Posts Tagged ‘Outdoors’
Posted in Nature Photography, tagged Bird Photography, Bird Watching, Birding, Great Gray Owl, Justin Hoffman, Justin Hoffman Outdoors, Nature, Nature Photography, Outdoors, Owl, Owls, Wildlife Photography on January 26, 2013 | 10 Comments »
I was both fortunate and honoured to spend yesterday afternoon photographing four Great Gray owls just fifteen minutes from my home, here in Ottawa, Ontario. The Great Gray – commonly called the Phantom of the North – is a rare visitor to southern and eastern Ontario, with a home range and breeding ground in the northern Boreal forests.
Every four or five years these “ghost-like” birds move southward – usually en masse – typically in search of food. 2012/2013 is the year they have made an appearance once again, although not in as great numbers as one of the largest irruptions, occurring in 2004/2005. Many years not a single bird is spotted, so to spend time with one – let alone four – is truly a rare treat.
In terms of length, the Great Gray owl is the largest owl in North America, ranging from 24 to 33 inches. The wingspan can exceed 60 inches. Much of its size is deceptive, since this species’ fluffy feathers, large head and the longest tail of any extant owl obscure a body lighter than that of most other large owls.
Great Gray owls are very tolerant of daylight and have a relaxed attitude around humans, making them a wonderful photo subject if you are lucky enough to find one.
Enjoy the Outdoors,
(click on images to view at full size)
Posted in Nature Photography, tagged Antler, Antlers, Buck, Bucks, Deer, Hobby, Justin Hoffman, Justin Hoffman Outdoors, Nature, Outdoors, Shed, Shed Hunting, Sheds, Whitetail, Whitetail Deer on January 17, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Want to give shed hunting a try but don’t know where to start? Check out this video I put together detailing my tips and tactics to help you find more deer antlers this season. Shed hunting is a fun, healthy, and low-cost hobby that is sure to put hours of enjoyment into the winter and spring months.
Posted in Nature Photography, tagged Antler, Buck, Bucks, Deer, Justin Hoffman, Justin Hoffman Outdoors, Nature, Nature Photography, Outdoors, Photography, Rut, Whitetail Deer, Wildlife Photography on January 12, 2013 | 7 Comments »
It has been an exciting fall and winter this year following whitetail deer bucks with the camera. I was privy to some up-close behaviour, including rituals of the rut (fights, chases, scrapes and rubs) as well as following the progression of a handful of deer that I would routinely see on my hikes.
I have already found three fresh antlers, so shed hunting is now ready to begin. Always a fun time!
Here are some of my favourite images from the last few months. I hope you enjoy.
Enjoy the Outdoors,
(click on images to view in full-size)
With the warm weather of today, and with an itching to find a spent antler, I headed out with camera in hand for a day of shed hunting.
Conditions varied at my favourite hiking spot. Deep snow in some spots, bare ground in others, and miniature ponds scattered amongst them for good measure. Regardless of the terrain, wearing only a t-shirt and having the sun shine on my face sure felt great.
I have certainly had a fascination over the years for finding a deer antler. But, for the many miles I’ve walked in the woods, a shed I have yet to spot. The signs were excellent on this outing – dozens of deer trails, plenty of scrapes, and scat everywhere. Sadly, after 5 hours and 8.6 kilometres of working the brush, I came up empty handed.
I was fortunate to spot this fella, although with the diminishing snow and him still clad in his winter coat, it wasn’t all that hard. For his sake, I hope it changes quickly.
I also spent some time photographing birds today. Many were camera-shy, but I was able to capture a few decent shots.
With the warm weather forecast, open water fishing is just around the corner!
Enjoy the Outdoors,
(click on images to view full size)
Posted in Fishing, tagged Bass, Fish, Fishing, Frog Fishing, Justin Hoffman, Justin Hoffman Outdoors, Largemouth Bass, LiveTarget, Outdoors, Pitching, Slop, Slop Fishing on September 14, 2011 | 1 Comment »
Was fortunate to get out on four seperate outings this past week. The nights are cool and the water temperature is beginning to drop, but for the most part, the fish are still relating to their summer haunts and busting baits fairly well.
