Monday, January 29, 2018

THE BIG CHILL---THEN THE THAW!

Now that we are into the heart of our winter season here at home on Salmon River,I can only say that the weather has been a real roller coaster. Earlier in January, we had a prolonged period of 2-3 weeks of brutally cold weather with an accumulated snow pac of around two feet. The local deer herd was starting to struggle a bit and it was starting to look like it was going to be a rough winter this year for them. Then came the big thaw. A mid-winter thaw is something most Maritimers are accustomed to but this thaw was accompanied by a 40-50 mil. dump of rain that caused havoc throughout the province including the Grand Lake area. Flooding and power outages were widespread across the province. Most of the smaller brooks and streams overflowed their banks and the ice was running in the larger streams and rivers. The brook that runs beside my house washed out the Rt. 123 highway and is now under reconstruction. This has caused a detour once again to get into Chipman. It's a bit of a pain, especially after having detoured all summer but I guess Mother Nature is calling the shots in this instance.Here are a couple of photos of the flooding that occurred.
 I just chose random photos but most places in southern New Brunswick got the same mess.
    
    One blessing that came out of the big thaw was it took nearly all the snow away. This has given our deer herd a chance to rebound after the rigors of the rut and positive results are being seen in many areas, especially in the southern half of the province. Bucks that were run down after the rut have been able to put some weight back on and this will pay dividends later on towards spring. Here are a couple of photos of some deer in the Douglas Harbour area on Grand lake.
 There was three groups of 12-15 deer in each group and they all looked to be in good shape.
Another positive thing for the deer is the small amount of snow enables them to better avoid their number one predator, the coyote. I don't really like calling them a coyote because bush wolf would be a more appropriate name. These deer killers can get big. I pulled this photo from a trapping site just to show my readers what a 60+ lb. coyote looks like. If one happens to get the right genetic mix, they can get even bigger.
 A pack of coyotes this size can decimate a deer herd in one winter if they can get them when they yard up. I'm hoping as winter moves along,we won't get too much snow. If this happens, we will see a nice increase in our deer numbers here in the Grand Lake area.

The ice fishing fraternity has been out in full force this month. The first leg of the Tri-Lake Ice Fishing Tournament was held recently at the Key Hole. There was a pretty good turnout but I wasn't one of them. My son and I got down there and when I pulled the auger off of the truck I noticed the gas line was cut in two. We tried a quick fix but it didn't work so we headed back to Chipman and fixed the line properly. We then decided to go to plan B because it's an hour drive from home to the Key Hole and the tournament was already started. We headed to a nice honey hole near home and pounded down seven holes and rigged them all up with rods. Through the years, I have developed a system for ice fishing pickerel that works well for us. Live minnows are the best bait but they aren't always readily available.That's why we usually use cut bait but when doing so, you must use the right technique to stay in the running. I don't want to give too many secrets away but an absolute must is keeping the bait active.
From the reports I got, there wasn't any real big fish registered at the Key Hole but there was a few fish caught. A buddy of mine from Minto tied for first place with a 21.25 inch fish. I believe they caught ten pickerel in total.  He also registered a perch and catfish. Shaun was fishing with his daughter who was celebrating her birthday and from all reports, they had a great day on the ice. Here are some photos of their day at the Key Hole.


 Shaun S. is an avid fisherman on or off the ice and he usually has good success during his fishing trips. Well done Shaun!. The second and third legs of the tournament are coming up next month as well as the kids tournament at the Key Hole. This tournament is sponsored by the village of Minto and is very popular with the locals. Please check with the village of Minto web site for details.
    As I said earlier, the tournament was a wash for us but our backup plan worked out great.Here is a short video of us getting started in the morning.  

