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Below are some articles written by previous visitors to the St Lawrence Experience
This article was written by Craig Turner, President of Turner Outdoors and was published in Hawkeye Hunting and Fishing News.
Coyote Hunting with Dogs .... Like Panfish for New Hunters
We all know how important it is to introduce new participants to hunting & fishing.... they quite literally represent the future of our sport. And to call it a sport, to many of us, is selling it way short. Hunting and fishing to many is a heritage and something that we are truly passionate about.
On the water it can be easy.... a warm day, a pole, bobber and some worms and that new angler can be fully engaged and successful very quickly.
In the woods it can be quite different. For the experienced hunter we know that those long hours spent in a tree stand on a cold November day could, at any moment, end in the most exhilarating, exciting and adrenaline-filled few minutes of our hunting lives. That's what I hunt for and I've always said that the first time that I don't feel that adrenaline when my quarry is close is the last time that I'll take to the woods. Thankfully I don't see that time coming anytime soon! For the new hunter who has not yet had this experience though, these hours of waiting can be the beginning of the end.
A great way to start that new hunter is with a hunt that is engaging from beginning to end. I found one great answer last year and tested it with my wife on a cold & rainy early January weekend this year. Coyote hunting with dogs … she loved it!
I work with Joe Babbitt, the owner of The St. Lawrence Experience in Northern New York. Joe is a year-round outfitter and a true outdoorsman … he fishes, goose hunts and is an avid bowhunter. He runs a great business that is focused on over-delivering for his clients. But, his absolute passion is running his coyote dogs. He has a group of 8 or 9 Walker Hounds and runs them all year to keep them in shape. The closing of deer season in mid-December is like Christmas though for Joe … he can finally start hunting coyotes with his dogs and he hunts virtually every day whether or not he has clients in to hunt with him.
My wife Laura and I showed up Friday evening a couple of weeks ago for our two-day hunt. It was to be a tough weekend as it rained virtually all day on Saturday and then froze over Saturday night; leaving a hard crust on the snow that is tough on the dogs feet and severely limits the scent trail left by the coyotes. We still had a fantastic hunt and here's why this is such a great hunt for beginners and experience hunters alike:
GPS TELEMETRY: Joe uses GPS/radio collars on his dogs and has several handheld units so you are constantly engaged. You can see where the dogs are, where they've been and, once a coyote is up and running, where he is likely to go … See, once a coyote is back in his home territory he'll run in big circles. Get a circle or two on the GPS and you know right where he'll be on his next lap. This leads to the second reason why this is such a great hunt....
NO LONG SITS IN THE WOODS ON COLD DAYS: With those circles standing out clearly on the GPS unit you can see where that coyote is going and find a spot to insert yourself for the shot. On a beautiful 35 degree winter day that spot can be ½ mile in the woods, but, if it's 5 degrees and the wind is whipping, that spot can also be just off one of the numerous back-woods tracks that litter the hunting area. Just slip into the woods in front of the coyote, be absolutely still and you're ready.
THAT ADRENALINE RUSH: When the dogs have that coyote up and running they bark every time their front feet hit the ground. You can hear them a long way off and man, does the adrenaline start to flow as you hear them getting louder and realize that
they are running right at you.... and you know that somewhere in front of them is a beautiful coyote! He might be 50 yards in front of the dogs or a thousand yards, but he's there somewhere! Your eyes strain for that hint of movement, your heart pumps....
On the first day of our hunt the dogs worked hard cold-trailing tracks but the rain made it tough on them. It was relatively warm and Laura and I spent a great deal of time in the woods and really enjoyed ourselves and the company of the guides. Technically speaking, Joe conducts these hunts with two guides....himself on the road overseeing everything and a second guide in the woods with the dogs. The reality is that he has a broad group of true sportsmen, and great hunters, that he hunts with and one or two of them are likely to show-up and help guide too. Two of these folks were with us all weekend; John & John. Though they both carried guns they were not there to shoot.... they further enhanced our hunt though with their knowledge & personalities!
Sunday was to be different... We left a diner after breakfast and shortly after first light.
There was a heavy crust on the snow and Joe found some tracks to put the dogs on. He knew it was going to be a tough day and put 4 dogs in right away. Three of these dogs got on a track a worked it for 6 hours … Laura and I finally picked these dogs up about fifteen miles from where they went in. They had been on that same track the entire time and I was standing in it when we grabbed the dogs. The tracks were sunk into the slush of the day before and frozen solid … that's a great set of dogs. Given enough time they would have caught-up to that coyote!
The 4th dog Joe put out first thing in the morning was the real shining star of the day. Princess never left a mile square area and after 6 ½ hours of piecing everything together she "lifted" that coyote and the chase was on! Laura and I would have hunted for a week to enjoy the last 3 hours of Sunday afternoon. This coyote ran is fairly small circles (around a mile across) and the guys got Laura and I each into separate spots in the circle.
Twice Princess trailed the coyote right at us and twice the coyote (these buggers are perhaps the most wary animal in the woods) must have spotted one of us and turned. As the coyote was shifting his circle to the north with each lap I guessed he might run out of room. I took a chance and looped behind my wife and one of the guides back toward the South. As proof that a very small touch of knowledge and a great deal of luck pays off occasionally I soon heard the dogs incessant barking grow closer, and closer. My finger was on the safety and my gun was half raised. Then the coyote appeared. My heart was pounding and, if you had another half hour to kill reading this story I could explain all of the reasons that I missed.... three times!
