by Nigel Angaiak
In the Spring of 2009 on May 18, my father and I went up North to Kass’aq River to hunt some geese. It was the first time I ever went out of Tununak with a boat to hunt.
The boat ride was outrageous because of the view of mountains carved by the wind, the ocean filled with loons and seals, the first time I ever saw a beluga whale. It was for sure eye catching and I didn’t want to be anywhere else but here.
It took us an hour and thirty minutes to get to the beautiful wild where we hunt wildlife. I was surprised how many geese were flying around, different sounds of birds and gunshots everywhere.
People were there before us, maybe a day early, or we were a day late. Cranes, swans, geese, and the first otter I saw was killed by my father and skinned, also hung by our tent and dried. I was bummed because that was the only otter I saw. I guess that’s how life is.
The home the otter lived in looked like the home of a beaver. I wasn’t sure, but it lived next to where our camp was. After he was done skinning, we went in the tent with other elders and hunters and ate noodles with geese soup.
The next day, I woke up to a loud BANG and several more to come, and adults cussing up a storm because his bird flew to the river. I never heard an adult do that before. I guess it’s the wild. The tent was hot, sun was shining, guns were going off, and I was sweating. The best way to wake up on a beautiful morning.
That same day I shot my first 12-gauge Remington with shells that are two and half inch long, at a bunch of bushes to see how the gun would kick. I was ready. My dad told me to go out and hunt.
“Murilkelluten piniartuten,” pay attention to your surroundings, he said before I went out.
I went out far by the biggest bluff where I was sheltered from the wind but heated by the sun. I lay there in silence, listening to the wind until I heard a faint noise. It sounded like something was out of breath and I started to freak out. I thought about scary stories I heard from my Grandpa, but as they got closer I could hear geese coming closer and closer.
I looked around and saw a flock. A black shape in the sky with sounds that I could not describe or mimick.
When they got close enough I shot once and one fell down. I cocked the gun and shot a second time nothing fell down and the third shot nothing again. I questioned myself, “What the heck was that?”
I was mad but glad that I caught my first bird. I went back to the tent where my dad was making hard-boiled geese and swan eggs. When my father and I were done eating, we packed our stuff, put my geese in the boat, and let my dad put his catch in the boat himself. We went home before the weather got bad.
I learned that the things that Yupiit catch and eat they don’t waste. They always thank the catch for giving up their lives to feed you. If you respect them, they will respect you when you go out again. This has been known and passed down for generations and to us today.
Nigel Angaiak of Tununak is a student at the Kuskokwim Learning Academy.