At 3:45 AM on a Friday morning an annoying alarm clock reminded me of the fact that “the early bird gets the worm”. An invitation to join a hunter in his field means being at the location around sunrise. This not an activity for lazy bedstayers.
He who gets up early gets to experience the breathtaking beauty of dawn and awakening of all life in Nature. Nothing else can make a human land more in the body and serve with with peace of mind than nature does. The sounds of birds and insects. Wind in the grass and water whispering at you.
Today the point of interest is barnacle geese. This bird stays in NL during winter and heads back to Russia and/or other similar cold areas to mate and raise their chicks.
As they are not mating yet this time is the last chance to obtain some fat rich biological and sustainable meat from an animal that has had a high quality of life.
Many people ask me how I can stand being a part of killing an animal. I often try to explain that I have more difficulty seeing our regular meat and diary production where animals have less freedom and/or some times limited well being. If we could eat less “regular” meat and more game from nature it would make a huge welfare difference and we humans would still have sense of respect and awe for the animals we eat as obtaining a goose’s meat for consumption is a long process that takes effort. When I do the effort – I value the meat even more and I feel less comfortable disposing even the tiny bits. So when I prepare a goose for consumption, all but the intestines, head and feathers are used.
Apart from my fascination of what beautiful nutrition Mother Nature provides us with – I must not forget to mention that it brings me great joy to watch a good hunting dog work from his instincts and skills.
I cannot think of anything prettier than a flatcoated retriever build for his function galopping towards a retrieve with his tail out and nose upward. It can give me goosebumps of awe every time.
Gurbe is a full brother of Lotte & Kaspar from our first litter Aura. He is a bit stronger build than Kaspar but still very compact, fast and turnable. He has a lovely coat – a very charming presence and he is incredibly driven with huge hunting cleverness. I remember when his owner visited us before they were born and he explained about his hunting field and his wish for a hunting dog with excellent water skills. Today I can proudly conclude that he got all that and even more. Gurbe is a passionate worker giving his handler enough challenge. This great boy will do anything to get the last bird home and in my opinion this is a very important talent that a dog either has or not. He has a very good balance between problem solving on his own and will to please. And he is so charming. I am very proud of this boy and of his owner. It is his first flatcoated retriever and they are a great team still in the proces of ankering their teamwork in gundog tests – but already with very good results in the pocket. The hunt together as if they have done that for ages..
Lotte is by far not so experienced as Gurbe in goose retrieving so she got a chance to watch and learn from her brother after having had a few relatively easy marks. She was a bit exited when allowed to run out for a mark and lost some focus on the first bird but after a while she settled better and worked more precisely. A goose fell on the waterway at 200 meters away and she did not see it. It became a blind passing of the water and directing to the left on another 20 meters. Amazing job that she trusted my instructions and retrieved the floating goose.
Later on we sadly had an injured goose that landed very close to the road. Lotte and I immediately started running up to come in between the road and the goose. I made the mistake of letting Lotte search for the goose too early (due to my own poor impulse control) and she turned wind downward and found the landing spot of the goose. She was now behind the goose and the road and if the goose would have been able to fly up this could have put her in the risk of running up to the road and the goose to fly away to a field where we did not have access. This was a big learning moment for me to think more carefully about risks and how to set up the search better. Luckily Lotte put her nose to the ground, kept tracking where the goose went and retrieved it promptly. Pfffiiiewww what a moment. I am not sure which feelings I had at that time – a bit of everything I believe. The morning hunt ended enjoying quietness and singing of the field birds. A rare sound as many of these birds are pushed away by predation (cats/geese/foxes/poor living areas). The sounds of the birds always seduces me entirely and I had not even noticed that the hunt had been called to an end. “We stop now or you will have difficulty cutting out the meat in time as it is getting warm” we’re the wise words of my hunter. So I returned home after a cup of coffee and a quick “Adonis photo shoot” of Gurbe. I had the last goose on my cutting board at 21.45 hours at night.
Sustainable meat is not easy peasy done. And I even did not have all the hassle of a hunting license and shooting etc. Did I mention that this type of goose hunting is law regulated to protect crops from farmers etc? Meaning it is not optional – the hunting is more or less obligated. Also on weekdays when the hunter might not have the exact spare time.. Nature does not wait and regulated protection of crops sets the pace. Nature shows us humans that everything has its timing – I try to learn from her…