I haven’t seen any posts about the first goose taken in any of the Cree communities of Eeyou Istchee. Not surprising – as of April 17, the Ducks Unlimited website’s migration maps show that the geese appear to be taking their time arriving in the north. Even in Montreal I have yet to hear geese calling overhead, though someone told me they are nearby.
I couldn’t hunt last year because of a broken ankle. This year, I’m more mobile and ready to sit in the blind.
So I’m wondering what type of hunt it will be this year. Warm? Cold? Rainy? No geese but lots of McGansers (a new duckburger at Mickey D’s?).
Every year is a little different with new faces added, but the traditions still rule for the most part. The first kill is cooked and shared by the family in most cases. Young hunters are always given an opportunity to get a goose. Someone usually puts aside several geese for a walking-out ceremony. The harvest is shared and our connections to the land, the people and other inhabitants are joyfully renewed.
Increasing numbers of Cree hunters seem to be migrating south for some pre-Goose Break action in farmers’ fields. The Cree snowbirds’ plans are all over Facebook.
That’s not for me, however. I like to spend time at the blind in Eeyou Istchee. I may be old school but hopefully not an old fool when it comes to the hunt. I’ve kept my long johns out, even though I don’t need them in Montreal at this time of year. The rest is patiently waiting for me at my parents’ place, softly calling my name.
While looking at this year’s migration on the internet I heard something else call my name. A recipe for duck bacon! How nice that would be? I have tried it before and loved it, but it’s hard to find and expensive. Why not make your own? It fits what I believe in – locally sourced, no additives beyond what I add, organic and in season. So have a great and safe spring goose hunt from all of us here at the Nation, and remember us when you make the following:
Duck bacon is simple to prepare in a smoker or oven. Once the short curing process is complete, it can be used much like any other bacon. Refrigerate for up to one week. For longer storage, wrap carefully and freeze for up to a year. DO not use for lean ducks or geese. It’s good for mallards, pintails and black ducks.
- 6 duck breast fillets, skin intact
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon pink curing salt (can order online or ask a butcher)
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons fresh or used coffee grounds
In a bowl, combine kosher salt with pink curing salt, brown sugar, peppercorns and coffee grounds. Mix thoroughly.
Using a fork, perforate only the skin (not the meat) of each fillet a few times.
Rub the mixture into all surfaces of the meat. Place in a zip-top bag and refrigerate for 12 hours, turning the bag over every couple of hours.
Remove fillets from the bag and rinse well with cold water. Pat dry. Arrange fillets on a rack with a pan underneath to catch any drippings and place in the refrigerator for two to three hours to air dry.
Smoke at low temperature (under 150ºF) or bake in a 200ºF oven with the door open about 1/2 inch (use a ball of foil to keep the door ajar) for one hour. Cool completely.
Slice fillets into thin strips and fry as you would other bacon. To make slicing easier, place the fillets in the freezer for an hour or so before slicing.