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Hunting methods

Early humans developed various hunting methods and techniques over millions of years to secure food for survival. Includes persistence hunting, ambush hunting, cooperative hunting, projectile hunting, trapping, fishing, scavenging, shellfish gathering.

Hunting methods

Recent History

March 2, 1577

Fred Bruemmer

A true reporte of the laste voyage into the west and northwest regions, &c. 1577. worthily atchieued by Capteine Frobisher of the sayde voyage the first finder and generall With a description of the people there inhabiting, and other circumstances notable. Written by Dionyse Settle, one of the companie in the sayde voyage, and seruant to the Right Honourable the Earle of Cumberland.


Settle says about the Inuit "Those beastes, flesh, fishes, and fowles, which they kil, they are meate, drinke, apparel, houses....[they] are contented by their hun∣ting, fishing, and fowling, with rawe flesh and warme bloud, to satisfie their gréedie panches, whiche is their onely glorie."

From Arctic Memories there is this quote:

As Dionyse Settle, the Elizabethan chronicler of explorer Martin Frobisher's second expedition to Baffin Island, so shrewdly observed in 1577: "Those beastes, flesh, fishes, and fowles, which they kil, they are meate, drinke, apparel, houses, bedding, hose, shooes, thred, saile for their boates... and almost all their riches."

I looked up the full text of Settle's work and copied the following, since it was written in 1577, it seems like very broken English but I think it's not worth editing.

They are men of a large corpora∣ture, and good proportion: their colour is not much vnlike the Sunne burnte Countrie man, who laboureth daily in the Sunne for his liuing.

They weare their haire somethinge long, and cut before, either with stone or knife, very disorderly. Their women weare their haire long, and knit vp with two loupes, shewing forth on either side of their faces, and the rest foltred vp on a knot. Also, some of their women race their faces proportionally, as chinne, chéekes, and forehead, and the wristes of their handes, wherevpon they lay a co∣lour, which continueth darke azurine.

They eate their meate all rawe, both fleshe, fishe, and foule, or something per∣boyled with bloud & a little water, whi∣che they drinke. For lacke of water, they wil eate yce, that is hard frosen, as plea∣santly as we will doe Sugar Candie, or other Sugar.

If they, for necessities sake, stand in néede of the premisses, such grasse as the countrie yéeldeth they plucke vppe, and eate, not deintily, or salletwise, to allure their stomaches to appetite: but for ne∣cessities sake, without either salt, oyles, or washing, like brutish beasts deuoure the same. They neither vse table, stoole, or table cloth for comelinesse: but when they are imbrued with bloud, knuckle déepe, and their kniues in like sort, they vse their tongues as apt instruments to licke them cleane: in doeing whereof, they are assured to loose none of their victuals.

They franck or kéep certeine doggs, not much vnlike Wolues, whiche they yoke together, as we do oxen and horses, to a sled or traile: and so carrie their ne∣cessaries ouer the yce and snowe, from place to place: as the captiue, whom we haue, made perfecte signes. And when those Dogges are not apt for the same vse: or when with hunger they are con∣streyned, for lacke of other victuals, they eate them: so that they are as néedefull for them, in respect of their bignesse, as our oxen are for vs.

They apparell themselues in the skinnes of such beastes as they kill, se∣wed together with the sinewes of them. All the fowle which they kill, they skin, and make thereof one kinde of garment or other, to defend them from the cold.

They make their apparell with hoods and tailes, which tailes they giue, when they thinke to gratifie any friendshippe shewed vnto them: a great signe of friendshippe with them. The men haue them not so syde as the women.

The men and women weare their hose close to their legges, from the wast to the knée, without any open before, as well the one kinde as the other. Uppon their legges, they weare hose of lether, with the furre side inward, two or thrée paire on at once, and especially the wo∣men. In those hose, they put their kni∣ues, néedles, and other thinges néedefull to beare about. They put a bone with∣in their hose, whiche reacheth from the foote to the knée, wherevpon they drawe their said hose, and so in place of garters, they are holden from falling downe a∣bout their féete.

