It had been about fours years since I last hunted geese in the spring. It felt important to me as this was traditionally a time of celebration for the Crees. The harsh reality of the winter was over and the arrival of the geese was important to survival but also signaled the beginning of a time of plenty. A time when you knew you would see all the people together. A time to look forward to the summer and visiting. But also a time when you knew that all Crees were experiencing the same thing. Communities become ghost towns.
I must tell you about my first goose… this year. Aw, no, I wouldn’t do that to you. I’m sure every hunter has reviewed and told his or her particular story over and over again. Just bother anyone, I’m sure they’ll have the stories.
Instead let’s look at the hunt overall. Most people I’ve talked to said they’re happy but the goosehunt was poor to O.K. Weather was to blame for most of it. Every community brought this point up in some way.
Starting from the northernmost point along the coast, the first goose was taken in Whapmagoostui on April 27 by John Rupert. Rita Masty said her informal poll of residents tell us that while a lot of geese might have been seen they were flying too high. Weather was too blame also. Some hunters said there wasn’t enough snow. It looked too much like summer. People said there were not enough or many kills. Everyone agreed though that Crees who hunted inland got more than those on the coast.
Heading to the inland, it was no big surprise to Mistissini residents that Don MacLeod killed the first goose of the year. Mistissini hunters say this year was poor to O.K., the weather was unpredictable and the geese started arriving when the official goosebreak was over.
Nemaska thinks the first goose was taken by Johnny Tanoush at Old Nemaska. Geese arrived late this year for residents. Some said no large flocks came their way.
Ouje-Bougoumou’s Walter Capissisit had the honour of the first goose on April 16 at 4 p.m. O.J. residents say the geese weren’t landing and they were flying high. The geese were also late and the hunt wasn’t as good as previous years.
Jackie Gull took the first goose in Waswanipi. One trapper called it the coldest May on record. High winds caused the geese that did land to favour wooded areas, away from where hunters had set up blinds. The flying pattern was “weird.”
Bernard Mayappo folded the first goose in Eastmain. People here are predicting low nesting success this year for the geese. Final hunt results were not in at the time of printing but results so far are terrible.
Wemindji-ites were abuzz about the sightings of eagles, very unusual for the area. As for geese, one hunter in the local CTA said conditions were “lousy,” geese arriving later than expected. Most days saw a North West wind. Also, it was cold, especially in the mornings. When the geese did fly, they flew high. First goose: Danny Tomatuk.
And finally in Chisasibi, the CTA reports that some had a successful hunt. Inland hunters fared better than coastal. New hunters Peter Brian Kanatewat, Robert Bearskin, Daryll Langdon, Curtis Pepabano, Simon Tapiatic, Steven Tapiatic, Sammy House and Harry Martinhunter all shot their first goose.