Posts Tagged ‘seal’

To start reading from the beginning, go to May 11, 2008.

One afternoon, early fall, someone had spotted seal (oogruk) in the
bay. MO was just getting ready to leave for “outside” (lower 48) to
attend college but the hunter surged in his blood and he packed the boat
with rifle and other gear to go after a seal. The hunter blood surged
in me as well and I was nervous with anticipation when he asked me to
help — anything to get out from behind the store counter and kid’s
sticky coins dropping on the counter’s surface.

The weather was cold and cloudy but not yet cold enough to freeze
water or the bay. The wind was a factor and I wondered how we would be
able to spot a dark seal in the choppy waters on a cloudy day. MO first
handled the motor taking us out about a half mile from shore when, with
his field glasses he saw a seal’s head poking out of the water. He
ordered me to the the back of the boat to take over the motor and
steering while he prepared the gun and nestled down in the bow of the
boat. He motioned for me to steer straight ahead until he saw again the
seal. He motioned me to slow down. He raised his gun in wait and then
“pow” he shot.

We were both pumping with Adrenalin and he yelled and motioned for me
to punch it forward. I was too timid. He yelled back at me “Hurry!
Faster!” We had to race to the wounded seal before it sank. I raced
forward as fast as I dared but we found no seal and no evidence that it
had been shot. MO took charge of the motor again and we circled for
several minutes looking for signs of seal. The sea remained dark and
choppy with no evidence of wildlife breaking the surface. Our day of
providing for the family was over.

A week later a more successful hunter had brought Maggie a seal. She
layed out cardboard on the sand with the seal atop the cardboard and
proceeded to skin, gut and cut up the meat. It was a bloody oily mess
and I wanted to get my hands into it. The native juices in my blood were
flowing like Niagara Falls.

Maggie skinned the seal with blubber still attached to the skin. She
draped the skin over a board leaning against the side of the house. With
her ulu, she expertly separated the blubber from the skin in one large
chunk. The blubber was then cut into small chunks, put into mason jars
and left to render into oil. My mouth waters as I write this thinking
about dried seal meat in seal oil and half-dried salmon chunks in seal

(to be continued) copyright Tamara Ann Burgh, all rights reserved

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