The Yukon is home to a dizzying array of wildlife from song birds to raptors to water fowl, porcupines, red, black and arctic foxes and of course Moose, Caribou, Bison, deer, sheep and Grizzly, Black and Polar bears. Let’s not forget the variety of fish species along with more reclusive animals like the Lynx and the wolverine.

A hunter with a caribou

More Than A Road Trip

In all of the natural world, there are few sights that can match the spectacle of the great barren-ground caribou migrations.

A Robin

Counting Birds This Christmas

I was not sure what to expect for my first Christmas Bird Count, a few winters ago. For someone who, back then, didn’t know her birds…

A reindeer

Reindeer Nation

Canada is home to many species such as the beaver, the common loon, the Canada lynx, moose, wolverines—and the list goes on.

The venerable Arctic ground squirrel

Freeze-Proof Animals

Each winter, our furry neighbours don an extra-thick coat of fur and fat to make it through the winter. But a coat isn’t the only strategy…

A man and a woman stand outside a log cabin in winter with furs from a season of trapping hanging on the wall

The Trapper’s Life

What is trapping? I had no idea. But I slowly but surely found out that hunting and trapping is a passion. Serious, gorgeous and grounding.

fish strew and ingredients

The Unexpected Joys of Fishing

I never thought that I would like fishing. In fact, as with many things our minds convince us of, I went through the better part of my life certain that I was very happy having nothing to do with piscine pursuits. I didn’t particularly like eating fish and I felt no need to try to catch one. And then I fell in love with a man who loves fishing.

A Bird With Many Names

If you have been camping this year, was your picnic table visited by a Gray Jay, a Canada Jay, a Whiskeyjack or a Camp Robber? The answer is almost certainly, yes.

A coyote stalks through the snow and trees

Behind Every Great Flea Is A Lesser Flea

An area of land that includes habitat like water, or sources of food and places where animals seek shelter will support specific animals or birds. Because that parcel of land would support a grouse, does not mean the same parcel would support a different population of birds.

Fly Straight Like a Honeybee

The idiom make a beeline for is a bit of a mystery as we watch the erratic dance of bees – So, what’s with bees and beelines?

It’s All In The Sign

When the animal you are tracking comes into question, just keep walking … You can clearly see the difference in the poop.

A bear spray refresher

They may still be good, but who wants to learn they don’t work while facing a bear? Each container has only eight seconds of spray.

Come and see the wildlife!

The Yukon hasn’t seen many nice days yet this summer, but there are still ample outdoor opportunities. The Yukon Wildlife Preserve, for example, has a full season planned.

Yukon Swallow and Bats on Farmlands

For the past two years, Maria Leung and team have been studying a few swallow species in and around farmlands in Yukon, namely Barn Swallow, Bank Swallow, Rusty Blackbird, and Little Brown Bat, with the support of local farmers and landowners.

Spring in a rush of wings

Celebration of Swans is back! Bird lovers rejoice! After an unprecedented hiatus, Celebration of Swans returns this year to Swan Haven at Marsh Lake, with events, activities and avian fun, with some new COVID-19 safety measures in place. The annual event, which marks the return of tens of thousands of migratory waterfowl, such as Arctic …

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Knowing the Canadian beaver

Back in the 50s and 60s, before many of my readers were even born, as a conservation officer I had the pleasure of undertaking many studies on specific wildlife. These included banding waterfowl, tagging and following fish species, partaking in tagging waterfowl, netting and tagging fish, big game management such as flying the winter yards, …

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Photo-bombed by a moose

I didn’t see the moose when I took the pictures, nor when I looked at the images the first time. I was too busy enjoying the shots of the sun-kissed Three Guardsmen peaks and the brilliant skyline. I had been photo-bombed by a moose—twice! Imagine the story the moose had to tell back with his buddies.

A chance on winter

The process of watching, listening and trying to identify a bird will help you remember that species, and perhaps that particular bird, forever.

Learning from the land

The Porcupine Caribou Herd is one of the largest barren-ground caribou herds in North America. It numbered approximately 220,000 when it was last counted in 2017, a record-breaking high. Despite this, the herd faces challenges.

Connecting this holiday season

Like our need for connectivity, much of the Yukon’s wildlife also needs to be able to travel from one place to another.

A smooth recovery

A golden eagle is recovering at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve after arriving in August, weighing only half of what a healthy eagle should weigh. The bird, brought up from Watson Lake, had a fractured scapular, which was preventing him from flying.

Factors in wildlife management

Look at a section of forest that has been harvested. A group of conservation-minded people entered the cut and made a number of bush piles. The bush pile becomes a safety net for rabbits, squirrels and other such creatures, but let’s not stop there.

We’re Wild About It!

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve voted into the top 10 percent of worldwide attractions to visit on Trip Advisor.

Avoiding a “grizzly” situation

Wildlife viewing is a favourite Yukon pastime. How does the Species at Risk Act & better understanding Canada’s biodiversity protect that?

Factors in wildlife management

Progression. Now there’s a word that’s important to the future of all wildlife. Look at a section of forest that has been harvested. A group of conservation-minded people entered the cut and made a number of bush piles. The bush pile becomes a safety net for rabbits, squirrels and other such creatures, but let’s not …

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Muskrat season

In the delta, March meant one thing—muskrat trapping season was open. And trapped muskrat pelts fetched damned near $2.50 apiece back in 1976.

All about the red fox

Foxes have a number of colour phases. Mainly, we see the red and white, but additional phases include all-black, and black and red. No matter what colour, these foxes all have two things in common.

Christmas bird counts are fun for kids too

Julie Bauer loves birding with kids. The-long-time Haines Junction resident and birder is leading Canada’s most northerly Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for Kids on Dec. 14. The unique event is part of an international citizen science program for monitoring and conserving birds. 

Candy for the carnivores

Yukon Wildlife Preserve annual Wild Trick or Eat event. Stuffed pumpkins have been added to the menu for special carnivore feeding.

The amazing bat

Part 1 of 2 Back in the 1930s and 40s, many weird stories hung from the tails of bats—they would get tangled in your hair, they were mixed up in witchcraft, a bite from a bat would condemn you to a life married to a witch. The list went on, despite the fact they were …

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Catch the action in Teslin

With its northwest orientation, Teslin Lake is considered a sort of bird funnel, directing birds south during fall migration. Many migrating birds are attracted to the lakeshore near the mouth of 10-Mile Creek. So many that a seasonal bird banding and monitoring station—the Teslin Lake Bird Observatory—was started there in 2005.

Nuts to the red squirrels

Red squirrels are a fascinating part of the outdoor life. They also can be an intentional nuisance to your pet dog. We often watch Red, the red squirrel that inhabits our backyard, as he torments Avalanche, our Siberian husky, daily. Red also steals the peanuts we put out for the magpies. Although the red squirrel …

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Interview with the raven

“Our favourite human EVER was Genghis Khan. That man knew how to put on a spread.” Raven Mythology #5 by Joe Ben Raven via Doug Sack Doug Sack: Do you solemnly swear the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you Odin? Joe …

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Getting to know bears

If I had to say which member of the bear family I mistrust the most, with little hesitation, I would say the black bear. This is backed up by an experience I had as a conservation officer at the Ottawa Sportsman show. The department had a two-year-old black bear that had been in captivity all …

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Raven kronks, Leprechaun croaks

I remember my first conversation with Joe Ben Raven like it happened yesterday. It was the winter construction season of 1972-73 up on the Eagle Plains of the Yukon’s half-built Dempster Highway in a borrow pit south of the Oasis in the Wilderness—a hotel which is itself only 35 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle. …

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Grizzley Bear

The bears are back in town

Never far away, but hibernating over the winter, the bears are awake now and ravenously hungry. Actually, bears are always hungry.

Not like the dinosaurs

Each year, Earth Day focuses on a specific theme to raise awareness of a particular environmental issue we are currently facing. (Last year’s theme encouraged people to make positive changes in their lifestyles by reducing their plastic consumption.) This year, Earth Day aims to draw attention to threatened and endangered species across the planet. Here, …

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Counting birds is a social affair

The International Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is Dec. 14 – Jan 5. last year (2017) saw 12 in The Yukon from Watson Lake to the Tombstones.

