It was moose season this week on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, and I went to one of my favorite spots to check out both the moose and the hunters.
I’m at the mouth of Church Slough, which is a little over five miles upriver from Bethel and a shortcut to head upriver by boat. Church Slough is one of the more popular sloughs on the Kuskokwim River to go moose hunting. It has pine, birch, and alder trees on both sides of the slough, and there are many boats riding along the river. Chris Jacobs came to see his iluq, that’s the Yup'ik term for relative.
Jacobs: “I came to see my iluq, I seen a cow this morning; that’s it.”
Harpak: “And who are you hunting with?”
Jacobs: “My niece and my granddaughter.”
Jacobs, niece Jacklyn Evans, and granddaughter Lucille Jacobs are camping inside Church Slough. Evans and Lucille explain how fun it is to go camping and hunting.
Harpak: “How is it to go moose hunting with him?”
Evans: “It’s so much fun; this is actually my first time moose hunting. Just as we were leaving Bethel, right around the corner from across Joe Pete’s fish camp, we seen two moose. I’m not sure what gender they were, but there was two of them.”
Jacobs is an apa’urluq or apa, which means grandfather or grandpa in Yup'ik. Jacobs saw a cow, but only antlered bulls are legal during the September hunt. He enjoys his subsistence way of life and is glad that today he gets to create a memorable hunt for Evans and Lucille, who are enjoying their day of hunting on September 1. Evans and Lucille will never forget this day. The special memories of a first hunt are always remembered and never forgotten.
Harpak: “Do you have a thrill when you’re out hunting?”
Evans: “A little bit. I mean, I heard stories of at night you could hear nothing but owls, wolves, and you know, moose.”
Harpak: “And is it a scary feeling?”
Evans: “A little bit, you know, the thing I heard is what’s protecting you is your tent and your rifle.”
Harpak: “How is it to go camping Lucille? Are you having fun?”
Harpak: “And how do you feel when you’re sleeping in the tent and it’s dark out?”
Lucille: “Little bit scared.”
Harpak: “But you’re sleeping by who?”
Lucille: “My apa and Jacklyn.”
Lucille, her aunt Jacklyn Evans, and her apa Chris Jacobs didn’t get a moose that day, but, with a bit of luck, they may have gotten their moose by the end of this year's hunt.