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First walrus of year for Kugaaruk

Northern News Services
Published Monday, August 20, 2007

IQALUIT - Five Kugaaruk hunters went on their first walrus hunt in Repulse Bay last week, and returned with almost a ton of the meat for their community.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Brian Kukkuvak stands with a walrus he shot. He and five other Kugaaruk hunters went on their first walrus hunt in Repulse Bay on Aug. 12. - photo courtesy of Ema Qaggutaq

"Hunters here never used to hunt walrus, we don't have any here, so we wanted some hunters to have the experience," said Ema Qaggutaq, manager of the Kugaaruk Hunters and Trappers Organization (HTO).

"Also, fermented meat is good, and people in the community like it."

Emiliano Qirngnuq, Mariano Uqqarluk, Joani Uqqarluk, Athol Ihakaaq and Brian Kukkuvak travelled with Qaggutaq for the hunt, which took place Aug. 12.

"It was my first catch too, so I was pretty happy," Kukkuvak said.

With guidance from Repulse hunters Laurent Kringayark, Darryl Siusarngnark, Tommy Mablik and Richard Angotialuk, each hunter brought down one walrus.

"We saw some of (the walrus) on the ice and open water. I think everyone got theirs on open water," Qaggutaq said.

After the tide went out, they were able to retrieve and butcher their catches.

Later, the hunters and their hosts prepared some of the meat to be fermented by cutting and weaving cut pieces together.

"It was my first time. I had to watch at first and ask questions. It was pretty exciting to learn something new," Kukkuvak said.

Half was cached in Repulse Bay for the winter, and some will be cached under clean gravel in Kugaaruk to age and ferment for a few months.

Some of the hunters will keep the skulls as souvenirs, Qaggutaq said. The HTO co-ordinated the hunting excursion and accommodations, while Missinippi Airways of Rankin Inlet brought the hunters to and from Kugaaruk.

"The HTO back in (Kugaaruk) had money that needed to be used for the community, and one of the board members suggested it and we went from there," Qaggutaq said.