 After getting the holes dug and lines rigged, it didn't take long to start catching fish. I caught the first one which was also the smallest one of the day. It looked to be around 12 in. As the morning progressed, we caught fish at regular intervals and just before lunch Curt landed a nice one. It was 24 in. on the board and that's considered trophy size in these waters. Here is a short clip of Curt measuring his fish.
 We had a good lunch and took a short break to get warmed up a bit and then we hit the ice again. The fishing was good right up until we decided to quit for the day. They kept biting and we kept pulling them in. What a great way to spend a day with my son doing something we both love! Here is a photo of Curt with another 24 incher he caught later.
 I caught my share of fish too. Here is a photo of me with a smaller one.
 Curt had his dog there with us and he liked following us around when we checked the lines.
 Curt and I ended up landing 15 pickerel  in the 5-6 hours we fished. We only lost three at the hole. All of our fish were released except one smaller one that was bleeding from the gills and couldn't be revived. I'm a strong believer in hook and release and I'll talk a bit about that later in this post.

    The following week-end Curt was celebrating his birthday with a special friend who was visiting from Ontario. I last seen Anne when she was visiting during the past summer and we got her out fishing and she landed her first pickerel. It was a trophy sized one and I think she got hooked on pickerel right then. Curt asked her if she was interested in trying some ice fishing and she said she would love to. The temperatures were mild and with the weather co-operating, we set out for the day.
    We went back to the same location Curt and I had fished the previous week. After drilling seven holes in the same location as the previous week, we rigged up rods for each hole. We were catching fish before all the holes were rigged up! Here are some photos of me with some of the fish we caught.
 It turned out to be another busy day on the ice. The fish were coming at regular intervals and soon Anne caught her
first fish while ice fishing and it turned out to be the biggest of the day. Here is a photo of that fish.
 We didn't measure it but we estimated it to be around 22 inches. That's still a nice fish. Curt and Anne even had a double header at one point. You know the fishing is good if that happens! 
 The fishing was good right up until quitting time. We landed 10 fish and had a few more strikes. I was top rod for the day with 5. Anne landed 3 and Curt got 2. I think Curt was just giving us a chance because he was top rod the previous week with 8 fish to my 7 including two 24 inchers. That's good fishing on any body of water
    The popularity of ice fishing in the Grand Lake area is on the rise and it's a great family activity. Sometimes it's a couple of fishing buddies or it could be a small village set up for smelt. Years ago, there was a small community of up to fifty shacks set up near Goat Island on Grand Lake. For several years fishermen caught lots of rainbow smelt, whitefish and burbot. Gradually, the catches started to fall off and interest started to wane. Erratic weather patterns and lack of support in general caused the collapse of this yearly gathering. I think this year there is only one ice shack at Goat Island. I witnessed this as it happened and there are other fishermen who will attest to this fact. Grand Lake is the largest lake in New Brunswick. If  this lake can experience a decline in numbers then just think what happens in a small body of water or pond. Numbers of target fish can quickly become depleted especially with bigger fish that take longer to mature.One thing I  would like to mention is the fact that heavy stocking of land-locked salmon has occurred over the last few years and I'm sure this species will start turning up more in the future.
 I always like to tell the story of the retired gentleman from Bouctouche who used to come to Chipman and fish yellow perch. I would stop and chat him up whenever I seen him fishing and the first couple of years he had great success. Many times he took home his limit. I even wrote a blog entry about this guy showing him with half a 5 gallon pail of perch. As I said, everything was good until the third year and then the bottom fell right out of the fishing. After several trips to Chipman with poor catches, I caught up with him one afternoon as he was leaving. He said he was very puzzled as to why the fishing was so poor after successive seasons of great catches. He had several theories why this had occurred but over fishing wasn't one of them. He really didn't get it. This was an educated man who should have been able to figure it out but he didn't. That was the last time I talked to him. I find that situation really sad and that doesn't bode well for the overall health of our local fisheries. The fun is in catching them. Period. If they aren't there, you can't catch them. Do any of you think we would have caught ten pickerel the following week-end after catching fifteen the previous week-end if we hadn't released them? I can tell you right now we wouldn't have caught that many, maybe two or three. I apologize for the rant but this point must be emphasized. PLEASE PRACTICE HOOK AND RELEASE! 

