Sunday, August 15, 2010

I should rename our blog - The Muskox Chronicles

I was in the bathroom (brushing my teeth if you must know) and thinking about what to post on this next entry. I asked myself, "Self, what will people want to know about?" I keep forgetting that our "ordinary" can be epic. We are living a life that only a small slice of humanity will ever get to live. No one really thinks of vacationing in the Arctic or has enough money to come here to hunt exotic game. Arctic Alaska is typically viewed through the lens of a very expensive camera toted by a National Geographic photo journalist. Our view is unmistakeably unique as you will see!

Our new Honda with a Musk Ox middle strapped to the back.
The major mode of transportation is Honda (4-wheeler) or snow machine/snow-go (snowmobile). We invested, I guess you could say, in a set of wheels. We bought a Honda over the phone from a dealer in Anchorage. It was completely sight unseen. However, it looks like every other red Honda rumbling along our single dirt road. It is a little shinier, but the dust and the muskox blood are breaking things in quite nicely. I had never driven a Honda until recently. I feel rather liberated. We ordered racks for the front and back along with a wind shield. Paul, being the thoughtful man that he is, ordered me a backrest. We have had the Honda for a little over a week and I was the passenger for the first time yesterday. I have been to the post office several times, out to the airport once, and up the road for our maiden voyage but always as the driver. It was fun to ride as a passenger.

Paul with his kill.
The Honda arrived by plane on Friday (the 6th). On Saturday night (the 7th) Paul decided at 8:30 that he would go get his Musk Ox. The season is open for a short period of time and closes as soon as the allotted number of animals have been taken.There were two more animals in our hunting zone. Paul asked Robert (one of his high school seniors) to go with him. They saw a small herd just outside of town, but there were no adult males. Several miles out of our village they spotted a mixed herd with a HERKIN' male.

Look at this brute! This doesn't truly capture his size.
Paul took his .270 and shot the beast 10 times in the neck. He didn't take a rib shot because he wanted to waste the smallest amount of meat possible and it is customary here to aim for the neck (the neck meat is dog food around here). Paul found 8 entry wounds and some bullets went in as little as an inch. The advantage to this guy being tough to take down was that he was staggering closer to the road making it easier to schlep his excessively large carcass out. Even in his last moments he was thinking of protecting his harem of females. A smaller male attempted to join his group for safety and he made a concerted effort to thwart this inferior competition.

In respect for the animal Robert took his head off first and pointed his gaze to the sky and away from the carcass. There really is something spiritual about an animal giving up its life for the nourishment of man. Even experiencing this second hand gave me a sense of connection to nature that I really had never had. I believe that this is how God intended the relationship between man and earth to be. If we are savage and ransack His creation we miss that amazing connection intended in the bounty of the land.

Paul quietly came home at 1:30 AM Sunday morning (It was merely dusky outside at this late hour). I got up to find out how things had gone. I found him excited and humbled by this experience. Robert's adept knowledge of hunting and cleaning an animal made Paul all the more grateful. Once again we experienced the generosity and willingness to help ever-present in our village. The trailer was filled with enormous chunks of dusty meat and a very large head. Our Honda (as you may have noticed above) donned the weight of the animals robust mid section.

On Sunday we began cutting up the meat. Ruth, Robert, and Chris helped tremendously. The Better Homes and Garden cookbook lay open on the stairs outside to the images of cuts of meat. This helped with labeling bag upon bag of musk ox meat. I took slabs of meat and cut them into roasts and stew meat with my ulu. We gave away about a third of the meat. We felt excited to share in our time of plenty. Ribs went here and legs went there. What a way to hunt. What a privilege to live here and experience this wild land.

Our first meal was a savory batch of BBQ-ed ribs. They were DELICIOUS. You may be wondering what the meat is like. Is it gamey? Is it tough?  It was like eating any other ribs. It didn't taste too different from what mainstream meat tastes like. We are having a roast this evening. I may have more to report on that later today.

On a side note: Thankfully Paul chose to leave the hide in the field for the Ravens. I was not looking forward to another exercise in hide tanning taking place.

In gratitude to the land!

1 comment:

  1. The roast was terrific. The meat is beef-like, but rather grainier. The flavor is great, not gamey at all. I am a fan!