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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

It’s harvest time

BY Sonny Orr May 8, 2024

The rush to get to camp is on so we can harvest geese, caribou, bear and other wildlife that abound on our lands. I hear a small bush plane taking off with a load of cargo or passengers, noting that everyone has that new look on their faces, the one that glows with anticipation of returning to camp. Yes, it’s that time of the year again – Spring Goose Break.

I tried to do a little shopping for some essentials and discovered that flour, oils and baking powder were non-existent on the shelves. I’ll just have to wait for them to be restocked, as most of the groceries are already packed and heading out to camp. The usual stuff like canned foods and snacks for the kids to keep them quiet are also noticeably absent. I guess the kids will also have to wait for their snacks. 

The search for empty gas containers is high on the list as are the caps for the empty tanks and all the usual supplies are haggled over with the stock people. What has changed is the price of everything. That means there will be fewer snacks and other goods than in previous years. 

As well, the myriad of types of shotshell are hard to choose from now that the usual steadfast shotshell of yesteryear has been replaced with mounds of information. I find that choosing between a fast shotshell and an older type of shell is usually determined by cost, with the cheaper shells being chosen. Now calling the geese will be more important than ever, to bring them within shooting range.

It is patience combined with a quick eye and fast trigger finger that makes all the difference as the shotshells don’t have the same kick and kill pattern due to the change in the pellets. I guess using spent radioactive materials will have to suffice instead of the lead we used to use. Other metals don’t have the same killing edge of lead when a long shot is needed to knock down your next supper.

I guess this spring may be good for some and not so good for others, as the number of hunters who are out on the lands have quadrupled, This is good. Last year, I spent a lot of time alone, waiting for that elusive flock to come close enough for steel shot to be effective. I did see a record number of swans and cranes, but they aren’t the staple food like the spring goose is. 

As I ready myself for this much-welcomed break from work, I thank our former leaders for their foresight in making this tradition a legal practice of harvesting foods. Either that or the number of subsidies for foods just to get by will test our tired bank accounts and worn wallets and raise the ire of those who didn’t support our right to harvest 50 years ago. Today, it’s a tradition to leave our urban lifestyle and venture back to our roots and practice a way of life that is still very dear to us.

I look forward to the days when the sun beats down and burns our noses and exposed facial dermis and leaves us with a white racoon mask. The time of shifting winds and changing decoys to fit the impression that the pond you laboured over is a good spot to take a break. 

So, remember, keep your blinds and hunting area clean and free of garbage, so that your luck won’t change for the worse when that plastic water bottle reflects enough to spook that flock away from your gun sights. In the old days, that type of sloppiness would ban you from hunting. So be clean, don’t litter.

Also, save your shot until you are sure you’ll bring down that goose. Don’t scare them off and teach them to avoid anything that looks like a pond full of decoys. 

Good luck and safe hunting everyone!

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.