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.
Besides the excellent bags made on the ledges, and the pot-shooting by tolling, the nearest lakes at times gave me splendid sport. All sportsmen know that ducks and geese, in flying to and from the lakes, follow the same routes daily, so that catching on to these ranges, I often got fine shots, dropping as many as half a dozen at a time. Before the tide drove them off the flats to the lakes, I would get as close to the shore as ambush would let me, and thereby often got within 30 yards as they were rising to go out over the high trees. I kept a small punt in one of the best feeding-lakes (Lewis), the general haunt of the ducks when they went for fresh water and to wash and gravel. To catch them there, I had to be out on the lake with my boat concealed in rushes before daylight, as at the first ray of . dawn large numbers that only feed on the harbour at night in September and October start for the lakes for the day. These went in large flocks, and, as soon as clear of the trees, would set their wings and sail down into the lake with great swiftness. The first morning there I failed to bring down birds, although having fine chances, simply because I misjudged their swiftness of flight, and stern-shot them; but I was not long in catching on. When I gave them from 6 to 8 feet windage according to distance, they came tumbling down in exciting numbers, but I dare not, when the. birds were coming, put Ready out.
Often of a morning I secured six or eight shots, although many more flocks came; but, frequently as I would fire, another would be within sound of the report, and turn from me. After the birds were all in from the harbour, then I would pick up the dead ones, and send Ready on the scout for the wounded. It was one of the most interesting features of the morning's sport to see him coming out of the rushes (it was a rush lake, and shoal) with two ducks at a time. When he captured a wounded bird he always killed it, and was ready for the next one. A wounded bird could not get away from him; for if it dived, the dog was under too; and I have often seen him dive when the duck did, and come up with it in his mouth. After he had scoured the lake, I would put him on the shore. Blue-wings, wounded, always land and hide in the woods, so Ready would follow the edge of the shore, and if a duck had landed he was soon found. I stopped six once among the lily-ponds, only one being killed. The five dived and sneaked ashore from the edge of the bed, but I sent Ready into the woods, and he brought me the whole in a very few minutes.
In some of these excursions to Lewis Lake I have shot so many that it needed three or more trips to the boat to get them all out. This lake was only three-quarters of a mile from the head of the harbour.
The first winter geese reach the harbour in early December, and often at dusk and the early evening fly out into Path Lake, distant half a mile, to gravel and drink. It may not be generally known that every twenty-four hours the wild goose has to have drink and gravel; yet it is,a fact, and they will frequent most unaccountable and most unlikely and exposed places in the winter to secure these.
One afternoon, just at dusk, I was with a companion on the western shore of the harbour, watching a body of geese that had arrived the day before, when they rose and went for Path Lake. That was an eye-opener for us, so we hurried to the house, and during the evening took our boat on a waggon and out to the foot of the lake for service the next night. We had to do this in a clandestine way, so as not to arouse the curiosity of local gunners, all of whom would have visited the lake had they "caught on" to our movements. The next day I tolled a fine shot at Maxwell's Brook, stopping and getting five ducks. Towards night we were at our boat, and went oh to a wooded island at the head of Path. This lake was three-quarters of a mile long, from 300 to 700 yards wide. Around this little island the geese gravelled and watered, then crept up on the rocks in the water near by to sleep. This performance we knew from previous visits to this spot; so after hauling the boat into the bushes, and fixing up our blinds where we expected them to come, we sat down to await developments. The full moon had come up over the trees, and it was a charming night, so we were very hopeful and expectant. Presently at the lower end of the lake we heard the goose-call, " Kahouk ! " and knew that they were coming. My companion, a great mimic, replied. It was not long before we heard a great rushing in the water directly below the island, where they had lit to reconnoitre before swimming up to the gravel-bed. In the mean time they amused themselves by washing. Such a noise as there was convinced us there was a big flock. Bight then we heard another " Kahouk! " away down the lake. More were coming. The old gander in the flock replied, and so did my companion. Soon they had settled amongst the others. We were keeping a sharp look-out, as you may imagine, when my companion whispered, " I see them swimming up. Don't you see them directly in front of us ? " Sure enough there were as many as a dozen, and many more joining them. As my companion was the oldest hand at this business, I had given the arrangements into his hands to plan, and of course we both understood the signals. There they were by this time in front of us, a black mass, with their heads down under water after gravel, and their tails in the air, but working very close together, and only about 35 yards away. Our guns mine a breechloader No. 10, his a muzzle-loader No. 10 were both loaded with B shot. My companion said, " Be ready. They are so nicely together we won't get a better chance; besides, something might start them, so we'll try them. Wait till I get their heads up."
While they were gravelling, my sporting readers know there would always be some on the look-out, so he gave a shrill whistle, and every head was in the air. They were alarmed, and drew closer together. " Now give it to them! 'One! two!'" "Bang! bang! bang! bang ! " " Kahouk! Kahouk! ouk ouk! "