October 8 was a landmark day for Clyde River’s Angie Ashevak – she shot her first polar bear.
“My name was drawn for a polar bear tag on October 6 and I had to go on October 8,” said Ashevak. “I got so nervous and got scared a little bit because I know I will shoot what’s bigger than I am. And excited,” said Ashevak.
With her father-in-law and boyfriend, Ashevak headed out that fateful morning.
“We went early at seven o’clock to go hunt bear and found one around 11 a.m.. We saw polar bear tracks in Akulaa, which the land’s name in Inuktitut, and we found the polar bear at Pamiallua.”
Ashevak was in the boat when the bear was spotted high on the mountain. She took 12 shots from the boat, with three connecting. The water was choppy that day, she said.
“My father-in-law and my father climbed (to the bear) and pushed it to the water,” said Ashevak, adding her boyfriend and uncle brought it to a close location for butchering, as it was too heavy to haul back to the community over water.
The bear measured nine feet.
Once butchered, the polar bear was transported back to the community a few minutes away. The meat was shared with the community.
Ashevak wants to sell the polar bear skin, and is looking for a buyer.
Looking back on her experience, Ashevak said it was great, but she’s likely not going to hunt polar bear again.
“Because it’s hard work to finish the blubber and the skin,” she said.
Luckily, she had plenty of help getting the job done – her mother, two sisters and another community member.
Ashevak turned 20 only days after the hunt, on Oct. 12. She says she learned how to handle a rifle with the Junior Rangers, which she joined when she was 12. Ashevak says at 16 she shot her first prey, ptarmigan.