Monday, December 31, 2018

2018-END OF YEAR REVIEW

 
As 2018 comes to a close, I was reflecting back on what was different from recent years in the outdoor world in the Grand Lake area and I was struck by how little things had changed. In some instances, that was a good thing. In other areas, not so much.
   The year started off with what I thought was one of the best ice fishing seasons in years. After just one thaw early in the year, there was lots of ice and good weather right through to the end of the season in late March. I spent a lot of days on the ice and I had great luck fishing chain pickerel near home and occasionally at the Key Hole on Grand Lake. I usually don't bother going all the way to Indian, French, or Maquapit Lakes simply because there is great fishing closer to home. A lack of snow fall made for some easy travelling and I didn't even bother with a shack just because the weather was good and I had the luxury of being able to pick my days. Here is a video from last season. I thought this fish was a lot bigger than it was. Just excited, I guess!


The biggest pickerel we got this past year through the ice was one my son Curtis caught. It was 24 inches on the board. We released that fish to be caught another day. Here is a photo of that fish.

 If fishermen practice hook and release, the fishing stays good all season. On smaller bodies of water such as the ponds and coves on Salmon River, the catching goes south very early in the season if fishermen keep too many pickerel. I hear the arguments every year. Oh, the limit is ten pickerel. I only kept six. Well, if you keep six and the other ten guys that fished that day kept six or more, that adds up to over sixty fish out of one small area. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what the fishing is going to be like in a very short time. We have seen this exact scenario being played out over the last few years and it's really frustrating. If any fisherman takes more than two pickerel a day, you are either a moron or a pig. Please don't be either of these!

    The 2018 New Brunswick salmon season was nothing short of disastrous. I don't believe in sugar coating any of my reports and this is how I see the past season. The spring, summer and fall fisheries were all plagued by a shortage of fish and terrible weather conditions. How could that possibly add up to even decent fishing? If DFO doesn't get a handle on what's happening with this fishery, we may well be seeing this great sport in it's death throes. Striped bass are having a huge impact on smolt survival. Global warming is also having a negative impact on our cold water species. One bright spot is Greenland agreeing to be bought off to cease their annual rape of our fish off of their coast. This will allow more large spawners to return to their home waters. Hopefully, we will soon turn a corner on this issue before all is lost.

Striped bass have exploded in both numbers and popularity and last season was another fabulous one on the lower Miramichi River and the Gulf coast. With numbers approaching one million fish, sportsmen pursuing this species had lots to cheer about. We had very good fishing every time we were out and reports were positive right across the province, Most of the tidal rivers had good runs and as I've already said, the Miramichi had tremendous numbers. Too many really. Steps are being taken to reduce their numbers such as increasing the daily limit to three and allowing natives to have a limited commercial fishery. These are good steps but lets hope the pendulum doesn't swing too far the other way. One fault of DFO is their slow response to changing conditions. Keep a close eye on this situation.Here is a video clip of my buddy Jake Doherty landing a fish on the Miramichi River. We both got a limit of fish in the upper slot bracket. A bonus of this species is their delicious table fare. This next photo shows my three fish limit for the day.

Native brook trout on inland waters continue to do well but sea trout on the Miramichi and her tributaries have taken a huge drop. The Cains River run failed to appear and many fear it may be lost. Stripers are the most logical problem but the annual trout derby in Redbank is seeing a lot of trout being taken out of the system each year. This could be hurting the population to some extent. Hopefully, as the high striped bass numbers are being addressed we will see our sea trout numbers rebound. Keep your fingers crossed on this issue.

Our black bear numbers remain stable for now and success rates remain high for non-residents. The fall hunt is usually a little more unpredictable but if you start early and  have a consistent baiting regime, good results are almost guaranteed. One of the biggest problems at our deer sites is keeping bears off of our bait. Bears will push deer off of a bait because they have a habit of staying right on the bait and the deer will just find other feeding areas. Sometimes this situation takes a positive turn when a nice boar shows up like this one did. It's hard to get pissed when this happens!
We have a two bear limit in New Brunswick right now and I can't say I am a fan of this situation as it stands. I think the hunt would have been much better if the season was split with one bear in the spring and one in the fall. This would have benefited the outfitting industry and controlled the population in a more fitting fashion by reducing the number of bears shot recklessly just because of hunters knowing they can get another tag if the first bear is too small for their liking. Perhaps DNR will see how a change to the hunt such as I've suggested would benefit all concerned in the near future. Time will tell.