A shelter from the storm

It’s quite amazing how many people (if they admit it) have had a potentially near-death experience in the outdoors. It’s rarely a plane crash or a boat-sinking experience. Actually, these situations are often due to inadequate planning or mistakes. It’s just three years ago that four really experienced outdoorsmen went to shore in October to …

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What’s on the river? – A winter warm-up to the Christmas Bird Count

It’s snowy and cold outside, and most of the Yukon’s migratory birds, such as swans, pretty yellow warblers, ducks and shorebirds, have long fled the territory. There’s always a few species, however, that linger. A favoured habitat for some of these birds is the Yukon River, just below the Rotary Centennial Bridge (“blue bridge”) near …

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Feeding our feathered friends … do it for joy, and do it for science

It’s winter—time to check out the bird feeders and stock up on “fast food” for our feathered friends. A huge variety of bird feeders are available in local stores or can be made easily from milk jugs or cartons. The cheerful black-capped chickadee is the most frequently reported “feeder bird” in the Yukon and in …

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Never-fail old standbys

It seems we are living in an age of electronic wizardry. Every season there is a raft of new GPS and communication devices as well as night-vision, heat sensors and range-finding scopes. In the current race to get all these new gizmos, we often forget about some old and very dependable items from the past. …

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Superbirds (a.k.a. ornithology, a.k.a. birdlore)

This quiet, reserved and thoughtful corner of the year-round Yukon has gone to the birds this week, namely Arctic terns, the all-time migratory champions, not only of the bird kingdom but also the entire non-human animal world, including bugs and butterflies. You won’t believe what you are about to read but, first, you have to …

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Know your firearm

The first thing you should do after taking a hunter safety course is to go to the nearest shooting range and ask for help in getting to know your rifle.

Catch ‘the Kraken’!

Catch the Kraken offers Alaskan saltwater charter fishing (targeting halibut), but other species include rockfish, cod, flounder, wolf fish, pollock and shark.

First hunting trip, with the best guides

I grew up in the traditional way in and around Pelly Crossing, learning to hunt, fish and trap from my relatives and Elders. It wasn’t until I was 16 years old, though, in 1963, that I had my first real long hunting trip.

The ecological web: A story of salmon caught in the middle

“Nature is not something else, isolated, out there; it is as much a part of us as we are of it, and neither can be altered without impacting on the whole.” – Adam Weymouth The Yukon River holds many roles—the namesake of a territory, the history of peoples for thousands of years and home to …

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Fishing with Children

The first rule of fishing with children is that it has to be fun or it will fail.

Fishing with children

Fishing for youngsters may be their first glimpse of ethics and responsible behaviour in relation to nature.

Be Prepared

It is absolutely amazing how even a little preparation can get us through challenges that could be insurmountable without a bit of prep time.

Increasing the chance of survival

For the past two years, Yukon College student Cheyenne Bradley has been working at the McIntyre Creek Salmon Incubation Site while taking classes at the College.

Ropes and the rope bag

Ropes are the long standing traditional way to fasten or tie things down. These days, those ratchet devices with straps and hooks have replaced knots and loops. For some of us older people, ropes are still the logical tie-down tool.

Caring for the bison hunt rifle

Since the bison hunt started, hunters have had problems with their rifles. Steps to prep them for -25ºC to -40ºC range.

Moose Round Steak

Moose round steak

Tenderloin and backstraps (striploin) get all the hype regarding being the most tender cuts off any wild game animal. They have a good reputation as they usually are tender unless they aren’t cooked properly – which is very often as many people insist on cooking wild game just like they would cook beef. For many …

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Camp guns for bears

A “bear gun” in camp or at the cabin is very common in the Yukon. It’s primary function is for protection of the humans in camp.

Human migrations changed hunting

The discovery of Gold in the Klondike region in 1896, brought huge numbers of people to the Yukon. All these people had to be fed.

Knowing the beaver

Picture this: an animal that lived in our waterways, here in Canada that was close to 8 feet long, big chisel teeth and could swim above and below the water line. Of course you would have had to live a few thousands of years ago. It was a beaver – and the beaver of those …

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Wall tent camp

The wall tent camp

Sleeping on good quality cots with a wood stove it was so comfortable that I stayed eight nights and prob-ably slept better than at home.

Who’s still here?

Fall migration is over, but you can still see some pretty cool birds around if you know where to look.

Whip ‘em out and measure!

On Saturday, November 18, all Yukon Fish and Game members are welcome to bring their antlers, horns and skulls to be measured and scored by certified Boone and Crockett scorers.

Hunting in the Yukon – Part 1

An excerpt of Manfred Hoefs’ recently released book Yukon’s Hunting History. Yukon’s history, time scale & events are unique.

Getting Further, Going Lighter

Even from the isolation of our north of 60 towns, one is able to equip themselves without reaching onto internet shelving any more than necessary. With so many amazing, new, big-ticket items, some of the things that have really changed the way I pack – and, subsequently, the way I hunt – are often under …

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See the Amazing Journey

Now’s the time to visit the Whitehorse fish ladder. This month the Yukon River Chinook salmon are migrating through Whitehorse, and the Whitehorse Rapids Fishway, located in Riverdale at the end of Nisutlin Road,is a good place to seem them in action. The wooden fish ladder is the longest of its kind in the world …

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Human Errors Re: Bears

Sadly some human errors are fatal mistakes when bears are involved. Bears are somewhat predictable, but there are many exceptions to that rule. As a result, humans must always err on the side of caution when in bear country. Recent photos in the news from Banff show two separate situations where a human has moved …

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Bear Spray

It’s that time of the year again, the bears are out and we need a refresher on bear spray. It isn’t magic – and definitely not the solution to all bear problems – but with a little know-how it will keep you safe in most bear encounter situations. Bear spray is a tool to help …

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The Life of Rabbits and Hares

Growing up in the 1930 and early 40s was tough times. First, there was the Great Depression, followed closely by the Second World War. For the average family, money was tough, far tougher than today and rabbits and hares often graced the supper plates. Of course the cottontail rabbit was the choice of the two …

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Coyotes in the Neighbourhood

Coyotes inhabit everywhere from Central America to the Canadian territories. Originally they resided in the west, but now they reside all across Canada including Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland since the 1980s – they crossed over when ice tied the islands to the mainland. They are somewhat opportunistic in their menu choices, but mammals make …

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Ode to Mosquitos

I love blood-sucking mosquitos In my eyes, ears and nose; On my chips, nachos and tacos, In my hair and between my toes.

Wild Times

“They’re [cranes] a much more delicate bird, compared to the swans,” says Carrie McClelland, a wildlife viewing biologist with Environment Yukon. “They stand three and a half to four feet tall, with a six foot wingspan, but they only weigh around seven or eight pounds. They’re very slender.” Lesser sandhill cranes migrate each year from …

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Spring Guests

If the crocus is the official flower of spring, then the swan must be the official bird of spring in the Yukon. Each year thousands of swans ascend to the Yukon from winter feeding grounds along the coasts of Washington and southern British Columbia. Their annual stop brings them to Marsh Lake, where the birds …

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Swans are an ‘easy sell’

Sylvie Binette probably has the easiest job at the Department of Natural Resources.  As a wildlife viewing technician, it is her job to make the public aware of swan habitat and why it is important to preserve it.  It’s an easy job because Swan Haven, on Marsh Lake’s M’Clintock Bay, offers a marvellous view of …

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Portable Burn Barrel

On a recent half-day ice-fishing adventure with our son, I got to experience some of the benefits of a portable burn barrel that he has been using for the past five or six years. He puts it to use throughout the year, but spring/autumn hunts and hard-water fishing are when it sees pretty consistent use. …

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“It will take a few minutes.” Almost all the time, taking a few minutes to get a fire going is an acceptable part of the outdoor adventure. There are some semi-emergency or worse situations where we need the fire going right now and a few minutes is just too long. Getting warm is an immediate …

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Birding on the Fly

I’ve joined her in a Riverdale neighbourhood in search of a rare Mountain chickadee. The first species we see, however, is a noisy woodpecker, a “Hairy.” Whitehorse resident Tracy Allard brings out her smartphone and taps an app called eBird to start her checklist: the type, number and location of each bird she’ll see on this …

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Fishing on a Budget

The equipment needed to start out fishing can be very expensive and it’s really easy to spend a lot more than you need to. One of the first things a prospective angler needs to learn is that the huge rack of lures and accessories was made more to catch you than to catch fish. There …

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From the Catch to the Table

For those who don’t like the taste of fish, the reason is because of the lack of proper handling of the fish from the time it is caught to the minute it is served. It might come as a surprise to some, but a fish starts to deteriorate the minute it is hooked. More often …

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Winter Bird Feeding

I feed the birds in winter because it makes me feel good to do it and the birds certainly seem to enjoy it as well. Squirrels certainly take advantage of the situation, but seem to be much less interested in the feeders that do not contain sunflower seeds. Squirrels can also be stopped by blocking …

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To go where few people go: I wonder if that is why we saw four wolverines playing?

