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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Racoon season

BY Sonny Orr Apr 26, 2019

Photo by Jared Belson

The smell of spring is here. The snow buntings are everywhere and birds are flocking in large numbers, in particular, the elusive ptarmigan. This evening a few lone shots are still going off and the setting sun says to go home as rain looms in closer, keeping this season down to a few days. The tiny droplets are slightly visible and try to wet you, but today’s clothing barely notices and keeps us warm and cozy.

The sun sets again with a dark blue hue of moisture coming in from the west. The radio crackles with news of a kill already in Eeyou Istchee and the long guns come out in anticipation of the annual spring harvest. The ice fishers have already been reddened by the sun, which barely showed itself until recently. Soon the classic racoon tan will grace our Facebook pages.

The last of the winter blizzards have passed, though the season will have its last blast when you least expect it. That’s nature working hand-in-hand with Murphy’s Law. Speaking of laws, the new gun regulations are everywhere interfering in our lives. Like, how many forms are involved? It sounds like the laws are meant to regulate those with bad intent. Hey, I believe in keeping homes safe, so moot point. Guns are for hunting and must only be used for that purpose. Unless you own a shooting gallery.

Back in the day, some friends of mine were living at this guy’s place, a guy who happened to own hundreds of guns of all sorts. They were everywhere, cluttering the entire house. I felt some comfort there, knowing that we could shoot handguns and big-bore rifles. They had the best landlord ever. Plinking was a lot of fun on their outings, disguised as picnics with guns. The handguns were hefty and hard to aim without support – I can see now why the guys on TV shoot off hundreds of rounds before hitting the good guy in the gut. I preferred the accuracy of the rifle.

One rifle was a massive, heavy gun with a huge bore, capable of knocking down tigers and elephants. My shoulder called it quits after firing a single round and receiving the hardest recoil I’ve ever felt. The target, a rock-filled 45-gallon drum, literally exploded from the impact. After the stars cleared away and our eardrums stopped ringing (we always wore safety gear and sound mufflers), we went to inspect the damage. I don’t think anyone ever needs to use a gun like this on animals, so I was glad that we don’t have a need for this type of firearm.

For many of us, hunting is not a hobby – it’s our way of life. Our home is out on the land. Hopefully nature will be able to sustain us in the coming decades or we’d better have a really good resource plan ready. We must not forget that not long ago the Atlantic cod nearly disappeared from steady and aggressive overharvesting. If not for the efforts of fish restoration projects, there would be none left today.

It doesn’t take much to upset nature these days. We are on the ecological precipice and are dangerously close to losing the things we love. Yep, it’s the inner hippie in me resurfacing. All doom and gloom aside, I’m looking forward to summer, and more summer, and hopefully more summer – very soon.

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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.