Moose numbers remain steady over much of the province but there is cause for concern. This years hunt was held during a period of excellent weather. Cool days and frosty nights made for great calling conditions and many nice bulls were taken in all areas of the province except for the extreme south. Kill numbers were up slightly in the north but down a bit more in the southern half to give a slight decrease in the kill overall. I find this concerting because the weather conditions were near perfect yet there was an overall decrease in the kill. This tells me that the moose population has slipped in the southern half of the province and this fact has been borne out by our sightings during our travels in our hunting zones in the central part of the province. Hopefully. DNR will make the necessary adjustments to address this fact when allotting tag numbers for the southern zones for next year. Here is a photo of a tremendous bull taken in one of the northern zones.
This bull had 26 points and a 63 inch spread. 

If there is one place where New Brunswick's  DNR has failed miserably in it's mandate as managers of wildlife, it is in the care (or lack of) our poor deer herd. How bad is it? It's that bad that the DNR/government won't even release the kill numbers in the same calendar year! This past season was also the first one I can remember where we had snow that stayed for most of the season. This should have optimized the kill numbers but that didn't happen. This situation borders on being criminal and I don't make that statement in jest. I'm being serious. New Brunswick's former deer biologist quit in disgust and pointed the finger squarely at the culprits who are to blame. Still,. government refuses  to act on any recommendations put forth by their own people and the wildlife federation. To act in this fashion is unconscionable. I'm not going to point fingers. I don't have to. The cat is out of the bag. Every deer hunter in this province knows what the problem is and who bears the blame. Things had better change soon or there are going to be a lot of old style politicians standing on the side lines twiddling their thumbs while their newer, younger comrades are seizing the day. We seen the beginning of this scenario being played out in our last election. The status quo will no longer suffice and sportsmen across the province are exercising the power of their vote. I say good for them! It's about time!
     We had a grand total of eighteen deer registered at our local station this past season. I can remember when we had successive kill numbers of over one hundred deer just out of the Harley Road area back in the 80's. What a sad state of affairs! Brooke was the only one in our group to take a deer although we had some misses and close encounters. Here is a photo of Brooke's buck taken a few days into the season.

I hope this post doesn't come across too negatively because I am an optimist by nature. I think things can and will be better in the future if we all work hard and remain vigilant in our care for our wildlife. This should be a labour of love for all sportsmen in our beautiful province and I truly believe we are up to the task.
I want to wish all my readers a Happy New Year from our crew here at home on Salmon River and we hope to see you in the coming year!

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

Sunday, November 25, 2018

DEER HUNT 2018

    The 2018 deer hunt in New Brunswick got off to a roaring start that included something not seen in years. We had snow during the first week and that snow stayed on the ground in the northern half of the province for the first two weeks of the season. Temperatures stayed on the cool side with many nights below freezing. Deer hunters took full advantage of the weather and hit the woods in droves. Social media has been showing several nice bucks taken so far and again this year, lady hunters have taken their share.
    I started writing this piece weeks ago but my computer died and I had to get set up again. For someone who is challenged in that department,it's easier said than done. I had a lot of photos on my other hard drive so I had to gather up a few I had left on my cameras. I'll continue to edit this post as I gain access to the saved material on the old hard drive.
    As I was saying, every year more and more ladies are participating in New Brunswick's annual deer hunt and many of them are having good success. Jamies girlfriend, Brooke, took a nice buck early in the first week. This was Brookes second buck since she started hunting a few years ago. This buck had good mass and was a nice, solid New Brunswick buck
 Wes wanted to get his picture taken with Brooke because he got quite a kick out of her getting the first deer in our crowd (and what would turn out to be the only deer).
 This next lady is no stranger to white-tail hunters in New Brunswick. Over the last few years her big bucks have been appearing on a regular basis,usually early in the season. Once again, Sonia G. of Fredericton tagged out early in the hunt after taking another big buck. That's three in as many years that I know of. I guess that's why her husband calls her "the Queen of white-tail hunters" in New Brunswick! Here is her 2018 buck.
 This next lady hunter took a real brute of a buck. Look at the mass on that rack!
 This young lady also took a real nice mature buck.
 This next lady took her first deer that just happened to be a big 10 pt.
 Here is another lady hunter with a nice mature New Brunswick buck
 Finally, this young lady took her first buck which had 8 pts. and dressed out at 160 lbs. That's a 2.5 year old deer. This highlights the potential of the bucks in our white-tail herd. We just need more of them!
 Here is a photo of a buck that was weighed in at a big buck contest this past season. This beautiful buck further illustrates the terrific genetics in our deer herd and the potential to grow world class bucks. This buck weighed 135 lbs. dressed and was 1.5 years old.

