Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Zombie Max nonsense...

Seriously Hornady? A heretofore respectable and innovative company decides to dress up ammo like a dollar store Halloween product. The marketing video screams “These shooting enthusiasts are juvenile members of the 101 internet keyboard commando who fantasize about shredding zombies!” It’s a serious disservice to responsible weapon ownership and an insult to those serious about their shooting sports.

Zombies? Shooting humanoid targets? Revelling is splattering gore? Is this message to the non-shooting public providing any PR gains?

Disappointing to say the least. It sure as hell doesn’t represent me or my interests AT ALL, nor those of many others I know.

© Brian Joubert

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cheap and accurate?

I have been hearing via assorted tall tales and general bull in the shooting universe that Savage’s new-ish budget iron, the Axis (nee Edge), can turn some pretty fine accuracy. I have handled a few but not shot any, until today. The reports of trigger pulls that could budge a hippo are true, as is the general ‘plasticiness’ of the piece. However for $299 ($329 gets you the package with a set of generic weaver style mounts and a Bushnell ‘Sharpshooter’ 3-9x40 scope) this must be, without a doubt, the best value going. Then again, the other budget Savage offerings like the Stevens 200 and 111/11 FCXP3 also have a reputation for cost defying accuracy).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A horse named Ovis: a sheep story

Ovis (C. Craig)
Well his name isn't really Ovis, it’s actually Taco, but for the six days he carried my butt up and down steep rocky trails we didn’t know that – he was borrowed from someone else you see. ‘New Horse’ was his more used alias but ‘Ovis’ seemed fitting for a horse that carried me on my first attempt at hunting Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis).

My interest in pursuing these icons of mountain game has remained on simmer for the last few years and I should admit this with some self-criticism. This is because the constraints on sheep hunting in Alberta are essentially self-created. Barring a few areas with licences on a draw-only basis, most sheep can be pursued by residents of the province with an over-the-counter tag. That’s right, you buy a tag, lace up your boots and pursue Big Horn rams! Of course these licenses are for ‘Trophy Rams’ only, limiting the hunter to rams with a very strictly controlled minimum horn length (tips must pass an imaginary line that extends from the front of the horn base past the front of the eye). Legal rams are therefore not exactly a Sunday morning doddle to bag but hey, only ones ambition, skills and physical condition separate you from pursuing one of the apogees of the hunters’ realm. Why didn’t I try this earlier?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tree Saddle - a better tree stand?

Having never used a tree stand before, I began considering one after taking the leap into archery this year. Whitetail are the most prevalent quarry in the areas that I hunt and those in the know advised that hunting elevated would be the best tactic if I hoped to tag an archery deer.

After considering a climber, hang-on or ladder stand and weighing them against the usefulness of a ground blind, I was introduced to the idea of a tree saddle by a fellow on a local outdoor forum. The Trophyline Tree Saddle is essentially a suspended sling seat built into a fall protection harness. The unit incorporates a lineman’s belt for safer climbing and a second independent webbing strap that acts as an adjustable anchor once wrapped around the tree. One climbs the tree using any of the step systems you would use for a regular stand. There is no safety harness as your ‘stand’ is essentially a safety harness with a sling seat. The seat on my ‘Ambush’ model is made from heavy duty mesh.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Outdoor-sports: A green audit.

Most of us involved in outdoor sports take an interest in environmental or green issues. That paddlers, climbers, surfers, skiers, hikers et al are environmentally conscious, seems to be accepted as axiomatic.
 Despite these stated environmental concerns there is often a juxtaposition in our revealed behaviour, myself included.

Now far from intending to bore you with the platitudes of my naval gazing, I think that my anecdotal ‘green audit’ has some value. Firstly, we normally all agree that initiating newcomers into outdoor lifestyles is pressingly important in our ever increasingly nature-disconnected lifestyles. Furthermore, the assumption is that if people develop an interest in the outdoors the spinoff will naturally be a concern for conservation and the environment. For the most part I strongly agree with this postulate but am sceptical of any claims to an unquestionable, minimized environmental footprint from this consciousness.

Secondly I want to briefly contrast the footprints of my two main outdoor passions one considered ‘non-consumptive’ – kayaking, and the other -
 hunting, considered ‘consumptive’ of the environment (and nothing short of an environmental crime by some who espouse green-living ideals).

