Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Few Observations About North Carolina

So I’m in Raleigh-Durham for a week as part of training for my “real job”, and since I’ve been here a couple of days I’ve made a few observations about North Carolina.  Not all of them are hunting related, but they are all positive as far as I’m concerned.
  1. Everything here (aside from breakfast) comes with a side of regular potato chips.  This is good.
  2. They like BBQ here.  How much, you ask?  So much that in the Raleigh-Durham Airport they have a real BBQ pit.  None of this cafeteria food nonsense you find in other airports, I’m talking authentic, grilled meat.  When I got off the plane and into the airport, the first thing I could smell was ribs.  Need I say more?
  3. They have a lot of deer here.  I’ve seen them and the locals have been telling me about them.
  4. The above-mentioned deer will live anywhere.  There are four of them living (apparently) in a fifty yard wide, three hundred yard long strip of forest bordered on one side by a highway and on the other side by two hotels.  Safe from hunters, yes.  Safe from Windstars, who knows?
  5. When the people here ask what you do for a hobby and you tell them hunting or fishing, it seems that you automatically become their good friends.  This is also very nice.  I have had three invites to come back in the fall for deer hunting, but I’m pretty sure I won’t make it back (although I’d really, really like to) and one guy give me the actual GPS coordinates for his camp if I ever want to do some turkey or deer hunting.  One word: awesome.
  6. They really like college basketball here, and apparently there are some serious, serious rivalries.  Leafs vs. Canadiens is apparently a child’s tea-party compared to UNC vs. Duke.  Just saying.
  7. It is bloody hot here.  And humid.  The A/C in my room was broken on Sunday night, and it was (no joke) 32 degrees Celsius in my room all night.  If there was ever a time I wished I could sleep while levitating over the sheets, this was it.  A/C is fixed now, so I’m comfy again…
  8. In the same vein as #5, everyone here has been friendly, (almost too) accommodating, and really genuinely welcoming of this bewildered and lost Canadian.  For that, I thank you North Carolina.
So there you have it readers, my take on North Carolina.  Yes, I’ve only seen a very small fraction of the state, and yes, I’m sure it isn’t all sunshine and lollipops all the time, but I really like it here.  I’d stay forever and hunt here (if I could) but eventually I’ll have to ship out from the Tar Heel State.  But someday I’ll be back and I hope to have my turkey calls in tow.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ducks Unlimited 2011 Canadian Duck & Goose Calling Championship

Here’s a chance for any readers in Ontario or parts nearby to get out and test your calling skills, and maybe win a prize or two.  The event is going down on August 20, 2011 at the Bass Pro Shops in Vaughan (1 Bass Pro Mills Drive for those of you who may need directions), and having been to a couple of DU calling contests (one in my youth many years ago at Wye Marsh, and one more recently in Grimsby…both with limited results) I can say with some certainty that they are a good time. 

The associated forms and rules can be found here and here, but to give a brief synopsis of the event, it looks like they’ll be running seven (yes, seven!) categories.  Three will be in the duck calling stream: senior, youth, and two-man, with a further four in the goose calling milieu: senior, youth, two-man, and a unique sounding senior’s category called Old Man Flute (where it looks as though only flute-style calls, as opposed to the ever-popular short reed-style, can be used). 

For those of you unfamiliar with the format, here’s a Cole’s Notes version for this event.  Youth callers (under 15 years of age and never having placed in a senior-level contest) will call from a blind for 60 seconds, and senior callers will call for 90 seconds.  Five judges are concealed so that they are judging on sound quality alone, and they score you on a points standard. 

Otherwise, it is just a good time.  I’ve found that most of the people that are competing and observing at these events are eager to talk about hunting and swap strategies and stories.  Who knows, you may even make some new hunting buddies.  Aside from that Bass Pro Shops is just a fun place to hang out and covet various pieces of equipment and gear.  I hardly even fish at all and I still like to go check out the bass boats.

I’ve been asked if I am attending/competing and my answer is that I hope to be able to at least come watch.  My goose call is currently in transit to Illinois (I took the extra cheap postage option so it may get there next week) so unless I can get it repaired, shipped back and get some practice in before August 20th, I won’t be competing.  Then again, I am not really a threat to win in the goose-calling arena, ditto for my work on a duck call.  I’m proficient and confident, but hardly competition-class.