 I want to congratulate a young lady from southern N.B. who hunted hard to take her first bear during the fall bear season this year. Kelsey M. hunted hard this fall but was having a hard time getting any bears to hit consistently. There was an abundance of fall forage this year and that makes baiting fall bears a hit or miss proposition. She was starting to fear she wouldn't get it done before the season ended but after some good advice and a "never give up" attitude, she harvested her first bear and it was a beauty. Here is a photo of Kelsey with her bear.

 Although baiting fall bears can be erratic. we always get some nuisance bears at our deer baits. Dallas had an average bear stealing his bait at one spot A nice bear showed up at one of Jamies baits.and when a nice boar like him comes in,it's hard to say that's a bad thing! We'll be going after him next spring when our hunters from Germany arrive. Here are some photos of that bear.



 Ken, Jamie, Dallas and myself were all very busy this fall and we all spent a limited amount of time in the woods this deer season. Dallas fired at a dandy 10-12 point buck that was with two does but he never touched him. Jamie was chasing a nice 9 point he had on camera but couldn't lay eyes on him in the daytime. Jamie also passed on a couple of small bucks. Here is a photo of the buck Jamie was chasing this fall.
Kenny watched a spot on the Harley Road on and off for two weeks but couldn't catch a buck crossing. I had some small bucks coming in but I wasn't there. Here are a couple of small bucks that were on my camera.
 This little buck had spikes about a foot long.
 I also had a doe and a button buck at another location. I was surprised that I didn't have any bigger bucks at the two baits I had in that location because last year there was a couple of nice 6 and 8 pointers at these baits. 
    Preliminary figures indicate a slight decrease in the overall kill in the province in 2018. The numbers increased slightly in the south but the northern half experienced a sharp drop. This was enough to put the kill into the negative zone. What is disturbing about these numbers is the fact that there was snow present for pretty much the whole season in the northern half of New Brunswick. I can't recall a season like that in all my years of hunting. That being said, there was still some beautiful bucks killed this year in some parts of the province. The farm country around Sussex produced some real studs again this year and one bow kill during the gun season was outstanding. Here is a photo of that buck. 
 This buck should score high in the archery section of the New Brunswick Record Book.
As usual, I plucked some of the big bucks that stood out off of various groups on social media to include in this years deer hunt blog. This first buck was a heavy weight with 10 pts. and dressed out at 240 lbs.
 Here is a photo of a farm buck taken late in the season that has it all.
 This next buck also came from farm country in the southern half of the province.
   Please note that these bucks were all taken by NB residents from various locations around the province but primarily on private ground in the southern half of New Brunswick. 
In summation, it is evident that our deer herd is struggling to survive on Crown lands in New Brunswick. It's also quite clear that unless we change the way we manage our Crown lands, our deer numbers will remain low. I have written about what should be part of a recovery plan in the past and these suggestions have also been forwarded to the DNR. This was part of a survey conducted by DNR a few years ago. All that came out of it was a study of the herd to find out what everyone KNOWS is wrong. It's ridiculous to think in this day and age that professionals don't know what the problem is. The problem is mismanagement. Period. I will leave it up to my readers to figure out who is mismanaging our Crown lands to the detriment of deer and other species. 
Any recovery program must address the spraying of hardwoods on Crown lands This important food source provides much needed browse for deer.Conduct specialty cuts wherever feasible. Shrink the size of clear cuts  Implement food supplements such as planting clover on any open areas like log yards or clear trails. Plant cedar along all waterways to increase the buffer and provide food and shelter for deer. Finally,the coyote population must be kept in check, especially during the winter months when the herd is most vulnerable to these predators. These suggestions are doable and wouldn't necessarily be that costly. I feel strongly that if these suggestions were followed, we would see a dramatic increase in our deer numbers. I hope the will is there and these things come to pass in the near future. Our deer herd depends on it.

