For longtime hunter Ray Coran, the opening of moose and deer season is his favourite time of year.
“I like that first weekend because you get that first run,” he remarked. “They’re not spooked yet. They don’t pair up and there’s more of those gun shy ones.”
“I just love the sport. We love the meat. My kids all grew on wild game and now they’re hunting,” Coran enthused. “It’s more for sport--to get out and enjoy the outdoors,” he added.
Local bow hunter Ben Wiersema is more philosophical.
“It’s so nice to get out in the bush and come back in with a clear head,” he reasoned. “You know, I used to think you can go out in a duck blind and solve all the world’s problems.
“I still believe that, but this time with deer hunting.”
Wiersema made the switch from gun hunting to bow hunting because of the higher skill involved.
“It’s more of a personal challenge,” he explained. “One well-placed arrow is all you need to kill a large animal. That’s the challenge.”
He’s also very protective of his spots.
“Me and three friends of mine usually like to go to Turtle River Road. I’ll tell you the areas I hunt but that’s all,” he said, though adding the areas along Cedar Narrows Road also are a popular place for bow hunters.
For Rick Socholotuk, who’s been hunting for 38 years, nothing beats following moose patterns--his favourite type of game to hunt.
“The biggest thing about them is that they’re unpredictable, kind of the ‘meanest man on the mountain,’” he noted. “Once the rut is over, they won’t come to the call, which makes things interesting.”
He also said the opening weekend affects hunter success later in the season. “That’ll have a big negative effect on ratio. It drives the animals back into the heavy timber,” he said.
With the Ministry of Natural Resources saying district hunters can expect a strong season this year, including a “good to excellent” forecast for deer, hunting will be a weekly ritual for the retired Coran this fall.
He said his circle of family and friends don’t mind waiting to take a turn to venture out with him on a hunting trip.
“In November, I pretty much hunt every week,” said Coran. “Whenever I can, I go. When we go moose hunting, we’ve set up a trailer waiting for us.
“Most of my friends are retired like me so most of the time we plan longer trips.”
It’s the social aspect of hunting which keeps bringing Socholotuk together with his regular group of four--his father, Alex, former Fort resident ‘Deeder’ Kielczewski, and cousins Dennis and Terry Soderholm.
“The five of us have been hunting together for the longest time. It’s kind of nice to get together. We enjoy the outing,” said Socholotuk.“The moose is the bonus.
“Being out there for that first cook and sharing old stories is what I enjoy.”
Wiersema just enjoys going outdoors with his crew, whether they bring anything home or not. His regular group, including Brian Mueller, Jeff Johnston, and John Valenta, even have organized their own father-son outings to get their children involved.
Meanwhile, hunting educator Steve Sopotiuck has some basic advice to hunters--new and experienced alike.
“What I recommend to my students is they read the regulations cover to cover,” he stressed. “There’s always a small change. A change in date, for instance. It can be very small or very important.”
Socholotuk, also a hunting educator, said consistent gun care and practice are the most essential things a hunter can pick up. He encourages any hunter who may have a hard time this fall to try skeet shooting or the bow-hunting club in the spring and summer.
“[Some hunters] don’t know the capabilities of their gun. The only way you get proficient is with practice,” he remarked. “Make sure you know your gun.
“Any modern firearm on the market is capable of good accuracy but you have to spend time [practising].”