Banks Island September 2005

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Tuesday August 30, 2005

9:30 AM Leave for MSP to catch an 11:15 flight to Edmonton, AB. There is a 20 minute delay related to a work slowdown of the cabin cleaning crew negotiating a labor issue with Northwest Airlines management. Arrive at Edmonton Intl at 1:15PM. Customs is a breeze with the bows. It is a round 62F, the warmest I expect for a week or so. I take a shuttle to the Leduc Inn where I have reserved a room. I am quite some distance from the actual city near the airport. I decide to take a walk for a couple hours and spot a steakhouse that looks good for dinner. I walk about 6 miles and then have a nice shrimp pasta dinner and read the local paper. I have little idea what to expect in the next couple days, except that it will be quite an adventure. I have trouble falling asleep but then suddenly it is time to get to the airport again. A quick breakfast at the hotel café and I take the early shuttle with a flight crew to the terminal. I recheck my gear and settle in to wait at the gate. People begin to accumulate around me and it is obvious that we are headed somewhere remote. Nearly all the travelers are young men headed to work in the mines and oil fields up North. Many are hung over from a two week long binge before heading in the tundra for a month of 12-14 hour days on the oil patch.

A specially modified 737 is our way up. It has a small passenger cabin for about 40 people I the rear of the aircraft and the front and middle are for cargo. I am seated next to an older fellow who I learn is a crewman on an oceangoing tug boat that moves bulk cargo on barges up the MacKenzie river from Yellowknife and Great Slave Lake to points along the river and along the Arctic Ocean coast as far as the North Slope oil fields of Alaska. The MacKenzie River is the second longest river in N. America. Since there are no roads this far North the only means of bulk transport is by river. He works for 5-6 months on the tug and then returns home to his family in Newfoundland and works as a cabinet maker through the winter. He ahs worked this job for 20 years and prior to that he was a crewman for Canadian Steamship Lines on an Iron Ore ship hauling or and taconite all over the great lakes region. He was on the ship 20 miles from the Edmund Fitzgerald when it sank. He said the storm was one of the worst he had ever experienced. The shipping season on the river opens early June and closes in late October. He has no radio, no TV and very little outside world communication for all this time. There are occasional newspapers sometimes only a couple weeks old and lots of movies. In the summer there are tons of bugs and it is quite miserable.

In Yellowknife there is tons of mining industry for the recently opened Ekati diamond mine. The town is growing tremendously and is a regional metropolis of over 30000 residents. A boom of Eastern European gem cutters is changing the culture of the area. As we descend through the clouds I get a view of the Great Slave Lake. It is immense! The ground is as flat as can be imagined and there are hardly any trees. The ground is beautiful covered in yellow and red lichens. There is a brief layover as most of the men deplane and head to vans waiting to take them to work. Only a couple people board the plane to head further North. Next Stop Norman Wells NWT. The flight is a bout 45 minutes and the town is tiny, only about 1000 people live here. It is all Quonset huts and industrial buildings. There are no roads to this town at all. The aircraft at the tiny airport are looking more and more like bush planes. After some more people get off we are left with about 6 of us going to Inuvik. This will be almost as far North as it is possible to drive on the Dempster Highway. In the winter there are icebridges and in the summer ferries across the many rivers. The flight in the 737 is about 1.5 hours and I learn that the plane is also modified with special landing gear to land on gravel strips so that rocks and debris are not kicked up from the wheels into the air intakes. We descend again and I see that the runway hardly looks big enough for the plane. All I see are a couple tin hangars and the terminal is only 4000 sq feet. Almost a farce there is a baggage carousel for the 6 of us to use for our baggage. I am met by Judi Falsnes from the Arctic Chalet where I will stay tonight. She is in her mid 50s and very fit. She runs dogsleds and her husband is a bush pilot. Inuvik is the only real town for hundred of miles and it has about 3300 residents. Judi takes me into town to get my licenses and documentation for the hunt. She shows me a few landmarks of the tiny city and then takes me to my cabin. It is a trailer house that has skids on it so it can be towed behind a huge snow tractor in the winter. It is comfortable enough for me. I have a worn out old dodge minivan to use to get me around town. I decide to explore a little. I see a lot of huge machines used for the ice roads on the winter and signs warning of explosives all over used for mining. There are rumors of a huge pipeline to be built down from here to Montana and that has sparked the construction of a number of hotels for workers to live in while on the project. It is stalled in negotiations with Indian tribes who own the land and do not want the pipeline built. Eventually progress will win. The homes in the town are all built above ground and rest on blocks since the ground constantly shifts. There is a huge conduit pipe running through