Hit the Rideau River for a few hours this afternoon. The frog bite was on big time and made for some pretty explosive topwater strikes. The largest fish on this outing was 3lb 9oz – I was lucky to catch the action on video.
Ended up with twelve fish in the boat but missed a load more.
Ventured out to one of my favourite little lakes on this day with a good friend of mine. This is the same body of water that Christine and I (ok, more like Christine!) had enjoyed a banner day a couple of weeks prior.
Weed flats were producing fish on spinnerbaits early on but trying to duplicate that pattern left us scratching our heads. Opting to try for smallmouth, working deep water, points and shoals was seemingly futile. We came across some beautiful looking water, but unfortunately the fish were not were we believed them to be.
We did figure out that the shallow water bite was fairly consistent. Isolated pads and wood began producing fish for us fairly well and we began scraping together some fish.
This 4lb 1oz fish was my best for the day. It came from an isolated piece of wood surrounded by healthy weeds. My flipping jig barely broke the surface before this girl smashed it on top.
My buddy ended off the day with a 4lb 2oz fish that came from the same dock as Christine’s 4lb 1oz fish. Good chance it was the same largie.
Although we worked hard for our fish on this outing, we managed to boat 20 and had two come in over 4lbs. Not a bad day in the books.
Headed out for an afternoon fish on the river with my Dad. Worked over some new slop pads this time and this 3lb 4oz fish ended up being the best of the day.
Plenty of blow-ups on LiveTarget frogs this afternoon, but connecting with them was often a problem. Many of the fish were “pushing” water at the bait. Slightly frustrating. We did manage 9 largies and certainly enjoyed some laughs and good times along the way.
The wind was howling on this day, but with a few hours to spare in the afternoon, I decided to give the river one last go. The action was down considerably from the previous days, and although I put a few fish in the boat on frogs, they just weren’t interested for the most part.
Pitching Texas-rigged Double-Wide Beavers did produce some decent action, especially along the edge of off-shore slop. Depths I targeted was between 1 and 3-foot deep. In the end the wind won this battle – but I did put 10 largies in the boat, with 8 of those coming on the creature bait.
Throughout these outings, water temperature ranged between 64 and 71 degrees. Fish are beginning to range to their fall haunts and fishing may be tough over the next couple of weeks before things stabilize. Wood, rock, and slop should continue to be a viable pattern – both shallow and deep.
I won’t be back on the water for another week, but with the cold-front ahead of us, I’m really not complaining. The fall feast is just beginning and plenty of fruitful days definitely lie ahead.
(click on images to view in full size)
July 19, 2011
The temperature is certainly warm, and with little surprise, the bass action has been equally hot.
With light winds and a humidity of 40-degrees, I launched into the Rideau River this past Tuesday. One thing that became obvious early on was how the ferocious storm from two nights earlier had decimated many of my mid-lake slop areas. I am certainly used to them moving around or changing size as the season progresses, but have never witnessed huge expanses disappear completely. Finding new water would be the name of the game this outing.
When the water warms and the sun blazes overhead, largemouth always seek out some sort of shelter. This can take the form of docks, laydowns, slop, pads, and thick weed clumps. Prodding this heavy cover is generally your best bet for getting bit.
Shoreline slop coughed up the usual fish as did the odd deep laydown. The largest concentration of largemouth were found in two distinct spots – undercut banks and small, isolated slop mats found a considerable distance from shore. Isolated cover – be it pads or slop – should always be investigated, as roaming bass utilize these shaded canopies once the sun begins shining, and the more isolated they are, the better the chance is for it to cough up a fish.
Frogs, flipping jigs and Texas-rigged creatures or craws accounted for the vast majority of fish.
Put 14 largies in the boat. Best fish was a chunk that weighed 3.61lbs – sadly she snapped my $500 flipping stick in half….not on the hookset, but during the subsequent fight! I still managed to land it even with half of my rod in the water.
July 20, 2011
Wednesday was even hotter than the previous day, but the stiff breeze is what really made fishing uncomfortable. I decided to head to a different stretch of the River to change things up and fish some new water.
