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A death-defying caribou story

Baker Lake hunter shares caribou story
A herd of caribou gather at the Kazan River near Baker Lake. Photo courtesy of Tim Tunguaq ᑐᒃᑐᑦ ᑲᑎᑦᑐᑦ Hᐊᕝᕙᖅᑑᕐᒥ ᖃᒪᓂ’ᑐᐊᑉ ᖃᓂᒋᔭᖓᓂᒃ.

Hunters from across the North took to social media earlier this month to share humorous caribou stories.

For Baker Lake’s Tim Tunguaq, it made him recall an early summer day in July some years ago when he and his boys were chasing a caribou herd near town.

He headed up the water to Mihaluk by boat and saw a small herd on the north side of Agiutit on the Aniguq River.

“We were scoping, watching, trying to figure out where they were heading,” recalled Tunguaq.

After a while, the group noticed the caribou were settling down to take a rest.

The older guys headed up to Agiutit to see if they could get closer to the herd. They landed their boat on the river’s edge below the herd and began creeping up the hill.

The caribou were still laying down when Tunguaq was close enough to take aim.

“We formed a line and started shooting at the same time,” wrote Tunguaq. “I had told the boys that we were going to get only one caribou per person, as the river was kind of shallow, as most people around Baker Lake knows.”

The caribou didn’t even have a chance to stand up when the hunters started shooting.

“We all got ourselves caribou,” wrote Tunguaq, adding that the harvesters started walking towards the slain animals.

When he got closer, he noticed there were more dead caribou on the ground than there were people hunting, meaning someone must have shot more than one.

He yelled out, “There are seven caribou and there’s only six of us. Who caught two?”

They began checking out the caribou on the ground and came up to the final one. To the group’s surprise, it raised its head, slowly opened its eyes and realized it was being approached by humans, prompting it to start charging right toward the group.

“Instead of being a real man, I turned around and started running away with rifle in hand,” wrote Tunguaq. “So did the other person beside me, both yelling. The other guys were watching us and laughing.”

When they finally looked back, they saw the caribou had turned and run away in the other direction.

“Damn thing slept right through all that shooting, wasn’t shot and didn’t have a single wound on it,” wrote Tunguaq.

That’s when he found out caribou can sleep very soundly despite a whole lot of noise.

“I might have been a faster runner than Atanarjuat at that time,” wrote Tunguaq, referring to the namesake of 2001 Inuit-directed film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner.