stefansson-wrangel-09-25-006-023

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- 23 -

this time the other seal had disappeared completely."

The retriever mentioned by Knight is an Eskimo device
for getting seals that have been shot not too far away in open water. It
consists of an knob of wood about the size of a grapefruit with several sharp
recurved steel hooks around its circumference and a loop at one end to which
is attached a slender line one hundred or more feet in length. The line is
held coiled in the left hand. With the right hand you grasp the line about
five feet from the end and swing it around your head until it makes a
whistling noise. You then throw it, paying out the line as the retriever
flies through the air. You should throw it farther then where the dead seal
lies floating horizontally on the water. You then pull slowly towards you
until the knob is about to slide over the seal when you give a sharp jerk and
one of the hooks catches in his hide. You then pull in hand over hand. This
brings the seal to you usually if there is no slush ice, but the trouble is
that on any but an exceptionally warm day slush forms along the edge of the
firm ice where you are standing and you are not able to haul the seal right up
to you. In such circumstances we usually make a boat out of a sledge, as we
have mentioned, wrapping a canvas around it. But, as we have said above,
the Wrangell party did not seem to have thought this worth the bother, expect-
ing continually to be successful later by the, in a way, simpler methods which
they were using.

Still, the experience of the day we have just described
seems to have impressed Knight with the advisability of using a boat later,
for on January 19th he tells about making preparation to that end.

For several days after the 19th the sealing was interfered
with by too much open water. The most favorable condition is when the wind
merely cracks the ice and drives it off a few yards or at the most a few hundred
yards, making what is called an open lead. But now the wind was so strong

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