A decoy for hunting geese, made out of tamarack branches and strong, waxed thread. The important thing to know about tamarack is that the branches are thin (from the thickness of a pencil down), flexible, smell absolutely wonderful (a lot like pine, if I remember correctly) and have little knobby bits all along their length: they look like lots of little knees.

You start by making an egg-shaped ball, bending small branches around each other. You keep them in place by tying the branches together with the thread: loop it around one branch, pass it over a few more, loop it around again, and working your way up the length of it as you go. You don't have to tie each branch individually. Keep it tight, both here and as you go: pack the branches in there, and tie them tightly.

Once you've got your egg shape you keep adding layers of branches around it, increasing the size of the branches as you go and tying down each layer. This is the body of the goose. You can make it as big as you want, or keep it small.

Once you've got the body made, you need to add the head. You do this by adding another layer to the outside, but making the branches long enough to go up from the egg shape; think of the neck and head of a goose, and you'll get the idea of how long and thick it should be, and at what angle it should go. You're talking another few layers here, at least. For right now, tie off the first couple inches of the neck, but leave the rest.

Once you think you've got enough to work with, you shape the head and neck. The neck's easy enough. The head...well, imagine your arm and hand are the neck and head. Put your thumb and middle finger together, and bunch your other fingers around the middle one. See that space between your thumb and the rest of your fingers? That's how you want the head to look. Divide the branches that form the neck in half. The bottom half comes off so that it's horizontal; the top half arches up, then comes down to join the bottom at the end. Tie as you go, and tie the tips together.

Almost there: you've only got the legs left. Get some bigger branches for this, around the thickness of a pencil. Cut off three of suitable length, sharpen them, and shove them into the belly of the goose (ouch!), leaving a suitable length outside (usually an inch or so is good). You want a tripod effect here. You're done: you've now made a tamarack goose.

I made one when I was in public school in Moosonee, Ontario. I was about eight. It was the first time I'd made one, so it wasn't great, but I was quite proud of it. It was for some random activity day at school; I chose this instead of, say, learning how to make bannock or singing songs with the guy who played guitar. You could buy them all over town, though; a lot were sold to the tourists and the white people who lived in town. I don't think they had been used as decoys in a long, long time. People there, whether natives or white, used modern plastic decoys instead.