Hunting clay-belt waterfowl – Ontario OUT of DOORS


This special region of northeastern Ontario harbours some of the most effective duck and goose hunting in the province.

There’s a moment, as you drive north on Highway 11 towards Temiskaming Shores, when you crest a rise and the landscape ahead of you unfurls all of a sudden like a roll of fresh sod. The primal forests and granite of Temagami dissolve, providing way to a checkerboard of fertile fields, cattle-­filled pastures, and picturesque settlements, exactly where church spires and silos are nonetheless amongst the tallest structures about.

Countryside shaped in eight,000 BC

To the east is Lake Temiskaming, head­waters of the mighty Ottawa River. To the northwest, the highway veers towards Thunder Bay and beyond. But right here, in the stunning valley ahead of you, is the Tiny Clay Belt. A area of out-of-spot geography, reminiscent of southwestern Ontario, this fertile countryside was shaped in eight,000 BC when glacial Lake Ojibway-Barlow drained.

My hunting buddy, Carman Coumbs, and I pulled into New Liskeard 1 Sunday in late September. Sun-drenched round hay bales lined the fields, and prosperous farms and outbuildings shone silver and red just off the concessions. Additional inter­esting to us, having said that, was that just about every now and then flocks of geese or ducks could be noticed feeding in the fields or trading across the horizon.

An early-season mecca

Carm and I had devoted the subsequent 3 days to hunting these really birds. We have been to meet Blair Whyte, a die-challenging waterfowler and occasional guide, who kindly volunteered to show us how excellent the area’s waterfowling could be.

For the duration of our take a look at, we planned to invest some time in the cattails of Hilliardton Marsh Provincial Wildlife Management Location, a man-produced wetland created by Ducks Limitless Canada, the Ministry of All-natural Sources, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 1993.

Hilliardton and its surroundings are thought of a continentally important staging region for ducks and geese travelling to and from the James Bay and Hudson Bay Lowlands. Normally, mallards, Canada geese, shovellers, northern pintails, scaup, gadwall, teal, and wood ducks pass via right here throughout the early season. The marsh has 10 parking sports for hunters, who have to park at the Crick Road entrance. Park your automobile in 1 of these spots on any Monday, Wednesday, or Saturday of the waterfowl season and you are entitled to hunt this public region.

A fantastic suggestion

However, when we arrived, Blair, who is also a Drake Waterfowl Field Professional and Dakota Decoy Field Staffer, stated that shooting at the marsh had slowed down and likely wouldn’t get improved till the subsequent wave of migrants arrived. Alternatively, he recommended field hunting for geese and mallards throughout our remain. It turned out to be a fine notion.

In a word, the shooting was great, except for what Blair thought of a “slow start” on the very first morning. Then, Blair, his genial hunting companion Michel Maurice, Carm, and I shot seven geese. Bear in thoughts that the limit at that time of year is 3 geese per hunter. Carm and I have been really pleased, although Michel and Blair stated we could, and would, do considerably improved.

Bordering on extra

Time spent scouting fields that after­noon revealed that the geese have been concentrated in the Belle Valley region, close to the Quebec border, as nicely as into Quebec. Whyte asked if we’d like to hunt Quebec the subsequent morning, exactly where the limit was 5 birds per hunter. We nodded and drove more than to buy Quebec licences.

At dawn, two extra hunters joined our group and we set up in fields close to Notre-Dame-Du-Nord, Quebec. As promised, the hunt was phenomenal.

Geese approached our spread of eight dozen decoys with tiny hesitation as we lay in our coffin blinds. I recall 1 flock in unique that actually landed on us. When Blair lastly yelled “Take them!” I had a goose standing on the finish of my blind that I actually had to scare away prior to shooting. The action was rapid and furious and birds have been scarcely collected prior to an additional flock would come. Inside an hour, we had restricted out.

Headwaters of the Ottawa

A single of the finer items about field hunting is the scouting. That is when you drive about in the evenings hunting for birds. This also permits you to discover the countryside and discover a tiny about the region.

Our scouting took us via the Tiny Clay Belt, along Lake Temiskaming, the Wabi and Blanche Rivers, and via the quite rural Quebec farmlands on the other side of the major lake.

Lake Temiskaming is an impressive physique of water that covers 114 square miles and attains a maximum depth of 709 feet. Its name is derived from an Algonquin word that indicates “deep waters.”

Although we didn’t fished throughout our remain, Whyte stated anglers fishing Lake Temiskaming and the Wabi and Blanche can count on to encounter walleye, pike, bass, perch, and lake trout in the deeper waters. Superior brook trout fishing is not far off, either.

A hunt to recall

We went to bed that evening, happily exhausted and optimistic the hunting couldn’t get any improved. I’m content to report that we have been incorrect.

Scouting that evening revealed the birds have been now flocking to the Belle Valley region on the Ontario side and, as a bonus, mallards have been in the mix. Whyte, the consummate waterfowling basic, decided we’d hunt a field in the region exactly where he’d acquired permission.

The subsequent morning discovered Blair, Michel, Carm, and myself setting up a convincing decoy spread in the dark and anticipating an additional morning of fine field shooting. The pink light of dawn blushed more than the distant treeline and with it came the wild cries of Canada geese as they crossed the sky hunting for a spot to feed. Superior but, major flights of mallards have been everywhere.

Unforgettable moment

There was a lot of shooting that morning, but there’s 1 moment I will never ever neglect. A flock of about 20 birds had wheeled about our spread numerous occasions and, lastly, excellent calling and the use of a mechanical mallard decoy convinced them to commit. They approached from the front, feet down and wings cupped, when Blair known as “Take them.” Ten shots have been fired. Ten birds dropped.

The hunt was an thrilling mixed bag of mallards and geese, and it ended with a lone mallard flying at us – the final we necessary to comprehensive a limit of ducks. Blair, yelled, “Steve! Take it!” and I folded it cleanly, landing it virtually on his blind.

A quick when later, we posed for pictures with 10 geese and 24 mallards.


A pleasant surprise

Someplace along the line, I’d heard that waterfowling about New Liskeard was excellent, but, truthfully, you have to knowledge it to think it. Nevertheless, there are items going to hunters require to know. 1st, field hunting is difficult for newcomers to break into. A die-challenging group of nearby hunters has numerous of the fields tied up.

Possessing stated this, there are fine possibilities at Hilliardton and along the Wabi and Blanche Rivers, and I’m positive extra could be discovered with a tiny scouting, particularly along the major lake or the Ottawa River to the south of it.

The subsequent issue to recall is that even though the season extends nicely previous November, for all intents and purposes, waterfowling right here is accomplished by that time the birds have passed via.

Operate out these challenges, having said that, and you will come across some of the finest waterfowling, and possibly the finest northern waterfowling, this province has to present.

Initially published in the September 2009 concern of Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine.

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