By Matt Young
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Nothing could be heard above the whining turbines of the Bell Jet Ranger helicopter carrying us high over the sprawling Kaskattama River Delta. In the distance, we could see the expansive waters of Hudson Bay shining in the amber light of a clear subarctic dawn. Clad in my bulky waterfowl parka and muddy neoprene waders, I felt out of place going goose hunting in such a high-tech aircraft, especially so far from civilization.
However, as in much of the largely roadless Far North, helicopters are the most practical way to transport waterfowlers to and from the vast tidal flats fringing the great bay, where tens of thousands of staging Canada, lesser snow, and Ross' geese gather to feed and rest at low tide.
Joining me on this early morning flight were my host and co-owner of Kaskattama Lodge, Tom Smith, and his good friend and business associate Ted Northam. Following a smooth trip from the lodge, pilot Tony Ursini set the helicopter down with military precision on a narrow, sandy peninsula on the edge of the flats.
We bailed out of the side doors of the helicopter and grabbed our shotguns, bags of decoys, and other equipment from the storage compartment in the back of the aircraft. With our gear safely unloaded, Tony gave us a parting salute and roared off toward the lodge, leaving us to hunt on our own in solitude.
My hunting partners and I quickly went to work placing our mixed spread of Canada and snow goose silhouettes and windsock decoys in small groups surrounding shallow pools of seawater left by the falling tide. Then we took cover in a narrow strip of waste-high willows located on the tip of the point.