Registration closes August 12, 2011.  For more info review the links above for the rules and registration info or call the Ducks Unlimited office in Barrie, ON at (705) 721-4444 or email calling@ducks.ca for more additional details.

Just Out! Migratory Birds Hunting Regulations, 2011-2012 - Ontario

The wait is over for you Canadian waterfowlers.

As of July 14th, 2011 Environment Canada has posted the national regulations here for 2011-2012.  The provincial links are all there for the viewing at the landing page, so I won't bore you all by re-posting them all here province by province.

Usually it takes a day or two for the licenses to be distributed, but based on the phone conversation I had with Environment Canada today, all the licenses should be out and available for sale by mid-next week, if they are not out at some distributors already.

This is as sure a sign that autumn is coming as I know, and I couldn't be happier.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Funny Things You Hear Sometimes

My thanks to those of you who have emailed me to wonder if I’m doing okay.  Yes I am, but the drop in blog productivity is with good cause.  A couple of good causes actually.
First and foremost, it is July.  There’s not much to hunt in July (other than hunting for a cool place in the shade…not surprisingly, I am not a warm-weather creature).  Since it is the high summer, there just aren’t the stories that I had in the run-up to, and duration of, the spring turkey season.  Secondly, and the inspiration for this post, is that I’ve started a new job in the bustling metropolis of Toronto.  Some of the time I had previously spent writing is now spent driving home, but please do look forward to increased output from me as I slowly descend into the madness associated with chasing ducks and geese.
Now onto today’s ramblings.  As mentioned, I’m now in a new office…an experience not altogether different from one’s first few days of school.  There are new faces, names, and social cliques to navigate.  There are meetings and training sessions to attend.  And there is my personal ‘brand’ to establish.  Of course my brand is good-natured consultant who happens to love hunting and the outdoors.
This love of the outdoors did not take long to shine through (maybe the framed photo of my wife and I on her only hunting trip piqued the curiosity of my new coworkers, who knows?) and immediately I was attacked with questions from a number of people who, through no fault of their own, have never experienced the outdoors outside of a televised beer commercial.
Here’s a list (in no particular order) of the most ridiculous, charming, and downright wacky questions and statements I’ve heard since my arrival in the urban business world.  My responses (or what I had hoped they could have been) are italicized.
It’s illegal to shoot Canada Geese isn’t it?  I mean they’re on the $5 bill!
Nope, completely legal and downright delicious.  In fact bag limits are liberal so in a way it is encouraged.  Polar bears and loons though…strictly off-limits.  Thus your monetary-based system of valuing animal life is somewhat accurate.
That mean you own weapons right?
Yes, but only because I’ve grown too old to continue to chase down and tackle things.
Can you talk to animals?
Yes, but they rarely listen.
Can I go hunting with you?
You can come and watch if you want, but you’ll mostly just see me sitting still and being quiet.  You can do that in the office if you’re so inclined, and if you stay inside there is less likelihood of you being bitten by a tick…so that’s win.
What did that duck/goose/deer/turkey/rabbit ever do to you that you can just kill it?
Nothing.  That’s why I’m not trying to kill it out of spite.  It is just a challenging thing to do, which happens to have very tasty results if I’m successful…which is not very often.
When you eat an animal, do you gain its strength?
No, but if I don’t brush my teeth afterwards I do get breath that would terrify a grizzly bear.
Does this mean I shouldn’t make you mad?
I think that you are asking if you enrage me will I hunt you like a wild animal?.  Really, you shouldn’t make me mad but only because that would just be a mean thing for you to do to me; that I go hunting shouldn’t enter into it.  If you do make me mad, rest assured, I enjoy hunting and the outdoors far too much to jeopardize that privilege by doing something thoughtless and violent.  I likely will go hunting, but in a nice calm forest far away from such silly questions and where whatever you did to make me angry will be washed away by the relaxing sounds of the wilderness surrounding me.
It is too bad that stereotyping of this sort still goes on, but it does and I’m sure this is just the start of some of the hilariously absurd things that people are going to say to me.  I’ve already gotten some funny looks when I told my coworkers that I usually reserve a week or more of vacation for the dead of November.  Maybe they think I’m a skier.  This list will probably grow, and this is nice outlet for it, since I usually have to just politely answer in a neighbourly sort of way that won’t make my interrogator feel ridiculous.  After all, if they took the time to ask, the least I can do is give them an answer.
Well, actually, the least I could do would be to walk away silently shaking my head…but that would really make it hard for me to make friends in the office.