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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Going rabbit hunting!

The first of four snowstorms was on it's way when we headed into the woods.  I was pretty sure that we could get a couple hours of rabbit hunting in before I had to head home.  This would be my first attempt at small game hunting so I was excited and eager to find out how it was done.

I met up with my cousin Hillary and her finance, Lance to go rabbit hunting with their three beagles.  We loaded up our guns, snowshoes and gear onto snowmobiles and headed out to see if we could get some meat.

Our first stop was a quick trip through a grown up boggy area.  It was thick and there were not a lot of animal signs.  The dogs could not find a scent so we moved on.

The next stop was at the end of a random snowmobile trail.  The woods were totally different than the spot we had just come from.  There were animal paths and lots of rabbit tracks and poop.  Fresh poop is always a good sign when you are hunting.  The dogs started running when we let them off their leashes and by the time we walked down a couple of paths, their barks changed and they were on the scent of a rabbit.
This photo doesn't do the woods justice.  Thick woods but with no lower branches, it felt much more open.
Heading down the path towards a thicker, bog area.
My view once we crouched and started looking for rabbits
Lance showed me the GPS so we could watch where the dogs were running and see how big the circles were that the rabbit had them running in.  They made a circle off to our left, then our right and then headed straight at us.  We crouched and started watching for movement as the barks got louder and closer.

Then, a shot.  Hillary had shot at the rabbit as it ran past her and up the hill towards the snowmobiles.  Unfortunately, the rabbit was too far away. Lance and I never saw it and it was the only shot we would take while we were out there.

We walked more and listened as the dogs picked up another scent.  They ran two more circles around us before we started rounding them up to go home.  No rabbits for us this time but it was fun being in the woods and seeing the beagles work. 

We may try to go out again before the season is over.  It would be fun to actually get a rabbit this season and learn how to skin it and clean it up to eat!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

An ideal outdoors woman gift...

...is this! Sent to me by one of the coolest people I know.

Do you know what it is?

It's chaga! I was going to make a concentrate during the snow storm but I made venison stew in my crockpot instead.  I am eager to break it down to drink in my coffee and tea.  I have had it before and loved it.  I am so excited to try making it on my own - and then, I need to work on identifying it in the woods so that I can continue to get it.

Do you drink chaga?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Neighborwoods

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.







Friday, January 23, 2015

Saving one deer at a time

I don't know if I should have eaten more or less but my stomach was freaking out when Steve and I sat in the blind.  I kept adding layers to keep warm and to see if I could muffle the growls.  I hoped that nothing would hear me and run off.

Steve and Lorri (who had taken me bear hunting) had put out deer carcases from a local butcher about a week before.  The pile of bones were strewn all over the field by the coyotes that had been there.  We got settled into the blind and watched the crows picking away at the pile furthest away.  My stomach growled and they flew away.  I hoped that something else scared them away but I wasn't sure until I saw this guy sweep in.  The Red-tailed hawk flew down onto this pile and started picking away.  I was able to get a few photos until the sun started reflecting off of the lens and spooked him.

Red-tailed hawk picking at the deer bones
Steve started the call when the sun sank behind the trees.  The first call was of a female coyote.  It is mating season so we were hoping to call in a male.  I hate coyotes.  I think that they are the things that nightmares are made of.  Even though I saw the call about 30 feet in front of us, and knew that Steve was operating it, it was freaky sounding.  The second call was of males being territorial.  Also horrible sounding.  Then, he started the wounded rabbit call.  That was by far the worst sound ever.  I really hope rabbits don't make noises like that but if they do, I never want to hear it.

The rabbit wailing continued and the brown hairy decoy with a bright white tail waved back and worth.  I could not figure out how any animal would see that and think that it was an animal. It was about 12 inches off the ground and at on top of a black metal stick.  I kept scanning the field looking for movement.

My stomach started rumbling again and I moved forward to try and keep it quiet.  When I did, I scanned the field again and saw a red animal off to the left watching the decoy.  I had not seen or heard him come in, he just seemed to appear.  He watched the decoy and then looked behind him, then looked back at the decoy and then back behind him.  I couldn't tell if he was sitting or standing but he was stopped.

I hit Steve's leg "Is that a coyote?" I lifted my gun up and pointed it out the window.
Steve had to learn over and almost touched the barrel of my gun with his cheek.
"Yeah.  That's a big one.  He is beautiful."
"Should I shoot him?  He keeps looking behind him"
"Yes, don't wait"
"Back up"

Steve backed away from the gun but I shot before he could cover his ears.  I saw the coyote turn his head around again and then he was gone.  I kept watching to see if I could see any movement. I thought I saw a leg kick up in the air but I wasn't sure and the coyote had fallen down a knoll so that we couldnt see him.

I didn't care about my gurgly stomach at that point.  I was very excited! I had shot a coyote.  I had saved a deer. 

After a few minutes, we got out of the stand and walked along the edge of the field to find the coyote.  I kept looking into the woods for the other coyote(s) that were with this guy.  We approached slowly in case he was wounded but it was clear that he wasn't.  He was dead with a bullet hole in his neck.
Dead coyote
Beautiful coyote
You may not be able to tell, but he was heavy to lift.  We weighed him on a bathroom scale: 37lbs.

I had Steve take these pictures and then we loaded him into the truck and headed out of the woods.  It was a successful hunt and we were excited that we could help the landowner.  There was one less predator in the area.

Since this coyote is my first, fairly big and has a great coat, I am going to get the hide tanned and the skull removed.  I am still not a fan of coyotes but I can now say that I have successfully hunted them.