Small game update for the 2018 fall and winter hunt
As is usually the case, the anticipation of any upcoming hunt is a test of hunters patience and the 2018 fall and winter small game hunt is no different.
The other noticeable component to the hunt is that once it arrives, it flies by at breakneck speed. The 2018 version of our small game hunt has certainly been no different.
We are well into the hunt, a couple of months have passed and so to, our ability to analyze what this season has brought to the hunters, compared to past years.
For those among us who are hunters, we often appear to describe our successes and failures on our hunts as we compare these annual results. I am convinced that success rates on individual years do not matter nearly as much as we often let on. We are after all, hunters, regardless of the ups and downs in our game harvest, we are going hunting anyway.
As is always the case in Labrador, each year can be different, both good and bad. Circumstances surrounding the weather conditions and its extremes and the cyclic nature of the species we hunt thrown into the mix, and we can easily see an often big difference in species numbers and success rates from one year to the next.
So far, our 2018 season has sent a message from Mother Nature to us that reminds us that she is still in charge. The weather impact goes right back to our spring. For any among us who may have forgotten, it was unusually cold, unusually wet and continued its late start well beyond normal limits of normal years.
Our spring, without doubt delivered a negative impact to our breeding birds and animals. Cold wet weather and the late start saw higher mortality rates in this years young, whether birds or animals.
As we started our hunt for grouse and setting our snares for rabbits, we had fewer younger birds and animals of the year added to the inventory for us to hunt, than a normal year. The same scenario has been the case so far with the ptarmigan as well.
The second impact on our hunt was the abnormal early arrival of winter and its extreme amounts of snow for the start of the season.
Both of these scenarios in the same year have contributed negatively in the number of birds and animals in the country.
The spruce grouse numbers are way down. The combination of the spring conditions and where they may be in their natural cycle has given hunters a significant drop in numbers.
Although the ptarmigan have shown up from the North, there are only scattered in small groups in certain areas of both the burn overs and the green woods. There is still time for more to yet show up, if they are actually out there, but a high spring hatch mortality that could also be negatively impacted by a downturn in their natural cycle could see us with more chicken soup than ptarmigan soup throughout the whole season.
There has been some good catches of rabbits but the early and larger amounts of snow has been a challenge for those among us who are snaring them. It has been difficult to keep the snares set at the right level with the big and regular snowfall that we have seen since its early arrival.
At the end of it all, we appear to be heading for an overall challenging season in more than one of our targeted species. That is the bad news if you let it be.
The good news is that there is still some game out there. For those among us who are true hunters, we are going anyway. If there are fewer numbers of game for us to hunt and clean, so be it.
We will still have our trips to the country and the adventures it brings to us. Sharing the country that means so much to us with our family and friends and whatever treats it can give us, big or small, is well worth the effort no matter what the count may be.