On August 13, my friend Nancy Ohm and I went for a hike in my backyard. I’ve been working on a walking trail towards the mountains for 20 years. I am making slow process, using only a small ax and clippers. Lately, I have seen signs of people, probably neighbours, establishing the trail. Great! Still, …

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Ptarmigan, Yukon wildlife

Ptarmigan: Nothing but facts

The Ptarmigan is the territorial bird of the Yukon. Ed. Note:  The distinction of being known as the Yukon’s territorial bird goes to the raven, which, Canada Post recently announced, is to be featured on a stamp.  Ravens are more widespread than ptarmigan. They are found throughout the territory and are totally black.  The Ptarmigan …

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On memory, and bears

This is a story from many years ago, about the day I was followed by four bears – a close-call bear encounter kind of story. I was on a solstice hike up Kelvin Mountain with Allison Morham and Jane Vincent. Jane and I see each other regularly, but I only run into Allison every few …

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Gone Fishing

As a Conservation Officer in Ontario in the late 1950s through the 1960s, I patrolled the St. Lawrence River to the Quebec border. I came upon a very strange group of people between five and 90 years old. They were in search of a specific species whose ancestors date back 100 millions years ago and …

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September is harvest time. Berries are juicy and ripe for picking; root crops need to be dug and stored. The shortening days are a clear indicator that it is nearly time to put the garden to bed. September also marks the return of the coho and provides anglers not only the thrill of the catch, …

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Avoiding Calamity with Bears

Yes, bear stories, undoubtedly a favourite topic in the Yukon and one that gets people talking. As I write here, there is a black bear poking around on our property. I have never had a true calamity involving a bear in my 30 years of hiking and living in the Yukon. Recently, I tripped and …

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Summer Birding: It’s All About the Kids

In summer, birding is all about the kids. Or, chicks. After the spring blitz of migration and mating, many birds are rearing offspring and staying closer to their nests. It’s a time when many Yukoners stop birding. “Our forests are usually more silent and less colourful as males no longer have to advertise for mates or rivals,” …

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Forget the Tortoise…

The lynx waits patiently by an animal trail at edge of the forest. A snowshoe hare emerges and the chase is on! Within a handful of leaps, each pushing their long hind legs and padded feet through the snow, the lynx is triumphant. She will be in prime condition to nurse her kittens come spring. …

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A Bird in the Hand is Messy

I don’t like crows. I never have, and probably never will. I can spend hours watching eagles soar and glide on the thermals. I love blue herons, in flight or standing in solitude along the shoreline. Ravens are mysterious and interesting. Loons, well you get the point. There are many birds I like. As a child …

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Oh, Chickadee!

Of all the birds of the forest, the chickadee is my favourite. Growing up in Nova Scotia, it was one of the first birds I knew. My family had a cottage in the forest on the shore of St. Margaret’s Bay, outside Halifax. The black caps regularly shared our play areas. This tiny, cheery bird …

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You Know It’s Spring When the Swans Arrive

“Last year was a big year,” says Scott Cameron, Environment Yukon’s Wildlife Viewing Technician. “We were up to 2,000 swans every day for a few days.” The height, he says, was April 9, when 2,200 were counted out on M’Clintock Bay. Typically that number is closer to 1,200. “And early too – usually you expect …

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Until the mid to late 1800s, all firearms were muzzle-loaders, which, as the name implies, had to be loaded singly by pushing the components – powder, patch and projectile – down the barrel from the muzzle. This loading process made them slow to get ready to shoot again, compared to how the process was accelerated …

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There’s nothing like a bird count to inspire new and seasoned birders. This Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place Feb. 12-15 and it’s a family-friendly event for any skill level. The GBBC helps to give a snapshot of bird life throughout Canada, the continent, and the world. Last year 5,090 species were recorded – …

One-Two-Tweet… Read More »

Bison: From the Edge of Extinction

People driving down the highway may see a few bison, and never realize that this animal was at one time on the very edge of extinction. The bison made  some people extremely wealthy, others kept some people from starvation, some were shot for sport from a traveling railway cars, herds were driven over cliffs simply for …

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The Story of Eagles Paradise

Every November up to 3,600 eagles gather in one place: the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in Haines, Alaska. It is the largest gathering of eagles on earth. The Preserve holds unique conditions for these magnificent birds: Sections of the Chilkat River remain ice-free and an unusually late run of salmon from November until January provides …

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Lists, Colour Coding and Labels

People new to outdoor activity such as hunting, hiking and camping are likely a bit more organized on the second or third trip than they were on the first one. At first the newbie often just stuffs the pack and gear boxes in no particular order and, unless they are lucky, has to go through …

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Missing the Mark

The Code is clear: what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Ditto for jury rooms and  papal conclaves. Double ditto for hunting trips. But sometimes a story demands to override the Code. There were four guys that September weekend on the Mayo River. Discretion suggests  they remain unnamed. The only one with actual moose-hunting experience, …

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Yukon vegetarian

I am not a hunter. Not everyone has to be. I’m spending time with a man who is respectful, thankful, spiritual about the process.

Chainsaw-chip Fire Starter

We get pretty good at fire-starting if we light enough fires, but there are some ways to make it even easier. Solid-fuel fire-starters work well but kerosene-dampened chainsaw chips are always successful at minimal cost. If you cut your own firewood, you can gather the chips around your saw-buck. If that isn’t possible, everyone has …

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Dem Bones

Pike are notorious for being boney. As a child, I developed an intense fear of choking on fish bones. Not from any horrendous experience, but probably from my little-girl brain taking an off-hand comment from my mum to be careful way too seriously. Don’t get me wrong, choking isn’t any fun, but it doesn’t mean …

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A Northern Diary

Carolyn Vincent taught in the Yukon in the 1970s and also cooked for an outfitter for a few months in 1976. She typed out a diary of what her life was like during that time. We are reprinting it here with minimal editorial tampering. Last time we left her, hunting season was just starting. Here …

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Yukon Birdathon

There are 284 bird species recorded in Yukon. This weekend is your chance to count as many as you can. The Yukon Birdathon is designed to get you out birding, and raise funds for bird conservation. Held the last weekend in May, the goal is to identify as many species as possible from Friday, May …

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Cranes Fly High Up in the Sky

The thermals above the town of Faro may account for the “tens of thousands” of sand hill cranes that fly above it each spring. Or so Rose Fulton speculates. Fulton works for the town, and is the Faro Crane and Sheep Viewing Festival coordinator. She says she’d be the event coordinator, but there aren’t enough …

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My Yukon Bison Hunt

There’s something special about waking up in a cabin with a bunch of peers who all want the same thing: to catch a bison. It puts a goal in everyone’s head, a sense of unity. There is also the excitement and thrill that this could be the day, the day we finally get that elusive …

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A Trumpeter’s Perspective

Hiya, my name is Ed, and I am a proud trumpeter swan. I’m eight-years-old and grew up in the Red Rock Lakes area of Montana, USA. Although I am American, I consider Canada to be a second home since my family and I migrate through there every year. My wife is Lily. We have four …