    We are at the mid point of our New Brunswick winter and I want to remind any non-resident hunters that this is the time to put your name in for the moose draw. The entry dates are from Feb. 5 to April 30. http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/nr-rn/pdf/en/Wildlife/MooseNonResidentFactSheet.pdf Bear Hunters who want a guaranteed tag are urged to enter the upcoming draw which opened Jan.22 and runs to Feb. 28. http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/nr-rn/pdf/en/Wildlife/BearNonResFactSheet.pdf

I like to receive feed back so don't be shy. If anyone has any questions about booking a hunting or fishing trip with us just give me a buzz through the channels provided. We do it all and we have good success doing it. Just check out the blog entries from the last ten years. Time flies when you're having fun!

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













Wednesday, November 29, 2017

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 indicate a small increase in the  harvest this year. That would certainly make sense because we have had a couple of good winters that has allowed the herd to expand....a little. Successive good winters allows all age classes to better survive but usually fawns, yearlings and 2.5 yr. old deer reap the greatest benefit. A heavy snow pack during the winter has a negative effect on smaller deer on two fronts. They can't get food as easily and may be over browsed by the larger deer and they can't escape coyotes and cats if they are bogged down in snow. These two factors kill a lot of deer during a bad winter.
    In our hunting areas around Grand Lake on the Crown land we saw a slight increase in small racked "dink" bucks and does but the older deer with the big racks that most hunters are looking for were few and far between.. The older class deer that are left are very hard to pattern because they are covering a lot of ground these days. Many times these big boys are here one day and gone the next.. I didn't kill a deer again this year but Jamie bagged a young six pointer on the last week-end of the season. He hunted a big buck in Salmon River for most of the season but never laid eyes on him. That happens a lot these days. Jamie switched tactics and joined Kenny the last week-end for a hunt on private ground near Pioneer Lodge in Cumberland Bay. That proved to be a smart move. Here is a photo of Jamies 2017 buck.
 If anyone is wondering how Ken, Jamie and Dallas got their start in the outdoor life just take a look at this photo. Ol' Wes had these boys on the hunt as soon as they were big enough to buck some brush. As a matter of fact, Wes was known to put one of the boys in his knap sack and take them on a hunt BEFORE they could get around easily. This is how these guides got their start. Thanks Wes!.These boys turned out to be good woodsmen with your guidance.

      Jamie's uncle Kenny didn't tag a deer this year either but he helped a young local lad get his first buck. This kid was really pumped after getting his first deer and in this instance size DIDN'T matter. I think it's very important for young hunters to harvest game early on because it fires up that hunting instinct and that success spurs them on during future hunts. The same thing goes for fishing. Young people lose interest quickly but when they get that first rush of adrenaline they are usually hooked. This is a photo of Kyle Hay with his first buck. Well done Kyle!
 I should also mention that Kyle's step-dad, Derrick Bizeau, played a big part in his success. Make no mistake about it, this is how it all starts for these young hunters.
    Although Ken and I didn't kill a deer this year, we did have a few smaller bucks on our cameras. These young deer will be pretty decent bucks next year, if they survive. Here's a photo of one buck I was hunting this year that was harvested by Andy A. from the Minto area.
I don't know Andy personally but I do know his mothers side of the family quite well and they are all good woodsmen. This deer was killed on Crown land between Minto and Chipman. Good job Andy!
    I had a smaller buck on the camera that wasn't killed from the same area and he should be a pretty good buck next year.
 I don't mind seeing these smaller bucks around because I know if they can survive until the age of 3.5 years old, they will be nice bucks. Most deer of this age in New Brunswick will dress out between 160-180 lbs. and have a 8-10 point rack.. I'm using average figures here and there can be some variation either way. Jamie and Kenny  had a young buck with good potential on one of their cameras. This is going to be a nice deer next year.