They dresse their skinnes very softe and souple with the haire on. In cold weather or Winter, they weare ye furre side inward: and in Summer outward. Other apparell they haue none, but the said skinnes.

Those beastes, flesh, fishes, and fow∣les, which they kil, they are both meate, drinke, apparel, houses, bedding, hose, shooes, thred, saile for their boates, with many other necessaries, whereof they stande in néede, and almost all their ri∣ches.

Their houses are tentes, made of Seale skinns, pitched with foure Firre quarters, foure square, méeting at the toppe, and the skinnes sewed together with sinowes, and layd therevppon: so pitched they are, that the entraunce in∣to them, is alwayes South, or against the Sunne.

They haue other sortes of houses, whiche wée found, not to be inhabited, which are raised with stones and What bones, and a skinne layd ouer them, to withstand the raine, or other weather: the entraunce of them béeing not much vnlike an Quens mouth, whereto, I thincke, they resort for a time, to fishe, hunt, and fowle, and so leaue them for the next time they come thether againe.

Their weapons are Bowes, Ar∣rowes, Dartes, and Slinges. Their Bowes are of a yard long of wood, si∣newed on the back with strong veines, not glued too, but fast girded and tyed on. Their Bowe stringes are likewise sinewes. Their arrowes are thrée pée∣ces, nocked with bone, and ended with bone, with those two ends, and the wood in the middst, they passe not in lengthe halfe a yard or little more. They are f•∣thered with two fethers, the penne end being cutte away, and the fethers layd vppon the arrowe with the broad side to the woode: in somuch that they séeme, when they are tyed on, to haue foure fe∣thers. They haue likewise thrée sortes of heades to those arrowes: one sort of stone or yron, proportioned like to a heart: the second sort of bone, much like vnto a stopte head, with a hooke on the same: the thirde sort of bone likewise, made sharpe at both sides, and sharpe pointed. They are not made very fast, but lightly tyed to, or else set in a nocke, that vppon small occasion, the arrowe leaueth these heades behinde them: and they are of small force, except they be ve∣ry néere, when they shoote.

Their Darts are made of two sorts: the one with many forkes of bone in the fore ende, and likewise in the mid∣dest: their proportions are not muche vnlike our toasting yrons, but longer: these they cast out of an instrument of wood, very readily. The other sorte is greater then the first aforesayde, with a long bone made sharp on both sides, not much vnlike a Rapier, which I take to be their most hurtfull weapon.

They haue two sorts of boates, made of Lether, set out on the inner side with quarters of wood, artificially tyed toge∣ther with thongs of the same: the grea∣ter sort are not much vnlike our Wher∣ries, wherein sixtéene or twentie men may fitte: they haue for a sayle, drest the guttes of such beastes as they kyll, very fine and thinne, which they sewe toge∣ther: the other boate is but for one man to sitte and rowe in, with one oare.

Their order of fishing, hunting, and fowling, are with these sayde weapons: but in what sort, or how they vse them, we haue no perfect knowledge as yet.

I can not suppose their abode or ha∣bitation to be here, for that neither their houses, or apparell, are of no such force to withstand the extremitie of colde, that the countrie séemeth to be infected with all: neyther doe I sée any signe likely to performe the same.

Those houses, or rather dennes, which stand there, haue no signe of foot∣way, or any thing else troden, whiche is one of the chiefest tokens of habitation. And those tents, which they bring with them, when they haue sufficiently hun∣ted and fished, they remoue to other places: and when they haue sufficient∣ly stored them of suche victuals, as the countrie yeldeth, or bringeth foorth, they returne to their Winter stations or ha∣bitations. This coniecture do I make, for the infertilitie, whiche I perceiue to be in that countrie.

