is since much of my early career I owe to this quiet man from Barrhaven, who was featured in more than 100 of my articles over the years. The Whitetail Guru, as I dubbed him early-on, was not only the province’s foremost authority on record book whitetails and the Godfather of Friends for Recognition of Ontario Wildlife, (FROW) he was an amazingly artistic man, with a blessed appreciation of the Great Outdoors. The Valley and anyone who knew Rick is suffering a great loss. Thanks to a kindred spirit who’s memory will live-on.

Next time: In the next Outdoors Guy, I chat with one local ice hut operator regarding his outlook on the 2015 ice fishing season.

Rest in Peace Rick Poulin – Whitetail Guru

- December 14th, 2014

It is with heavy heart that I bid farewell to my old pal Richard Poulin, who yesterday lost his battle with cancer…

Rick was a very special guy indeed.

He was as avid a deer hunter as he was passionate about nature and conservation. A bird watcher, writer, accomplished taxidermist and friend.

The ‘Whitetail Guru’ as I dubbed him many years ago, was one of the first people I met when my now wife, and I, moved to Ottawa back in January, 1997. I had taken a beautiful 13-point trophy buck the fall before and, as I regular contributor of Rack: Adventures in Trophy Hunting magazine, I was told by my Editor that ‘Mr’ Poulin was the record book chairman for the P&Y, B&C and the BTR, so I promptly made arrangements to have my buck scored at Rick’s house in Barrhaven.

Upon being ushered by his wife Rose, into Rick’s basement (his shop as he called it) I realized instantly that this guy was a true-to-life Whitetail Guru. With several meticulously mounted deer heads on the wall and plenty of great stories to share, we instantly had something  in common! 

Rick and I hit it off right away, and that first scoring session translated into many more visits to his shop over the years.

The Whitetail Guru helped me research dozens of trophy bucks I could write stories about. Often the hunters met us at Rick’s house for a photo opp and other times Rick and I would scour through his record’s database for trophy animals. As the Ontario Chairman for FROW (Friends for the Recognition of Ontario Wildlife) Rick was THE hub of white-tailed deer activity for Ontario and, in my opinion, the province’s foremost authority on the subject.

Over the years, I featured the man in probably more than 100 magazine and newspaper articles. I had always secretly hoped that the exposure would help promote his taxidermy business.

But really and truly his work spoke for itself. Simply put, Canada Goose Taxidermy was magnificent.

I witnessed copious incredible works of art over the years: Deer, moose, small mammals, birds of prey and even family pets Rick had restored to such a natural looking state, you had to look twice to see if the creatures were actually alive.

The Whitetail Guru was always gracious with me, an up-and-coming young outdoor writer keen to feature as many great trophy animals in print as I could. I was conscious not to take-up too much of Rick’s time, since he always had a handful of taxidermy jobs ahead of him at any given time. It was what paid the bills, as he said, and he loved paying the bills this way.

As the year’s progressed and my spare-time grew shorter, I wasn’t able to make it to Rick’s house as often but we always kept in touch. I regularly chatted with him by email or here on my Blog, and he was a continuous source of valuable information and inspiration. The most knowledgeable wildlife man I ever knew and a former Museum curator to boot, not many people knew that.

This summer, with failing health, Rick chatted frankly about his cancer and told me he didn’t have a lot of time left. It made me sad to think how such an active and passionate guy had been reduced to pondering the few remaining days he had left.

“I hope to get at least one more hunting season-in” he told me, matter of factly, and I prayed that would happen. Then in November I followed up with Rick again crossing my fingers that his plan had come to fruition. 

I never heard back from him..and sensed the worst.

To me, the caliber of knowledge and depth of character Richard Poulin displayed was something to strive for in my outdoor career. A kindred spirit to be sure with an incredible sense of humor, and an eye for beauty. He was salt of the earth and will be deeply missed by family and friends.

To my old pal, may you pursue that magnificent, elusive and majestic white-tailed buck far into the fields and mountains of the great beyond…

Rest in peace Whitetail Guru and thanks for all you did for me over the years…I will never forget you.

Your friend,

Jeff

 

 

Canid conundrum continues

- December 11th, 2014

The following photos were taken around my hunt camp, near Mont Tremblant, Quebec, about 3 years ago showing what I believed at the time, to be images of an eastern wolf pursuing a whitetail deer.

But was it really a wolf? Could it have been a coyote-wolf hybrid?