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Yukon Wildlife Preserve

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve has been helping injured, orphaned, and sick animals for over ten years. Located 25 minutes from downtown Whitehorse on the Hot Springs Road, It is a very important place in Whitehorse because if animals need a home they can take refuge there and be safe. Staff at the preserve’s rehabilitation centre …

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Ice Fishing Equipment

Ice fishing is a cold weather activity and your hands are involved in every operation, including cutting holes, setting up equipment, and hopefully handling fish. High quality gloves, mitts, and hand warmers are essential to keep at it for any length of time. Long before power or even hand-powered augers were available, holes for winter …

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Ice Fishing, Part 1 of 2

In southern Canada’s ice-fishing season, lakes have been traditionally dotted with wooden ice huts or shanties. These are frozen in places with propane or home-built oil drip stoves to keep the anglers warm.  Rarely in the Yukon have I seen such huts, but occasionally a collapsible tarp and plywood structure are seen.  The modern ice-angler …

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Yukon Natural History

Until recently, collections of Yukon natural history have been given homes in other parts of the country. Our own territory has had no formal collection of our own diverse species of birds, plants, or insects. Someone living in Ottawa had a better chance of viewing such collections. But, something is coming. To the Yukon Research …

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Happiness is a Warm Bird

It’s a season of traditions, and for thousands of Canadians this means taking part in the annual Christmas Bird Count. Called the “longest-running science project in the world” by the Audubon Society, this annual winter event — the 115th — can be fun, and it also has a purpose. This year the Yukon Bird Club …

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Yukon Date Night

My father has hunted for as long as I can remember. This year he retired after 38 years as a fire fighter, so my husband and I were excited to organize his first fly-in hunting trip. We have enjoyed fresh moose meat for the last three winters, so we were nearly positive it would be relatively …

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A Moose at Last

It’s been the toughest year to get motivated for hunting season. I’ve spent about 80 days over the last three years hunting moose and we’ve broken the Rhino, the truck, and the boat several times , trying to fill the freezer. The dull grey sky loomed over us like a curse as we loaded the …

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Long Range Fad

Better scopes, have made it so every hunter can take one of these rifles and shoot an animal from 800-1000 metres. Or can they?

Sheep Hunting Part 3

Many new gun cartridges have come to the market in the last few years. A number of them are in the 30-calibre-and-under range, and would be excellent for a sheep rifle. The old standbys, such as .270, .308 or .30-06 will never let you down if you do your part; they are also suitable for …

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What is Nature?

‘Nature’, or ‘natural’, have become complicated words to define. They have become over-utilized, and given a multitude of meanings.Marketing campaigns bombard us with the word, misusing it to get us to support organizations, approve initiatives, and consume products such as the Chobani yogurt. As a result, society has enabled the misuse of the meaning of …

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Sheep Hunting: Part 1

 A sheep hunt is a true test of intestinal fortitude. It is similar to an alpine hike, but with a heavier pack — due to meat-care equipment, a rifle, and ammunition. And whereas backpacks are lighter coming down on hikes, if your sheep hunt is successful, the trek out includes hauling 75-90 pounds of meat, cape, and skull. Two hunters …

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Killing My First Fish

The day I kill my first fish I eat a tuna sandwich for lunch.I’m on a bush excursion, assisting a field biologist. On our lunch break, which we take on a log on the marshy edge of Snafu Lake, I open a can of tuna I purchased at the Superstore and spread the flaked bits …

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Chinook Salmon Earn their Name

Known as spring, king, or Tyee (which means chief), Chinook salmon have started arriving in Whitehorse after leaving the Bering Sea earlier this summer. Swimming upstream in the Yukon River, these salmon ultimately travel 3200 kilometres, returning to within 100 metres of the location they were born, years earlier. Of the five species of salmon (can …

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Southern Salmon

You stand on the bridge, the rough wood warm underfoot. You lean over the green metal railing, staring into the river water. Sometimes a line of men, all strangers, sit in plastic woven lawn chairs, holding fishing rods.It’s salmon season; this means different things to different people.To me, it means going to the bridge down by …

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Tis the Season

The first few weeks of the 2014 hunting season have passed and some enthusiastic hunters were have already been on mountaintops looking for Dall sheep. Others were, and  maybe still are, are scouring the valleys and ridges for caribou or moose. Whatever your desire is, there is a huge benefit to knowing in advance what …

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The World’s Greatest Migrator: the Arctic tern flies over 45,000 kilometres each year

The last Au Naturel column looked at the sudden appearance of birds during spring migration. Today, when you walk along the Millennium Trail, look out for a white bird with pointed wings and a forked tail. It should be flying buoyantly over the river. At first glance you may think it’s a gull, but look closer …

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My View on Optics

Whether you’re a hunter, bird-watcher, naturalist, or a combination of all three, optics play a big part in the activity. Sure, wildlife can be spotted with the naked eye, but a device to magnify your vision is crucial if you want to see the creature in detail. A hunter’s ability to distinguish the sex of …

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Early in the spring, Swan Haven offers Yukoners a place to watch swans and other water birds as they stop to rest on their long migration north. Shortly thereafter we see small groups of swans flying past our farm, trumpeting as they go. Our geese really notice when wild birds fly overhead. The migrating fowl …

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A Not-So-Empty Nest

The robin obviously had a problem with us. I was hanging out on the back porch with my friend Jenny Duncombe — minding our own business — but this little bird was having none of it. At first she squawked from the safety of a pine tree 20 feet away, but things soon grew more …

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Fly Fishing for Pike

In the Yukon, fly anglers usually target arctic grayling, rainbow trout, or kokanee salmon in stocked lakes. These fish are readily available, fairly easy to catch and make great meals. One very common Yukon fish, usually overlooked by the fly-angler, is the northern pike. These great fish are often demeaned with nicknames like “slough shark” or “alligator,” and sadly …

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I Didn’t Know, Did You?

On my drive to work most mornings I laugh at the guys on the radio playing a game called, You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know. They go back and forth seeing if the other guy knows the fact that is presented. In the Yukon we have an amazing population of thin horn sheep. Dall sheep …

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Smaller Guns for Women and Youth

If the gun doesn’t fit the shooter, learning to use it will be difficult and even dangerous. Traditionally, both rifles and shotguns are made to suit an “average” sized person, but sadly that person is male and is larger than the average woman or youth. A gun that is too long for the shooter cannot …

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Duct Tape

Likely, most households, tool-kits, camping–boxes, and glove compartments contain a roll of duct tape. Originally developed to seal joints in cold-air ducts (hence the name), it has proven useful for many more purposes. As comedian Red Green says, “If you can’t fix it with duct-tape, you just can’t fix it.” He has shown over and …

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Managing Recoil in Rifles

Newton’s law about every action having an equal and opposite reaction becomes obvious, and sometimes painful, when shooting any type of firearm. Firearm recoil or kickback is affected by the energy of the particular cartridge you are shooting, the shape of the stock, the weight of the firearm, the way the gun is held, and …

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A Recipe That Might Change Everything: The Ziploc Omelette

Next to drug dealers, North American kitchens are probably the biggest users of smallish, sealable plastic bags. There are a variety of sizes and brands, but Ziploc is probably the best all-round choice. Not only can you freeze things in them, but if you’re careful there is at least one dish you can cook in …

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The Unexpected

It was a cool November morning in 2010, when the unexpected happened. My dog Gypsy and I had walked the Fish Lake Road area for the past five years, enjoying the tranquility and beauty of McIntyre Creek. Par for the course was to park the truck at the bird-watching pull out, just before Icy Waters …

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Bison Hunt: On The Table 5/5

When serving bison, ideally the first meal is raved about. If not you’ll have difficulty serving the remaining 2300 pounds in the freezer.


Bison Hunt: In The Kitchen 4/5

Nutrient comparison: fat per 100 grams of lean cooked meat: bison: 2.42 grams; choice beef: 10.15 grams; pork: 9.66 gram. Why we hunt Bison.

field dressed game

Bison Hunt: Field Care 3/5

I suppose by now some hunter has field-dressed a large wood bison by themselves, but I’ll bet they never want to do it again.

Bison Hunt: Getting Equipped 2/5

Hunting Bison isn’t easy. One bull broken down and weighed in pieces is 2,300 pounds. Big animals that can disappear after being hit well.