They haue some yron, whereof they make arrowe heades, kniues, and other little instrumentes, to woorke their boa∣tes, bowes, arrowes, and dartes withal, whiche are very vnapt to doe any thing withall, but with great labour.

It seemeth, that they haue conuersa∣tion with some other people, of whome, for exchaunge, they should receiue the same. They are greatly delighted with any thinge that is brighte, or giueth a sound.

What knowledge they haue of God, or what Idol they adore, wée haue no perfect intelligence. I thincke them ra∣ther Anthropophagi, or deuourers of mans fleshe, then otherwise: for that there is no flesh or fishe, which they finde dead, (smell it neuer so filthily) but they will eate it, as they finde it, without any other dressing. A loathsome spectacle, ei∣ther to the beholders, or hearers.

There is no maner of créeping beast hurtful, except some Spiders (which, as many affirme, are signes of great store of Golde:) and also certeine stinging Gnattes, which bite so fiercely, that the place where they bite, shortly after swelleth, and itcheth very sore.

They make signes of certeine peo∣ple, that weare bright plates of Gold in their forheads, and other places of their bodies.

The Countries, on both sides the streightes, lye very highe with roughe stonie mounteynes, and great quantitie of snowe thereon. There is very little plaine ground, and no grasse, except a li∣tle, whiche is much like vnto mosse that groweth on soft ground, such as we gett Turfes in. There is no wood at all. To be briefe, there is nothing fitte, or profi∣table for ye vse of man, which that Coun∣trie with roote yéeldeth, or bringeth forth: Howbeit, there is great quantitie of Deere, whose skinnes are like vnto Asses, their heads or hornes doe farre ex∣ceed, as wel in length as also in breadth, any in these oure partes or Countrie: their féete likewise, are as great as oure oxens, whiche we measured to be seuen or eight ynches in breadth. There are also Hares, Wolues, fishing Beares, and Sea foule of sundrie sortes.

As the Countrie is barren and vn∣fertile, so are they rude and of no capa∣citie to culture the same, to any perfec∣tion: but are contented by their hun∣ting, fishing, and fowling, with rawe flesh and warme bloud, to satisfie their gréedie panches, whiche is their onely glorie.

January 1, 1763

West of the Revolution - An Uncommon History of 1776


Aleuts engage in warfare with the Russians but gradually lose - especially when the Russians destroy their boats - key to their hunting practices and "as indispensable as the plow and the horse for the farmer"

In 1763, four ships, the Zacharias and Elizabeth, the Holy Triniry, the

John, and the Adrian and Natalie, were visiting Umnak and Unalaska,

two of the larger islands of the Aleutian chain that Russians had dis-

covered only four years earlier. The captains collected iasak from local

Aleuts and demanded amanaty to ensure prompt payment and their own

safety. Then they divided their crews into hunting parties, as Aleuts

from Unalaska, Umnak, and neighboring islands had expected. The

Aleuts hatched a plan. As Solov'ev reported it, local residents would

"live in friendship at first," but when the Russians split up to hunt and

trade, they would take them by surprise. "Using this ruse," they hoped

to "kill all the Russians."

On Unalaska, the Aleuts ambushed the hunting parties from the

Zacharias and Elizabal. Four survivors, fleeing along the coust to their

vessel, spotted a locker washed ashore, then bits and pieces of the ship

itself, and finally the bodies of their mates, mangled and strewn about

the beach. Months later, they reached the Holy Trinity, where they

learned that, besides themselves, only three of their chirty-seven crew-

mates had survived."

The Holy Trinity had also come under attack and would soon be

destroyed. The skeleton crew, reduced in number and weakened by

scurvy, could not control the vessel, and in heavy winds it was driven

to Umnak and crushed on the rocky shore. Aleuts set upon fifty-four

castaways that same night. In July 1764, the twelve survivors of that

raid built a skin boat and rowed around the island, searching for the

John, the third of the four ships that had been trading in the islands.

