Wednesday, April 28

Let's Talk Bison Hunting

I hope that if you've read this blog a bit, you already know that I think the Yukon is an interesting place to live, a one-and-only sort of place. Things like the annual bison hunt that takes place every year in the public elementary school my son attended are one of the reasons I love living here. Every year in March, all the grade 7 students travel 150 miles out in the bush to Aishihik Lake for a week long bison hunt.

This involves learning how to camp in the winter, passing the Hunter Education and Ethics Development course, learning how to skin and butcher the bison, and putting on a bison feast for the whole school community. The students are taught that wild animals are here for us to use as needed, but that no useable part of any animal killed ought to be wasted, so not only is all the meat used, but the hide is made into mitts.

Two winters ago was when my son went on the hunt, and if you asked him today what was the most exciting thing he's ever done, I'm sure the bison hunt would be his answer. Whenever we're in the mood to annoy him, we can call it a "buffalo hunt", and that is always good for an exasperated lecture on the difference between bison and buffalo. (Buffalo, as any halfwit knows, live in Africa!)

Here's another unique thing about the Yukon. Before the bison feast in celebration of my son's and his classmate's successful hunt, this man, one of the local native elders, was asked to say grace. His prayer went something like this, "Dear heavenly Father, we thank you for all your gifts to us. Thank you for sending us your son, Jesus. Thank you for all the children who went on the hunt. Thank you for keeping them safe as they travelled. Thank you for keeping them warm when it was 40 below zero. Thank you for helping them on the hunt and for providing the bison for them. Thank you that we can all gather here together to eat from the meat you have provided for us. In Jesus' name, Amen."