Bison Hunt: intro of the herd 1/5

1998 was the first bison hunting season. They did nothing to avoid hunters. Later they became wary so hunting them became more challenging.

Smoker Choice and Maintenance

Leaning against the counter at my wife Heather’s staff party, I listened to tales of hiking trips, caribou hunts, broken ATVs and fishing trips good and bad. With the plethora of personalities involved we heard many perspectives of a similar story, until the topic of ice fishing came up. Even the least experienced outdoors person …

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Finally Fishing Time

Leaning against the counter at my wife Heather’s staff party, I listened to tales of hiking trips, caribou hunts, broken ATVs and fishing trips good and bad. With the plethora of personalities involved we heard many perspectives of a similar story, until the topic of ice fishing came up. Even the least experienced outdoors person …

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Canning Wild Meat

Before electricity, drying and canning were the only ways to preserve meat, but I’ll bet it didn’t take long to get tired of eating dried meat.? With freezers in every home, canning meat has become very uncommon – which is a shame because it is easy, tasty, and it really tenderizes tough meat. It’s also …

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Vacuum Sealers

Fish quality deteriorates faster than anything else in your freezer. Flavour loss and freezer-burn are the most common results. Double wrapping with plastic and butcher paper allows longer storage, but vacuum packing is the secret to longevity with frozen fish. The early versions of shrink-wrapping devices were large, expensive, and not as dependable as later …

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Time For Birds: Birds are Counting on Us

Looking for a break from the seasonal frenzy of eating, partying, and shopping? Think about signing up for another holiday tradition: your local Christmas bird count. For fun, or for friendly competition, you’ll be in good company. This year’s 114th annual Christmas Bird Count will involve people in more than 2,000 towns and cities throughout …

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Wrapping for the Freezer

Freezer-burn ruins a lot of meat, fish, and vegetables every year. It is caused by air leakage in the packaging, which allows the moisture to escape, drying out the contents. The drying out process leaves the product looking as if it was burned and it is ruined as far as human consumption is concerned. This …

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Coleman: A Good Name in Camping Equipment

It’s been a long time since I was a child, but I clearly remember Coleman lights and stoves on my earliest family camping trips. These days Coleman produces various camping and outdoor equipment including canoes, coolers, tents, modern stoves, LED lights, and of course, old stand-byes like lights and stoves, using either propane canisters or …

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Local Angler Receives National Recognition

On October 9, 2013 Dennis Zimmerman was awarded the 2013 Recreational Fishing Award. This award, which is only handed out to a handful of Canadians or Canadian organizations each year, recognizes the dedication he has shown in the conservation, restoration and enhancement of Canada’s recreational fisheries. In the Yukon, Zimmerman is the executive director of …

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The Cut-Throat World of Forest Real Estate

Sometimes it’s tough to find the perfectplace to live, or even a place to live at all. During these times of scant housing, have you ever considered moving into an occupied house? Why not just set up camp in the third floor of someone else’s nice home? Whitehorse’s Dr. Kathryn Aitken, instructor/coordinator of the BSc …

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Hunting Ethics

Respect is one of the most important ideas a hunter can learn and practice.

Tarps Around Camp

Tarpaulins are a very important, but often under-utilized, piece of outdoor equipment. There is no reason why a nature enthusiast shouldn’t have a bunch of tarps in different sizes, since they go on sale for half price at Canadian Tire a couple of times per year. They come in different levels of quality, but the …

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Lighting and Keeping a Fire

Fires keep us warm, get us dry, cook our food, act as a signal and make us feel good. Anyone can eventually get a fire going but getting it done quickly can be a life-saver, or at the very least get everyone warmer sooner. The “one match fire” works with practice, but carrying a minimal …

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Axe Care and Use

I’ve never found a hatchet very useful, but they are very common camping equipment. If hatchet carriers tried a short, full-sized axe, I am confident they’d dump the hatchet. An axe, even a short handled one is used with two hands most of the time and packs much more impact when splitting firewood than a …

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Lost and Found

In 2010, I was privileged to hunt with my 12-year-old daughter on our second successful moose hunt. We were able to get a shot at a large 64″ Alaska/Yukon bull resting in the willows, but due to the hard walking, Hayley was unable to manoeuvre through the brush with our binoculars. We found a spot …

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Boot Care

A high-quality, well-made pair of hiking boots will probably cost you much more than your sleeping bag and almost as much as your tent. Having laid out all that cash, you’ll probably want the boots to last for a few years and that is certainly possible with a little TLC. If you’ve cared for the …

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Who Wears the Fishing Pants?

There is a competitive spirit in our house. Every season my wife Heather and I bicker about the size and amount of fish we will catch. Heather is usually a few dozen fish up on me by the time the ice comes off, so I pull the “fish per season” card. This usually ends up …

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The Butterfly Report

On July 16, 2013 I saw a super big moth. I am not into moths yet, I’m just getting to know butterflies, but this Bedstraw Hawk-moth is special and it loves my garden because of the Northern Bedstraw that grows abundantly. I had not seen this moth for several years, but it is unmistakable due …

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What to Have in a First Aid Kit

You’ll never be sorry for carrying a basic First Aid kit with you on your outdoor adventures. Kits are available ready-made, but they are expensive and often include something you’ll never need – and are missing something necessary. Having the First Aid kit is vital, but training is essential and available locally. You and your …

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Beginner’s Luck

We pulled into Frenchman Lake campground late at night to find it full. The day was like every other Friday, too busy to take care of camping preparations. We decided to move on to Nanatuk and luckily found the last spot on the water still open. I was behind the rest of the camping pack …

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There’s a Bear in my Yard!

Whether your yard is a camp-site, the area around your cabin or your fenced residential property, it is still disconcerting and sometimes frightening to have a bear that close to you. It’s more common than we realize because a bear may check out your space and finding nothing to attract and hold it there, and …

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Songbirds Need Our Help

Recent reports indicate that populations of northern boreal forest birds are doing better here than in other parts of Canada. Local biologist Katie Aitken says it’s mainly due to Yukon‘s relatively pristine natural environment. “While research has been limited, there are indications Yukon birds are somewhat protected from the declines underway in other parts of …

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Soooo Cute

Some pretty cute babies have been born at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve this spring. There are several sheep lambs, four lynx kittens, a mule deer fawn and a caribou calf. And their cuteness is drawing people out to see them. “Babies are the big hit,” says Marjorie Powers, a volunteer at the preserve. “They all …

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More Tips About Tents

Now that you’ve selected a tent and figured out how to set it up, let’s consider some more tips to get the best use out of it and to make it last for many years. The fly that came with the tent is essential. No matter what the weather is like at set-up time, put …

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The Tent: A True Survival Item

If you are interested in sheep-hunting or high country backpacking, then your tent may be the most important item you will ever own. Suffer through bad weather and your attention will quickly be drawn to the difference between low and high quality tents. Over the years, I’ve seen and heard about a number of tents …

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New Beginnings

It was warm for opening day of the season but I was not going to complain. My dad, Spike, and I sat in the only patch of grass tall enough to hide in. The sun was on our backs and our German Shepherd lay between us. The Hudson Bay’s tide was far out and it …

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From Community TV to National TV

When you hear the name Maximum Limit Fishing, you might expect the same old fishing show. But this is not the case for the Northwest Territories-based production. Maxim Bloudov has created a truly Northern experience to share with all. “I watch fishing shows religiously and have been fishing my whole life, 80 per cent of …

From Community TV to National TV Read More »

How to Cook a Meal in a Pit

Yukon is blessed with many pea-gravel beaches surrounding our lakes. These locations are perfect for pit-cooking. It is a bit of effort to dig out the pit, reduce the fire to coals, prepare the food and arrange it on the fire, but once you’ve done that you can relax. Food wrapped in good quality foil …

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Simple Mouse Fly

Mouse flies are often used for pike, inconnue, muskie, bass and large trout with many different patterns available. A lot of these patterns come with eyes, whiskers and nicely trimmed deer bodies along with a hefty price tag. I believe these extras are not necessary. Below, I will tell you how to tie a very …

