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Nova Scotia: The Province that has been Passed By


It is a little singular that although Nova Scotia is one of the most interesting and prolific sporting countries in the world, it has attracted so few British tourists. It certainly offers abundance of game and fish, and when it is made easily accessible, thousands of Englishmen might profitably spend a happy, bracing holiday there. It is celebrated for the greatest of the deer family, the moose, which was killed last year in nearly every county in the Province., and the species is steadily increasing in numbers, thanks to a stricter carrying out of the game law. The woodcock shooting in Nova Scotia is celebrated, and the ruffed grouse (partridge), the king of game birds, was killed last year in unprecedented numbers; while in the countries to the south of us its gradual decrease has been bitterly mourned. Duck and geese are abundant in some districts. Bear and wild-cat are plentiful, too plentiful in fact, though hard to approach. Hares offer a fine opportunity for the beagles.

As for fishing, in no country in the world are trout more plentiful nor more gamey, and one variety, the salvclinus fortinalis, or speckled brook-trout, is the most beautiful of all. There is good salmon-fishing, which is likely to become better still, as public opinion is awakening to the dangerous breaches of the law on the part of the net-fishermen at the mouths of the streams.

According to the Nova Scotia Game Act (1909), the Moose season is from September 16th to November 16th. Moose are hunted in two ways, “calling” and “still-hunting.” Calling is the method almost exclusively pursued in the mating time, which lasts approximately from the first week in September to the 20th of October. It consists in luring the bull-moose within rifle-shot by means of imitating, through a speaking-horn of birch-bark, the call, or low, of the cow, or sometimes, though much seldomer, the challenge of a rival bull. This can be done only in absolutely calm weather, since the bull, which trusts for 'ts safety to its abnormal sense of smell, will otherwise infallibly go to leeward of the hunter, get his scent, and then, of course, retire without showing itseif. A calm is also necessary if the sound of the call is to penetrate to any distance. A certain class of writers, nearly all inexperienced, have decried the method of calling as unsportsmanlike, insisting that it is an easy art, that the moose is off its guard and all too ready to be fooled, and that the guide does all the work, while the hunter merely waits and shoots when the quarry appears. There are many fallacies in this view. Calling is not an easy art, the bull is by no means off its guard, but just the very contrary; and the argument against the secondary role of the sportsman might also be applied to bird-shooting over dogs. It is very fascinating to witness the art of the guide as be calls a moose, and there are moments, as the bull approaches and appears, that still-hunting cannot match for excitement. Besides, there is no law against the sportsman doing the calling himself, if he has a mind, and many have attempted it successfully after some years of experience with good callers.

When the moose have paired, the bull can no longer he called, and the method employed for the rest of the season is that of still-hunting, or stalking (creeping up to) the animals under cover of a w nd while they are in their “yards,” a yard being the range, of greater or less extent, covered by one moose-family during the late autumn and winter. It commonly consists of a combination of swamp and ridge, though this differs according to the character of the country. The ideal conditions for approaching the game are a high wind and soft-going underfoot, either soaked with rain, or better, covered with light snow, which makes tracking much easier. Still-hunting requires much more physical exertion on the part of the hunter, and is not recommended to ladies, or in fact any but the robust. Still-hunting gets better as the season approaches its end.

The caribou is a cousin of the European reindeer, and ranges from Maine and Newfoundland northward and northwestward to Hudson Bay and the Pacific. There are two general species, the woodland and the barren-ground, the latter inhabiting the regions farther north. The woodland caribou is the largest of its kind, and once overran the whole of Nova Scotia, but is now practically confined to the island of Cape Breton, where it is still plentiful. A very large specimen weighs about 460 lbs., and stands four feet high at the shoulders. The peculiar construction of the caribou’s hoofs enables it to travel easily over snow .nto which any other of the deer family would sink helplessly. It is polygamous, one bull possessing several cows.

It is killed by still-hunting. The outfit is the same as for moose, with the addition of a good field-glass.

The caribou is protected by the Nova Scotia law until 1912.

Bruin’s representative in Nova Scotia is the Black Bear or Ursus americanus, a large specimen of which will weigh about 400 lbs. It will eat anything from ants to sheep, and has a predilection for calf-moose, many of these helpless little creatures falling victims to his voracity, in spite of the mother’s defence. A bear will almost never face a man, but a mother with young cubs forms a distinct exception to this rule, and should an unarmed sportsman meet such a combination in the woods, the best thing for him is not to wait for a nearer introduction. The only practical way to hunt bears systematically is by means of a good bear-hound (foxhound trained to this work), which tracks Bruin to his den. Bears are often met by accident and shot, and in this Province they have a way of coming to a moose-caller, hoping for a meal of calf. Many are trapped, sometimes in a large dead-fall, but usually ,n a steel Newhouse boar-trap, so placed that the bear must walk over the trap to get at the bait, which is either of meat or a bundle of trout, soaked sometimes in molasses or honey. In some counties there is a bounty of $2 on bears, which might be made general throughout the Province.

Wild-cats are very numerous and play havoc with game-birds and hares, as well as with tbe farmer’s lambs. There is therefore a bounty of $1 on them n some counties. The wild-cat (lynx rufits, bay lynx or bobcat) is a strong, savage, and exceedingly shy animal, almost never seen unless tracked and brought to bay by trained hounds, or when caught in traps or snares. A very large one will weigh 40 lbs. and measure four feet from tail to nose. Its pelt makes a pretty mat. In spite of all backwoods traditions, there is no record of a wild-cat attacking a man.

Nova Scotia offers excellent game-bird shooting, the three classes of wild-fowl, forest-birds, and shore-birds or waders, being well represented. They comprise wild ducks, geese, ruffed grouse (partridge), woodcock, snipe, plover, yellowlegs, sandpiper, curlew, and others. The best places and seasons for these birds may be ascertained at the Capital.