In a steam bath constructed by the Russians, they found only a charred

frame and the garroted bodies of twenty countrymen. (No one from the

Job survived to recount its story, but in 1970, archaeologists discovered

the steam bath and the remains of the crew. The refugees from the

Zacharias and Elizabeth and the Holy Trinity were soon rescued by the

last surviving ship, the Adrian and Natalie. In September 1764, relief

arrived when Solovey anchored off Unalaska and learned of the plight

of his fellow promyshlenniki."

In retaliation, Solover killed at least seventy Aleuts in five differ-

ent engagements. "I preferred to talk them out of evil intentions so

that they could live in friendship with the Russian people," he main-

tained. But elderly promyshlenniki, interviewed in the early nine-

tenth century, would remember differently. On one occasion, Solovev,

after being provoked, killed one hundred Aleuts "on the spot." The 

bloodshed was "terrible," they recalled. On another, Solovev blew up

a fortified structure sheltering three hundred Aleuts and cut down

the survivors with guns and sabers. One trader stated that Solovev

had killed more than three thousand in all, perhaps an exaggera-

tion; another insisted that he had killed no more than two hundred.

Considering that Unalaska sheltered only a few thousand inhabitants,

even two hundred deaths would have represented a crushing blow to

the population."

Years later, Aleuts insisted that Solovief, above all others, was

responsible for their decline. The Russian captain had killed hundreds

or thousands, they said, and many others had fled at his approach. He

made a practice of destroying their haidarkat, as kayaks are known in

the Aleutians. The boats were essential for hunting, "as indispens-

able as the plow and the horse for the farmer," observed one Russian.

Many of the refugees died from starvation or exposure while laboring

to replace the skin-covered vessels, which took over a year to build."

On Unalaska and surrounding islands, Solover "shot all the men;

three residents recalled in 1789. He reportedly practiced a cruel experi-

ment: arranging the Aleuts in a line, he fired at the first to discover

how many people the bullet would pass through. On one occasion,

villagers sought refuge on Egg Island, a tiny outcropping with cliffs

four hundred feet high, lying in deep water just off the eastern edge

of Unalaska. Its rocky shoreline hindered Solov'ev's approach, but he

made landfall on the second attempt and killed the men, women, and

children who had gathered there. "The slaughter was so atrocious,"

Aleuts said, "that the sea around the islet, became bloody from those

who threw themselves or were thrown into it."6

In his journal, Solover remained largely silent about his thirty-five

months on Unalaska and the surrounding islands, where his crew

harvested the vast majority of the furs that would eventually be

sent on to Kyakhta. There was "nothing worthy of notice" in the journal,

declared the Russian Senate, which ordered future voyagers to keep bet-

ter records. Solov'ev's reticence may have been grounded in knowledge

of the fate of Ivan Bechevin, a wealthy Irkutsk merchant who was put

on trial in 1764 for the actions of his company. The official investigation

concluded that Bechevin's promyshlenniki-_who kidnapped, raped,

and murdered a number of Aleut women--committed "indescribable

abuses, ruin and murder upon the natives."3

Nonetheless, enough details exist to reveal that relations berween

Solover and the Aleuts rapidly deteriorated. Shortly after Solov'ev set

up camp on Unalaska, he sent out two hunting parties. A detachment

from the first became stranded in a cove surrounded by high cliffs.

The Aleuts who discovered the vulnerable men severed their arm and

leg tendons and then cut off their limbs and heads. Later, they boasted

to Solovev, "we are going to kill all of you just like we killed Russian

people before." Solov'ev ordered two Aleut captives stabbed to death."