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Fly Brooch Pin

To create a brooch pin, I have chosen a fly that has worked very well for me on Pacific salmon in Alaska. This Black Laced Neptune is an adaptation of the Neptune Streamer which was originally used for large brook trout in Labrador. Since its inception, it has also been used successfully for numerous other …

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How to Avoid Tempting Hungry Bears to Your Home

This bear checking out the snack-potential within a hummingbird feeder shows their amazing sense of smell; by Nicole Tattam A new community-based wildlife organization is presenting a series of guest speaker events in three Yukon communities in May. Wildwise Yukon, a newly formed organization, aims to create a lively and informative discussion about how to …

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Home-Made Trail Snacks

Fruit Leather is a chewy fruit roll or bar made by blending and drying fresh fruit into a leathery consistency. If it is kept cool it will last for the duration of any trek or sleep-over. To make your own, use a Teflon coated cookie sheet covered with a plastic wrap held around the edges …

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Warm Feet, Happy Feet

Everyone has had cold feet ruin or at least negatively impact an otherwise great day. Our feet are some distance away from our body heat source and are constantly in contact with cold ground, water and snow. Treat them right and you’ll stay happy. This is doubly important with kids’ feet because their misery becomes …

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Getting Kids out of Pyjamas and into Ice Fishing

To a large extent, the past four months have featured long stretches of bone-chilling temperatures, blustery weekends and mind-numbing wind chill. After a few weeks of missing the “hard water”, I can usually muster up the inner strength to head out there in the freeze and give it a go. (Trying to entice my kids …

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Didee & Didoo – Poem “WILDLIFE ALPHABET”


Sleeping Outdoors

Trappers and dog mushers have always slept out in the cold and with a few exceptions have done well. I got my start in occasionally sleeping outdoors in the winter in 1998 during a winter hunting season for bison. A lot of hard lessons were learned and planning and preparation swiftly became more important. A …

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What’s in a Birdsong?

Now is the time to really tune in to what birds are singing. June is when the numbers of Yukon migratory species – the warblers, sparrows, ducks and shorebirds – peak. Each morning, they create a rhapsody of songs focused on one prime (or should I say “primal”) objective – the desire to mate. Pam …

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Dropping into Pumphouse Lake

It is that time of year again: birds chirping, weeds growing, bugs stirring, and the sun is providing much-needed nutrients and oxygen for life. The ice has left the lakes and fish are hungry for a bite. Despite what the Canadian Tire catalogue tells you, the new patio furniture, bike equipment, car detailing, lawn and …

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t’s a Birdfest!

Want to have some fun outdoors? Like birds but can’t tell the difference between a crow and a raven? Then think about taking part in the 25th Annual Yukon Birdathon. You can work on bird identification skills while exploring some spectacular natural settings. And you might even win a prize. With the return of summer …

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Even For the Yukon, This Office is Wild

Few people have the good fortune to be interrupted at their computer by the thunderous sound of two muskox butting heads. Then again, I don’t know many who have bottle-fed a moose between budget meetings, event planning and grant writing. This call of the wild – or, more specifically, call of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve …

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Sign On for the Great Backyard Bird Count

Yukoners are invited to join people from throughout North America and the world in search of birds this weekend as part of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). Unlike the one-day Christmas counts with more rigid rules (and often frigid conditions), the GBBC is an-all ages “keep it simple” event taking place Feb. 15 to …

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The Feisty Kingfisher Is (Mostly) a Good Luck Sign for Paddlers

You’ve probably heard the expression, “halcyon days”: it defines the calm, restful time of summer that we finally have laid claim to. The word halcyon comes from the Greek myth about Alcyon, a young woman who plunged into the sea in grief after her drowned husband. Her father Aeolus, the God of the Wind, calmed …

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If There are Babies, It Must Be Spring

Anticipation is the only word to describe spring at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. There is anticipation for our school programs, anticipation for the summer season and, of course, the anticipation of babies. Babies consume us throughout May and June. Staff remains on standby – watching, waiting to see what babies will come. When will the …

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All for the Love of a …

My husband moved to Whitehorse for Jesse … I like to think it was for me, but it wasn’t. Her beautiful black hair, her obvious excitement to see him and her playful demeanour – I cannot compete. Lucky for me, Jesse is a muskox and, despite Mike’s secret wish, she will never become a companion …

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Carlos & Cloe: A Friendship ‘Preserved’

Juan Ruiz decided to give the new baby elk at Yukon Wildlife Preserve a very exotic name. Carlos, the three-week-old calf, came to the preserve from the Takhini Herd. He spends his days keeping Chloe, a rescued month-old moose, company. “We rescued Chloe and she loved people,” he explains, “but she would get really lonely. …

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The ‘End’

It was the ears that came first. The inordinately large ears peeked up from the meadow just as I was about to turn the corner. In a flash, they were gone. Then, just as quickly, the ears re-emerged, followed by big brown eyes – very alert and very wary of my presence. I reached for …

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Measuring-up to Yukon Pike

We are fortunate in the Yukon that we can simply throw the rods in the car, the canoe on the roof and within an hour of Whitehorse we are paddling into some world-class pike fishing. Northern pike are notoriously aggressive and relatively easy to catch. Throw something shiny into the water and there is a …

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Time to Talk ‘Antlers’

A few weeks ago, we participated in Parks Day at the S.S. Klondike. It was a great day and a lot of fun. There was music, games, prizes and exhibits (thanks to Parks Canada for inviting us). In our booth, the Preserve had furs, antlers and horns. They were popular and visitor after visitor came …

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Getting Up-Close and Personal with Birds

Bird observatories offer a close-up look at fall migration. Searching for a bird in the bush? Why not try a bird in the hand. With fall migration underway, the Yukon’s two bird-banding stations (known more properly as bird observatories) are now open for visitors and volunteers. Essentially a small outdoor camp, the Teslin Lake Bird …

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Dressing for the Cold

Wearing high quality brands certainly helps, but the real key to staying warm in winter is dressing in layers with the ability to vent off excess heat. The secret is using three layers as follows: WICKING LAYER: This layer is next to your skin and wicks away perspiration (we all sweat whether we like it …

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Who Goes There?

In the summer I am forever identifying wild flowers, but in the winter it’s animal tracks. For me identifying animal tracks is a little simpler, but that’s just because I have only one reference book: Field Guide To Tracking Animals In Snow, by Louise R. Forrest. I am often puzzled trying to determine the maker …

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Work that Satisfies

I love being busy. I like to wake up in the morning knowing that there are many projects I could work on. I even like knowing that, by the time one is finished, several more have inevitably piled up. I also like variety in my “other duties as required”. Since there are endless “other duties” …

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All About Oreamnos americanus

I have been learning about mountain goats, lately. For instance, mountain goats, Oreamnos americanus, are not goats at all, but relatives of antelope. OK, I already knew that, but I have learned a lot of other tidbits in recent weeks. Why my sudden fascination with mountain goats? I am interested and I do want to …

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Nothing ‘Average’ About It

It nearly happened: I nearly described my job as normal – average, even. I was asked this week what’s going on at the Preserve. For a full second, bills, meetings, tours and more meetings flashed through my mind. For a split second, I thought about e-mails, staffing and growing feed costs … but then I …

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When a Moose Waits…

Rocky was waiting for me. For three days in a row, Rocky, one of our moose bulls, was waiting. To put this into perspective, I had been working at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve for about two months before I got within a kilometre of any moose. The day I did, I called home, woke my …

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Yukon ‘Duck’ Fishing

It was chilly morning at the far south end of Teslin Lake that mid-August morning, a reminder that it was going to be an early fall. There were a few of them that year; waterfowl were starting to gather in larger groups as they prepared for the annual migration. I had been fishing the area …

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Memories ‘Preserved’

As we approach the holidays and the new year, I find myself spending more time reflecting on the past 12 months. I think we are inherently drawn into personal reflection, but I am also a junkie when it comes to the seemingly endless Top 10, 25 and 100 lists filling television and radio, newspapers and …

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Budget meals for backpacking

I haven’t had any freeze-dried back-packing meals for a long time. They may have changed, but I always found them to be very expensive with very small servings. In order to fill my stomach and keeps the costs down, I’ve always travelled with the food described in this article. The first step is getting an …

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Calling for the Count

Birders throughout the Western Hemisphere are gearing up for the 110th annual Christmas Bird Count. And you can, too. The one-day census, carried out on at least three continents, takes place in 12 different Yukon locations, on different days, over the next two weeks. The Whitehorse count is held on Boxing Day. “It’s a great …

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Cooking Up Options for Fish this Winter

We have all settled into our winter routines. Perhaps it is shuttling your kids back and forth from the hockey rink routine; maybe it is the get-home-from-work and read-a-book-on-the-couch routine. Alternately, it is a stoke-the-fire, shovel-the-driveway and off-to-bed routine. If getting outside and ice fishing is not top of the mind, there are other ways …

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Squeezing in an Ice Fish

I won’t lie to you, it has been really tough getting out ice-fishing this winter. With Taekwondo, piano and downhill skiing, the weekends are just not long enough. With an editor’s subtle nudge, and my conscience getting the better of me, I was determined to squeeze in a fish this Saturday. After some pre-weekend dialogue …

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Thank You, Yukon!