I didn't spend as much time in the deer woods as I wanted this year but I did get to spend some quality time with my youngest grandson,Jack Now, Jack is nine years old and has been fishing with pretty good success for a couple of years. When hunting season came around this fall. he asked me to take him deer hinting. I said I would but I explained to him that hunting wasn't like fishing. I knew he thought that nearly every time you go out,there's shots fired and game killed. I also think he thought maybe he might even get a chance to fire the gun if all went well. I told him right off that his hunting education would be an on-going journey and not to get ahead of himself. His reply was "I'm nearly ten years old!". I said "I know." Kids always try to get ahead of themselves and I was determined if he wanted to hunt, he'd have to get the basics down first. We went out a few times and I think he was starting to understand where I was coming from. We had a great time! He says he's all ready for next year and I promised him there might be a little more action next year. He gave me the thumbs up so he's all in! Here is a short video clip I made of Jack during one of our hunts last fall. Jack wanted me to say that he also saw some moose tracks and a nice flock of turkeys, just for the record. OK Jack.

Our ice fishing season is just around the corner and we will be out there as soon as we get some good ice. We have good success on pickerel and perch in a few different locations. The Grand Lake system is huge and underutilized but we've been fishing it for decades and I like to think we have some great spots and killer techniques. Please contact me if any anglers would like to fish with us this winter. Please note that any ice fishing trips are subject to weather conditions. Safety first always!

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


Thursday, October 4, 2018

GOODBYE SUMMER......HELLO FALL!

 
Temperatures have finally started to moderate here at home on Salmon River and for most folks that's a good thing. This summer was quite dry and hot and as we ease into fall we are finally starting to get some rain and cooler nights.
    You know it's hot when even the pickerel refuse to bite and that's exactly what happened this August. Normally, we have great fishing for pickerel later in the summer but this year it was just too hot for too long. That's not to say we didn't get any fish. What I'm getting at is instead of having days of 15-20 fish, we were catching less fish, more like 6-12. I'll admit that even catching numbers like that is still pretty good fishing. It's enough to keep things interesting and keep the most ardent fishermen from getting fevered up! Pickerel fishing at this time of the year in low water conditions is something everyone should experience at least once. These fish are really aggressive this time of the year and many times the fisherman can see the fish moving quickly on the lure and quite literally parting the water in their effort to connect with the lure. I've seen more than one good fisherman strike prematurely during that initial rush instead of hesitating for a few seconds before striking. As I've said, it's pretty exciting. One particular day comes to mind as I write this. I took long time salmon guide Malcolm McCormick out for a half day of pickerel fishing a few years ago. Now old Malcolm had guided for fifty years or so on the Miramichi and Cains Rivers and had caught and landed countless salmon and grilse. By the end of the day, he told me that catching pickerel was as much fun as catching a grilse. He got quite a kick out of the savage attack of the pickerel when he got a strike. It was the first and only time old Mac ever fished for pickerel before he passed away a few years ago. Here are a couple of photos of Mac landing two of several pickerel that day.
 I liked old Malcolm and learned a thing or two about salmon fishing from him during the short time I knew him. If any reader would like to hear more about old Mac McCormick, just click on this link http://hargroveandbauer.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-bite-hunt-and-vintage-outdoor-stuff.html .

    I managed to get out a few more times with my good friend Jake Doherty before the season ended and we landed a few nice fish like this one.
 Jakes pickerel was taken near Salmon Harbour. This area has been producing some nice fish this year along with a couple of species we don't see very often. Here is a photo of me with a fish I landed late this summer.
Smallmouth bass are starting to show up in numbers as well as the odd striper. These fish are being caught while fishing for other species and I'm sure we will see more of these fish as the sport  continues to grow in our area. Here is a photo of Adam M. with a nice smallmouth he took this summer while fishing the harbour area.
 Adam also caught a small striper earlier in the year at the same location. A friend of mine who rents out his cottage on Grand Lake told me his guests were catching schoolies right off the dock. This is great news for the Grand Lake area and our fishery is only going to grow as we move forward into the future. Jemseg has been producing some nice stripers over the last few weeks. Fishermen seem to be having the best luck after dark while fishing live eels and mackerel. Here is a photo of a nice one caught last week by Captain George Palmer at 4:00AM. This striper was 37 in. and over 20 lbs. Nice fish Captain!

