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   I had a bona fide tundra experience yesterday; actually, I should say i experienced the tundra. I joined two students in “buktoqing” – I don’t know if that’s the actual spelling, but that’s how it sounds. Ultimately, we went bird hunting. However, in order to do this, in the tundra, which at this point in the year is a million little lakes and streams with patches of land in between, is buktoqing. The most efficient way to travel over such terrain is to haul a canoe over the land then, when you come to a waterway, throw the canoe down and row until you hit another patch of land.

I had the fortune of going with a couple of adventurers and they set out to cover as much territory as we could in the ten hours the daylight allowed us. At one point, they consulted a map, looked at me, back to the map, then out over the horizon. Finally I asked, “are we off the map?” Ken replied, “we are very much, “off the map”.” It was my first time hunting, so that was, enlightening. I did shoot one Canadian goose, even fetched it myself. My catch was also to be my payment to my host, for transport, ammo, etc. His mother had a warm meal waiting for us upon our return. She personally thanked me, in Yup’ik (quyana), for the goose – which is a blessing for the family, since most still practice subsistence living; but a chore for her since cleaning the catch is a woman’s responsibility. I learned this last fact after inquiring with my hunting host on how to clean the birds. He went into great detail the process, then when i asked if he would instruct me he promptly explained his mother cleans the catch and in such a tone i understood the discussion on that topic was over.

I have already been invited to next week’s hunt – i am undecided. 


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