town that is heated to disperse water, sewage, power and phone service. It is necessary because it gets so cold that the pipes would freeze and burst constantly. There are more snow machines than cars and the locals are mostly of Inuit descent. The officers at the CO office are very friendly and joke with me about my upcoming exploits. The office is small and there is little activity here. Moose and Caribou season start this weekend for the locals, but this far North there are not many local hunters and they can only hunt near the Dempster Highway anyway or from the river. I head to the shopping center which consists of a PX type store with little of value other than cheap household items and food. There is a Taco bell and KFC and an arcade which are packed with the local youth. I wander out and decide to head south on the highway for a ways, but not too far as the old van does not seem very reliable. I see the beautiful red, yellow and orange leaves covering the gentle hills sloping down to meet the MacKenzie River. There are also huge open areas of tundra a bit further from the water that are covered with an amazing array of colorful mosses and lichens. I decide to head down to the river where there is an ice bridge crossing. There is a sign there to update the weight limit based on ice condition. The road ends here until the cold winter months of January, February and March when the massive machinery starts to roll over the ice roads. I see a large tugboat beached on the river bed and I walk along the shore for a little ways marveling at my surroundings. It is cool, about 45F and no wind. I am aware of the possibility of barren ground grizzlies in the area so I stay close to the water and watch and listen carefully. As the sun begins to set I head back to the van and drive to a hotel restaurant to have dinner. There are a couple interesting items on the menu including muskox, moose and caribou whenin season. None of theses are currently available I am informed. I get steak and onions instead and watch the rerun of an old hockey game on the satellite TV. After this meal I head back to my trailer and read for a bit before falling fast asleep.

In the morning I am awakened by the barking of dozens of husky sled dogs that Judi and her husband use in the winter. The ground is covered by 6 inches of wet snow. This is certainly the earliest I have ever seen snow on the ground. I shower, get dressed and head to town for breakfast. I need to have Judi bring me back to the airport for my charter flight out to Sachs Harbor on Banks Island several hundred miles North of Inuvik out over the Arctic Ocean. She tells me to be patient and prepared to wait if the weather is not good, as there are bad winds and icing conditions over the ocean most of the time. I unload all my gear and settle in at the terminal to wait for my plane to get ready. There are 8 others waiting as well. Several Inuit teens are heading back home for a long weekend away from their school here in Inuvik. They are anxious to get going as the scheduled flight has been canceled each day for the last week due to weather conditions. I sit next to a white man headed to Sachs. He works for the government economic development agency helping tribal members to operate coop businesses in their far flung communities. He has little good to say about the conditions in these villages. The responsibility level of the members is very bad, and none of the people have any experience running a business, so they need a great deal of hand holding. He is tasked with monitoring what is going on and being a liason between the community and the government to make sure the people are using the funds the government provides wisely ( of course they never do and it is all wasted), and building trust with the people so they will attempt to cooperate with the government and not assume they are always getting screwed. The job seems impossible, but I guess there is a certain degree of job security. A drunken woman sits down next to me and introduces herself as the secretary for the hunting guides in the Sachs community. She tells about how they are all messed up and no one knows how to do anything right except her. She has been in town for classes to learn more skills to assist the community. I assume she is telling the truth as she knows my name and seems to know about how the hunting is conducted, even if it is pretty difficult to understand the slurred words. She is quite friendly and obviously proud to have a position of some authority in the tiny settlement. She assures me that the weather looks good to fly today and that generally when hunters need to come and go the flights are more dependable due to the money paid by the hunters into the village. All the natives ride the plane for free and I am paying an exorbitant charter fee, so I and my gear have the priority over these people and the junk, mostly liquor and junk food that they have piled up on the tarmac to haul home. Finally an ancient looking orange turboprop fires up and taxis into position on the ramp. It is becoming a bit overcast and foggy, so they are in a hurry to meet the window afforded us. The pilots are jovial and very polite they offer me my choice of seats, aisle or window, which are of course the same in this small an aircraft. It is a twin turbine Brazilian aircraft built in the early 70s. It is stripped of all amenities and we are allowed no carry on baggage at all. I am allowed a camera but nothing else. To the disappointment of the other passengers most of their baggage is left on the