 This deer is on private ground and very close to home.. We like seeing these bucks in our back yard. Our immediate area was known for holding big bucks back in the day but with the extensive logging over the last couple of decades, our area has suffered heavy losses in the deer herd. This isn't just a localized problem. It's province wide with the exception of some private land near the suburbs, predominantly in the southern half of  New Brunswick..This problem could be fixed relatively quickly with the right application of common sense and decency but the will to do so has to be there first. Only time will tell but I'm an optimist and I believe there are better days ahead for New Brunswick's deer herd.
    The private land around Grand Lake has long been a white-tail haven and there is still some good deer hunting to be had ,if you have access. There are some good bucks in these areas but the bulk of the deer hunting is done by local land owners. One young fellow I know from Grand lake has been having great success the last few seasons. Ryan Smith and his hunting buddies are co-operating and holding out for bigger bucks and it's paying off! Ryan has taken a nice buck the last two seasons and his buddies are doing well also. These guys are hunting hard and have a lot of time and equipment invested in their deer hunts but that's what it takes to harvest big bucks in New Brunswick today. This is a photo of Ryan's 8 point buck he took this year. It dressed out at 190 lbs.
 He took a similar deer last year. Both these deer are considered trophy sized bucks in our area by today's standards

 Here is a photo of one of Ryan's hunting buddies with the buck he got near Grand Lake on private ground.
 This big buck dressed out at 232 lbs. and won the camp contest. for heaviest weight. It sported a nice heavy 9 point rack. Well done boys! I think it's great to see these young hunters getting the job done on these local big bucks. The potential is here and with a little luck and determination, it can happen.
    Other parts of new Brunswick also seen some great bucks harvested in 2017. Parts of Miramichi and Woodstock in central N.B. had some nice bucks taken and in the south around Sussex and Saint John there were some really nice bucks killed this year. Here are a few photos of a huge buck taken in Sussex on private land by a young lady hunter. 


 That's about as good as it gets in New Brunswick but every year monsters such as this are still being taken. Congratulations to this young lady for taking a trophy of a life time. This next photo shows an old warrior from the northern part of the province that was killed this year also. This deer was taken near Edmonston.
 This buck had a very heavy rack with 17 points. It dressed out at 245 lbs. This is another example of the quality of our bucks if they can survive for a few years. Here is another photo of a big racked buck taken this year.by a lucky hunter  in New Brunswick.
 This buck not only has mass and tine length but also has a good spread with kicker points for character. Another great buck taken here in New Brunswick.
    
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate my old friend from my youth, Kevin Voutour, on taking an absolute monster buck this fall. Kevin and I grew up as neighbours in Minto and travelled together for years as kids and later on as young men. I remember Kevin running his trap line after school and on week-ends as much for the love of the woods as for the extra money he made on his line. He was mainly a water trapper but he wasn't limited just to those sets. I remember seeing one of his fur receipts from a few years ago and he put a pile of hurt on the local coyote population at that time. As we got older, we started hunting ducks at MacDonald's Meadows and running the big woods of  Salmon River in the old burnt lands at the mouth of Little Forks. Here is a photo of Kevin and I with a moose I got one year in that area. He will tell you that moose hunting is his "thing"but it's much more than that. Kevin doesn't miss anything in the woods. Trust me.

We also stayed at camps on Newcastle Stream and at the head of Gaspereau River. Wild as hawks and living for the hunt! I'll say it again, "There's no life like it!".Of course, we grew up and moved on but we always remained connected through mutual friends and casual meetings. Today, Kevin and I are getting a little long in the tooth and I suspect his recent trip to Saskatchewan  was a gift to himself for reaching that special milestone in life. Kevin has come full circle with this buck and it will be nearly impossible to top this trophy. Looks good on ya pal! You earned every inch of it! This is a photo of Kevin with his buck shortly after he killed it.
 This buck had a live weight of 302 lbs. and dressed out at 242 lbs. The outfitter didn't know this buck was in the area they were hunting because there were no trail cam photos of him.What this buck scores is still to be determined. It would be safe to say it  is over 200 inches.. Congratulations again Kevin on your trophy buck!

