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.
"Kahouk!" everywhere; while out where they were gravelling lay seven, and in different parts of the lake we continued to hear the "ouks! " of our wounded birds. We soon had the dead ones in the boat, and took after some of the wounded, swimming with all their powers to get away. We gathered from their call there were at least four in the lake, so while my companion was rowing with all his strength, I directed him, and soon got up to one which I knew would have to be shot before we could hope to get him, as a pent-up goose will go under the water like a duck; so when we were within 25 yards of him I laid him over with a No. 1 cartridge, and a beauty he was. We got no more that night, but expected to find them in the woods in the morning, with Ready's help. He was not with us on the island, so with our eight geese, a mortal load, we trudged off to the house.
The next morning found us very early on the lake-shore; but during the night a couple of inches of snow had fallen, which killed their scent. Nevertheless, the dog scented out one that had died after landing. The traces of three others we found that had taken the brook leading from the foot of the lake to the harbour, and so for a time were lost to us, but not altogether, as that day we went out into the harbour and on to the ledges with Ready and captured two more there. Eleven birds at one shot was and is unusual luck. That night or the one following our shot, the shore of the lake was lined with gunners who had heard our cannonade, and I suppose came for our geese; but no others came that night, nor for several after. Our geese were wonderfully fine ones, none dressing under 8 lbs., while one weighed 10 and another 11. I have made some remarkable shots at blue-wings by moonlight, when they were feeding upon the tide towards the shore, as at night they huddle very close, each one being hard against his neighbour, and with their bills in the mud they make a noise that is deafening.
On one occasion, between sundown and dark, with the tide flowing, my companion (a young man of the settlement) and I observed some hundreds of birds feeding towards a point forming a creek, and judged by their movements they would pass close to the point, so we went down on all-fours, and, taking advantage of little obstacles for shelter, were able to get behind a kind of dyke grown over with wild-rose-bushes without having been noticed. This made a first-class blind, and here we awaited developments. Fortunately, we were to leeward of them, and were safe in that respect. Blue-wings are very keen in their scent, as all sportsmen know, and cannot be approached to windward.
As they fed towards our blind, others were joining them constantly, until the body was immense. Often while they were out of range they would get their heads up to reconnoitre, offering such fine chances, if they had been near enough, and forcing the exclamations from us, " Oh, if they were only close enough I couldn't we slaughter them ! " After patient watching and waiting, we were rewarded at dusk by their coming within 30 yards, and as thick as they could feed, but their heads were down. Our guns were all ready, if they didn't go back on us, as most sportsmen know by sad experience they are apt to do. John, my companion, gave a quack : up went a forest of necks. "Ready! One! two!" " Bang " went two barrels, as they were setting; "bang," went the other two as they jumped, followed by dead ones by the dozen, very sick ones a great number, wing-broken ones not to be estimated, the whole making a great slaughter. As the water was not over our waders, we gathered the dead ones, and left to Ready the collecting of the wounded, most of which he got, killing them as he overtook them, and afterwards landing them. When this was done we had twenty-eight birds, and the next morning the dog got five more along the shore. This is such a large number that my readers, I fear, may think it exaggerated. Nevertheless, it is true.
We were only half a mile from the home of my companion, at which I was staying, but our game made two back-loads for each of us; and they were a pretty sight when they were all lying on one table. It was the greatest number ever gathered at Port Joli from one set of shot; but I did know of a resident there in the early settlement of the place, shooting and getting nineteen winter geese at one shot, when they were piled into a hole on the ice at the mouth of a small brook, drinking.
I had often been aggravated at seeing great bodies of geese and ducks in the harbour, without being able to get a shot at them by any device known to me then; so, after reading in a sporting magazine that they were in some shooting resorts successfully approached at night by lights, my companion and I decided to try it at Port Joli.
Having provided ourselves, at considerable expense, with a powerful reflector and lamp, attached to the inside of a box two feet square, we proceeded to the harbour, and attached it to the bow of a fisherman's dory. You will notice we did not want to take any advantage of our unsuspecting game, so put the light high, that they might see it afar. All the necessary preparations completed, as we supposed for the slaughter of a dory-load, we sneaked along in the shadow of the windward shore, until just opposite where we heard bodies of geese talking. Then we lit the light, and started before a fresh breeze down upon them. Great Scot! what a noise! A tornado or a dust-storm on the prairie only could equal the noise of the thousands of geese and ducks as they rose all over the harbour, and started seaward with a velocity unequalled, at a break-wing speed, nor did they stop much short of the Gulf Stream, judging by the time they were gone before returning.
The next morning there was not a goose nor a duck to be seen. When they did come they sat in one place scarcely five minutes, acting as though they were expecting a reappearance of that phenomenon. Our non-success, we discovered, was from our shortsightedness. The moon was large and shining brightly, while we, supposing the light would be so bright as to place all behind it in impenetrable darkness which it would, had there been no moon sat bolt upright on our seats, ready for the devastation which we were not to commit.