Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
The spring waterfowl migration was put on temporary hold this week as another arctic cold front swept across Northern Iowa. Yesterday’s weather added insult to injury as strong winds and whiteout snow squalls raged off and on throughout much of the day. Although such days are extremely tough on equipment, who could dream of staying indoors with such marvelous weather afoot?? You’d have to be nuts! The photo above helps capture a sense of the intense struggles encountered by migrating geese as they seesaw their way toward distant arctic nesting grounds.
A friend of mine once spent a couple of years living at the village of Pavugnatuk, located at the NE tip of Hudson Bay. He often traveled with parties of substance hunters and accompanied the Inuits on their annual spring goose hunts. He said the geese often arrive in the Far North when the landscape remains blanketed in snow and ice. When that happens, the snow geese, cacklers, and white-fronts are forced to just camp out atop snowdrifts; metabolizing fat reserves as they wait for better weather. On one occasion, the geese had to wait for eleven days until the first patches of tundra were exposed. My friend said that when the Crees and Inuits hunted geese, they hunted them hard. After a long winter of living on fish and canned goods, the hunters were more than ready for some fresh red meat! Nothing went to waste. The hunters utilized feathers, skins, and every ounce of meat the geese had to offer — including the soles of their feet which my friend described as being “somewhat gelatinous and very chewy”.