I will touch on three areas of comparison and perhaps it will motivate you to reflect, if you already haven’t, on these issues . An important caveat: I am not out to sully the sports or lifestyle of anyone or any activity. This is simply an open and critical admission based on my reality and observations. Both kayaking and hunting have been central to my life and ideology for a long time. The lessons they have taught me are invaluable and the places and people they have introduced me to have often been life changing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What tripped YOUR trigger?

I have often wondered if other hunters ever experienced revelatory moments that were a distinct catalyst in their decision to take up hunting. This is especially true of those who came to this decision largely per chance or after an largely isolated epiphany, one that arose without any clear influences. After some discussion with a new friend, author Tovar Cerulli, I spent time thinking about my own hunting and outdoor influences. Tovar has some excellent and well researched insights into ‘adult onset hunters’, many of these types of new hunters come to the activity without the benefit of a community to influence their choice. This parallels my experience, albeit in my youth.

I have always been passionate about being outside. I was drawn to angling at age 6 which I believe was the result of being entranced with all the bits in a tackle box I rooted out in my late grandfather’s garage. My family were certainly pro – outdoors but no-one in my immediate family was an angler, shooter or hunter. Both parents and my older brother were also very supportive of my often annoying compulsion to spend seemingly uncomfortable hours in or alongside water bodies with a rod in hand.

Dear Anas undulata, thanks for tripping my trigger!
The birth of my desire to shoot remains a fuzzy mystery to me. I was exposed to it a few times and always relished the opportunity to shoot and accept the responsibility to do so safely. By the onset of my teens I was fairly interested in it but by no means passionate, until the revelation happened…

My gang of normally-muddy buddies and I used to fish for carp in a small stream that ran through our local suburb. Late one afternoon while waiting

Friday, July 8, 2011

Archery form?

OK archers and bowhunters, have at me.

I got this idea from the SoCal Bowhunter blog a while back and thought it was a good idea to stimulate comments from the outdoor blogosphere.

Take a look at these admittedly poor quality iPhone photos and video and critique my form. We hear so many opinions on archery form I would be interested to hear you thoughts.

I was thinking my shoulders could be flatter and taking advice from a Chuck Adams column, my leading foot could be more open, pointing a little more towards the target?

Fire Away!

 © Brian Joubert

Monday, June 27, 2011

Quick and simple venison steak marinades

I often have grand culinary plans for the venison in the freezer but in reality those plans are typically thwarted by habit when I rely on old familiar recipes for the frequent ‘friends-over-for-BBQ’ events. Venison Wellington is a firm favourite but when it comes to the BBQ I use an old standby marinade that just seems to work. It’s extremely simple and you can tweak proportions of the ingredients freely.

Marinade 1: Mix equal parts of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and soy sauce. Add chopped fresh garlic to taste and a generous squeeze of honey. The volume I am referring to here results in about 1.5 - 2 cups and can cover at least 4-6 large steaks. You need enough to coat each steak and I normally leave them in a ziplock or well packed non-metallic bowl. In other words you don’t need each steak to be ‘swimming’ in the marinade, just well wetted; olive oil and balsamic are pricy, so no need to be excessive. I have had venison steaks marinating in this for as little as 2 hours but my preference is for at least an 8 hour treatment, typically overnight if I plan properly. Rotate the steaks in the bowl or flip the bag once or twice during the marinating process to ensure thorough exposure.

Marinade 2: My latest favourite is even easier and preparation time is about 10 minutes. I give full credit for this simple recipe to my friend John, who served us ‘Cilantro Moose’ a week ago. I cut some inside-round Elk steaks today and gave them the same treatment.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Robin Hood

It was bound to happen at some time. I shot the last 3D target on the course (at about 30-ish meters) a little low, so decided to take a ‘redemption shot’. Well I clearly shot too low again... The nock on the first arrow was cleanly split in half, the second arrow drove neatly down the shaft!

Destroying arrows is expensive but being able to gloat over consistency, while conveniently ignoring the element of luck and very low probabilities, is very satisfying ;-)

May I wear green tights now?

© Brian Joubert

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On measuring success

The satisfaction of participating.
Bear camp this spring was a success. I didn’t get a bear. I was however part of a successful hunt where my friend took his first (he is an otherwise very experienced hunter, just not with black bears). My proposal for the hunt was that seeing as he had never hunted bear and I had taken one in the same area last year, he should have the first opportunity. I was happy to attempt any subsequent opportunities and was keen to attempt it with archery gear (perhaps with some temerity!).