Finding fish was a bit tougher during this outing, and even when I could find productive spots, controlling the boat became a definite nuisance. I figured out one pattern early on, and that was to fish shallow. Nearly all of my fish were pushed right up against the bank, and either hiding under slop mats or relating to undercuts. I’d say 80-percent of the fish came from water less than a foot deep. Fish were also relating to rock, and any boulders combined with shoreline slop coughed up fish. This pattern was on so I spent much of the day looking for similarly-styled water.
Flipping jigs and Paca Craws worked like a charm today. I stuck with the latter for most of the slop or “edge” fishing and pitched jigs to undercut banks.
Finished off the day with 13 fish boated. And of course, a refreshing swim.
Working in the fishing industry allows me to test drive a lot of new products. Catching fish is the ultimate goal. Comparing them to similar baits or lures, and judging if they work better, is what really gets me excited.
Two products have stood out for me over the last month. They are the Kopper LIVETARGET Frog and the line of Lazer Trokar Hooks.
Not only does the LIVETARGET Frog have the most realistic look on the market right now, but the hooking percentage has drastically increased from what I once achieved with other frogs. I’d put it in the neighbourhood of 80-percent. These frogs have accounted for 40+ fish for me this season already – I’m definitely impressed to say the least.
I do a lot of pitching and flipping. It is pretty much my bread and butter when it comes to bass. Finding a hook that is strong, sharp and has excellent fish-holding power is something that is definitely important. It really means the difference between getting that fish in the boat or not.
The Lazer Trokar line of hooks have been an eye opener. I have been using the Magworm (TK120) for all of my Texas-rigged plastics this season and they sure do work great. I don’t think I have ever come across a hook that holds in a fish’s mouth so well. Half of the time I am reaching for the pliers when unhooking fish – and I sometimes struggle to pop the hook out. Besides that they are sharp, and are the only hook on the market using surgically sharpened technology.
Two great products that have definitely contributed to my catch rate this season – be sure to check them out.
Stay Cool and Good Fishing,
(click on photos to view full-size image)
A dragonfly can spend up to several years underwater until it is strong enough to surface, shed its skin and evolve into this beautiful creature. Then it flies free among us, but only for a very brief period of up to 2 months, before it dies.
Poem: Lessons from a Dragonfly
A dragonfly accepts it’s brevity of life
With its gossamer wings feeling the breeze
Full of freedom it watches our joy and our strife
Its wisdom learned flitting from water to air to trees
With wings that shimmer showing purpose and duty
Obedient to all of life’s changes in flight
Modestly it shows us its outer beauty
Always gracious, mindful and full of delight
So whether what life gives you is good, bad, or sad
Show others that inner beauty counts and matters
Make your actions amount to many smiles and be glad
For the dragonfly knows it lives a brief life this way
So I learn from this creature to live wisely each day
And make every minute special to those that you love
As the dragonfly watches our actions from above
Images shot on May 30, 2011 – Merrickville Ontario, Canada
(click on image for full-size version)
May 20, 2011
It has definitely been a slow start to the season for me. Between boat rigging, work constraints, and the miserable weather, the itch to cast a line has certainly been great.
I was fortunate to receive an invite from Yannick of Ottawa River Guided Fishing to fish the season opener. I jumped at the offer. Having corresponded with Yannick over the last few months, I could tell the day would be one full of laughter, fun, and definitely some fish. And although I have a love/hate relationship with the Ottawa River when it comes to finding and catching fish, spending some time with an experienced guide would be just what the doctor ordered.
I arrived at the Rockland launch just before 7am and we were on the water shortly after. The day was warm already, the sun was shining and their was barely a ripple on the rivers surface. A beauty of a day.
This would be a scouting mission solely for pike, as that was the preferred specie for clients the next day. We began working typical back bays – shallow with muddy bottoms, sparse weed and wood. Other than a few hammer handles – caught on spinnerbaits – the morning period was a bit tough. But that is what scouting is about and we were determined to locate active fish.
