On the caribou trail

Cameron Dueck
Cameron Dueck |

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By Cameron Dueck

Hunting is a way of life in the Arctic. It's part of the Inuit culture and it helps save money when food is unaffordable.

Aboard Silent Sound, we've enjoyed many meals of wild meat, thanks to generous hunters. We've cooked grizzly bear, seal, musk ox, goose, fresh fish and caribou. While ashore, we've sampled whale meat and whale blubber.

Jacob and Silas Atkichok took us caribou hunting in their speedboat.

After a few hours of motoring along the coast, we finally saw some caribou at their family's traditional summer hunting ground.

We parked the boat and quietly started following them. Jacob and Silas went first, with the gun, while we followed with our cameras.

We had to sneak up on the small herd from behind a hill, careful not to frighten them away. Soon Jacob was close enough to get a clear shot, and he rested on the ground while taking aim ... bang! bang!

The noise was deafening in the otherwise silent tundra, and after the shots rang out we could see two caribou fall to the ground.

"Two tuktu [caribou]!" Jacob shouted. Caribou are an important source of food. "It's our favourite meat, better than musk ox," he said.

Jacob and Silas skinned the animals right there on the tundra, cutting up the carcasses into small enough pieces to carry to the boat.

The Inuit use nearly every part of the animal, including the thick, furry hide. They use the hide to make winter clothing. Certain parts, such as the liver, kidneys and tongue, are special treats.

Soon we were roaring home across the sea. Once we reached their house, they cooked up a feast in a pot. After eating, they taught us traditional Inuit games and contests of strength.

If you have any questions, e-mail them to [email protected] with postcards in the subject field and we will forward them to Cameron. You can follow his voyage in his weekly log book in Young Post and on http://www.openPassageExpedition.com