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Thread: Walrus Hunting

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    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Default Walrus Hunting

    I would say that walrus hunting out in the Bering Sea on drifting ice in early spring is the most dangerous hunts that I have been on. Usually after locating the walrus herd, we would scout them out trying to locate a walrus laying on a piece of ice that is large enough to pull our skiff on after killing it. Once we find a suitable walrus we would idle our outboard very slowly up to the ice trying not to disturb the one we want, hard to do when you have a herd watching you with a couple more laying on the same piece of ice as the one you want. Once we are in range usually within 20-30 feet the designated shooter would take very careful aim with his 30-06 and shoot the walrus either in the back of the neck where the spine is connected to the skull or underneath the front flipper if the shot presented itself. Underneath the flipper is where the hide and blubber is the thinnest. Good shot placement in either one of these two areas would usually kill the walrus instantly. After the shot was fired walrus would start waking up on the ice then dive into the water, usually surfacing all around the skiff. Diving and surfacing over and over again, sometimes within a couple feet of the skiff. Elders have always taught us to be wary of walrus in the water. In the old days walrus were known to surface beside hunter's kayaks and umiaks, hook their boats with their tusks capsizing the boat, very few hunters survived these attacks, if you didn't drown, hypothermia or freezing would surely take your life. As quickly as we could, we would pull our skiff up onto the ice and within minutes we would be surrounded by walrus from the herd, the walrus would surround the ice floe bobbing up and down. Sometimes we would have to shoot in the water to try and scare them off. While the hunters are butchering the dead walrus they would keep a close eye on any walrus that did not swim off. Depending on the pack ice and the tides sometimes we would be many miles from home and it would take many hours of driving the loaded skiff to get back to the sight of land and then home. Sometimes the temperature would drop or the wind would start blowing and on some occassions it would start snowing. Once home walrus skin/blubber and meat would be shared all around the village. Walrus is one of my favorite foods.

  2. #2
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nukalpiaq View Post
    I would say that walrus hunting out in the Bering Sea on drifting ice in early spring is the most dangerous hunts that I have been on. Usually after locating the walrus herd, we would scout them out trying to locate a walrus laying on a piece of ice that is large enough to pull our skiff on after killing it. Once we find a suitable walrus we would idle our outboard very slowly up to the ice trying not to disturb the one we want, hard to do when you have a herd watching you with a couple more laying on the same piece of ice as the one you want. Once we are in range usually within 20-30 feet the designated shooter would take very careful aim with his 30-06 and shoot the walrus either in the back of the neck where the spine is connected to the skull or underneath the front flipper if the shot presented itself. Underneath the flipper is where the hide and blubber is the thinnest. Good shot placement in either one of these two areas would usually kill the walrus instantly. After the shot was fired walrus would start waking up on the ice then dive into the water, usually surfacing all around the skiff. Diving and surfacing over and over again, sometimes within a couple feet of the skiff. Elders have always taught us to be wary of walrus in the water. In the old days walrus were known to surface beside hunter's kayaks and umiaks, hook their boats with their tusks capsizing the boat, very few hunters survived these attacks, if you didn't drown, hypothermia or freezing would surely take your life. As quickly as we could, we would pull our skiff up onto the ice and within minutes we would be surrounded by walrus from the herd, the walrus would surround the ice floe bobbing up and down. Sometimes we would have to shoot in the water to try and scare them off. While the hunters are butchering the dead walrus they would keep a close eye on any walrus that did not swim off. Depending on the pack ice and the tides sometimes we would be many miles from home and it would take many hours of driving the loaded skiff to get back to the sight of land and then home. Sometimes the temperature would drop or the wind would start blowing and on some occassions it would start snowing. Once home walrus skin/blubber and meat would be shared all around the village. Walrus is one of my favorite foods.
    Hey, do you have any photos you'd care to post? Interesting stuff..

    -Mike
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    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Sorry Mr. Strahan I don't have any photos, just have my experiences to share with forum members for now. Thanks for asking. Merry Christmas everyone.

  4. #4

    Thumbs up Wow!

    You sir, definitely have my respect. Amazing story. One thing for certain, the walrus has nothing to fear from me. I hope you enjoy your harvest...you certainly earned it, and Merry Christmas to all, also. Thanks, ciao.
    If you like getting kicked by a mule...then you'll "love" shooting my .458.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Anything on whaling?

    Sounds like you've been around a bit. Would you be interested in sharing anything on whaling? I've been fascinated by it, having been to Barrow a few times. Last time was last summer and a gray whale was rubbing his back along the beach in really shallow water. But I have never been there when they landed a whale... it's something I have wanted to see for a long time. I'd be interested in hearing your experiences with this.

    Regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  6. #6
    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Default Beluga hunters

    Sorry, I am a Yup'ik from Southwest, not an Inupiat from up north. Our people hunt white whale (beluga) when they are available, not bowhead. Some of our hunters killed a beluga this past summer, which they harvested from waters south of the Yukon River. Everyone in the village was very pleased since most had not eaten beluga in many years. We haven't had a good migration of beluga through our coastal waters for about 8-10 yrs.

