Spare time- what do you like to do with your spare time… other than hunting, of course!
Mike doesn’t seem to have much spare time but somehow he manages to squeeze in a few things he likes to do.
Not only does Mike manage/work a full time job at the hatchery (I’ll go into more detail about the hatchery in another post), he also has a few seasonal jobs as well. Now, we call them jobs because he does get paid but in his mind, it’s not work, just play!
TRAPPING for NAFA
The first second job is trapping. Mike spends the fall and winter months trapping animals such as muskrats, beavers, otter, and coyotes. There’s also red fox, bobcats, weasel, mink, pine marten, and fisher. This is all done is a humanely fashion.
Trapping is a way of controlling population, keeping starvation and the spread of diseases down. Fur harvesters must understand the animals habits, foods they eat, habitat that they prefer as well as biological information. The more knowledge you can gain about each individual species allows you to practice good fur bearing management and prevent over harvesting one particular species. Understanding habitat needs and movement patterns also helps in selecting the best spot to set traps. Like anything else, it requires a lot of time and attention to detail and Mike excels as a fur harvester.
Some people trap then sell their animals to others who prepare the pelts, but not Mike. He prepares the pelts himself, which takes many steps to get it just right. Mike sends his pelts to NAFA (North American Fur Auction) in Ontario. NAFA is the second largest fur auction house in the world, and the largest in North America. The pelts are put up for auction. Several times over the years Mike has received certificates for TOP LOT, meaning specific pelts of his were among the highest selling in the auction.
This year he didn’t trap. Between everyday life and the lodge, sadly there just wasn’t enough time for everything. I know he misses it and I’m sure it’ll be a long time before a trapping season goes by without him participating.
TRAPPING for NUISANCE CONTROL
Mike’s 3rd job also involves trapping, as a nuisance wildlife control officer. He can receive calls from the public about animals that are a hindrance to them. Whether it’s a skunk digging holes in yards or a raccoon acting strangely and possibly has rabies, Mike is who to call.
On top of that, he is hired each spring, summer, and fall to keep logging roads open. Beavers are notorious for building dams alongside the roads making it impossible for logging vehicles to get in and out.
Mike loads up his truck with traps, chest waders and the boys and they head into the woods to set traps, tear down the dams and unclog culverts.
When you buy a full, green, beautiful smelling wreath at Christmas, did you ever wonder where the it came from?
It begins with people like Mike (the rest of the family join him as much as possible) heading to the woods to break off a certain amount of the branch of fir trees. One needs to make sure not too many tips come off each tree, allowing it to continue to grow. The tips are gathered on sticks and weighed by the pound. Some people pick their own tips then make the wreaths. Others, like us, pick the tips and sell them to those who make wreaths. The tips are then wound with wire around wreath rings. The wreaths are shipped all over the US for those to enjoy for the holiday season.
The past few years Mike has enjoyed hunting for wild mushrooms. Not every mushroom in the wild is safe to pick and eat so it takes a considerable amount of time to learn what to look for.
This past summer while we were out for a walk, we came upon a several mushroom patches. Even with eating them fresh that night with supper and dehydrating some for later, we still had way too many. I oddly enough found an online ad for a company looking to buy mushrooms.
It wasn’t long before we had quotas to meet and Mike, Tyler and myself would head to the woods in the evenings and on weekends searching for different kinds of wild mushrooms. We would then ship them to a company in Nova Scotia via the bus. We had a great time as a family exploring while searching for mushrooms and found some beautiful grounds while doing so.
Like I said before, Mike doesn’t consider any of this work. He enjoys every minute of being outdoors. Mike has grown up in the woods, checking traps in the early morning before getting on the school bus. He knows the surrounding areas like the back of his hand. These experiences have also helped him become the incredible guide he is.
Not work, just play!
Not everything Mike does is a job. He enjoys so many other things! They all include the outdoors though and New Brunswick couldn’t be a better place for it! This province is full of forests, woodlots, rivers, streams… the air is unpolluted and the wildlife are abundant. It makes for the perfect place to live for us.
A few of Mike’s hobbies include snowshoeing in the winter, nature walks and hikes. He loves fishing, hunting, and making maple syrup. He enjoys hunting for chaga, and just plain exploring (the woods, of course!)
One of his all time favourite things to do is bird watching. We have several feeders and bird houses at our home and we feed the birds year round. Mike had bird feeders at the lodge before the walls were even up and we now have a bunch of bird houses awaiting to be hung come spring. The birds are beauitful- their colours are vivid (the males), their songs are lovely and it’s very peaceful and relaxing to watch them- I will post about this another time!
He is an avid gardener and does a fantastic job of growing. We enjoy fresh feeds of an array of vegetables throughout the summer then spend the fall preserving. Making a wicked salsa with a one of a kind secret recipe, dill pickles, bread and butter, and lady ashburn are first. We also make dilled carrots and dilled green beans, mustard beans and corn relish. To top that off, we prepare vegetables such as squash, carrots and beans to freeze for the winter months. It takes many hours and days but it’s worth every bite throughout the year!
THE SUGAR SHACK
One of Mikes uncles has a sugar shack. It is here, every spring, that fresh maple syrup is made. Each maple tree is tapped and a bucket attached to collect the sap. The ideal temperatures for the sap to run is to have colder night ms and warmer days. When the sap runs, it’s collected and then boiled down for several hours. It’s a family collaboration and take many to keep fire wood cut/split, the fire going and the sap at a certain temperature.
On sunny weekend afternoons, family members come together at the sugar shack to make maple candy, maple butter and maple fudge.
As I write this, I can’t think of anything that Mike would rather do in his spare time that doesn’t require being outdoors. The trapping, tipping, maple syrup season, hunting, fishing, mushroom picking.
When you join us for your week of hunting, I am sure that not only will you hear many stories but you may even get to experience some of Mike’s favourite things!