It is early May and the sun is setting to the west and painting the landscape to the east with reddish and yellowish colours. There is no sign of cloud and not a breath of wind. Somewhere over the ancient land of the Cree, a squadron of Canada Geese fly in a V-shaped formation towards their breeding grounds north. As each goose flaps its wings it increases uplift for weaker geese behind and they add 71 percent more flying range.
As they fly past an unnamed lake, they come upon a heavily forested mountain to the north and the leader increases its angle of attack and the flock begins to climb with him to negotiate the obstacle together. At approximately 1500 feet above sea level they level off and set for cruising speed. As they pass the rugged hill top, one gander spots a flock of geese resting in open water about a half a mile up ahead. The others see the party. They break from the formation and drop to lower altitudes by rolling and banking left and right in all directions. By performing these aerodynamic manoeuvres the air under their wings slips out and allows them to drop down 10 feet per roll. Some exceed angles of more than 90 degrees. They approach from the south and the party below starts calling them in. The flock circles overhead and makes its approach from the east. On the final approach, at about 100 feet above ground level, something spooks them. They immediately over-shoot and fly past the welcoming party.
They are called back and one younger goose is sent back by the commander to check if it is a safe haven to roost. He splashes down in the front of the group. He looks in all directions and sees nothing unusual. The others make a tight, right turn just above the spruce-tree tops for another run to final approach. They extend the landing gear and their wings lock for landing. They splash down gently in the cold, spring waters and come to a halt near the resting geese. They gather closely and swim upstream together. Just as things seem all right they see something in the midst of thick willows, and then… BANG!! BANG!!! BANG!!! Shots are fired. Hundreds of shot pellets slam into them and some hit the plastics. The geese take off in all directions and fly away honking. Several are hit and some wounded. The smell of gunpowder fills the air.
After the ground assault, the guilty one in camouflage apparel jumps out from the blind made out of natural cover by the waters edge and yells, “Yahoo!” That’s me, Ron. Right next to me is my cousin Joshua Kawapit Sr. He stands up and removes his white cap and scratches his head with his mouth wide-open. He is uncertain of what had just happened. He’s a little slow. The other younger man, my brother Elijah, comes flying out from his blind and removes his hunting hat made in Taiwan and stomps on it several times cursing and swearing. Clearly we all know he missed his shot. He’s a terrible shot. No offence, but true.
I pull up my green hip-waders by Acton, and walk into the water to retrieve the kill. We place the Canada Geese on the partially snow-covered ground and tie the wings together using one feather from each wing to show respect to the bird. I drop on my knees and take one goose and I close my eyes and give thanks to God for this magnificent waterfowl. I take its left wing and hold five of the long, glossy black quills and shake it as if I were shaking the hand of this bird. I then say to it, “Thank you. Thank you for your return.” It is a promise the goose keeps every spring. For some they could not wait for the return of Canada Goose for God has asked them to come home now. And I will not weep for them for I know they are in a much happier and wonderful place. God bless.
Have a happy and safe goose break everyone.