    I wish I could be as positive about the state of the salmon fishery but unfortunately there isn't a lot of good news to report. The only place that seems to be getting any fishing is in the lower part of the main Southwest Miramichi River. This part of the river always fishes better during years of low water and there are reports of some fresh fish coming in on the tides but many fear it is too little and too late for decent fishing up river and on the Cains. Salmon fishing has experienced a serious decline in recent years and some drastic measures must be taken or all could be lost. It has happened before. Just look at what happened to the Saint John River and other Bay of Fundy Rivers. I always look forward to fishing the Cains River in the fall but I don't think it will happen this year unless we get some water before the season ends on Oct.15th.

Our waterfowl season is well under way and Dallas and Jamie set up for geese on Parkhills Bar on the first day. They only got four geese and said that another group hunting across the river from them had about the same shooting. I don't believe in inflating numbers when it comes to hunting and fishing and our area is experiencing poor waterfowling this year. Ducks and geese must have water and the drought this year moved most of the birds in our area out to the big water around Grand Lake. If we can get some water,we may get some decent shooting for migrating northerns as the season progresses.
    There are good numbers of grouse in our area and one of our government agencies is looking for hunters to turn in hearts from birch and spruce grouse for examination to see if any Lyme disease is present. There are some woodcock around but drought conditions have made local birds a little scarce. Hunters will be looking for migrating birds as the season progresses this month.

Another moose season is in the books and although we didn't have any tags this year, we always have fun seeing how our friends and folks from away make out during their hunt. This years hunt had cool weather and a full moon which provided excellent conditions for hunting New Brunswicks' largest big game animal. The overall kill was down 8% and the registration station for our area in Chipman was down 15%. That being said, there were still some great bulls killed in our area and in the northern zones, in particular.  Here is a photo of one of the largest bulls taken this year. This trophy moose was killed by a hunter in one of New Brunswicks northern zones. It had 26 points and was 63 inches wide. That's a monster!
 This next bull was taken in Kent County which is a little closer to home. This moose had a very distinctive rack with a beautiful colour
 Last but certainly not least is another great bull harvested this season in the northern part of the province. This trophy bull had a spread of 58.5 inches.

These bulls are representative of the top tier bulls taken each year in New Brunswick. The quality of the trophy bulls taken here in New Brunswick is undeniable.
    The biggest bull registered at our station was killed by Martin Beers in zone 13 near Salmon River. Estimated weight of this old warrior was 920 lbs. His rack had 11 scorable points with boards rounded off considerably. it was felt that this old bull was going downhill but it was still a great trophy. No photo for this one but he's here on the scoreboard at number 3.
 This next shot shows the results of the 2018 New Brunswick moose hunt.
 Another banner year for moose hunters here at home and right across the province.Lets hope this trend continues into the future.

Ken and I have started setting up our deer stands and we are seeing signs that our herd is growing a bit. The southern end of Grand Lake has a thriving deer herd but access is difficult. We have been setting up on Crown land near these expanding herds with good results..As usual, bears are hard to keep off of our deer baits but we take it all in stride. Many times we find trophy sized bears at our deer baits and it's hard to consider that a bad thing. Our area is crawling with bears and it's just a fact of life you are going to get some at sites set up in archery season. Later in the deer season, the bears are starting to den and the problem isn't so severe. I will have some trail cam photos of some of the animals we will be hunting in my next post. Please check previous posts for photos of some of the quality animals we have in our area.
   I want to wish my Canadian readers a Happy Thanksgiving and if any Sport would like to hunt or fish with us, please contact me through the channels provided.

This is Dale Bauer saying " Happy Trails to You.....Until we Meet Again! ".
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2018-END OF YEAR REVIEW

  As 2018 comes to a close, I was reflecting back on what was different from recent years in the outdoor world in the Grand Lake area and ...