The remainder of the first party went west, to hunt dt Umnak and

other western islands. It mer with success, according to Solov'ev. The

men lived peacefully with the islanders, who "voluntarily" gave them

hostages, traded with them, and paid dasak. "I was always happy wich

those foreigners and nothing bad happened while we stayed there,

" he stated. (lozemtry, meaning "foreigners," was the term Russians applied to

the native peoples of Siberia, as well as to the Aleuts.) Their acquiescence

to Solov'ev's presence may have been forged in the 1760s, when, accord-

ing to one report, promyshlenniki had virtually "exterminated" the

'"disobedient" populations on southern Umnak and its western islets.**

June 11, 1792

David Thompson's narrative of his explorations in western America, 1784-1812 / edited by J.B. Tyrrell - Chapter 5


THE Natives of this Stoney Region subsist wholly by the chase and by fishing, the country produces no vegetables but berries on which they can live. The flesh of a Moose in good condition, contains more nourishment than that of any other Deer; five pounds of this meat being held to be equal in nourishment to seven pounds of any other meat even of the Bison, but for this, it must be killed where it is quietly feeding; when run by Men, Dogs, or Wolves for any distance, it's flesh is altogether changed.

THE Natives of this Stoney Region subsist wholly by the chase and by fishing, the country produces no vegetables but berries on which they can live. The term " hunting " they apply only to the Moose and Rein Deer, and the Bear; they look for, and find the Beaver, they kill with the Gun, and by traps the Otter and other animals. Hunting is divided into what may be termed " tracking " and " tracing." Tracking an animal is by following it's foot-steps, as the Rein Deer and the Bear and other beasts; tracing, is following the marks of feeding, rubbing itself on the ground, and against trees, and lying down: which is for the Moose Deer, and for other animals on rocks and hard grounds. My remarks are from the Natives who are intimately acquainted with them, and make them their peculiar study. 

The first in order is the Moose Deer, the pride of the forest, and the largest of all the Deer, [it] is too well known to need a description. It is not numerous in proportion to the extent of country, but may even be said to be scarce. It is of a most watchful nature; it's long, large, capacious ears enables it to catch and discriminate, every sound; his sagacity for self preservation is almost incredible; it feeds in wide circles, one within the other, and then lies down to ruminate near the centre; so that in tracking of it, the unwary, or unskillful, hunter is sure to come to windward of, and start it; when, in about two hours, by his long trot, he is at the distance of thirty or forty miles, from where it started; when chased it can trot, (it's favorite pace) about twenty five to thirty miles an hour; and when forced to a gallop, rather loses, than gains ground. In calm weather it feeds among the Pines, Aspins and Willows; the buds, and tender branches of the two latter are it's food: but in a gale of wind he retires among the close growth of Aspins, Alders and Willows on low ground still observing the same circular manner of feeding and lying down. If not molested it travels no farther than to find it's food, and is strongly attached to it's first haunts, and after being harassed it frequently returns to it's usual feeding places. 

The flesh of a Moose in good condition, contains more nourishment than that of any other Deer; five pounds of this meat being held to be equal in nourishment to seven pounds of any other meat even of the Bison, but for this, it must be killed where it is quietly feeding; when run by Men, Dogs, or Wolves for any distance, it's flesh is altogether changed, becomes weak and watery and when boiled; the juices separates from the meat like small globules of blood, and does not make broth; the change is so great, one can hardly be persuaded it is the meat of a Moose Deer. The nose of the Moose, which is very large and soft, is accounted a great delicacy. It is very rich meat. The bones of it's legs are very hard and several things are made of them. His skin makes the best of leather. It is the noblest animal of the Forest, and the richest prize the Hunter can take. In the rutting season the Bucks become very fierce, and in their encounters sometimes interlock their large pal-mated horns so strongly that they cannot extricate them, and both die on the spot, and [this is a thing] which happens too often: three of us tried to unlock the horns of two Moose which had died in this manner, but could not do it, although they had been a year in this state, and we had to use the axe. In the latter end of September [1804] we had to build a trading house at Musquawegun Lake/ an Indian named Huggemowequan came to hunt for us, and on looking about thought the ground good for Moose, and told us to make no noise; he was told no noise would be made except the falling of the trees, this he said the Moose did not mind; when he returned, he told us he had seen the place a Doe Moose had been feeding in the beginning of May; in two days more he had unraveled her feeding places to the beginning of September. One evening he remarked to us, that he had been so near to her that he could proceed no nearer, unless it blew a gale of wind, when this took place he set off early, and shot the Moose Deer. This took place in the very early part of October. This piece of hunting the Indians regarded as the work of a matchless hunter beyond all praise. The Natives are very dextrous in cutting up, and separating the joints, of a Deer, which in the open season has to be carried by them to the tent, or if near the water, to a canoe; this is heavy work; but if the distance is too great, the meat is split and dried by smoke, in which no resinous wood must be used; this reduces the meat to less than one third of its weight. In winter this is not required, as the flat sleds are brought to the Deer, and the meat with all that is useful is hauled on the Snow to the tent. The Moose Deer, have rarely more than one Fawn at a birth, it's numbers are decreasing for, from it's settled habits a skillful hunter is sure to find, and wound, or kill this Deer, and it is much sought for, for food, for clothing and for Tents. The bones of the head of a Moose must be put into the water or covered with earth or snow.