Thanks to fishr for putting me on an episode of the Nature of Things with David Suzuki, where they featured the Coywolf, its biology, evolution and how their population continues to expand throughout North America.

http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes/meet-the-coywolf

It was pointed out that in Algonquin Park alone, 1/3 of the predators examined in a recent study turned out to be the hybrid Coywolf, while the bulk of animals captured were eastern coyotes and, to a lesser degree, the eastern wolf.

The theory is that eastern wolf eradication programs in the early 1900′s created a ‘predator void’ in central and eastern NA, whereby coyotes from the south moved northward to establish a new home range.

As these adaptable southern yotes arrived with few predators to speak of (besides man) and since most of the eastern wolves were gone(but not all), they managed to intermingle with the remaining few wolves in the region.

The eastern wolf began to perceive the eastern coyote as a mate instead of an enemy. Unlike the grey or timber wolf, the eastern wolf will tolerate the eastern coyote.

A distinct hybrid species – the coywolf – was born in 1919!

Not as large or robust as the eastern wolf, but larger and stockier than a typical eastern coyote.

Researchers in Nova Scotia maintain that the coywolf is actually dominating in numbers and growing more aggressive with time. Other researchers in big US Cities like Chicago are studying movements and growth of Urban coywolves.

So, who’s to say what the bulk of the predators are in this region? My guess is, we still have a mix of natural eastern coyotes, some coywolves, and just north of us in the upper valley and across the river, there remains a small number of eastern wolves as in the photos above.

I invite you all to send in your predator pics, so that we may dissect the crap out of them, and come up with a reasonable identity of the animal in question: (theoutdoorsguy@rogers.com)

Of the hundreds of predator images Ive taken around my house (within Ottawa City Limits) I see very few that fall into the ‘coywolf’ category based on what I now know.

Outdoorsguy

Autumn Escape to Lake George’s Great Escape Lodge!

- December 11th, 2014

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The view of the rustic-looking Six Flags – Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Water Park sign was the first thing I saw, as our SUV approached the family-friendly resort located  just outside of scenic Lake George, New York!

My 3-day mini vacation, in November, at the Great Escape Lodge  was just what I needed after a long grueling hunting season.

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The Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark is a 200-room family suite lodge featuring an incredible 38,000 square foot indoor water park with attractions designed to make every age group smile. And in my case, it was also be catering to my wife and daughters aged 12 & 14.

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From the moment I walked in to the rustically elegant Adirondack-inspired lobby, to the moment I checked-out, I felt pampered by all the great amenities this four-storey resort had to offer.

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For teens, there is Adventure Trek, an interactive gaming experience at the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge. Armed with magical wands, participants set out on an adventure to save the Great Escape Resort from the evil humdrums and sludge monster threatening to drive away the fun.

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And when the girls were out having fun, my wife and I enjoyed the surroundings and décor which, I am told, take their inspiration from the Adirondacks and historic Lake George resorts of days gone by.

The warmth of natural stone, wood and earth tones throughout the common rooms and family suites made me feel right at home, as if on another outdoor adventure.

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The hallways, gift shop, snack bar and even the restaurant were reminiscent of the many top hunting & fishing lodges I have visited over the years.

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The Family suites, like the one we stayed in, were comfortable and roomy, and maintain the Adirondack cabin theme nicely with framed nature images and well-appointed wood trim around every turn.

Each and every room in the Great Escape Lodge includes a refrigerator, microwave oven, coffee maker & coffee, sitting area, iron/ironing board and free Wi-Fi. (The kids loved that part!)

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There was something comforting about having a grizzly watch over our bed!

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The scenic mountain view out our window reminded me of back home in Quebec’s Laurentian mountains, which stands to reason since the Adirondacks are actually the US extension of those very same Canadian peaks. It is a little known fact!

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The Lodge’s indoor water park, aptly named White Water Bay, really is a destination on its own, and the millions of gallons of warm soothing water all around gave the sense of being at a lush tropical resort.

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My family and I spent lots of time exploring the many fun and relaxing activities of White Water Bay; including several twisty waterslides which make your heart race.

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Knee-boarding the surf anyone?

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The lazy river was more my speed. I must have gone around 5 dozen times or more, undoubtedly, with a smile on my face each and every time.

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This perfectly-sized waterpark offered a nice balance between, what I would call, younger kid attractions and older kid attractions. The upper portion is where the younger enthusiasts hang-out, while down below is more for teens and adults.