What a terrific day! It was another one of these fabulous spring-like days we’ve been having. The mountains were covered with snow, the sky was blue, the sun was blazing through my windows and the caribou were grazing on the horizon. Despite the enticing weather, I was sitting at my desk, embroiled in resumes for …

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A Welcome for Yukon Birds

The Yukon’s swans are returning earlier than usual to M’Clintock Bay at Marsh Lake and other open water areas. The annual Celebration of Swans officially runs April 17 to 25 at Swan Haven’s interpretive centre, but the trumpeters began showing up early for the party this year. “Normally you might see around 80 swans here …

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Coffee with a Little Dubbing

Yukoners love their coffee. Any weekday morning at 10, you can guarantee we are ordering our special Bean North blend, a double-double from Tim Hortons or non-fat, low foam, one sweet and low, tall latte from Starbucks. There are no shortages of options for the discerning coffee junkies in town. Coupled with the great coffee …

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Venturing West into Alaska

With the exception of the remote north coast, the Yukon is landlocked. We have large rivers and drainages that connect us to the Pacific Ocean, but 3,000 kilometres for salmon to travel to Whitehorse is a bit far. It is sad that the British didn’t step up in 1867 to purchase what is now Alaska. …

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Fishing with Another Generation

As a parent with young kids, I am often concerned about the next generation. I know that children are not getting outside as much anymore. They don’t have as much unstructured play in parks, around trees, or in muddy marshes. I have many childhood memories living in the lower mainland where we were set free …

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The Preserve is for Kids

On my very first day at the Preserve, I met someone. It was a beautiful, cold and sunny February day and I was engrossed in a solitary stroll when a car drove up and stopped beside me. Since the Preserve was closed, and I was new, I was definitely surprised. The driver introduced himself and …

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Fattening Up for Winter

That furry, satisfied hunter you see on the front of this week’s What’s Up Yukon is the most northerly cover image we’ve ever used. It’s also a celebration of the wildness that surrounds us, and an image of a place in the Yukon where sensitive habitat is being managed well. One-quarter of all Canada’s grizzly …

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Grayling Amidst the Heat at Quiet Lake

One really takes pavement for granted until a trip on the South Canol puts it in perspective. Thankfully, after two hours, the bone-rattling, trailer-tire popping and axle-stressing driving ends up at blissful Quiet Lake. We planned to meet another family for a long weekend of camping and fishing at this more remote spot. Our efforts …

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The Birds of Whitehorse

Whitehorse is blessed with some great bird-watching areas. With spring bird migration at its peak, why not take a few hours to explore the ones in your neighbourhood. Here’s a sampling. Porter Creek One of the Yukon’s oldest subdivisions is the home of one of the premier bird habitats in the city: McIntyre Creek wetlands. …

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Road Trip Reveals Yukoners’ Fortune

Irecently attended my cousin Jessica’s wedding in Vancouver. Since the wedding was the first stop in an extended holiday, we decided to drive. Long, yes, but the weather was perfect, the scenery beautiful and, for wildlife viewing, I was not disappointed. Our first big encounter was bison. While I am fortunate to see bison most …

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Down for the Count

While most Yukoners think of turkey as the true Christmas bird, there’s about 25 other species you can put on your list this holiday season. That’s the average number of species recorded each year during Yukon’s annual Christmas bird count. The count is a fun annual event that has an important purpose: to help record …

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The Give and Take of Fishing Hidden Lakes

Every spring, dozens of Yukoners release fish fry into our waters. Kids and adults alike, jiggle, pour or place Bull Trout, Rainbows, Charr, Kokannee or Salmon into specific lakes and creeks. Personally, I can’t think of a greater way to connect to fish, your food or the environment than to have a direct responsibility for …

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A Bunch of Quacks And More at Takhini Duck Ponds

There are some birds that you often hear, but seldom see. The Common Yellowthroat (a type of warbler) is one of those birds. A few weeks ago I saw my first yellowthroat while exploring the “duck ponds” behind Yukon College, on the edge of the Takhini subdivision. This colourful songbird has a striking yellow front …

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Fishing Little Max Creek

With the ice out and the creeks beginning to swell, the grayling fishing can be superb. Pick any clear, moving river or creek with a foot or two of water and there is a chance fish are sucking back bugs just below the surface. Our family has recently moved and we now live in proximity …

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New Arrivals

Half a year in the blink of an eye! I find it difficult to believe that I joined the Yukon Wildlife Preserve (YWP) almost exactly six months ago. While I have been very fortunate in my career to have experienced a wide range of responsibilities, in a number of different countries and with some wonderful …

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A Rookie Mistake?

In my experience there are two kinds of anglers you encounter out on the water. There are those who are tight-lipped, seek solitude and avoid human interaction. Then there are those who brighten your day, welcome the conversation and are willing to share just about everything. Fortunately, I encountered the latter a few weekends ago …

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Bird Course

I have been writing this column and organizing the field trips for the Yukon Bird Club for a few years, so it’s not unusual for people to ask me their “bird” questions. I love birds and I have learned a lot from bird-watching trips, but a bird expert I am not. (Be reassured – I …

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Spring Black Bear Hunt

An annual rite of spring for many Yukoners, including me, is the hunt for a black bear. Grizzly bears are also active and available, but I am only interested in hunting something I can eat. Grizzly bear is not on my menu. Check the hunting regulations for seasons and bag limits, but mid-April to mid-June …

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Bounty for Birders

Miss the Festival of Swans, but don’t want to miss the birds? There are dozens of exciting trips you can take this spring, summer and fall with the Yukon Bird Club. These include the fun 24-hour Yukon Birdathon, the amazing Sheep and Crane Festival in Faro, and the well-worth-it Weekend on the Wing at Tombstone …

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A Dempster Special

One morning on the highway outside of Tombstone Territorial Park’s campground, I was sipping a much-needed coffee. It was Weekend on the Wing, and three birders were exclaiming over an indistinct warble from the far-off bushes. “Orange-crowned?” frowned one. “Yellow-rumped?” mused another. Then all three enthusiasts stepped off the highway and vanished. Years earlier than …

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Bear Country: A Tale of Two Halloweens

Halloween is a big event along the Hudson Bay coast. Along with the costumed trick-or-treaters you can find an armed patrol of RCMP, Manitoba Conservation Officers and community volunteers all dispatched to ensure that no polar bears enter the community. Before the sun rises, Manitoba Conservation’s Polar Bear Alert program begins their daily patrol for …

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Welcome Home

For birders, May is the magical month. That’s when Yukon’s migrating birds – and especially songbirds – find their way back home. Of the 303 bird species recorded in the Yukon, 95 come here to mate and raise a family. And several species of swallows fly from as far away as South America to do …

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Sandhills on Demand

A quarter million sandhill cranes! When, anywhere in this territory, do we have the opportunity to see a quarter million anything? Caribou? Nope. People? Not even close. Trees? Well, probably, but trees aren’t typically very active; they don’t really provide a spectator sport, as it were. But a quarter million sandhill cranes, flying overhead in …

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Celebrating Swans

The annual Celebration of Swans begins this weekend at Marsh Lake, heralding the arrival of spring for many Yukoners. The largest birding event of the year, coordinated by Environment Yukon, runs April 16-24 at Swan Haven at M’Clintock Bay, about 50 kilometres south of Whitehorse. Now in its 17th year, the popular festival gives visitors …

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Larry and a lake trout

Ice-out Lake Trout

The three most targeted fish species in the Yukon are lake trout, Arctic grayling and pike, and are sought after in that order.