As hunting season winds down for us here at home on Salmon River, we will still be out for rabbits and partridge while scouting around to see what deer are left. If we can get another good winter this year, our deer herd will increase correspondingly That's a good thing from where we sit..

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

Monday, October 30, 2017

2017 N.B. MOOSE HUNT--A RECORD HARVEST!

    The leaves have all turned and are starting to fall as our temperatures begin to drop to seasonal values. Here at home on Salmon River, we are still experiencing higher than normal temperatures for this time period. We have only had a few days of frost and the weather is more reminiscent of late summer than fall. I don't like our Maritime winters very much but I would prefer to have cooler temperatures during hunting season. It seems our fall temperatures have been consistently warmer the last few years and it makes for a tougher hunt.
    New Brunswick has so many photo opportunities at this time of year it's hard to pick a favourite  but this shot of the Miramichi River from the bridge in Doaktown is a nice one.
  I mentioned in a previous post that Grand Lake Photography on Facebook has some terrific photos of the scenery and wildlife in the Grand Lake area. This next photo was taken by a very talented lady who posts regularly to that page.
 Here is a link to that FB page to view more photos. https://www.facebook.com/groups/331519736986527/

 Salmon fishermen had a terrible year this season. The weather was too hot and dry and this didn't allow very many fish to ascend the river in a normal fashion. I have to say I can't remember a year with so little rain. Most fishermen just shrugged their shoulders and played the hand Mother Nature dealt us while waiting for the fall rains to bring the fish in. Unfortunately, the rains didn't come and neither did the fish. Oh, there were a few fish coming in on the tides and any little bump in water levels but for most fishermen it was too little and too late. One bright spot was on the Northwest Miramichi where the fishing was a little more consistent. Outfitters located further downriver on the MSW Miramichi also had a little better year because of being located closer to the tides and having access to low water pools. Even with that advantage, it was a year of tough fishing for these outfitters and their sports alike.
    Atlantic salmon are in a precarious position in their existence because there are so many factors that are impacting them negatively. Warming temperatures, over fishing at sea, predation from seals and fish such as striped bass,escapes from fish farms and the list goes on. This is not an easy fix but there are programs at work to address at least some of these issues affecting the survival of our beloved Atlantic salmon.
    Sea trout numbers were also down this year when compared to previous years. many avid trout fishermen either missed the run because the fish went early or they just didn't appear on schedule as in previous years. This can be very frustrating for sports who plan vacations around this yearly event. This is a photo of a nice trout from the MSW Miramichi River.
 Striped bass fishing is heating up with some huge ones being caught in the lower Saint John River system. Each year, more fishermen are gearing up to pursue these great game fish. They can be caught at many locations along the coast and the lower Miramichi River has some hot spots that can be fished from shore with good results. Grand Lake has produced some good stripers this year and my good friend Marlon C. tells me his visitors to his rental cottage in Douglas Harbour were catching schoolies off of his dock. Grand Point has also been fishing well for fishermen. This is a photo of a huge striper taken near Saint John recently.
 Fishing for stripers has been gaining in popularity in recent years. The spring spawing frenzy on the lower Miramichi River has done a lot to further the interest in this tasty fish. Social media provides up-to-date information on fishing trips that are often measured in hundreds of fish hooked! It doesn't take long for good news like that to travel and there are more and more boats out there every year. 

