Ditching your vehicle and moving through the forest on foot is the key to a good hunt in Jude Dion’s books.
Dion, owner and proprietor of Exeter Sporting Goods, said there’s nothing he hates more than being out in the bush patiently lining up a shot and having someone else come by on an ATV or truck and spooking his prey. For him, hunting etiquette is all about showing respect for the animals and your fellow hunters.
“The biggest thing is to go out and so some walking. Just driving around isn’t the most productive so if you just go out and walk the meadows your success rate goes way up,” Dion said, adding hunters should also “be respectful. When you see someone hunting in an area, go somewhere else.”
Dion knows more than a thing or two about hunting. His father opened up Exeter Sporting Goods in 1977 and Dion has run it since he bought it from him in 1992. Dion provides the community with sports equipment, camping supplies and hunting gear, the latter of which will soon be in high demand with the arrival of hunting season.
The season officially opens for bowhunters on Sept. 1 followed by the rifle hunters on Sept. 10 and runs until Dec. 10.
Dion said this summer’s wildfires will impact the hunting season. Beyond the loss of potential hunting grounds, he said he expects there to be certain parts of the wilderness closed to hunters, the way it was after the Elephant Hill fire in 2017.
This year, however, he said fires like the Flat Lake Fire have been burning on fairly good ground. He predicts most of the game animals, like deer, will have been safely able to move out of the fire zone. Dion has seen a lot of mule deer across the South Cariboo and hopes to bag one this season.
“My freezer is pretty full so just a little deer hunting and grouse is what I’m going to focus on this year,” Dion said.
For new hunters this season, Dion advises they find an experienced partner to go out into the bush with. A hunter with good ethics and practices will be able to show them the ropes and show the prospective hunter some good places to hunt.
On the east side of Highway 97, between 150 Mile House and Lac La Hache, for example, is a good area to find mule deer Dion said. For deers, he also advises the use of a smaller calibre of gun as you “don’t need a big cannon” to take them down.
“The biggest part I enjoy about hunting is the energy and enthusiasm. When it gets to be like a job it’s not fun anymore. When I hunt with my wife Lise she’s full of energy and gets right into and I love to see it,” Dion said.