The joy of being in camp.
After our success on the first evening I was thoroughly enjoying being out and being a part of the bear success. The camp was great, we were shooting our bows, my partner was having her first big game hunting experience, we were philosophising in camp chairs and skinning/butchering a bear over cups of tea – damn grand if you ask me.

 After my friend’s bear was tagged I had this feeling that the trip was a great success and began to feel that it no longer mattered as much if I got one or not. I have had similar experiences while fishing my favourite runs for Yellowfish, on the Vaal River in South Africa. At times, after making a number of successful pocket casts and getting into a few fish in a rapid, I have felt like I have been granted my fair share of success and harassed the fish enough. I have then retreated to watch birds and Monitor Lizards and laze on rocks – often even in the face of a likely looking eddy imploring me to try and cast a Gold Ribbed Hares Ear into it!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Towards objective hunting ethics?

“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do”

- Potter Stewart

I embark on writing my thoughts about hunting ethics with some trepidation. Far from being prosaic, there are few discussions surrounding hunting that can be as fierce as those concerning ethics. Often these debates descend into a quagmire of subjectivity and opinion; proponents of widely varying ethical views predictably claim a right to their doctrines and challenge others to disprove their definitions of sound and acceptable conduct. While hunting ethics can be a horribly messy issue with ample room for debate at their margins, there are certain fundamentals that I believe the vast majority can, and do, agree on.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

You know you had a late spring when..

...you are paddling around 5ft thick unshaded ice shelves in the middle of May.

Warm spring days, icy spring water.
As always, sliding my kayak into the freezing river for the first time after winter was like being freed from a non-paddling cage (I clearly always avoid hyperbole too). My stiff back and shoulders feel rewarding and a pleasant reminder of more river-dances to come this summer.

Here's a short video. They will get a little better as the summer progresses!

© Brian Joubert

Monday, May 2, 2011

3D Archery - or how to deflate any overconfidence. (video)

Discussing the Grizzly Bear results. (Photo: Jamie)
Humbling! Other than an excellent way to spend an outdoor-sport day, that’s the best way to describe my first 3D archery tournament. The Edmonton Police Fish and Game Association 3D shoot was a really enjoyable event held at a great venue in the North Saskatchewan River valley. Hunting buddy Jamie and I spent the day with a friendly and good humoured father and son pair, walking two rounds of the 20 target course.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Meat eating anti-hunters: a logical house of cards?

Bear burgers - 'horrible', superior
 or morally indifferent to beef? 
I have, on occasion, had chance to debate the morality of hunting with anti-hunters of the most nonsensical kind (at least to me) – those who will readily tell you that hunting is ‘bad’, all while tucking into a hotdog. I am amazed how the adherents to this argument fail to see that this is a clear invitation to repudiate this house-of-cards logic.

In my humble opinion, the ethics of eating animals is bifurcated insofar as you think it is either indefensible to kill and eat any animal, or you believe that it is in fact morally acceptable to eat meat. If you are an adherent to the former, then any accusation towards hunting as ‘wrong’ or cruel has some philosophical foundation. Of course it is not automatically granted immunity from debate under these conditions. However someone who does not eat meat or use products from dead animals, by virtue of this view, has a certain degree of absolution from the immediate cause of death of food animals (even this though is specious, as most food production results in significant numbers of animal deaths).

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Canadian Tire advert wildlife faux pas?

So, how many of you can notice the potential geographic and wildlife inconsistency in Canadian Tire’s new TV ad?
Ok, I’ll spoil it for you, at 0:27 the animal running through the trees sure doesn't look Canadian or North American – it looks to me like a European Red Deer (Cervus elaphus of one the various subspecies). Agree?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Notable Quote:

Authentic treachery is found when we abandon ourselves, becoming deaf to the whispers of our spirits and blind to the powerful potential therein.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hunting and Web 2.0 – Is YouTube hurting hunters’ image?

It’s ironic that I am writing a post about hunting and open-source web material on a blog! Undoubtedly public web sources for hunting can be great for learning, reviewing and meeting likeminded outdoors people. There are lots of interesting blogs, forums, podcasts and video sites with tips, tutorials, information sharing and entertainment for hunters and shooters; I know this because I chew up a little too much time on these! However there is much on the web, most notably videos, which leave me feeling uneasy…
I have given this topic quite a bit of thought, usually after seeing some video on YouTube that leaves me feeling like I should be looking over my shoulder to make sure no-one saw what I was just watching! My point is that sources like YouTube are full of just terrible examples of why short clips can do a lot of damage to hunter PR. Now I have to pick my argument carefully here as there are some very obvious potential holes for criticism.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lions in the news. Again.