ramp as we taxi to the runway. The plane seems safe enough if a bit outdated. I can see the pilots calmly doing their job and I can read most of the flight instruments. We hit full throttle and thunder down the asphalt strip and rotate up into the clouds. I get a brief glimpse of the surrounding river delta and the snow covered tundra before we are enveloped in the thick clouds. We climb rapidly to about 4500 feet and level off over the cloud layer. The plane is very noisy and I cannot really talk to anyone. The kids in the back are disgruntled and I can tell by their looks that they are not happy that I got my stuff on and they got bumped. The woman across the aisle from me assures me that they really know the reason, and they are not supposed to bring that stuff home anyway. I am important to them because I bring money to them. If I was not on the plane it probably would have been canceled anyway. I am subsidizing the whole flight she explains. After 45 minutes or so the pilot reports that there may or may not be an opportunity to land when we reach Sachs, as Ocean fog has engulfed the airstrip there. We will continue on and see for ourselves, but if they cannot see the runway we have to divert way south to Norman Wells, the only clear strip within 500 miles or so. Over the ocean the clouds break and I am allowed to view the spectacular beauty of the ocean icepack broken up and drifting in the current far below. The plane drops lower due to increased visibility and I can make out individual ice chunks floating. They are yellow, white, blue and green. It is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. I am spellbound watching below and I believe I may have spotted a couple polar bears lying on the ice as well as several dozen seals resting in the sun. Suddenly the plane drops and we are in turbulent air and jostled violently. It is pretty neat and the pilots do not seem to give it a second thought, although most of the kids look ready to vomit. I grin at them and look back at the ocean. It ahs cleared out and is mostly open water in some areas, but there are also huge masses of ice piled up against one another clogging the way for a boat . It seems almost impossible to navigate the waters except in an icebreaker. We come to the island after about 2.5 hours over the ocean and I can just make out the beach and single road about ¾ of a mile long with a couple dozen buildings below before we turn and make a dive onto the tiny rough gravel landing area. I’m not sure if runway is really the right word to use, but it is flat enough and I think I saw a couple lights around. Certainly not a runway marked in the usual way. There are barrels with kerosene burning in them for the landing markers. The plane bounces roughly and comes to a rapid halt just outside a tin shack where 20-30 people are waiting for us to emerge. The whole town generally turns out for a plane landing because sometimes it is a cargo plane bringing fresh supplies. Also there is not a lot going on in a remote town of 100 people in the Arctic Ocean. I scramble down the ladder, collect my gear and am immediately met by a thin acne scarred, oily kid who claims to be my guide. His name is Tony and he helps me carry my gear to a waiting pickup truck where his brother and Father John Lucas are waiting for me. We head down a steep hill to town and unload my stuff. John is a worn old Eskimo with a weathered tough leathery face and a chain smoker. His home is the nicest one in town and I realize later that this is because he one of the only ones to actually make any money on his own. It is a 2 story home on skids above ground. Almost all the others are prefab single units provided by the government. There are about 100 people, and 7 jobs other than hunting. There is an elementary school with 2 white teachers, a white nurse, a white man who reports the weather, a white mechanic, and a white man and woman who operate the community coop store. It seems odd that none of the natives will do any of these jobs, but I guess they have no skills and do not have to work, they get paid plenty for doing nothing. John tells me that he is one of only two hunting camps on the island. The other guy is out of business at the moment. John claims that the others in the town do not even remember how to hunt except some of the elders who are too old to go. He has a huge stack of caribou antlers outside his home, wolf, fox, rabbit, muskox and yellowed polar bear skins all around his dwelling. He has his sons pack my gear into two trailers behind Honda Foreman ATVs and prepare to get moving. I enter John Lucas home and meet his wife Samantha who takes care of the business of paper work and collecting payment for the hunt. I am urged to quickly change into warm clothes and prepare for a 150 mile ride North into the tundra. I briefly meet a 23 year old liberal attorney from Harvard who is staying with the Lucas for a week to interview the elders about the effects of global warming on their hunting grounds. He works for an environmentalist foundation like Greenpeace as an intern for 8 months traveling to arctic ocean communities. They plan to use the information gathered to help in a lawsuit against the US government for causing global warming. I am disgusted at this baloney and so it seems are the Lucas. I think that the Eskimos would be happy to have warmer weather and since they really no longer hunt anyway they should have a better standard of living but this fellow seems to disagree. I get into my heavy clothes and step into the wind and sleet that has started to fall. It is about 20F at the moment, but looking to get colder as we make our way inland from the warmer ocean. I take a seat on one of the ATVs behind Tony who is dressed in a filthy set of blue coveralls and a greasy red ballcap. We head out back up the hill toward the airfield and I hear the plane takeoff, but with no passengers. They can fly IFR alone, but not with passengers. 