July 27, 1866

The Great Fur Land - The Great Fall Hunt


The Great Fall Hunt of the buffalo is depicted in which thousands of hunters charge into a massive herd and shoot them point blank. "The hunter pauses not a moment, but loads and fires with the utmost rapidity, pouring in his bullets at the closest range, often almost touching the animal he aims at."


At length the scouts, who for days have been scouring the prairie in every direction, bring the welcome intelligence of the discovery of the main herds. The line of march is at once turned toward the point indicated, and the laws against firing and leaving the main body are rigidly enforced. The long train moves cautiously and as silently as possible. Advantage is taken of depressions in the prairie to keep the train concealed from the buffalo, and not a sound is raised that may give warning of its presence. Approach is made as closely as may be compatible with safety, always keeping to the windward of the herd. Then, if a convenient locality is reached, camp is made, and busy preparations for the ensuing hunt begin. Guns are carefully scanned, powder-flasks and bullet-pouches filled, saddles and bridles examined, and, above all, the horses to be used in the final chase carefully groomed, for highest among his possessions the plain-hunter ranks his "buffalo-runner." It is to him like the Arab's steed--a daily comrade to be petted and spoken to, the companion of his long journeys, and the means of his livelihood.

The buffalo-runner belongs to no particular breed, the only requisites being speed, tact in bringing his rider alongside the retreating herd and maintaining a certain relative distance while there, and the avoiding the numerous pitfalls with which the prairie abounds. Horses well trained in these duties, and possessing the additional requisite of speed, command high prices in the hunt, often ranging from fifty to eighty pounds sterling. On the hunt they are seldom used for any other purpose than that of the final race, except it may be to occasionally draw the cart of madame at times when her neighbor appears in unwonted attire.

Before daybreak on the following morning--for a chase is seldom begun late in the day--the great body of hunters are off under the guidance of scouts in pursuit of the main herd. A ride of an hour or more brings them within, say, a mile of the buffalo, which have been moving slowly off as they approached. The hunt up to this time has moved in four columns, with every man in his place. As they draw nearer at a gentle trot, the immense herd breaks into a rolling gallop- Now the critical and long-desired moment has arrived. The chief gives the signal. "Allee! allee!" he shouts, and a thousand reckless riders dash forward at a wild run. Into the herd they penetrate; along its sides they stretch, the trained horses regulating their pace to that of the moving mass beside them; guns flash, shots and yells resound; the dust arises in thick clouds over the struggling band; and the chase sweeps rapidly over the plain, leaving its traces behind in the multitude of animals lying dead upon the ground, or feebly struggling in their death-throes. The hunter pauses not a moment, but loads and fires with the utmost rapidity, pouring in his bullets at the closest range, often almost touching the animal he aims at. To facilitate the rapidity of his fire he uses a flint-lock, smooth-bore trading-gun, and enters the chase with his mouth filled with bullets. A handful of powder is let fall from the powder-horn, a bullet is dropped from the mouth into the muzzle, a tap with the butt-end of the firelock on the saddle causes the salivated bullet to adhere to the powder during the moment necessary to depress the barrel, when the discharge is instantly effected without bringing the gun to the shoulder.

