stefansson-wrangel-09-25-006-009

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islands over which Knight had travelled with us had no driftwood, so that
much of the fat which we might otherwise have used for food was necessarily
burned instead for cooking and heating; but on the Wrangell beach Knight could
see everywhere that finest of dry wood for fuel. And if the Canadian islands
had been lacking in fuel, the same was even more true of the hundreds of miles
of shifting ice floes over which Knight had traveled, where the waters below
were our only source of food and fuel. To a man of such experiences, Wrangell
Island
seemed a paradise for game. Knight doubtless thought to himself that
even if the polar bears should later become few, a few were better than none
and he was used to making a living when you would not see a bear track for
years at a time. And if we had already been successful for years in depending
on seals for both food and fuel, surely they would be successful in Wrangell
where the fuel was already provided and the whole of every seal could be used
for food. Besides there were the clumsy walrus out in the water, and Knight
was as yet of the opinion that the dory would serve in place of an umiak for
hunting these.

On the basis of such experience, then, what could be more
reasonable than to say to yourself that you should not kill the bears that came
to-day but would take instead those that were coming to-morrow?

Then it must be remembered that the temperament of the
hunter is necessarily that of an optimist. Confidence that checks will be
honored and obligations met is fundamental inthe business world. The farmer
expects rains in time for his crops in a country where the meteorologist
could show that the chances are dubious. The hunter who sees no game to-day
expects that he will be successful to-morrow. We may agree that the Wrangell
Island
party should have killed every bear they saw and that they should have
carried home the meat before the birds and beats devouvered it, but if we are
fair we must concede that that hs inly the wisdom that comes so easily after

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