It has been a while since this has been updated, and since I realize that Myra is both very busy as well as modest, it will be my job to fill in the world on her first. The camera did not want to cooperate due to wind, snow, and -20 temperatures before wind chill and so a quick story will have to do.
A small group of us headed out toward Igloodelek three weeks ago to see about adding to the meat supply in our freezer. Myra, Jen (our friend and the school's kindergarten teacher), Joe (our friend the science teacher), his 16-year-old son Will, and I mounted up on two machines as well as two sleds... yes, we were slightly cramped. We looked more like a band of gypsys headed for a new town than hunters out to bag a few bou. But, we were all smiles and ready for adventure.
Will just relocated from Louisianna where he had been living with his mother. This meant two things: one, his blood is thin, and two, he doesn't have proper gear yet. Northern Michigan ice fishermen dress warmer than this poor boy did and he found himself in a sleeping bag not five miles from town in order to stay warm... again, this adds to the band of gypsys image, or as Joe referred to us, "The Beverly Hillbillies."
"Will, you all right in there?" came the drawled Louisianna accent of a concerned father.
"Yumph, Um alwright," would come the muffled, but warm reply.
And so we proceded on until yet another small wrinkle in our plan would show. I had engineered a sled that I was rather proud of since it was made out of nothing but scrap materials had cost me about 57 cents to construct. I guess I should have invested a little more as the bumps of the unseasonably bare tussocks was more than it could handle and Myra, the lone passenger in the sled, began to notice it began to give a little more than it should... Myra is saying that this is getting a little long and so I will get to the point... the sled was no longer something we would think of carting a human cargo in safely and so Myra piled on to the sled with will, who I think appreciated the extra insulation another human body gave.
We ran into some small groups of caribou and the main group stopped off by some cover while I tried to cowboy them over... these caribou had not seen any John Wayne movies recently and so were less than cooperative. They would allow me close enough to pick them off with a pistol, but would not let me steer them over to the other hunters. The goal was to get a first caribou for Myra, Jen, and Will. New plan.
We all got back on machines and tried to get into position... insert dueling banjo music here... Jen was on a machine with me, but every time we would get in to range, she would get off of the machine, get her mittens off, take the gun off safety, get a shell jammed, get the shell unjammed, aim... the caribou would run. This happened more times than worth recounting here and we soon gave up and headed back to where we though the other group of hunters was waiting... that turned out to be another group of caribou... that again escaped us. During our strange Dances with Caribou scene, Myra, Will, and Joe had each managed to shot a caribou a piece... Myra with an amazing shot to the spine of a caribou standing about 70 yards away, put it down with one humane shot with a 30-06. Will put a well place 30-30 bullet into a caribou's heart... and to this day, Joe swears that the only reason he shot his caribou up the butt hole was because it was the only shot that presented itself.
We set to butchering, and though disappointed, Jen was okay with not getting her first that day. During the butchering, she was amazed by the anatomy of the bull caribou...
"They're that big!" she yelled in amazement.
The rest of us just chuckled thinking no more about it. This was her first time up close to an animal like this and it was understandable that she have that reaction... it was not until later that her comment really hit with its true relevance.
On the way home, all loaded onto sleds and machines, butchering all done, we ran into one lone caribou bull silhoetted perfectly on a hilltop. We all stop, and after a short debate decide this is Jen's chance. Out comes a 30-30... out come six shots from the gun. The caribou stands and looks around. Out comes the 30-06, three thunderous shots and the caribou begins to walk away. The caribou was over a hundred yards away and by now Jen is really frustrated... three more shots with the final being punctuated by that reassuring thwapp letting us know that she had finally connected. A short stagger and her bull is down. Cheers, back slaps, and we go look at it and see that she has actually hit it three times. The last was a good heart shot, one skimmed the back taking a tuft of hair, and the shocking one was the bullet that passed through the lower hind quarter, skimming the groin area, and the poor buggers anatomy. We all figured that she must have hit him there with one of the first ones and he had stayed around because he had nothing left to live for.
We threw this last bou on the home made 57 cent sled that soon evaporated, we rigged up a frame for it to slide on, burnt that out on the snow, had someone throw it on a sled on their way by, left for home again with Jen and Will going hypothermic on us... this problem was solved by putting Jen in the sleeping bag with Will... only in a small bush village on the freezing tundra would you put the kindergarten teacher in the same bag with a high school student without attracting world wide news.
So, this short story now going long tells of four firsts: My's first bou, Will's first bou, Jen's first bou, and the world's first long distance castration with a high powered rifle. Oh, five firsts if you count seeing Joe stick his frozen bare hands on his near molten hot muffler for the first time.