The Nation asked a few goose hunters in Eeyou Istchee for their favorite goose hunting spots. We also asked what qualities make for a good goose boss, or whether a goose boss is even needed.
Harry Scipio of Chisasibi: My favorite goose hunting spot is at Seal River far north of Chisasibi. I hunt there both in the spring and fall. There are a lot of geese there when they really start to fly.
There’s not only one goose boss. I help out in taking charge too. It really depends on who has the experience. The Elders teach the youth all about goose hunting. That’s how it’s done here. Sometimes the one who was in charge was known to just think about himself, and would get too greedy. Others were very fair. As for me, I didn’t go to school. I learned all my knowledge from the old people who knew the goose, the Cree goose culture of the past.
The goose hunt has changed dramatically since the LG-2 dam. I have observed this very carefully. The eel-grass found along the shore of the Bay has vanished and the geese feed on that. Nowadays you have to feed them (corn) so they’ll come back to feed. There are still plenty of geese in the spring, but in the fall there’s hardly any. I went out twice last fall and didn’t fire a single shot. In the old days there were always lots and lots of geese, both in the spring and fall. Now you have to feed them to get close.
Whapmagoostui’s Ronnie Masty: We usually go goose hunting on our hunting territory. It’s about 160 kilometres inland from our community. We call the place Aa Ishpitaauh Kaach (high hills). There’s always a good place for goose hunting there during the peak of their migration. Joseph, my brother, is usually our goose boss. He’s more than good. Everyone has a chance to shoot geese and no one is left out.
Sam Cox from Chisasibi: I have a secret spot. It’s so secret I have a hard time finding it myself. We usually do our goose hunting on the northeast side of the La Grande Airport near the power lines. I noticed they fly along these lines so the saying that the geese find their bearings by the magnetic north could be true. My favorite spot is on the swamps, not too close to the power lines. I take charge and watch over my sons. Josie Cox has his own spot, not too far too. There are also other hunters in the area. Everyone has a chance to shoot geese. The hunting is good there and some days it’s very good. It all depends on the weather. Some goose bosses are good and some are not too good. I’ve heard of one goose boss who got fired or removed as a goose boss.
Waskaganish’s Peter Esau: At first, before they really begin to fly, I go hunting and set up my blind at the gravel pit. There are three places there for blinds. Then later we go to kilometre 381 on the Route du Nord where my father hunts all year round. We don’t necessarily have a goose boss. My brother and I have our blinds in different spots at the lake. Some people from Nemaska hunt on the other side of the lake. It’s good for goose hunting there, everyone takes charge.
Jeff Hester of Mistissini: I usually go goose hunting not far from the community, maybe about 20 minutes or a half hour ride from here. I only go goose hunting there in the spring. They call the place Go Ban Chii something like that and the guy who’s in charge is Paul Isherhoff. He’s my wife’s uncle. He’s a good goose boss and there are always plenty of geese there too.