Pike in the Shallows

Pike spawn in the late spring and depending on where you are fishing are available in shallow water well into early July. Among my favourite places to try are the high-water sloughs and back channels along our many rivers and shallow bays such as Jackfish Bay on Lake Laberge. These areas are often navigable if …

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Fall Migration Time

Fall is a season of change and beauty. For Yukoners it is also the chance to witness the migration of thousands of geese, swans, ducks and other migratory species. After coming north to nest and rear their young, our summer visitors are now heading south to seek out warmer climes and wintering grounds. One of …

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Rehab at the Wildlife Preserve

It has been a real pleasure utilizing our new facility, which is filled with unique and exciting features that allow us to provide excellent care for injured and orphaned wildlife. Check it out: in-floor heating and advanced lighting that can be individually controlled for each animal care room. Lighting is fade-adjustable to create sunset/sunrise-like transitions. …

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Lip-smacking Ling Cod

Ling cod, burbot, fresh-water cod—call them what you like, we can all agree that they’re delicious. I’ve yet to hear of a complicated recipe, but there are probably some available. As mentioned in my Step Outside column in this issue, dressing-out a ling cod is different from handling any other Yukon species. When you have …

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A Great Late Winter Catch

If you catch a fish in the Yukon that looks like nothing you’ve seen before, it’s likely a ling cod. Ling cod and burbot are the usual names used in the Yukon, but this fish is common in much of Canada and goes by a number of local names, depending where you are catching them. …

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Canning Fish and Wild Game

A very traditional—often thought of as old-fashioned—way of preserving fish and wild game is canning using the pressure of steam. Unless you have a friend to lend you a pressure canner, the start-up cost can be between $100 and $200 to purchase the necessary equipment and accessories. In olden times, cans were used even at …

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A Hunter’s Tale

At the cusp of fall, I sit wondering how the 2012 hunting season will play out for my family, friends and me after last year’s adventures. On our 2011 caribou hunt we ended up sideways on a beaver damn wondering if we were going for a swim. During our moose hunt we found our binoculars …

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Larry field dressing

Meat Care Basics

  When you have 300-500 lbs of moose or bison in your freezer, you really need to have everyone in the family just love the first plateful that you serve them. If you prepare properly as set out below, you increase the chances of that first meal being so delicious that it causes them to …

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Moose Hunt Essentials

A moose will often fall exactly where you had hoped they wouldn’t. Here a prepared hunter shines and the newbie learns a few lessons.

Fish Smoking Basics

Smoking fish and making jerky are somewhat similar in that the process removes the moisture from the product (fish or meat). In either case it is your preference as to how dry you make it. If either is completely free of moisture it will keep without refrigeration, but it is not nearly as palatable as …

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The Faithful ’06

The 30.06 Springfield is now over 100 years old. With a 180 grain bullet tit is the minimum cartridge to hunt bison in the Yukon.

Campfire Bannock

Campfire Bannock

Bannock is another old favourite—at least the eating part. Making it is simple, but it impresses everyone in camp cooking it for them.


Jerky 101

  So midsummer is approaching, hunting season is just weeks away and you have an abundance of meat left from last years. There are a few options to consider. They range from not hunting this year (not a likely choice), passing some meat on to someone who will use and appreciate it, making a bunch …

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Shore Lunch

The Old-fashioned Shore Lunch

If you’ve ever read about—or been lucky enough to go on—a guided freshwater fishing excursion, there’s always a shore lunch included.

Fooling Feeding Fish

For some people, fly-fishing is a sport. For others, it’s an art. But for the diehard fly-fisher, it’s more like a religion. Doug Hnatiuk chuckles at the comparison. “It really is a passion for people, once they start to experience some of that outdoor serenity, peace and tranquility that comes with just a really quiet …

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Fishing the Funky Blues at Chadburn Lake

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting out fishing with kids. Likewise, spending time with friends on the water brings memories to last a lifetime. While fishing can be an incredible social experience, sometimes you just have to get out yourself. This past weekend, I spent some quality “me time” fishing at Chadburn Lake. …

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When Porcupine Attack

Dogs do so love to frolic in the woods. Treeing squirrels, digging holes, eating nameless morsels of who knows what … and sometimes playing with porcupine. Now as most people know, touching one of those quilled creatures is not the best idea. But for some reason dogs just don’t seem to get the warning signals …

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Picking Eddies For Takhini River Grayling

For a small fish, Grayling put on a great show. Their entertainment value is derived from their feisty nature, dramatic physical features and the fact that they are usually located in prime moving waters. Further to this, Grayling are not fussy and tend to take a variety of presentations, including small spoons, spinners, wet and …

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Zoo Cougar Streamer

The Zoo Cougar is a very effective sculpin version of a muddler minnow. These sculpins are very attractive to large fish in the Yukon. I am certain that pike, lake trout, bull trout, rainbow, Dolly Varden, salmon, inconnue, Arctic char and even burbot will eat these sculpins and attack this Zoo Cougar streamer. Slimy sculpins …

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The Green Comet

The Comet has got to be one of the most popular salmon flies. Tied in small sizes (Size 8 and 10), sparsely tied Comets are perfect for sockeye. Since sockeye are easily spooked, the smaller the fly the better. Edge Brite is a synthetic material which comes in a plastic sheet. When it is cut …

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Polar Shrimp

The Polar Shrimp is an old standby for salmon and steelhead. Originally it was tied with polar bear for the wing. Polar bear is not that easy to obtain and now white buck tail is used on large flies and white calf tail is used on smaller flies. Often, white marabou is used for the …

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Here There Be Bats

This weekend, I wanted to show the boys something I knew they would love. To tell the story properly, I need to go back to last fall. A friend of mine, Janice Mazerolle, mentioned she had been hiking in the Chadburn Lake area. A couple of kilometres down the trail from the parking and day …

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“That Fish is Beautiful”

I had been nervous all day. This was to be the first “Hooked on Yukon Fishing” event of many this summer. Susan and I had planned a public event at Hidden Lakes where we were going to release 20,000 Rainbow Trout fry. Usually Susan, the Fisheries Management biologist for Department of Environment, and members of …

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The Neptune Streamer

The Neptune Streamer was originally used for large brook trout in Labrador. Since its inception, it has also been used successfully for numerous other species. I have always had good fishing with this attractor streamer. All you need is oval tinsel, flat tinsel and badger saddle hackles. The wing uses four badger saddle hackles and …

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Endless Possibilities for Yukon Kayak Fishing

Christmas has come early for me. I have invested in a brand, spanking, new fishing kayak. I’ve tried and owned all kinds of watercrafts for fishing. I’m paddling now and giving the piston-powered propeller a break, the belly boat a hiatus and the pontoon boat a well-deserved vacation. The introduction of the specialized fishing kayak …

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The Poly Flash Carey Special

The Poly Flash Carey Special is one of the most widely used flies in lakes. Originally tied for trout in BC lakes, today it is used throughout the western provinces, the Yukon, Alaska and the Northwest Territories. It can be fished as a wet fly or a streamer and can also be used in rivers …

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Getting Crafty for Salmon

Crafts don’t come naturally to me. To be honest, even Play-Doh is painful … anything that requires considerable cutting or gluing, forget about it. Thank heaven for teachers, daycare workers and grandmas that can sit there for hours with kids to make a toddler masterpiece. It’s not a question of patience, as I can untangle …

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Fishing for a Distraction

The temperature was to drop, the weekend was free, the kids healthy and keen. Add two Dads going stir crazy inside and you’ve got the perfect ingredients for a kid-friendly ice-fishing adventure. As per usual with Carl and I, we started the planning over a week in advance. We kept in touch during the week …

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