The excitement which seizes upon the hunter at finding himself surrounded by the long-sought buffalo is intense, and sometimes renders him careless in examining too closely whether the object fired at is a buffalo or a buffalo-runner mounted by a friend. But few fatal accidents occur, however, from the pell-mell rush and indiscriminate firing; but it frequently happens that guns, as the result of hasty and careless loading, explode, carrying away part of the hands using them, and even the most expert runners sometimes find their way into badger-holes, breaking or dislocating the collar-bones of the riders in the fall.

The identification of the slain animals is left till the run is over. This is accomplished by means of marked bullets, the locality in which the buffalo lies--for which the hunter always keeps a sharp lookout--and the spot where the bullet entered. By the time the hunters begin to appear, returning from the chase, there have arrived long trains of carts from the camp to carry back the meat and robes. The animals having been identified, the work of skinning and cutting up begins, in which the women and children participate. In a remarkably brief time the plain is strewed with skeletons stripped of flesh, and the well-loaded train is on its return. Arrived at camp, the robes are at once stretched upon a frame-work of poles, and the greater part of the flesh scraped from them, after which they are folded and packed in the carts to receive the final dressing in the settlement. Of the meat, the choicest portions are packed away without further care, to be freighted home in a fresh state, the cold at that late season effectually preserving it. Large quantities are, however, converted into pemmican, in which shape it finds its readiest market.

April 1, 1879

Frederick Schwatka


The Long Sledge Journey Begins


Schwatka sets out on his journey to find the Franklin Expedition with 18 people, 44 dogs, 3 sleds, 15 guns, 4000 rounds of ammo while expecting to hunt meat for up to a year and live off a carnivorous diet. "Dependent as we would soon become upon the game of the country, we had fair reasons to believe such existed in sufficient quantities to support us and our dogs if our hunters were only vigilant."




As everything was ready for the start quite a number of days before the day set- April 1, 1879 - we waited with a strange, lonesome anxiety for that date. All the stulf that was to remain had been boxed up carefully and Ahmow, its custodian, was removing it to his igloo on Depot Island. Life in a half deserted house is enough to set one half crazy, but living in a half deserted igloo is amply sufficient to fill an insane asylum. 

Let us take a hurried look at the party before it starts. The officers were: Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka (myself) and Colonel William H. Gilder, second in command. Frank Klutshak, our scientist and Frank Melms, the only one of us white men who had previously lived in the Arctic, completed the white members in our party. The Esquimaux included Joseph Ebierbing ("Esquimaux Joe") who, as has been stated, had been with Captain Hall and Captain Hayes on their Arctic journeys, and his wife Nipschank or Hannah; Toolooah, hunter and chief sledge driver, and his wife Tooloohalek or Susie, and their two-vear-old boy Iyow- kawank, or Jack; Ikqueesik, our chief guide; (Nachilluk Joe) and his wife, Lizzee and three-year-old daughter Koodleuk; Ishoowark (Jerry) and his wife, and two Innuit boys, brothers of Ikqueesik, aged eighteen and fourteen, named Milkolilluk and Awanak respectively. An Iwilli boy, aged twelve, named Koomunah, completed the party of eighteen souls. 

We had three large sledges, well shod with the bone from the jaw of a whale, and forty-four very good dogs. Our arms consisted of 

  • two Remington breech-loading muskets, 

  • two repeating Winchester carbines, 

  • one breech-loading Sharp's sporting rifle, 

  • one heavy breech-loading Sharp's sporting rifle, 

  • one heavy breech-loading Whitney (Greedmoor pattern) rifle, 

  • one 26-shot repeating sporting rifle, 

  • (Evans patent), 

  • two Smith & Wesson revolvers, 

  • and some muzzle-loading muskets. The latter were to be used for trading purposes, if necessary, among the natives whom we expected to encounter. 

