BY JIM BAIRD
It was early September in Labrador and the temperature dropped well below freezing. The sudden dip slowed down the fishing, and that meant less food for all of us. We were relying on the land for an important chunk of our calories and to this point, fish and berries had provided more than enough. Now we needed something to supplement the 6,000 calories per day that each of us was burning on this demanding trip. Skimpy dinners that don’t silence a rumbling stomach are no good for group morale, to say the least.
Ted slipped the canoe down the bank from the stern using the silent Indian Stroke, which first-nations hunters have used for thousands of years.
Already a couple days into the Labrador migratory bird-hunting season, we decided to test our luck with the abundant Canada Geese along the river. Ted slipped the canoe down the bank from the stern using the Indian Stroke which first-nations hunters have used for thousands of years. In the bow, Will stayed motionless with his shotgun ready as the canoe ghosted around a point that blocked the sight-line between hunters and prey. Emerging from behind the point they were right on the birds, and Will was able to take two geese with a single shot from his 12 gauge.
After plucking the geese, Marty collected all the feathers and made a pillow with them by putting a shirt and some thread to good use. Will and I field-dressed the birds, and it was time for a feast.
There are several ways to roast goose over the fire. The indigenous Innu of the area usually do it two ways: either strung up on a rope and then spun beside the fire to roast, or splayed out on a cooking stick to roast over the fire. We came up with a fast, spit roasting method and roasted one of our geese to perfection. We cut the meat off the other goose and saved it for frying, a much faster but less delicious cooking option.
Here’s how to spit roast a goose in the bush:
1) Light your fire first. This way you’ll have good coals going by the time you’re ready to start roasting.
2) Find two “Y” sticks to support your spit, sharpen the bottom ends and push them into the ground on either side of your fire. You may need to support them with rocks if there isn’t enough earth to hold them in place.
3) For your spit, find a stick strong enough to support the weight of your bird and as straight as possible. Peel the bark off of it and make sure it’s green or it will burn.
4) Find a smaller “Y” shaped stick about the size of your hand, shave off the bark and sharpen the tops of the “Y”. Then, slice down the center of the “Y” effectively making two pieces. These will attach to your spit as forks.
5) Secure one of the forks to the spit using snare wire. Do this a third of the way down the spit with the sharp end of the fork pointing inwards.
6) Slide your goose onto the spit and stab it onto the fork.
7) With the bird on the spit, stab the other fork into the other side of the goose and then secure it to the spit with more snare wire.
8) Another long piece of snare wire can be used to hold in the wings before you begin roasting.
9) You know your goose is cooked when you stab it with a fork and no red juices pour out. It should take about 2 hours to cook.
We devoured the delicious meat and crispy skin of the roasted goose. We had to be carful not to chew to fast though, as there were still a few pieces of shot in the meat–Not a fun thing to chomp down on. We were thankful for the added sustenance, as the days to come would be filled with numerous long rapids and tough bushwhack portaging. We were about to enter the main white-water section of the Adlatok.