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    Default what village?

    What village are you living in?

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    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    I am in a neighboring village, same area that you are from.

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    In your other thread on hunting, you speak of learning to shoot at a horse corral in carolina. On this thread you say your a yupik. Rather different upbringing, the carolina area, for a yupik. Care to expain?
    Fish asked WHAT village your in. You didn't answer the question.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Default Hey Nukal'

    how long will you qualify as a "nukalpiaq"? When do you transition to a tegganeq?

  11. #11
    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Default Carolina Yup'ik

    Kinda perplexing isn't it, a Yup'ik from Carolina. My mother's side of the family has been here in the Kuskokwim Delta for many generations, my mother was born out in spring camp, my grandfather and grandmother were born and raised here in our village. His father was from an old village called Apokak and my grandmother's father was raised by Laplander reindeer herders. I am from the Delta eventhough my father's side of the family is from Carolina. Now on his side of the family it goes way back to the early colonial period. My ancestors came to the colonies on ships and the family chose to live in the Carolinas. When I was doing some research tracing my family name back as far as I could I found out an ancestor with the same name as myself fought in the Revolutionary War. So I guess you can say I am a Native American by birth, an American by heritage. And I choose not to say which village I am from, sorry.

  12. #12
    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    how long will you qualify as a "nukalpiaq"? When do you transition to a tegganeq?
    Hey Dude, I am only 44, may have some gray in my hair already but I haven't transitioned to an Elder yet. Someone has to keep the fire going and tell the stories. Peace

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    Default hmmm

    Must be a coastal village south of the yukon north of the kuskokwim, hmmm i flew over when they shot a beluga in tununak this year. You wouldn't happen to Halibut fish for CVRF would you?

  14. #14
    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Default Freshwater angling is my preference

    No I don't halibut fish. Listening to my brother sounds like it takes up a lot of time and I am really not that interested in it. I would rather spend time on the river in the summer angling for salmon and resident freshwater species. I really enjoy flyfishing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nukalpiaq View Post
    I would say that walrus hunting out in the Bering Sea on drifting ice in early spring is the most dangerous hunts that I have been on.
    I certainly agree about the fun er I mean danger. I hunted walrus further north, out of Wainwright and Barrow in the 70s and early 80s. As I recall, dodging icebergs in 5 foot seas with a sputtering engine north of Wainwright was fun. So was getting lost 20 miles north of Barrow, in a storm, dodging icebergs and finding out my inexperienced relative didn't know which way land was and wanted me to guess. Obviously I guessed right

  16. #16
    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Great story dws, wonder if there are anymore walrus hunters out there in the forum that would like to add a good hunting story to the thread. I am working on another story right now, may take a day or two to complete. Good luck hunting during the holiday season.

  17. #17
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing your story with us Nukalpiaq. Sounds like you have had some interesting if not down right challenging hunts and experiences. I have a lot of respect for living your lifestyle.

    Merry Christmas!

    Rob

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    Nukalpiaq, My Wife's family is also Alaska Native and over the years as I have met more and more of thier family and friends, one interesting thing has always stuck in my mind, and you seem to add more creedance to my theory! My theory is that since Eskimo's did not have any written language for thousands of years, and untill relitively recent times in fact, that they became exception story tellers with great drama and detail! I cant tell you how many times I have sat and listen in great enjoyment to sories similar to yours told by my Father-in-law or his friends. My favorite story was one about an elder in a coastal villiage that was the designated "bear" guy. Whenever they would have trouble with one of the bruins, this old fellow would set a foot snair for it (no doubt with rather heavy cable) and he claimed that once he had snaired the critter he would leave it be for 2 or 3 days to make a bunch of racket and tear up everything within the length of that cable, and then dispatch the beast with a 30/30. According to his story, they would have no bear trouble for 3 to 4 years after that because the snaired bear had "told" all the other bears in the area to go away as it was too dangerous................. Cool stuff!

    Merry Christmas all!
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

  19. #19
    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    I thought walrus hunting was more interesting when you quietly motored or paddled the boat next to an adjacent ice floe. You then sat on the ice floe, got a good shooting position, picked out the walrus you wanted, and hopefully dispatched it with one shot. Much easier shooting from the ice than from a boat.
    You only shot once, then waited a few minutes while the other walrus would quiet down. The ice floes are a noisy place often, and one shot would not overly alarm the rest of the herd on the ice. Once the others quieted down, you then picked out your next animal and shot it. Hunting this way, a couple hunters could get several animals easily, have them dead on the ice, not in the water, and not have to deal with lost, wounded animals.
    You can read about this style of hunting in "Hunters of the Northern Ice". By Richard K. Nelson. It's about the people of Point Hope.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

  20. #20

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    Sounds like a fun hunt. Who would I contact to go on one?
    I've been in Alaska for 41 years so being a resident shouldn't be a problem. How long have you been an Alaskan resident?

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