As the back bays warmed and a small front came through, the action began to pick up. Working water as shallow as two-feet, we began picking off pike from a stump-strew bay with a mixture of vegetation types. Most fish were typical for this section of the Ottawa River and ranged between three and six-pounds. My most consistent action came on a #5 Mepps Bucktail Spinner (white) while Yannick stuck to his spinnerbait. We also picked up a few fish tossing topwaters and landed a few working a short-line, prop-wash trolling pattern.
Here is Yannick with a typical Ottawa River northern:
We ended the day with approximately twenty-five pike landed – and some sunburned skin! Another highlight of the day was seeing three bald eagles. Sadly, I forgot the telephoto lens at home.
For those looking for a fun day on the Ottawa River, be sure to give Yannick a call – you won’t be disappointed.
May 24, 2011
Decided to hit a favourite section of the Rideau River today in search of pike, crappie and ‘gills. Another glorious day weather-wise. Headed down the river to a favourite back bay of mine. Water averages between one and five-feet in depth and has more of a tannic stain to it. It also seems to warm up the fastest.
Second cast throwing the Mepps and the first pike was in the boat. What surprised me on this day was the number of follows and short strikes I was getting – close to twenty when all tallied up! Ended the day with eight pike making it to the net.
Locating the crappie was a bit of a struggle. They certainly were not relating to shallow cover, but I did find them tight to submerged stumps quite a distance from shore. Most stumps held only one fish but most were willing to bite. Definitely an exercise in sight-fishing! The ‘gills were another story. Located some decent schools of fish on sand flats and in full spawn mode. Put a few in the boat but they had other things on their mind, and most would refuse to hit, no matter how many times I dangled my offering in their face.
May 26, 2011
Woke up to gloomy weather today. The forecast was for a thundershower, but sensing a window of relative calm, I decided to head out for a couple of hours. Snuck over to the same back bay:
The fishing was fairly consistent and close to a dozen fish were landed. Most came from water less than two-feet deep. Exciting fishing to say the least.
The new Humminbird units and Navionics charts are working flawlessly. Again, my thanks goes out to both companies for providing me with these top-notch products for the 2011 season. Head over to my “Support” page for links to both websites. Throughout the coming months I will be providing reviews, video tips, and additional information on how to get the most out of these fishing aids.
Thanks also to Ed from Paddletales for getting me the RAM mount…
Another great start to the fishing season. Have a few trips planned over the next couple of weeks so keep an eye out for the next report.
Yours in the Outdoors,
(click on images to view full-size)
With the weather sunny and warm, and the cobwebs needing a dusting off, I decided to grab the cameras and head out for a hike in one of the local woods.
Birds weren’t as prevalent as I had hoped for, although I was lucky enough to spy a grouse, a pair of turkey vultures and a red-tailed hawk. A few couplings of mallard ducks were also beginning to nest in the corn fields.
I was fortunate enough to stumble across my photo subject for the day – a garter snake. I must admit, I gave a bit of a shriek when it slithered across the path in front of me. Yes, I’m not too fond of snakes! I did delight in taking close to one-hundred images of this fella, and I must say, he posed magnificently throughout.
Having the camera mere inches from his face, I was a little nervous that he might strike. Dangers of the job I guess.
Here is some interesting information I found regarding their venom:
Garters were long thought to be nonvenomous, but recent discoveries have revealed that they do in fact produce a mild neurotoxic venom. Garter snakes can’t kill you with the amounts of venom they produce, which is comparatively mild, and the fact that they lack an effective means of delivering it. They do have enlarged teeth in the back of their mouth, but their gums are significantly larger. Whereas most venomous snakes have anterior or forward venom glands, the Duvernoy’s gland of garters are posterior (to the rear) of the snake’s eyes. The mild poison is spread into wounds through a chewing action. The properties of the venom are not well known, but it appears to contain, commonly known as three-finger toxin, which is a neurotoxin commonly found in the venom of colubrids and elapids. A bite may result in mild swelling and an itching sensation. There are no known cases of serious injury and extremely few with symptoms of envenomation.
Yours in the Outdoors,
(click on images to view full-size)