Deer Season 2019

My deer seasons had settled into a routine. Constraints from the day job allowed for a week off each year. Family commitments and extracurriculars consistently put pressure on the time available for hunting and seemed to erode actual time in the woods.

Despite this alarming trend, this year would be different. I had accumulated 2 extra weeks of vacation and the plan was to hunt the full two weeks, preferably in multiple spots.

My regular group had recently made a decision to split up the hunt across both weeks, starting with the first three days and ending with the last 3 days. The hope was to disturb the woods less, give the dogs a break, and take advantage of all the groups around us pushing deer around.

The fist three days passed by in a blurr, with one buck down on the first day. Taken by a new hunter in our group with a .30-30. Coincidentally enough it was taken in the same location where I took my first buck. Quite the coincidence. No other deer were seen though and most in our group were glad for a bit of a break.

After the last hunt of the day on the Wednesday I moved on to my next leg of my two week journey. The hunt continued with my Uncle near Peterborough. I swapped out my rifles and the bawl of the hounds for a .50 cal muzzle-loader, a tree stand, and the peaceful serenity of some freshly fallen snow. Some of my first hunting experiences were here in Bethany, in the very same tree stand. With that in mind I pondered the difference between then and now. Life had changed dramatically, my approach to hunting had changed, as had my mentality. I can recall my first trips where I hadn’t seen anything, and couldn’t but help internalizing it. I felt like i was moving too much, had too strong a scent, or had done something wrong to scare away the deer. The reality was that I was merely impatient and didn’t understand that Deer hunting is often a game of chance encounters, especially when sitting in a tree stand.

The quiet provided a much need opportunity for some introspection and thought, and the setting provided the stimulation. It was pretty easy to get lost in this scenario, and as the snow built up on my camo and fire arm, I felt like I had become part of the woods.

On day three in the morning, my trip through this winter wonderland was abruptly halted by movement on the ridge in front of me. It seemed as though a buck had materialized out of nowhere and decided to meander towards our setup. He was in no hurry, and surprisingly, neither was I. Another change from my first years hunting.

After a time I levelled the muzzleloader, placed the reticle on the body and made the commitment. 200 Yards later and the second buck of the group was down.

You can talk in terms of points when referring to a deer. If that is the measure than this was a 10 point atypical with and extra 2 brow tines on one side. However, my preferred terms are those of lbs taken and freezer space occupied. In those terms it was a solid 190 and my portion filled my small stand-up freezer.

Well worth the two weeks.

Charleston Lake 2019

The family and I have taken to spending a week camping at Charleston Lake every year to make some memories with our children while they are young. But don’t be fooled by this park’s lazy car camping demeanor. There is plenty more going on here for the discerning outdoor adventurer/enthusiast.

Biodiversity

The park is situated in the UNESCO Frontenac Arch Biosphere and is located at the interface between granitic and sedimentary bedrock zones. The park boasts a variety of tree types, soil and rock types, soil chemistry, and topographic features like cliffs, valleys, hills and wetlands. These unique characteristics create the perfect habitats for a large number of species, including many of which that are at risk or endangered. Speaking of which, the park is sanctuary to at least 9 species at risk, including the Black Ratsnake, Red-shouldered Hawk and the Southern Flying Squirrel. Thirty-five species of mammals can be found in the park, such as Beaver, White-tailed Deer, Fisher and Mink. The park also does not disappoint when it comes to reptiles and amphibians as it is known for its high diversity of each including Northern Map Turtles and Eastern Ribbonsnakes. The same goes for birds with a variety of owl species being present and other intriguing birds such as Cerulean and Golden-winged Warblers and Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos.

Here are a few of our findings during our recent trip.

Fishing

Charleston Lake hosts some pretty spectacular largemouth bass and pike fishing. Especially in the no motor boat zone located around the Provincial Park (Runnings bay). The main lake itself is fairly deep with some significant stone shoals scattered around the lake and at the edges of islands. This habitat supports a healthy smallmouth bass population. My kids had endless fun catching these spunky fighters from a canoe (which are available for rental at the park).

The real treat on the lake, if you are lucky or skilled enough to get a bite, are the naturally occurring strain of lake trout. I was lucky enough to be taken out by a local who showed me the ropes and really got me into them.

Hiking Trails

The park itself maintains a number of trails of various lengths to provide hardcore hikers and beginners alike opportunities to stretch their legs. During our stay we took the opportunity to hike the Shoreline and Quiddity trails, with a bonus hike up to the look out on the quiddity.

Park Activities

Charleston Lake staff put significant effort into putting on events for the campers. These activities included learn to fish demonstrations, mushroom walks, bug identification seminars, and guides canoe trips.

