The Wild Moose Chase

Winding down the Yukon’s Big Salmon River, I discover my inner hunter

SEEING ANIMALS IN THE WILD HAS ALWAYS made me feel better about the world, a reassurance that despite the planet’s ecological woes, there are still patches of wilderness humans haven’t trampled. But standing here watching a moose lazily blink and chew grass, my heart is breaking. My hunting guide, Clayton White, is a few metres ahead, tiptoeing across the hummocky slough with his .300 Winchester Magnum slung over his shoulder like a guitar case. He looks back and motions for me to keep up. There’s a steady drizzle so I’m in full Gore-Tex regalia, probably the noisiest outfit I could’ve chosen. To keep from swishing, I walk slow and exaggerated, like I’m a teenager sneaking past my parents’ bedroom at 2 a.m. As Clayton and I inch closer, the moose periodically pricks up his ears. We freeze. He freezes. Then, when he’s satisfied he’s alone, he resumes chewing. Apparently moose can’t see well, but have bionic skills when it comes to hearing and smelling. Luckily on this cool September afternoon our prey is upwind and, so far, unsuspecting. I secretly hope it somehow hears us and bolts. Though I’ve come to these Yukon wilds to experience my first-ever hunt, I don’t feel ready for what comes next. Continue reading

Polar Bear Hunt on Thin Ice

As Arctic temperatures climb and sea-ice retreats, biologists are sounding alarm about the health of polar bear populations. Inuit hunters, meanwhile, are worried about the fate of the lucrative sport-hunt industry they’ve come to depend on

AFTER SPENDING $25,000 AND 10 DAYS on the frozen Beaufort Sea, Lester “Rusty” Pride didn’t get his polar bear. He was after a nine-footer, with paws the span of hubcaps and giant maiming incisors. “I wanted a big one,” says Rusty, an affable and freckled RV-park owner from Delaware. “We saw two, but they were too far to shoot.” Rusty still managed to return with a muskox – an extra $8,000 for his Inuvialuit guide, Boogie Pokiak. Continue reading

Sealing Their Fate

Two decades ago the anti-fur movement killed the sealskin market and the Arctic economy. Once again, animal-rights activists have sealers in their sights. Will the Inuit take another hit?

IN THEIR MATCHING RED JUMPSUITS, Sir Paul McCartney and his then-wife Heather Mills took to the sunny ice floes off Prince Edward Island last spring to loll with seal pups. They posed on their bellies for a scrum of photographers, just centimetres from a button-eyed baby. In his thick Liverpool brogue, McCartney pleaded before the cameras: “Unless something’s done about it, he’s going to be clubbed to death in the next few weeks.” Canada’s annual seal harvest was around the corner, and the U.S. Humane Society’s star-studded contingent had arrived early to drum up publicity for what it calls a cruel and unnecessary slaughter. Continue reading