At present in Nova Scotia there is a tendency to protect gamebirds of all kinds, and on that account non-residents are required to pay the same license for shooting them as for moose, S30, a tax the size of which is not conducive to the encouragement of visiting bird-hunters.

Fishing.—Along the entire shore of Nova Scotia the usual salt water fish may be caught in abundance, such as cod, pollock, perch, flounders, &c., but neither the native nor the visitor has as yet paid much attention to the big game fishes that occupy so much of the angler's time farther south. Two of these are among the choicest there are, the striped bass and the leaping tuna, though the latter is not eaten on this side of the Atlantic, except by our Italian fellow-citizens.

The two great game fishes of Nova Scotia are the Atlantic salmon and the speckled or brook trout. Large toque (salvelinus ramaycush) or lake trout, are found in several lakes, as in Nine-Mile Lake, Lunenburg County. A land-locked variety of the salmon, the Sibago salmon, is found in some waters, as Grand Lake and Beaver Bank Lake in Halifax County.

Nova Scotia was once famous for her salmon-streams, and such rivers as the Medway, Mersey, St. Mary’s, Margaree, Tusker, Salmon, Petite Riviere, Tangier, Mira and others, still offer really excellent sport, which is sure to increase in quarry with greater care in the preservation of the fish.

Many conditions combine to make Nova Scotia an ideal trout fishing country, such as the extensive waterways and literally innumerable lakes, the uniform coolness of the water combined with the richness in insect life, and the fact that, though in former times cruelly maltreated by the lumbermen, the forests to a very great extent still stand, thus preserving the water-supply, which experience shows us must decrease and even disappear with the cutting down of the trees. At last the lumber dealers are alive to the benefits of economic forestry, and the Government to the evident fact that streams and lakes must be yearly restocked with finger lings of both salmon and trout.

Food conditions in this Province do not favour the growth of gigantic trout, one of three pounds being a rarity, but nature has made up by giving a never-ending supply of good fish, ranging from I to 4 lb. up to 3 lbs., the average in the best waters being between 3 to 4 and 1 lb. in weight, which any experienced fisherman will acknowledge to be very large. This may not sound so grand as some of the promises of certain interested parties, but it is llterally true, and the statement can be added that Nova Scotia yields to no country in the world in the number of trout that can be taken by hook and line at any part of the open season.

Season.—The trout-fishing season opens by law on April 1, and ends on August 31. Fishing through the ice for trout is prohibited, a fact which prevents much fishing before middle of April, as the ice does not commonly go out of the lakes before that date, though exceptions occur. Fishing is at the height of excellence about May 1 or soon after, and continues fine until July, when it falls off somewhat, on account of the trout seeking the cooler waters of the lakes and pools. Nevertheless there is no time, even in the hot weather when a “string of fish ” cannot be caught with a fair amount of trouble and skill. Towards the last of August the fishing looks up again and remains fine until the season ends. This period has the advantage of total immunity from insect pests.

As to fishing grounds it would be difficult to find a country hotel in the Province near which some good trout-brook or lake cannot be found; in fact it is always possible to live at a regular country boarding-place and still get all the fishing wanted without spending a night in the woods. But it nevertheless remains true that the farther from the regular haunts of men you go, the better will the fishing he, and most anglers, far from deeming it a disadvantage to live in the open, consider it a priceless privilege to combine the joys of their particular craft with the delights of canoeing and camping out.

Fairy Lake (Keilgeemakonge in the Micmac Indian tongue) is one of the largest (about 10 miles by 5 miles) and most beautitul bodies, of water in the Province, lying in Annapolis, and Queen’s Counties, and surrounded by the best moose-country, especially on the west and south. The Maitland, West, Little, and other streams How into it, all affording the best canoeing and leading up to wonderful trout-waters. In the lake itself the fishing is of the very best, such places as the mouths of the streams mentioned, Jeremy’s Bay, &c., being famous. The best pools of all are found near the exit of the Liverpool River, in the celebrated George’s Runs (East and West Runs) and Eelweir, whiie the river itself is a series of celebrated pools from Fairy Lake down to the great Lake Rossignol.

In the early days the land about Kedgeemakoege was granted bv the Government to the Micmac Indians as a reservation, but they have passed away or scattered, and their former camping grounds have been deserted for many decades. Lying so long idle, the Department of Indian Affairs recently decided to lease the lands and apply the yearly rental to the Indian fund of the Treasury.

The lease luckily fell into the hands of a sportsman and a lover of nature who proposes to still preserve, in its natural beauty, this great recreation ground, and open it to a limited number of seekers after health, rest, or sport. Under his conservative supervision the Kedgeemakooge Rod and Gun Club of Nova Scotia, Ltd., has been organised, and incorporated by letters patent. Accepted members are granted all the privileges conveyed by the original lease, as well as the same rights on other lands in the vicinity owned by the lessee.

Initiation fee has been fixed at $100.00, with annual dues such as seem necessary to sustain the requirements of the club, probably not exceeding $5.00.

Building sites, all having water frontage, are free to members, who may select their own lot, put up a tent on a substantial cabin, and own a permanent summer home for their families or friends— a retreat in primitive wilds where real life and perfect freedom, unshackled by social forms, make for health and supreme happiness. Fishing licenses are provided free for members.

Reliable licensed guides are retained by this club, and kept in readiness with motor boats and canoes.

Telephone, daily mail and livery afford constant communication with the outside world for those whose inclination or business interest will not permit entire isolation. On the whole I cannot imagine anything more deserving of the epithet sport deluxe.

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