The park has alot to offer. More information about the lake can be found at:

https://www.friendsofcharlestonlakepark.com/about-the-park.html

Lake Trout Opener – 2019

Trout have steadily garnered more of my fishing attention over the last few years.  It started with a couple really successful brook trout trips, and was followed up by some pretty sweet rainbow and brown trout fishing on some stocked back lakes.  What was once a curiosity, has now become a full blown obsession.  So when the opportunity came to join a co-worker on his favorite lake on Lake Trout Opener, it was all I could do to keep from bursting at the seams with excitement.

Our trip began around 4am with a quick 45 minute drive north of Kingston to a quaint little back lake rumoured to contain a viable native population of these bruisers.

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We canoed to a few transitions zones in 40 to 50 FOW next to some deeper drop offs looking for spring time lakers.  In the spring, many of these lakes turn over which creates consistent temperatures throughout the water column.  Lake trout take advantage of this and unlike summer, the trout can be found throughout the water column.  We were trolling spoons at varying depths and connected with two very decent lakers within the first hour.  One estimated to be between 10 – 15 lbs. Tagically, we left the instructions for the net at home, and we were treated to a nice view of their tail fins as they swam away.  Dave, did manage to hook a third fish, and I miraculously remembered how the net worked.  Voila, finally a fish in the boat! 20190525_104001

The Lake Trout species is a perfect candidate to showcase on this blog considering that approximately 25% of the worlds population live in Ontario. they are only native to North America, but successful stocking efforts have established populations in Europe as well as South America.

We took a break from the fishing  and took a stroll in a nicely wooded section on the north side of the lake.  Lake trout are great, but there are many other species in Ontario worthy of attention.  Like this wonderful spotted newt.

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Or this four-toed salamander.20190525_092323

Or this young and fresh looking dryads saddle mushroom.20190525_092449

Spring is magical time in the woods here in Ontario.  Get out there, grab a rod, paddle, or shotgun and see what you can discover.

Cheers from the Wild,

 

Winter Trouting in Frontenac County- 2019

Southern Ontario has experienced some cold, albeit, intermittent, weather of late.   With minus double digits in the evenings for several days straight, my mind started to drift northward to possible ice fishing adventures.  Southern Ontario doesnt always see fishable ice before christmas each year, but it was looking like a real possibility this year.   With that possibility, the usual suspects and I began hatching plans for a quick trip during the holiday break.

Over the past few years our group has spent more efforts on pursuing the various trout species the province as to offer.  It started with some eventual success on a stocked rainbow trout lake, and was followed by excellent outings on several brook trout lakes.  Sprinkle in a few lake trout and splake trips into the mix and voila, you have a full blown hardwater trout addiction.  This year we decided to tackle a new goal.  The Ontario Trout Grand Slam.  One Brookie, rainbow, brown, and laker or splake.

Very few of the trout species remain native to southern ontario.  Heck, very few lakes have trout at all in our neighbourhood which makes our addiction and slam goals very difficult.  Thankfully the MNRF maintains a healthy stocking program in southern Ontario, all of which can be accessed via their website Fish Online.  This is where all our trout trips begin, and this will be where any description of where we fished, ends.  After all finding these lakes on your own is half the fun.

Here are some pics of the trip for your viewing pleasure.

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Although we fell short of completing the slam, we did manage to ice both a rainbow and a brown trout, not to mention a few other incidental coarse fish.   Ultimately, the chance of a competing a slam, without the use of a motorized vehicles to cover ground, is very difficult.  At least during the winter.

Cheers from the Wild

Late October Nip Trip

I had planned to go on my very first moose hunt this year.  Sadly due to some injuries sustained by some of the group members, the plan kinda fizzled out. I needed a consolation trip and happily jumped at the opportunity to fish Lake Nippissing with my Uncle instead.

The trip was a bit of gamble.  Neither my Uncle or I had experience fishing walleye in the fall on Lake Nippissing.  Not to mention the weather can be pretty shifty up there in October so we weren’t even guaranteed a full trip on the water.

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Fishing had definitely slowed down more than normal and the number of walleye caught were severely diminished from the summer time.  Fish didn’t seem to be stacked up on shoals or on structure making them much harder to target with worm harnesses. We toyed with the idea of switching to cranks but on a lake the size of Nippissing this can be a risky move as there is so much ground to cover.

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Thankfully we managed one walleye in the slot.  1 for 30 Isnt a bad ratio especially if you have conservation in mind.

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Walleye Tacos with a chili lime mayo is one of the finest ways to enjoy freshly caught walleye.

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Cheers from the Lake!

Albert