30 or 40 people wave as we pass and head out onto the flats above the beach. Around the town there was garbage strewn all over and ATV tracks wrecking all the ground cover. As we get further out though we settle into a trail and head towards a lake trout fishing camp 20 miles away. Along the route we stop a number of times for a smoke break and I trade off riding behind each brother for a period of time. It is all mud and gravel with very sparse moss and no other foliage at all. We weave between a number of small lakes and get to the fishing camp in a couple hours. A short break and we are at it again. This time there is no trail to follow and the brothers simply head North. The ground is unbelievably rough. It is like riding the wrong way across a plowed field. I am getting beat up terribly, but the only option is to keep holding on. We end up at a shack 14 hours later. This will be our camp for the hunt. There is trash all over, and many muskox skulls piled around. On the way I saw a couple lone animals, but they were quite distant and I could not get a good look. The snow and rain pretty much stopped as we got away from the coast, but it is about 15F. We unload the trailers and set up in the shack for the night. It never really gets very dark this time of year, so I have trouble sleeping and decide to go for a walk. The brothers seem not to need any sleep and are talking between themselves about where to hunt tomorrow. They lend me their rusted relic Model 1894 .30-30 in case of bears or wolves and I head out along the shoreline of the glacial lake we are next to. It is not very big, but very deep and cold. It is said to be full of lake trout and never freezes to the bottom even at -100F, so the fish survive and thrive with no predators. I am glad I stayed along the shore because visibility soon drops to 5 feet as fog rolls in and I can barely find my way back. I try to sleep but am so exhausted and excited that I cannot. In the morning we have a bit of coffee, and canned hash before heading out to look over the area. From the camp I can see 8-10 groups of muskox in every direction. I can see them miles away as they stand out from the grey white tundra like a sore thumb. They are totally black , massive shaggy animals. I am so I excited I can hardly contain myself. Tony and Trevor debate which direction to head for the best chance to stalk up to a large bull for a few minutes, then we head out. We climb to the highest ground overlooking the lake and try to spot large lone bulls. We then drive as close as we can on the ATVs and try to judge the size of the animals. There are groups of a couple individuals up to 40 in a group. We work our way around the lake about 5 miles from the camp and they spot a pair of large bulls that they say are definitely worth shooting. Trevor Lucas roars off to get a better look and I prepare my gear for the walk towards them. I get set and basically walk 300 yards up to 50 yards from the curious animals, hit them with the rangefinder, pick the bigger bull, draw, sight and let fly a Beeman matrix shaft tipped with a rocket 125 grain expandable broadhead. I had done a great deal of studying the anatomy of this beast so I that could have a correct shot placement. The arrow launched by my 95lb draw Mathews Black Max 2 disappears into the side of the shaggy black dinosaur. I am puzzled by the lack of reaction. I am sure I shot true, but there was no way to tell if the arrow passed through the long hair or the chest cavity of the beast. He turns to look at me and lowers his head as if to charge, but then turns 90 degrees and takes a couple steps forward along with gis companion. I shoot again and am sure that I got a good shot both times. Sure enough this time the bull jogs forward a few steps and eases to the gravel and mud covered ground. It is starting to sleet again in the 15F air so we rush over to the fallen beast. I am elated. This thing is huge and the hair is unbelievable. There is the long coarse guard hair on the outside, but short soft warm fur on the inside to provide warmth in the brutally cold climate. We work to clean up the fallen bull and take a bunch of pictures. Then the brothers get to work in the crappy weather hurrying to skin and quarter the animal. I try to help, but they really know what they are doing and an hour later we have the head, whole body cape and meat loaded on an ATV. We unload at the shack and they go to work for several hours on the detail work of the cape ears, eyelids, etc before it freezes. I try to watch, but the fumes from the Coleman stove they are using to keep their hands warm and my utter exhaustion combine to cause me to pass out sleeping. I wake up the next morning and Trevor boils fries some meat for me. It is terribly tough and they will not eat it. They just eat candy bars and Hash. The meat is bad, but I try some raw and it is great with a little salt. They laugh and call me a real Eskimo ( eater of raw meat). I then head out to answer the call of the wild study some of the moldy skulls and antlers around the camp. Due to the conditions they could be hundreds of years old. We then get ready to go again and this time are