Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Camp life 3

In camp we were always repairing something. there was a big shop tent that always had at least 2 sleds under various stages of construction or repair... 3 sno-gos with engines,tracks, undercarriages, everywhere, welding machine, torches and tools of all kinds. we ran a generator when we needed it and in the evening when we cut it off the silence and the night sky seemed to surround our souls. depending on the season we stocked up on what ever we would need in the following season. marine plywood , stove oil , gas , firewood in the spring and fall, and lots and lots of pilot bread... you know... bush biscuits ... that blue box that we all grew up with. many a night was spent after the lights turned out laying talking about the flavor or lack of flavor that the round tundra cookie would be enhanced with. dip it in soup...seal oil... mayo... and how we would make them if we were the bakery. after many years of experimenting we were able to make our own that taste good and were healthy for our diet. more on that later. one year I bought a 300 win mag with scope and left it in camp to share and be used. my father in law loved that gun. he hunted walrus with it and it hung outside year round in a spot out of the weather but where the scope and barrel would always be at outside air temperature and never fog up or rust. he taught me to shoot an old 270 pump with a peep sight and an old Winchester leaver action 22 mag . he said that they were the only rifles I would ever need... He was right. I still use them to this day, the wood is colored with the oil from his hands and now mine. it is a beautiful natural stain. I will pass them to my son Ahkook when he is ready. one day he said " lets go sno go hunt ... you pull the sled and I will show you how we do it over here ". we rode into the back country and after about 2 hours he slowed down and I stayed about 200 yards behind him. he signaled me to stay put and rode to a ridge and as he stepped off the moving snow machine he slung the rifle around and raised the rifle at the same time. still at a trot he tried to get a bead as the snow-machine slowed to a stop about 30 yards ahead of him. the snow tossed up from the rear of the track from the last 2 hours ride had covered the scope in a layer of ice. he simply laid the 300 win mag rifle over on its side and aimed down the barrel like an arrow. boom... jack jack ... Boom. he motioned me to move up and as I topped the ridge there lay 2 caribou about 200 yards away in the valley below. he showed me how to check the liver and other organs for as he said " sick ... always check for sick " . The caribou graze on the tundra and 20 Years earlier the U S government sprinkled radioactive soil material from the Nevada test site around an area about 30 miles south of point hope as part of the project chariot . That site is still hot today. Google project chariot or watch video from u tube. those kids did a good job in the video and look past the f bombs to see the sincere content of the video. any way in the 80's about 1 in 10 caribou that I hunted had " sick " internal organs. we had to bury the organs so the other predators would not eat them and get " sick" . I now think that all subsistence hunters should collect the livers and have them tested for trace levels of " sick" . I know that many elders from point hope had high levels of cancer. why did some of the healthiest people in the world get cancer. I know this because I was honored to be invited to the village during whaling season and visited with many elders . that was 25 years ago so I will let the point hope people speak for them . I will add more soon...

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