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.
The cook found a goose on the ice opposite the house that evening, which must have been one of them. As these were gathered up and spread out on the ice with the others, the sight satisfied me. The boys wouldn't have much of a laugh on the old man, nor did they; for when they came along at noon, I went out ; to meet them. You can imagine they were very inquisitive as to my luck, and they found me equally communicative, of course, to satisfy their curiosity. Their luck was offset by one gander and three black ducks. The help of the sled had to be procured to carry mine to the island, so we went off to the blind. " Great Scot! " was the first salute. Harry Weasel followed it: " You've fooled us nicely! " S. said, " I thought you were fooling us all the time. I felt those shot brought you more game than you admitted. Never mind, boys, we'll get even with him yet." The ice was melting fast and breaking up, and another storm was at hand. We were all tired when the game was lying on the platform at the house, and cook said, " You are just in time. The goose and duck are done, and all get ready for dinner." He did not have to say that twice, nor coax us to be seated at the table. We even allowed him, in our thought-fulness, to do the carving, while we attempted to overtake our growing appetites, and hold them in check for the plum-pudding that was to follow. We whiled away the time that afternoon cleaning the guns, loading cartridges, spinning yarns, and playing forty-fives. The next morning ushered in a big wind and rain storm, which brought into the open basin large quantities of drift ice, or broken ice out of the strait, amongst which were heavy clampers that grounded in the harbour before the tide was half down, thus affording splendid shelter as blinds for geese and brants on their flight to the feeding-grounds.
During the next three days we had variable success. On Wednesday of the following week information came to us from the strait shore, that during a heavy wind on the day before thousands of grey geese had come down the gulf before it, while all the harbours where the geese on flight scattered themselves usually in the spring, were still closed. We therefore expected, as Wallace and Fox Harbours (adjoining) were the only waters where they could feed, that we would be kept busy that (Wednesday) afternoon. So at one o'clock we were on the move, quick march, for Brant Point, a mile from the house, where our iceboats were awaiting us.
From a knoll with our glasses we surveyed the solid ice outside. What a sight greeted us! Acres of geese here, there, and everywhere, were resting, sleeping solid black masses, so we knew that as soon as the flats began to bear, they would be on the move. The wind was blowing heavily down the bay, and the ebb-tide running in the same direction, so we all decided not to attempt to go after birds falling over 100 yards to leeward, but to leave any that thus fell to two lobster, sailing-boats that had come out from the eastern shore to pick up. S. and John placed their boat first to windward of a clamper, on which there was a sort of cove that nicely concealed them. There they anchored, as it was in line with some of the best feeding-ground. Will and I found another, grounded about 200 yards to leeward of S. and anchored the Daisy.
From these two positions we had an excellent view of the ice as well as the geese, and could see every flock as it started. The tide had ebbed a couple of feet when we saw the first flock of thirty rise from the ice, head the wind and make toward the feeding-ground, which brought them within easy range of S. and John. What a pretty, exciting sight! S. and John are concealed, ready for action. They are now nicely within shot, labouring along against that heavy wind, entirely unconscious of what is awaiting them. The head of the flock has passed a little, when up rise the boys, and up go the guns. While we were quivering with the excitement of the scene, the old gander has twigged the movement, and gives the alarm, which broke up the direct line, making a falling backwards and a rushing together, when " Bang! " down they come. " Bang! bang! " they are still falling. " Bang! " and yet they come. At this reception they whirled before the wind, circling to windward of our clamper, which brought them within our range, but moving like a streak of light. " Will, take those head fellows; give them five or six feet windage. I'll take the middle. Now give it to them." " Bang! bang! bang ! " Well done! Well done ! S. hasn't got them all, anyway. There are five dead, two more fall to leeward, and one scaled. The five were soon in the boat, and S. gathered up even more than that. Great Scot 1 Those poor fellows got rough treatment. While we were after those, two other flocks came along, that, seeing our boats, turned up the harbour for the channel feeding-ground. Just look out towards the ice. What a sight! Hundreds I would be justified in saying thousands for they were coming in flocks from three to fifty, all making for the feeding-ground.
To say that we were kept busy loading, shooting, and picking up, only faintly conveys the excitement in our ice-boats the next two hours. We got perfectly wild; and who wouldn't, with any of the "shoot" in him?
I had seen wonderful exhibitions of game on the North-West prairies, but the scene here went far beyond in comparison. When the flats bared so that the geese could wade, and the boats, with their heavy cargoes, could not approach them, they literally gathered by the thousand, flocks joining them constantly. These would feed for a while, then, with a roar like thunder, would rise, circle, still rise, circle, and still rise, then settle in the same way, and feed again. What a sight 1 What a sight I Never did I, although a sportsman of fifty summers, ever see, or expect to see, a sight at all approaching to what was before me. There were all the birds that usually were gathered in scores of harbours, congregated within the compass of half a mile, feeding and talking. A "pow-wow" of a hundred wild Indians would be entirely cast in the shade by the " hooks 1" of that body of geese.