After getting to Cape Dorset, meeting with the local Hunters and Trappers Organization Board of Directors, organizing with the hunters, shopping for supplies, and waiting for the right weather and ice conditions we set out on the land to find the ducks. The first couple days we set out by snow mobile zigzagging across the land and bays that were still frozen. We traveled with four hunters, four machines, two kamotiqs, us and one boat.
Of course, we stop along the way, especially when a seal can be seen out on the ice in front of us. Unfortunately this one got away, no seal treat today.
Once we arrive at the outer edge where, the ice stops and the sea begins we check out the surrounding area. The landfast ice is still linking this island, Old Lady Island, to the frozen bays that you can access from town. So this is where we set up for the day.
I am always careful near the ice edge. The general rule is that you follow in the guides footsteps, literally. But when I followed Matt up to the edge I was expecting to see water, not the intertidal. But there it was, covered in brown algae, barnacles and mussels. Not what I am use to seeing at the edge of an ice.
After checking out the area we moved down into a good vantage point to see the ducks approaching, and where the hunters would have a good shot as they flew by.
And then all you have to do is sit back and wait. That sounds easy, but it is not always that straight forward. The ducks feed at low tide farther out away from the islands, and move more at high tide so we have to often be patient for the birds to be active and try to time our day accordingly. The winds can also change how the birds are flying. So I often sit with my fingers crossed when we are out hunting, hoping that all the things line up. Some the hunters can predict, others they can’t, so really patient is one of the main skills when being a wildlife biologists working on a hunted species.
Besides ducks an good views you never know what else you will see in a day of hunting. Paul found this long lost hammer in the back of one of the kamotiqs. I didn’t even know they made such things…..
But when all those factors that influence when, where and how the ducks fly, they often line up for a while. And this is when the hunting really picks up the pace. When the ducks, weather and ice cooperate, and when the hunters are on their mark it doesn’t take long before I start thinking about how many hours of work are ahead of me when we get back on town.