Thursday, March 28, 2013

Moose Hunting Trip- My First Catch

Sammy and I decided to go moose hunting the beginning of February since our number of weekends were dwindling and the season was ending at the end of February. We set out on a beautiful sunny day and even spent some time playing around in the snow while waiting to see if anyone else was going to come help guide us.
Heading out towards Nunam, leaving Alakanuk behind.

Riding under the beautiful sky with my Tikka 30-06
My first catch.
Sammy and I split up at one point. She went one way with one guide and I went the other way with Greg. Within a few minutes we spotted a few moose standing in the willows. I stopped and aimed, but nervously asked Greg, "Which one do I shoot?" He told me the shorter one on the left. So I shot, but it was high. They started to move around a little bit, but I aimed again lower. The moose turned and took a step or two before collapsing while the other two took off. Greg warned me that they could charge since one was the mother. We drove out to the open and kept our machines running and I reloaded my gun since I only had one left in it at this point. Greg's son was on the machine with me and we went on either side of the willows a few times to try to see if the moose had left yet for us to go inspect my moose.

Meanwhile, we heard a gunshot from not to far away. Then I spotted Sammy and the rest of the group only about 200 yards away. We drove up and they told us they shot at a couple but they had run off. I let them know I did shoot one and we were going to go check it out so they followed us.

We walked into the willows and started finding a way to get the sled in closer. While we were standing there we heard a shaky voice yell, "Dad?" from just outside the willows. "The moose came back." All of us adults started rushing back towards the machines. The mother had come back for revenge and was threatening to charge. Sammy got her. The mom didn't want to give up her fight, however. Sammy ended up using her 30-30, my 30-06, and her .44 pistol to keep her down. It was definitely exciting and fun for us to catch our first moose on the same day!

Sammy and guide, Willy, just after Sammy caught hers.

Gregory lopping off the top legs to throw in the sled.

Since we were racing daylight, Greg quickly worked.
Mothers have large hearts. 

(My own mother is probably not impressed with this caption or picture.)
6 hours of hunting... Not bad.
The next day after school, we took the moose out of the connex where a friend had let us put the sled. Sammy and I along with an older son of Greg's cut up all the rest of the moose meat to distribute to the elders in the community. We had an interesting time figuring out how to do it all. In a little over 24 hours we had gone hunting, brought the meat of two moose back, taught a day at school, cut up the meat, passed it to the elders, and cleaned up the kitchen. I'm surprised it didn't take longer or feel more difficult, but we were too giddy and giggly the entire time. All the elders really appreciated receiving a part of our first catch and it was a fun time.
Knee joints. Those blasted knee joints.
Sammy found shattered bone in an entry hole.

Cover the kitchen table with cardboard and avoid the cold.

Two legs carried out to the sled & traded for two more.

Those knee joints were a bit confusing at first.

The day after cutting moose, I was embarrassed to see I had pulled on my bloody jeans with a nice kaspaq.

Sammy's brisket looked like a Longhorn, just for Texas Jamie.

We were incredibly blessed to have amazing friends to guide us, help us, congratulate us, and more. Thank you to everyone involved! I loved every second of it and it has made me much more excited to try track and spot moose since then while I go snowmachining or flying. I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

My Yup'ik Namesake

I was named by Clem Joseph after his mother Itegmikalria. I was given her name in August of 2010 when I first moved to the village. In the Yupik way, he is now my son and I am an "elder's elder" so some people in the village call me Auntie or Grandma. Clem told me it means a precious gift from God. I'm pretty sure Jana also means that same thing. He has also told the students that I was called to the village for a reason to teach and also learn from others. I believe that, too. I'm proud to carry her name.

Freezing Our Eyes Off

I apologize for not updating my blog for a month now! There has been an issue with uploading pictures still. I have continued taking pictures, and will make one large catching up post as soon as I get it figured out. Until then, please enjoy my friend, Holly's documenting skills on our trip to Emmonak to go get groceries at a large new AC store. 

When I go into this store, I feel like I have walked back into a different world. However, while I push my shopping cart around, I glance down at my fur hat, goggles, face mask, goggles, and Skidoo keys and remember I'm still out in the bush. Also, the fact that prices are twice as high, and they don't even have the option for bags (only boxes) give away that despite the large fancy grocery store, we still are quite far away from any city.

Holly's recent blog post- "Frozen Eyeballs"

Frozen Eyeballs is an appropriate name because there was so much precipitation in the air, our goggles fogged up quickly and we ended up driving the majority of the 9 miles with our goggles off. I'm still breaking in my new machine and I like to travel at varying speeds so I took the back behind Sammy and Nathaniel and Holly. Right before we got back to Alakanuk, I crossed behind Sammy as she hit a pile of powder and as it hit my face my left eyelashes got stuck together. A frozen, mittened hand is not the best device to try pull my cheek down and I probably had a shut eye for about 30 seconds before I finally got it unstuck.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Alakanuk Christmas Program

This year, our Christmas program was on December 13th. The kindergartners through sixth graders performed prepared songs, movies, and dances of all styles. My 5/6th grade class sang two songs. Both songs had verses in Yupik and English-- Silent Night and Quyaunga Wiinga. We also recognized students for their athletic and academic achievements, had a couple extra dances performed by Natural Helpers and the staff, and had Santa come with lots of donated gifts and hand knitted gear. Some comments from the audience after the program included it being very fluid and organized, entertaining, and fun. It was a great time for staff, students, and community to celebrate Christmas together. Lots of hard work was put into so many of the details by so many different people and it was an honor being a part of it all.

And also for your viewing pleasure, below is a video posted on, choreographed by one of our teachers and danced by ladies on our staff (including myself).

Staff Dance at the Alakanuk Christmas Program