looking for a bigger bull than the last one which was pretty big. I don’t care so much now, the pressure is off and I really don’t need another bull, but they are intent that I shoot another as it makes them look like better hunters that way and then they are entitled to a portion of the extra trophy fee to spend on alcohol and junk food. We survey the area and cover quite a bit of ground on the ATVs, approaching many herd groups. Some of the animals are frightened and run away, some are curious and come closer to us, and some seem totally indifferent. I think that the brain power of the brutes must be pretty limited. We inspect 40-50 nice bulls before deciding to try a stalk on a nice pair. We approach behind a 20 ft ridge and sneak over the top. The animals are grazing on some sparse grass in a wet spot 100 yards away, but moving along rapidly indifferent to our approach. We follow for an hour but they eventually outdistance us with ease. The day is very cold but clear and sunny. It is a great to look around and with almost 20 hours of light that gives us a lot of time to be choosy for the next muskox bull. Another couple times we attempt to approach on foot and stalk within shooting distance, built the flat terrain offers no cover at all. The bulls either move off away from us or are simply feeding along and browsing faster than we are able to run. We decide that our tactics must change to be successful at this. We ride the ATVs for an hour to a rough area where there are a number of gullies and streams running into a large deep lake. Also there are a few flat swampy areas with short grass where small herds of muskox are often found. We stop and dismount behind a ridge. Trevor runs to the top and excitedly gestures to hurry up the hill. I get there quickly and am amazed that only 35 yards below there are a pair of nice bulls grazing contentedly on the delicious grass. They pay us no heed and the brothers argue over the size of the animals for several minutes. It is finally decided that the larger of the two will be my target. In the meantime I was able to shoot a couple dozen photos of the shaggy beasts. I approach to 25 yards and take aim behind the shoulder of the hairy mass. I am totally confident that this will be a perfect shot. I watch as the arrow hits right where I intended and disappears into the chest of the beast. It would seem that there should have been some type of reaction to the hit, but the sloth-like dinosaur does absolutely nothing. No grunt, no shake, almost as though it was a complete miss. I shoot again and nothing happens this time either. I think about another shot, but the companion to my victim has gotten a little nervous about my close proximity and decides to roll his head and grunt. I decide to move back and observe. I get ready with another shot from 50 yards and my bull takes a couple steps after his buddy, stumbles and lays down dead. Amazing that there would be no reaction to the shot at all. I advance carefully towards the fallen beast poking it in the eye with an arrow and satisfying myself that it is indeed dead. I am delighted that everything worked out and there will be no rush back to camp on the last day. We position the bull for photos and then set to work skinning the giant. As the skin comes off for a full body mount I see that the arrow hits were perfect and we cut into the chest to get a better view. There are two three blade broadhead holes right through the heart. The walnut sized brain of the monster seemed to not even realize that it was dying until it actually ran out of blood. The day is nice and the sun shines warming us as we ride back to the camp.

Fishing gear appears out of nowhere and I set to work trtying to catch dinner. Tony and Trevor walk along the shore looking for a special fishing hole. A couple hours later they return with a half dozen lake trout one of which surely weighs in over 20 pounds. I have managed to pull in a couple myself while they were gone, but nothing to compare to their catch. We eat well this evening and I fall asleep well before the sun sets.

The 4 hour night passes swiftly, but the three muskox hunters are in no hurry to get moving. We sleep in until late morning, then load up the gear into the ATV trailers and begin the arduous journey back to the little bit of civilization offered in Sachs Harbor. The day is quite pleasant around 45F and little wind. All around there are black dots on the horizon where prehistoric grazers roam much as they have ever since the last ice age. I spot a small fox halfway through its seasonal color change and a dozen massive white arctic hares. We ride up a ridge and on the other side we spot a 3 mile wide flock of snow geese. There must be millions. They are extremely noisy and they pay us no heed until we are almost on top of them. They rise up off the tundra in a wave blackening the sky. Trevor grabs his ancient 30-30 and takes three shots, amazingly a goose falls to the ground. He grabs it and is quite proud. With the density of the geese he probably wounded dozens of individuals with the three shots. We pass a few freshly dead muskox bulls with no sign of what killed them. They must have died from concussions while ramming heads or possibly starvation, although their teeth look fine. Many rough hours later we return to the outskirts of the village. The ATV trcks have destroyed the tundra here and shotshells litter the ground where snow geese were slaughtered by the thousands to feed the villagers. Upon returning we are greeted by 20 people eager to hear how we did. It