The 2017 moose hunt can only be described as a success with 3801 animals taken. That is a harvest record and and I think the first day had record high temperatures of 30*Celsius.It did cool down a little later in the week but most hunters will agree the temperatures were way too warm. The harvest was the largest since 1960 and the success rate was over 80%. These figures verify that moose numbers are at least holding their own or growing in most zones. Southern zones have seen their numbers fall over the last few years whereas the northern zones have seen an increase on average. Still, overall herd numbers are good and that makes moose hunters and wildlife enthusiasts happy!
    I hunted in zone 18 with the Doherty family and we had a lot of fun over the week. Brad had a tag and had never killed a big game animal before so Steve and I really wanted to give him as good a chance as possible to get one. We set him up in a stand in a chopping that was grown up but was still being used regularly..There were lots of tracks and trails with raked trees at intervals throughout the area.. There was a nice little wallow about fifty yards from his tree stand that he could keep an eye on. It was a good place. Brads sister, Chelsie, stayed at the base of the stand and called while Brad was perched up fifteen feet in the stand. Stephen and I heard a moose bellow at day break but that was it. Meantime, Brads moose was circling them and making what Brad described as prehistoric sounds! I guessed that to mean bellows and grunts with breaking branches. That moose circled and hung around for three hours before finally showing himself at 10:20 of the second morning. Brad took his time and made a perfect shot. Here is a photo of his twelve point bull where it fell.
 This bull was in beautiful shape with lots of fat and no sign of rut. We had a feed of tenderloin the first night and it was some tasty! Brads bull dressed out at 728 lbs on the scale. A dandy bull that Brad and our hunting party was very happy to get. Here is a group photo taken before we hauled him out.
 The next photo shows us hauling the moose out with the bike.
 Luckily, we only had to go 100 meters to the road. Once we got to the road we got the moose loaded with the help of  two brothers from Coal Creek who were also hunting in the area. That good deed was payed back in spades later on in the hunt when they took a big bull that we were also hunting. Here is a trail cam  photo of that same bull.
 We had photos of three different bulls using one of the four trails where we were hunting. The bull in the next photo had horns like a deer.
 This next bull may or may not be the bull that Brad shot.
 Any of these moose were on our hit list but the big guy in the first picture was the main one we were looking for. Remember the two brothers who helped us out? Here is the bull they got later on in the hunt.
 That's a trophy bull by any standard. It couldn't have happened to any better guys. Congratulations Gerald and Robin.

  Jamie and Dallas were hunting with other family members in Bronson. This area of zone 18 has been a great producer of moose for many years now. The Hargroves hunted this same area for two years now and there has been ten moose taken in that time by them and others. I taked to Jamie after the hunt and he said there were still lots of moose in the general area. Along with several cows, there was a monster bull that managed to elude the hunters for the five day hunt. The next photos show the bull that Jamie shot for his cousin Debbie.
 
 Jamie killed this bull with an old octagon barrel single shot 45-70 that a friend had given him. Pretty good job for a gun over 100 years old.

  There were many moose of this calibre taken right across the province but the northern half produced the most. Here is a photo of one of the better bulls taken in the northern half of the province this year.
 This huge bull is about as good as it gets in New Brunswick but each year there are a few taken that are of this calibre. Our moose herd is in good shape and non -residents would be well advise to get their name in on the draw for next year when it comes up next year.
    The rifle season for deer has started and there have been some nice bucks shot already. We have been packing away boats and motors and all of our fishing gear this past week .Salmon season ended on Oct. 15th and this is when we start putting our summer gear away and getting ready for deer season. We have some good stands this year and I'll have some photos in my next post.

    If any sports out there are looking for a day or week in our woods or on our waters, please contact me through  the links provided. Our adventures are affordable and Ken and I will do our best to insure our guests have a great time during their visit to the beautiful Grand Lake area.

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

THE BIG CHILL---THEN THE THAW!

Now that we are into the heart of our winter season here at home on Salmon River,I can only say that the weather has been a real roller coa...