I caught-up with my wife and her guide a short while later … Laura's first words? When can we come back? She had felt the rush and was hooked.... even on a "bad" weekend!
These articles were written by Zach Knepp who is an outdoor writer from Middleburg, PA and were published in his weekly column in the Snyder County Times.
The St Lawrence Experience Geese (Part 1)
Last weekend I made my annual trek to northern New York to hunt lesser Canada geese with outfitter Joe Babbitt near the St Lawrence River. For the second straight year I invited my crew of waterfowl hunters along to film the hunts for an upcoming DVD.
The first hunt of the trip took place in a small cornfield between several bodies of water in the early afternoon. After setting up 50 Big Foot decoys and hiding our blinds we awaited the first flights of geese heading for their second feed of the day.
Having experienced hunts with Joe Babbitt in the past, we knew there was no need to try and fill out the 12-goose limit. Instead we set up one camera operator behind the other three hunters. Our goal was to capture all 12 geese shot on film by shooting at very small flocks.
To start the hunt Adam Stock was running the camera while my brother Ty, Kyle Rhoads and I were to each other in our Finisher blinds. Geese were constantly in the air and we prepared to fire the first shots of the weekend.
The hunt kick of perfectly as a group of four gees broke off a large flock and committed to our spread. After turning into the wind, the birds locked and glided towards the hole in our decoys. Once I gave the okay to shoot, we sprung from the blinds and quickly dropped all four geese.
The next goose we saw was a single approaching from the west. I yelled over to Kyle to take out the bird if it came within range. As it slowly flew into the spread, it gave the awaiting hunter the perfect shot. After firing a single shell from his Mossberg we had our fifth goose of the hunt.
Minutes later a pair appeared over the trees in front of us heading for the decoys. We decided Ty and I would shoot at the geese. Once they started to get within shooting range the one goose stayed high while the other committed to the spread.
I yelled for Ty to take the closest bird while I tried to shoot the far one. Seconds later the field was full of laughter as the far bird fell on my first shot while three other shots rang out at the closest goose while it escaped back over the trees.
With six more geese needed to fill our limit Ty switched positions with Adam and took over camera duty. It would not be long until the filming was over.
After we watched a few flocks fly to our left heading for the Grass River, we were able to call six away from a large flock. As the geese got closer we prepared to try and end our hunt.
The birds decided to pitch in the back side of the decoy spread. Once all six were in range we opened the doors to our blinds and started to shoot. Seconds later all six fell to the ground to fill our limit.
Needless to say we were surprised and very happy with the result of the shooting. When we picked up our decoys Joe stopped in to tell us he watched the hunt from a distance and was impressed with the shooting.
It was a great way to start off a terrific weekend of goose hunting with Joe. That afternoon we sat on the porch of his cabin and watched goose after goose land on the river that is used as the border between Canada and United States while already looking forward to another action packed hunt the following day.
St Lawrence Experience Geese (Part 2)
After a successful opening day of Canada goose hunting with outfitter Joe Babbitt in New York, we headed into the field on day two of the trip with high expectations. The previous afternoon we had selected a cornfield hunt that was holding a large amount of hungry birds.
The field was long and narrow with woods on three sides. We placed 96 Greenhead Gear and Big Foot full body decoys on the upslope. We thought that it would be the ideal landing area for the geese. We hid three blinds in the decoys, while the fourth Finisher was hidden 20 yards behind the spread for the camera operator.
We started the hunt with Adam Stock working the camera while my brother Ty, Kyle Rhoads and I manned the shotguns.
Once the birds started flying the action was fast and furious. Geese appeared in every direction, and were surrounded by them trying to get into our field for an early breakfast.
While this is usual a waterfowler's dream, when you are filming a hunt it is important to capture every bird you harvest on video. This meant several birds had a lucky morning as they landed and were scared out of the field while we waited for small flocks to hit the hole in order to capture good footage.
Eventually small groups started to appear from the east. I was able to take the first goose of the morning as the single bird flew left to right into the hole in the decoy spread. I rose from the blind and fired a single shot before registering the first kill of the morning.
After several large flocks gave us shooting opportunities without a large majority in our camera hole, Kyle was able to harvest a single that locked up and glided into the decoy from the right after leaving a large group of birds.
Next another big flock responded to our calling and pitched in perfectly. As soon as we could see the flock over a mile away, they prepared to touch down. After getting the wind correct. They gave us the perfect shot opportunity.
Kyle and I were able to kill two birds each that pitched into the hole. Ty recorded his first tally of the morning as one of the birds slid in front of his blind.
Next Adam grabbed his Beneli and I jumped behind the camera. Within seconds he was able to harvest another single that decided to leave its flock for our decoys.
After some more flocks gave us some good video. Adam made an unbelievable shot on a pair of lesser. As the two geese glided within range he fired a single shot and both fell to the ground to fill his three-bird limit.
With only Ty left to shoot, we had several opportunities to tape geese in the air and landing in the decoys while waiting for the ideal moment to harvest the final geese of the trip.
The perfect ending occurred when three geese approached over the nearby farm already cupped and committed. I yelled to Ty to take two of the birds as I recorded them for over a minute heading our way.
Once they were within range, Ty made two terrific shots and ended our mornings hunt. As we collected the geese, we reflected upon the hunt and were already talking about making the return trip next November.
That afternoon we sat inside one of Joe's cabins along the banks of the St Lawrence River and watched the footage from two days of hunting. We were able to catch all 24 geese that were harvested on video. It was a perfect culmination for the best waterfowl hunting trip that I have ever experienced.