is quite late at night and I am ready to sleep. I have a great dinner of canned soup an hamburger helper prepared by Samantha Lucas that I shovel into my mouth rapidly. Sleep comes easily. The next morning I look forward to the flight out about 4PM, weather permitting. The ocean is fog covered, so it does not look good for today. I meet with ? again and we decide to take a walk around town, hoping to spot some bear tracks. We are warned to stay close to town so we are not eaten by a hunting bear. We head up to the airstrip and hear that it is unlikely we will get out today. We see a memorial bell from a whaling ship that founded the town in the 1910s. It was shipwrecked and the whalers spent the winter hunting muskox and fur bearing animals. In the summer the crew built a schooner from the wreckage of their ship, sailed to the mainland and convinced some of the locals Eskimos to return with them to help extract more supplies and oil from the makeshift camp. The mainland hunters decide to stay when they see the bountiful supply of fox and wolves to hunt and trap. Hence Sachs Harbor was founded. I teach ? how to play cribbage and he catches on fast. He was able to collect 5 or 6 interviews with locals who complain about how the warmer weather has made their life worse. I doubt that there has been any change at all, but they would complain about anything at all if they thought that it would bring n more government money. Once it has been decided that we are not flying today John Lucas takes us ou in his boat to look for seals and hunting bears. It is awesome to be out on the Arctic Ocean dodging the huge ice cubes. The colors are amazing, blue, yellow, green, purple, pink all locked in the ice. We motor around for several hours in the 20foot Lund and see several seals and a bowfin whale, butno bears. Unfortunaltey as we are returning to the bay a twin engine turboprop airplane rors overhead. It is our plane damn it!! There is no chance to make it, but the extra adventure on the ocean was well worth it. When we return to the house we find that it was not actually the sched flight at all, but a chrter that brought in a crew to make preparations for the annual January muskox roundup. A couple thousand muskox are hered into pen and slaughtered for their meat and fur. The money goes to support the community, but almost none of the locals participate in the harvest, so whites from way down south in Alberta come in to take care of the job. They stay several weeks, running a couple hundred animals a day through the slaughterhouse and skinning sheds. These fellows stay for a couple hours visiting wth John and his family. They have a cribbage tournament for a $100 a game. I am wary about participating, but after winning 11 straight games they decide they have had enough trouble from me and head to their bunkhouse.

I am antsy to get out today, but the fog is thick over the bay. ? and I head to the airstrip again to see what the odds are for flying. We wait and wait, walking all over town, exploring the coop to see what it offers. The shelves are practically bare with only a minimum of long shelf life foods. Lots of junkfood. No milk, produce, vegetables, meat, bread or anything that I would associate with a grocery store. We get a box of icecream sandwiches, a couple pops and head back to play cards. I learn that ? is a commercial hot air balloon pilot and lives in Pennsylvania and went to Harvard. He has been to Eagan where I live for high school speech and debate tournaments. Amazing that at the end of the earth on a hunting trip I could find a far keft liberal environmental attorney and actually enjoy visiting with him for two full days. Eventually the fog burns off and a twin otter comes for us. About a ton of supplies is offloaded, then we load our gear and takeoff. The palne flies very low and slow, giving an excellent view of the ocean below. The ice floesare beautiful and as we approach mainland there are huge gravel reefs that have caused the ice to pile up 40-50 feet high. The plane lands in fog and we get a ride to town. I return to the Arctic Chaet and get a supr nice cabin to sleep in. The only problem is the kennels full of 40 huskies barking nonstop. I drive to town and have diner at a decent hotel restaurant with?. He is flying to ? Yukon in two days. I leave after devouring a huge steak and hit the bed back at my cabin. My flight is at 2PM and I sleep late. A van comes to pick me up at noon. The 737 comes in right on schedule. I board with a couple other guys and a woman headed to Yellowknife to have her baby. I get off at Norman wells for 15 minutes to look around at the tiny corporate settlement. On to Yellowknife where we have to go thrugh a metal detector. The flight attendants warn all the roughnecks and hunters to make sure they have removed all cartrudge cases, tools, knives etc. form carryon bags and pockets prior to getting back on the plane for the hop to Edmonton. I manhandle my 3 100 pound bags of frozen musko skulls and hides and hunting gear out to a taxi to my hotel, then struggling to put them in a walkin freezer for the restaurant. I eat a nice dinner and head to bed right after. I need to be uoearly for the flight home. Customs is easy with only a couple questions about how the hunt went from curious official who probably have not seen many muskox come through lately. The flight is short and I am home by noon. The kids are pretty happy to see me and want to know how my visit with Santa up at the North Pole went.

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