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Grade 9s on the land
Students harvest four caribou for their families, hunt from morning into the late afternoon

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services
Monday, August 31, 2015

Students at Netsilik School in Taloyoak go caribou hunting every fall and, on Aug. 19, the first group set out, hoping to have a successful hunt.

NNSL photo/graphic

P.J. Jayko, left, and experienced guide and hunter Nauyuk Ugyuk, right, help Owen Keenainak skin and dress his caribou during a Netsilik School hunt Aug. 19 outside Taloyoak. - photo courtesy of George Hill

George Hill's Grade 9 homeroom class gathered at 9:30 a.m. and headed out to Tigluavik, an area north of Taloyoak

"For most of the day, we did not see many caribou," said Hill.

"It was not until we shot the last bull that we saw many caribou. Then we saw three different groups of about 10 to 12 each. These groups were a fair distance from us and were running pretty fast. We were not able to catch up to them."

Eight of Hill's 13 students participated in the hunt this year.

Hill says students tend to be pretty excited about hunting when the school year kicks off.

"As soon as the school opens and the kids hit the classrooms it's 'When are we going? Are we going? When are we going?'" said Hill.

He has hunted with his junior high Grade 9 classes for eight or nine years. Most students are seasoned hunters by the time they reach his classroom.

"The bulk of the students have been hunting by that time. Especially the boys. Some of the girls have been out quite a bit, too. There are still a few that haven't gotten their first caribou," said Hill.

Student Maggie Aqqaq loves to go out on the land.

"Maggie is still looking for her first caribou," said Hill.

She's been out hunting with the school a few times.

"Then (after the class trip) I went out hunting with my family Saturday and my little brother got one," said Aqqaq. "But not me."

She's not too worried about it.

"Me going out hunting is enough. It's fun."

Owen Keenainak successfully harvested his second caribou.

The 15-year-old said his second was a bit less exciting than his first.

"I was 12 or 13 years old the first time," said Keenainak.

Students skinned and butchered the animals out on the land, with the help of guide and experienced hunter Nauyuk Ugyuk.

Keenainak said he appreciated Ugyuk's help because he is still learning how to do that work.

"I started to remember a bit more," he said.

Keenainak also mentioned that he doesn't remember hunting with his classmates this early in the school year, adding it was early because of the weather.

"All of the animals that we shot were healthy," said Hill. "Three did not have much fat on them but the last one, a large bull, had lots of fat and it was fairly thick."

Everyone returned to Taloyoak at 7:15 p.m., after spending about two and a half hours travelling back once the last caribou was loaded up.

The four caribou were shared among the students and their families.

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