Even on a flat trail, there are many disadvantages to walking in a salt marsh in the dark: you don’t always see the puddles or the uneven wood planks on the bridge; you can’t enjoy fall’s beautiful colours; and, you never know what’s lurking in the woods, or ahead of you on the trail. However, the hour before dawn is ideal for seeing shooting stars and listening to herons, ducks and seagulls as they awaken. During migration season, it’s also wonderful to listen to the flocks of hundreds, if not thousands of geese that rest overnight in the salt marsh.
Although they could be heard talking to one another in the darkness yesterday morning, by the time I arrived near their resting area today, the geese were just taking flight. The sound was amazingly loud as they flew above the trees. I wondered what had startled them so early.
A flashing light soon became apparent on the trail ahead. Hunters! In a conservation area! They had walked into the park using the trail and were dressed in waders. Carrying guns, they explained that they were waiting for a boat to pick them up and take them to a spot that was beyond the park limits. Hmmmm…
A light from a very quiet boat could be seen approaching the shore. It had set out across the water from a launch area situated next to nearby Rainbow Haven Provincial Park.
The first time I walked along the salt marsh trail in the Peter McNab Kuhn Conservation Area, hunters shot down a duck that was retrieved by their dog right next to the trail. It was Thanksgiving Monday and not quite what I was expecting from a walk in the park. From the trail, I could see hunters in camouflage gear lying low behind their blinds on a nearby island. The area had probably been used for years by hunters who entered the area by boat and weren’t aware of the area’s new park status.
These days however, all hunters should be aware of park limits. Regardless of how delectable a goose might be for Christmas dinner, somehow it just doesn’t seem right to be using a park trail to bring hunting gear into an area in order to stalk geese before first light. Knowing the goose was hunted in that manner would certainly leave a bad taste in my mouth.