This section is from the book "Moose-Hunting Salmon-Fishing And Other Sketches Of Sport Being The Record Of Personal Experiences Of Hunting Wild Game In Canada", by T. R. Pattillo. Also available from Amazon: Moose-Hunting, Salmon-Fishing and Other Sketches of Sport: Being the Record of Personal Experiences of Hunting Wild Game in Canada.
On our way up over the ice with the sled-load of geese, we noticed three rise up from the decoys at the blind, and go up Fox Harbour to the channel. Seeing that, S. decided he was going to spend a couple of hours in that blind towards sundown, to try for a shot. The cook, in expectation of our arrival, had a most attractive meal ready for us. I don't believe you could guess, as the boys say, in six guesses. He was an old stager about Deny Island, and knew just where to go for clams, so he had taken his axe to cut the ice, and his hoe for the clams, and thus secured ample for a big clam hash made up of fat pork, onions, clams, breadcrumbs, and a number of etceteras, that helped to make it a most enjoyable dish. Don't think this was all. We weren't living on starvation rations. Don't you get that idea. We went there to live like fighting cocks, and you might have been there too, right now; but a reader who would not accept the hospitality of a dinner of roast brant must not expect a repeated invitation to clam hash and buckwheat pancakes soaked in maple syrup. Why, the remembrance of such a delicacy lingers with me so long that I have to fight my lips at this writing to prevent them smacking together. Don't you wish for a plate of clams just now ? Wait a day longer, and we'll invite you to oysters. Cook says he knows the spot for them. There was a little too heavy ice to-day. They are such nice, fat, tender little fellows, one has just to open his mouth and they move right along. They are just so delicious, the inclination to keep them moving can't be resisted.
This is the spot for an outing for a worn-out, dragged-down, no-appetite, nervous, crotchety, cranky individual. A fortnight here, if he has an inclination and knows how to use a gun, with all the make-up, on such a cruise would transform him almost into an angel of light. When the island was reached, a couple of S.'s friends from Wallace were there to see him, interested in his success. These, of course, opened their eyes as our pile of birds loomed up on the sled, and they grew larger when allowed to look in the game-closet. A lot of Canadian geese, such as we had hanging there after this day's success, presented a sight pretty enough for a picture. They partook of our clam feast and pancakes, leaving Deny Island with a flattering report to make of our success at so early a stage in the outing.
The following morning we decided to divide our forces somewhat, by Will going out alone in the Daisy9 leaving me to look after the ice-blind, while S. and John went in their boat. When the ebb tide answered, they started for their boats and the open water, while I partook myself to the blind, not reaching it any too soon, for scarcely was I under cover when my ears were greeted with a good morning "houk! " from two geese flying directly for the decoys, but very high. They were invited to draw nearer by a responsive " houk ! " from that prostrate gander behind the cover, which they could not resist, so they swerved from their course up harbour, made a circle, dropping 40 yards, and have spread their wings to light amongst those outside decoys; but they did not do it, for No. 8 with a bang sent one kicking, and the next bang tumbled his companion. " What a shame to kill them both! " I hear my tender-hearted reader say. But this warm-hearted old sportsman replies, " It would have been cruel to leave one to wander alone, so he didn't." No. 8 is ready again. My attention is aroused by what sounded like a gun. I listen, when a bang salutes me, followed in a moment with " bang," a pause, " bang." Then looking in the direction of the water, I saw large flocks of both geese and brants on the wing, some of them going to the Gulf ice, more of them circling over and settling on the feeding-ground; while coming towards me on the way to the channel are three small flocks. The leading flock was very high, the others lower, but not in direct range. They spy the decoys, and are making towards them. " Houk ! hawouk ! " comes the signal ; " Hawouk! " goes the answer. They swerve towards me, but suddenly check themselves, and continue up the harbour. What occasioned that unexpected change ? Those two dead geese lying on the bottom of the blind. I cannot say, reader, "I was very sorry; " for even when gunning there is a little streak of tenderness left in my composition, which the appearance of eight inquisitive blue-wings that dared to come to inspect my shams completely buried out of sight, five of them paying the penalty of that rashness. " Bang! bang! bang !" " Well done, boys! You are into the fun too." " Bang! bang! " " Hurrah, Will! Well done, boys!" That must be you. Geese, brants, and ducks in great quantities are on the wing. Most of them, disliking the music, are off to the ice ; but there is a flock of geese coming in over the dyke between Oak Island and the main, that have not been in the racket.
They have just come down the strait, and are seeking feeding-ground. My call went after them, and they are coming directly for me. The old gander speaks, and is answered. Speaks again still coming. Don't think that anyone is nervous around that blind just now, but there's a shaking from some cause. See them ! See them ! See them ! Their wings are set, and they are going to light. They are down in the midst of the decoys. That old gander's head reaches up to the clouds, taking in the situation, as much as to say, as he begins strutting, " What kind of a scrape have we got into ? " The more he investigated, the less he seemed to be satisfied. He would have been much less so had he seen two No. 8 barrels pointing at him. Now he walks to the others, apparently for consultation. Poor fellows ! Must I break it up ? Just then that kind streak of mine cropped up again, the outcome of which was that, as they must be very tired, charity required me to shoot them, and shoot them I did, four of them not knowing what happened, the two other starting up for the channel opening, got safely away, as I supposed, through the left barrel snapping.