Our ammunition supplies were far beyond the greatest ever taken before upon an Arctic sledge journey. But our provisions were extremely limited for so large a party over the nine or ten months we would be absent, so that our caisson was none too large. Dependent as we would soon become upon the game of the country, we had fair reasons to believe such existed in sufficient quantities to support us and our dogs if our hunters were only vigilant. 

Our ammunition boxes showed [turned to bulleted list for readability and unintended pun]

  • 700 rounds of Remington cartridges, of 50 calibre and 70 grains powder; 

  • 700 rounds Winchester cartridges, cal. 45., 75 grs. powder: 

  • 300 rounds Sharp's cartridges, cal. 40., 70 gr, powder; 

  • 450 rounds Evans cartridges, cal. 44., 55 grs. powder;

  • 220 rounds Whitney cartridges, cal. 44, 95 grs. powder. 

  • besides 200 rounds for the Smith & Wesson's revolvers 

  • and 100  bullets, 2000 caps and 25 lbs. of powder for the Springfield muskets. 

  • I must not forget to mention a breech-loading Remington shotgun, with 100 rounds of filled cartridges,

  •  a muzzle loading shotgun with a box of (25 lbs.), duck power and 25 lbs. shot. 

  • A sum total shows fifteen guns and about 4000 rounds of ammunition. 

Our only anxiety now was to be able to transport such a heavy load and to find sufficient game upon which to throw it away. 

Without giving an uninteresting list of the provisions with which we burdened ourselves, suffice it to say, counting as a day's ration, three pounds a day for an adult and proportionally less for the others, we had a trifle less than a month's supply. But it was not the intention to depend upon this until it was eaten up and then live upon the country, but to stretch it out as far as possible by the assistance of reindeer meat, as soon as we entered the hunting country. Two thousand pounds of Kow (walrus hide) and our bedding gave our sleds quite a heavy and formidable looking appear ance, as we started, but most of the load was of a nature that stead- ily decreased as the time advanced. 

As the world turned round it brought our appointed date, April 1, 1879, and found us already to start, but like all other first-day starts it was a late one. It was nearly noon as we pulled out on the salt water ice near Camp Daly and, shaking hands, bid our trusty Inuit friends good-bye. We stopped a second to take a last look on that dreary cheerless mass of snow domes that had so long been our home, and seemed doubly like a home now that we were parting with it for a still less cheerless and dreary journey. 

There is something peculiarly depressing in starting upon a long unknown venture, especially if a person has upon his mind all the cares and duties of a commander to warn him that, in case of misfortune, he alone does not suffer. And this was to be an expedition where misfortune might easily befall us. With less than one month's provisions, we were separating ourselves by an icy desert of eight and nine leauges from all chance of rescue, with eighteen human and forty-four brute mouths to be fed in a country reported destitute of game. And in this forbidding land we were to spend possibly a year - under the most favorable cireumstances not less than nine months - to make an extended and laboriously thorough search to determine the sad fate of those that had died here. it brought up the most solemn thoughts to one responsible for the lives and comfort of those who thus willingly joined in this unselfish effort to accomplish such a task. 

My triangulation cairns around Depot Island had not yet faded completely from sight as we stopped for our first camp, about ten miles north of Camp Daly, on the eastern shore of the Winchester Inlet. The weather had been exceedingly fine during the day and the oft-repeated injunctions of our Innuits, that the weather about this time of year was nearly always like this, was cheering news. 

We built two large double igloos, the four white men and Toolooah's family occupying one, and the remainder of the Innuits the other. The next night, however, this latter igloo was again divided. Joe and Jerry, with their respective families, occupying one and Ikqueesik the other. Thereafter this arrangement was continued until we reached King William Land.

Ancient History


Man the Hunter


January 1, 1968

Man the Hunter
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