Lion tranquilizing and re-location 1997
(yes, thats me, in my 'youth')
This past couple of weeks has seen a number of notices and reports land in my inbox regarding the petition supported by various animal rights groups to list the African lion as an endangered species in the USA. With an endangered species status, American hunters could no longer legally import lion parts they have collected in Africa. Americans import more than half of all lions hunted in Africa. The motivation behind the petition is that with the overall rapid decline in lion numbers, preventing Americans from importing legally hunted lions will make noticeable inroads into slowing the decline of wild lions.

Blast from the past!

I was sorting some old photos this evening and found this old gem, circa 1998.
How to antagonize a rather large African Rock Python....

©Brian Joubert

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Notable Quote:

Suppressed and wounded instincts are the
dangers threatening civilized man; uninhabited
drives are the dangers threatening primitive
man.... Primitive man must tame the animal
in himself and make it his helpful companion;
civilized man must heal the animal in himself
and make it his friend.

- Aniela Jaffe

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What gives me the right?

“What gives you the right to kill a deer”? This was the challenge recently posed to me by a non-hunting friend. She wanted me to explain what gives me, or anyone else, the right to take a life while hunting. Far from being an exhaustive essay on animal rights and the morality of taking an animal’s life, I thought I would try and answer that question from 3 different positions and in a logical and succinct manner.

So what does give me the right to kill an animal and eat it?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


“You can transcend. You can get to a place where you’re free,” he says. “Just to be what you were meant to be.”

Makes one re-evaluate opportunity and personal experience...

BIRTHRIGHT from Sean Mullens on Vimeo.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Notable Quote:

Hunting Life's Kevin Paulson asking Steve Rinella of The Wild Within: "What do you think the biggest threats are to the world of hunting?"

Access to land and habitat loss due to development are the biggest threats to hunting. Restrictive gun laws are definitely troublesome, as are hunting regulations that aren’t based on sound science (such as the wolf debacle in Montana and Wyoming, and Yellowstone’s buffalo situation) but loss of access and habitat worry me the most. Put simply, we need to stop building trophy homes and subdivisions on top of our hunting lands.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More on the lion Issue...


Update: Research by Bauer and van der Merwe (2004) and Chardonnet (2002) reveal the number is likely closer to 30 000 or more (according to Conservation Force). Chardonnet estimates up to 14000 in Tanzania. Rolf Baldus and Craig Packer believe there may be more in that country alone. The other question is who made these historical population estimates? Obviously there were more lions a century or 50 years ago but if experts battle to conduct large scale lion counts today, how accurate were those conducted a half century ago? With a fractional off take of large males, even managed per sub population to ensure sound pride social structures, the sustainable removal of a few males per annum seems qute plausible.

©Brian Joubert

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bow fun

I finally took the plunge and entered the world of stick and string. For years I have toyed with the idea of dabbling in archery but never committed. In fact the last time I expressed my interest in this one of my older, wiser friends advised me that I already had too many hobbies and that I should “just sit down for a while and the desire will go away”!

Well the urge to be in the bush with a bow led me to purchase a new Mission ‘Craze’. After test shooting it at Sherwood Park Archery I was smitten (which is easy when you are a bow neophyte). What I love about this bow is its 28” axle to axle length. In other words, it is tiny. In fact in my hands it looks like a kids bow, but draws to a full 30” and fits me well at that length. It also has an unbelievable 15-70lbs draw weight range! I actually shoot it without target-embarrassment too!

This photo gives you an idea of how small this bow is. Time to fling pointy sticks...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Notable Quote:

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
- T.S. Eliot

The whole truth please

I love this talk by Dereck and Beverly Joubert (no relation by the way). I am inspired by their passion and in many ways, like Kerasote or McCallum, by their quest to look for beauty and poetry in nature beyond scientific rationality – something that can be hard to justify in the face of orthodoxy. I have a great respect for their hard work; few people can match their dedication and the shear time spent in the field. I have also been an ardent fan of their work from their early magnificent films like Lions of Darkness and Eternal Enemies.