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Prepping for the blind

BY Sonny Orr Apr 21, 2023

Ahhhh… the sound of water dripping off icicles hanging from power lines, the slight crackling sound of electricity grounding out on a vehicle. Wait, isn’t this an ice storm? 

Sorry folks, I don’t want to make fun of the country dealing with nature’s latest (and hopefully last) outburst of winter. I look at my studded tires, wondering if I should keep them on for another month. Perhaps there will be a last-minute superstorm complete with hail, tornadoes, ice and snow, to remind us that global warming is just a farce and shouldn’t be taken seriously during the winter months. 

As for winter, the last hockey tournaments have ended, and the players are back home. A Facebook posting indicates hockey season is not yet over and another tournament is still scheduled somewhere. But I digress and send apologizes to the empty golf courses that are just waiting for the sore losers to hit something else with a stick for the rest of the summer.

As hockey season wraps up, the next topic, of course, is the annual spring goose season. Hunters are readying themselves, preparing their packsacks and blinds, changing the belts on their snowmobiles, and introducing their daughter to the fine art of the goose call. I notice that even for myself, my goose calls are a little lower on the octave and a higher-pitched call might work better. 

My granddaughters are quite good at calling geese and when all four of them start calling for fun, it sounds like a gaggle of geese anxious to eat and rest. Now it’s just about teaching them how to stay cool and not move around to get a better selfie view. Practice makes perfect I always say.

The local hunter and trapper gangs are busy sorting out the new members and lining up aircraft to get to the hunting territories. This year, the cost to go hunting is increasing like crazy. It seems that the price of fuel and oils to fill up your snowmachine or outboard motor is getting so high that the sleds need to be bigger and longer just to keep the number of trips down to a minimum. 

The last person I saw at the pump coughed up a hundred bucks for the gas and another hundred for the oils, So, a day excursion is not feasible anymore, unless you are heavily subsidized, or you know someone who is rich enough to afford a daily trip. I guess it’s back to walking a few hundred yards to get to the goose blind.

As far as stashing up on the daily grub, I remember when we had to forage around for any small game and cook it over the fire to get by. I notice that no one hunts the squirrel, which is a tasty snack. Now, squirrels are regarded more as a pest than a source of nutrition and are left for the dog to chase after. 

As far as pets are concerned, the use of dogs to retrieve your shot (or injured) goose is on the rise. I’m more of a cat person, as cats are quiet and are naturally predatory and will feed themselves when hungry with that pesky squirrel or any other nasty rodent. But cats don’t take to swimming and fetching very well. I guess it’s a compromise all round. Bring the girls to do the goose calling, bring the dog to retrieve your goose and bring the cat for pest control in the cabin or tent. 

Most important of all, stay within cellphone range to keep everyone’s attention glued to their screens, while you keep watch with your trusty binoculars. Back in the day, when things got slow, we would drift off and catch some shut eye, then awaken with a face burnt red by the sun’s rays. So, remember to bring sunglasses and suntan lotion.

If you can’t kill anything to brag about, at least you will have the burn marks to show that you tried to put some protein on your table. Back in the day, it was a matter of survival, but today, the hunt is helping to offset the rising food costs. No matter what, the goose will be hunted and plucked for someone’s supper. Stay safe this spring and watch out for all the usual dangers like falling through the ice, burning your bare skin, or fighting off rodents.

Happy Goose Break 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.