by Peter Twitchell

Hunting and fishing safety becomes an important issue as you age. I have participated in hunting, fishing subsistence activities ever since I was a boy.

I remember one spring day in April, my dad putting me in a small sled and pulling me to his goose blind 2 miles from home across the river from Bethel. I was a toddler, barely old enough to walk.

Back in those days geese flew in huge flocks of 20-30 geese per flock. They never flew more than a couple hundred feet from the ground. There were no jets and few 1 engine airplanes around. In this day and age migrating birds fly a mile high.

In the spring I’d watch my grandma Hannah, Mom and Gussie and sometimes Molly Woods out in the flooded grounds running to club rabbits that were flooded out of their dens. The rabbits ran fast on a small island of dry ground dodging the women’s clubs. If they were lucky the women bagged a couple rabbits.

I was a boy of probably 2-3 years of age sitting with my dad and a short man by the name of Morris Hofseth was in the kitchen visiting and drinking a cup of dad’s Hills Brothers coffee and munching on Dad’s pilot bread crackers that he had fried in bacon grease and sprinkled with Morton Salt.

I remember the girl with an umbrella on the salt container.

What stands out is the shotgun Morris was carrying over his right shoulder. Him and dad were discussing the notorious game wardens of the day and the tactics of taking pictures of hunters.

As I boy I remember Dad taking me muskrat hunting in the spring, walking around melting lakes and walking across them with careful step. The ice on the lakes in the spring always had a moat of water surrounding them.

I have a lot of hunting stories, but when I was old enough I boated down to Ilkivik at the mouth of the Kuskokwim River and clamming when the tide went out.

I dug up six clams, removing the “elastic” tickler from each one before placing the clams into the boiling pot only for a minute. I’d eaten two clams raw, fresh out of the shell earlier with other hunters gathered there but nothing compares to quick boiled clam with seal oil.