Brad's Photo Journal
The obligatory geeky tourist frozen runway shot, taken on the First Air runway in Clyde River. I'm one stop from my destination at this point.
The reflection of our turbo prop on the ice below as we ascend out of Clyde River. Not the best quality shot, but cool anyway so I thought I'd include it. At this point, there are only two of us left on the plane and we've got about 300 miles of North Baffin Island to cover before reaching our destination, Pond Inlet.
The view inland as we fly north along the eastern shores of Baffin Island. Fjords and rocky precipices abound -- much different from the smooth ridges of the western Arctic.
Continuing northward towards my final destination. The open waters of Baffin Bay and the Arctic Ocean can be seen in the background. I wonder how many hunting Polar Bears we flew over?
On the descent into Pond Inlet. The thin, bumpy black line just above center in the photo is the village itself.
Welcome to Pond Inlet! The sign at the airport terminal entrance. In Inuktitut, Mittimatalik and in English, The Place Where Mitima is Buried.
Heading out of town towards the hunting area. I find myself constantly in awe of the callous beauty of this land.
My guides, Matthias (on left) and Sheatie (right) posing for my lens on an ice ridge. Sheatie is one of the most animated Inuit guides I've ever spent time with -- always smiling and energetic.
The tracks of Nanook, cut early in my hunt. Likely an adolescent male, traveling solo -- note the ovalization of the hind print.
As Matthias glassed inland at midday, I captured my favorite action photo of the trip. Shooting almost directly into the sun, I was rewarded with this little jewel of pure photographic luck.
Here's a toasty self-portrait -- bet you didn't know that baboons lived in the Arctic! I'm also illustrating the "argument for beards" in this shot -- see the following pic for the counter view.
Here is the "argument against beards". This is a shot of the inside of my face mask. My girlfriend says that this photo also shows a new cosmetology technique known as "arctic waxing".
The obligatory Arctic sunset shot, this one taken at around 10 PM looking inland onto the shores of North Baffin Island.
Country food -- need I say more? A frozen Arctic Char after Sheattie and I ate part of him for lunch.
Matthias and Sheatie glass from an outcropping pressure ridge. Getting this shot was a tad dicey, as I had to edge out onto the ridge's lip -- three feet to my right was a fifty foot sheer vertical drop into the crevasse below.
The guides continue glassing, and I move further up the ridge to shoot some close-ups. Neither guide had a pair of binoculars, but Matthias would stop multiple times each day at climbable vantage points to use his spotting scope. It is difficult to keep your glass in working shape and fog-free in these conditions -- the combination of frigid temperatures, your body heat, face masks, and heavy gloves make glassing a definite challenge.
We brought this frozen adult seal from town as food for the dogs. On the third evening, we took out an axe and cut the seal into pieces, feeding about one-third of it to the dogs -- each of the ten dogs got a two to three pound piece. I never once saw these dogs drink water during the trip.
On top of the frozen adult seal you can see a second frozen, furry bundle. This is the baby seal that Sheatie killed with his .223 on day five of my hunt -- I describe the event in that day's update. We ate it that night boiled on the Coleman stove, with absolutely no seasoning or spices. Imagine fishy fishy bear that is super-tender, definitely the lamb of wild game meats.
Camping on the ice was my favorite part of this hunt. I love tents and spend a lot of nights each year in one, and I must say that this was a relatively comfortable set-up given the conditions. Each night we'd find a flat, semi-protected place to camp on the ice. Then we'd chain down the dogs, unload the sleds, set up the tent, and prepare for supper.
Here Matthias is working on supper. The accommodations were tight with three guys, our food, and all our clothes in the little tent. We'd ignite our two Coleman stoves and boil up some of the Earth's best, cleanest ice. After supper, the boys would talk or listen in on the radio and I'd take notes or write in my journal. With nearly 24 hours of daylight, I rarely needed a head lamp on this trip.
This is by far my favorite photo of the trip. We were cruising along when I noticed the uniqueness of these two icebergs. Can you see the faces? The Inuktitut word for face is "kina", although I doubt I'm spelling it correctly here. The guides thought I was nuts, but after careful repositioning I was able to utilize the sun and the shape of these icy appendages to my advantage in capturing this image.
What you've been waiting for. My personal favorite of the one hundred or so trophy photos that we took.
As I'm sure all of you know, high-quality trophy photos do not happen by accident. This may be even truer in the Arctic. I delayed just a few minutes (nine or ten minutes maximum) after killing the bear to move gear and reflect, and within that short time the bear had frozen so stiff that he could not be reasonably repositioned. After a ton of grunt-work, cleaning, and snow/ice movement, we were able to make the most of a difficult specimen and capture these decent shots.
Bear necropsy -- entrance wounds. The bottom hole was the first shot.
Bear necropsy -- exit wounds. I'm a big proponent of low low shots. My second shot here is much too high for my liking. Understanding why requires a good understanding of both animal anatomy as well as the physiology behind how stuff dies, which is well beyond my space here.
There is a lot going on in this photo. We are just finishing up the real work. The bear is skinned and quartered, the dogs are resting, and we're about to warm up with some more tea before packing up the sleds and heading home.
This is the snow bank where my bear was eating snow and later died. I thrust the two arrows into the snow and left them there. In a few months, the ice will melt and the ocean will open her salty mouth to swallow all that remains of this scene. The great beast's wildness lives on -- in these words, images, and in this hunter's heart.
Here we are stopping for a rest on the way home to Pond Inlet -- we are about ninety miles out at this point. With a bear in the sled, a hot shower in sight, and this image on my viewfinder -- it doesn't get any better than that!
They do look tired, don't they? I again want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to read about my hunt, listen in, or view these images -- both the private and the public response here has been very overwhelming to me. Just 11 or 12 years ago, I was living on ramen, sleeping on a mattress on the floor, and logging onto the Bowsite and Stickbow's Leatherwall from a library computer to dream about hunting Polar Bears. Well guess what? I still love ramen and I still sleep on a mattress on the floor! You know the way -- like a great river finds the ocean, the blood in our veins finds Wildness. Let the animals you hunt be your inspiration.