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We enjoyed both areas and my youngest daughter and I gave the waterslides a real run for their money!

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Conveniently located in the heart of New York’s Adirondack Mountains tourist region, the town of Lake George has plenty to offer in the way of restaurants and shopping as well! My wife and daughters discovered some great ‘Pre-Black Friday bargains at the nearby Outlets in Glens Falls, and in Saratoga Springs just a short ride down Highway 87.  I was in my culinary element with tasty meals to be had at my favourite two US restaurant chains - Golden Corral and Applebee’s.

All in all, my three days spent at the Great Escape Lodge were just what the Doctor ordered. Thanks to Rebecca Close and the Management and staff at this terrific family resort for ensuring we had a great time.

Lake George New York is beginning to feel like my new home away from home!

 

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For more information: http://www.sixflagsgreatescapelodge.com/ 

 

Outdoorsguy

Another Magical Kenauk Deer Hunt

- November 27th, 2014

November’s Outdoors Guy column is now out in print in the Pembroke Daily Observer, or available online for folks who dont live up the valley. Congratulations again to Jordan Durocher, winner of this year’s Great Outdoors Trivia Contest:

 http://www.thedailyobserver.ca/2014/11/24/another-magical-deer-hunt-in-montebello-que

 

Another magical deer hunt in Montebello, Que.

Deer hunting season may be deemed successful for a variety of reasons, ranging from a sagging meat pole to no meat pole at all.

My annual deer hunt to Kenauk Nature always brings with it a lot of emotion. The famous Montebello, Que. deer woods which was recently sold by Fairmont Hotels, is a hunter’s paradise with rolling hills, rugged terrain and majestic old growth forests. Climbing the peaks each autumn with my hunt gang in pursuit of a whitetail buck is always exciting, and this year was no exception. On one hand, I am in a paradise living a hunter’s dream of chasing whitetails in one of the most scenic woods in the region. Then on the other hand, my Kenauk trip marks the last kick at the hunting can for the year. Thank goodness for a lot of great trail cam images this fall as, sadly, most of antlers I saw were travelling at night after legal shooting hours.

Harvest’less hunt part of conservation

This deer season, unlike some previous ones, I was not presented with the opportunity to harvest a mature buck and that’s fine with me. It is why they call it hunting after all. Like last fall, however, I did have an opportunity of looking through my scope at a fat four-point buck which, as nice a deer as it is, was still shy of Kenauk’s six-point minimum. Not that I would have taken this young buck anyway and I trust other hunters also keep conservation in mind these days. The idea of allowing lessor bucks the chance the mature and disseminate their progeny is a ‘growing’ trend; especially as deer herds continues to rebuild in Western Quebec and Eastern Ontario. I do not personally need freezer meat so badly that I would pluck a smaller animal from the gene pool before its prime. Perhaps next year I will have the opportunity to harvest a nice whitetail but until then, I am left with the satisfaction of another fulfilling hunt. Thanks to Bill Nowell, Lynda Melanson and Celyne Fortin of Kenauk Nature for facilitating yet another trip to this little slice of heaven. To experience wilderness at its best with top notch accommodations, check out: http://kenauk.com/ For more information on deer hunting across the river a short drive from the Valley, contact Quebec’s Ministry of Tourism at 1-877-266-56871-877-266-5687.

Safety first

This time of year with some hunters still on the go, outdoor enthusiasts are reminded to be vigilant and take the necessary safety precautions. Remember that hunter orange of a minimum 400 square inches is required and for Ontario residents, a hunter orange cap as well. Be sure to keep your firearms and ammunition separated and locked away when not in use and never shoot unless absolutely sure of your target and beyond. It is illegal to shoot from a vehicle or carry a loaded firearm in or on a vehicle, and remember that any hunter who harvests a deer must immediately attach the game seal. A safe hunt is a happy hunt and a careless accident can turn a wonderful day in the woods into tragedy.

Contest winner

Congratulations to Jordan Durocher of Pembroke – winner of this year’s Great Outdoors Trivia Contest. Jordan was the first person to correctly answer all three trivia questions and will receive a generous hunting scent gift package courtesy of Terry Rohm of Tinks. Thanks to everyone who participated this year.

Next time

Check out next month’s Outdoors Guy column for another product field test, highlights from this year’s deer season and your Valley ice-fishing primer! Drop me a line anytime with your hunting and fishing news or stories: theoutdoorsguy@rogers.com.