I checked out the shells for my shotgun – all sorted by speed – and loaded my trusty all-steel Browning, the fastest last and slowest first. In another shotgun, an over-and-under Magnum, long-range loads are readily available, just in case.
The gun dog, a nice hunting canine that knows all the tricks, is noticeably absent from my spring line-up of hunting goods. Instant blind – check. Camouflage throwovers – check. Motorized decoys – I wish. Finally, a seat… the extra-large thermos with GPS. Note – change batteries. Solar chargers for the cellphone. Cool shades and suntan lotion – never without. Spring goose break is coming soon… way too soon.
According to scientists who work for former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, the earth is warming up very quickly and the signs are everywhere. Try driving a snowmobile these days – where’s the snow? Ugly long cracks expose the waters of James Bay and Hudson Bay and remind us that the ice is much thinner both at sea and on land. The animals are changing their breeding habits, migrating earlier and much further north, to boot.
This offsets the hunting season for us, as nomadic ways are hard to break and cyber hunting patterns are emerging as a result. Texting about incoming geese is common now and seems to help in the north. Meanwhile, nomadic hunters start the season earlier in the south, assisting farmers with eco-hunting and pest control. Best that geese venture north rather than hanging around someone’s cornfield. But still, wherever the goose is harvested, it still is good eating – yum yum!
Speaking of an early spring, did you notice all the hype about spring-break travel lately? North America now has an annual pilgrimage that numbers in the tens of millions, where the intent is to bask in the sun god’s glory on some sun-drenched beach in Florida or Texas. In reverse, the geese head north and risk getting shot at in yet another seasonal exodus to the land of our people – better known as the spring goose break.
The participants do not number in the millions, in fact, it’s just the opposite up north. You can look for miles around and not see any human. Save for jets flying by, you’d never know it’s 2010. Heading in a general northerly direction, caribou meander by oblivious of their eventual fate as tomorrow’s meal. Ducks quack by and migrating eagles and hawks slowly circle high in the sky and low-lying clouds.
The sound of melting snow and ice clinking down creeks and flowing in the background, is interrupted by a text message announcing the flight of the next flock of geese. The binoculars trained in on a low-flying flock of six, enough to stir the emotions and get the blood flowing in a young hunter, whose sleepy eyes are tired of gazing endless hours at a blank horizon. Today, that blank space is filled with geese and anticipation.
Spring break really is spring break around here. It’s a break from indoor life and an enjoyment of our great outdoor traditions and cultures. Another text rings and states that two more geese have been sighted. Time to get serious and go hunting.