Friday, September 17, 2010

Day 9 - blissed out and gunned up! Part II

It has taken a while to get back into the blog.  Several hotel rooms, numerous planes and one big boat later and I am ready to catch up on my kayak adventures of the summer.  As I sit in this hotel room in Ilulissat, the smoke from the chimney of Knud Rasmussen’s house creeping through the window, the sun playing on the icebergs in the bay, I think back to another time and place, not so very far from here.

I signed off the last blog entry with a quote from Capone about kind words and a gun getting you further in life than kind words alone.  Well, I found a gun at this campsite and I spent a lot of time pondering over what to do with it.  I was curious about the hunters’ tent and amazed that it was an English brand, the same as my own.  What amazed me more was finding a Savage .22 rifle, rusting on the rocks not two metres from the tent door.  I sat down and played with the bolt, trying to free it.  Gradually, I worked it free and found an empty casing in the chamber.  The rifle was missing its magazine and the rust rubbed off on my fingers as I sighted icebergs and birds through the otherwise intact scope.  I found it hard to believe that the rifle was just lying there, abandoned.  The knives and other hunting material lying about were a common sight now, something I had grown used to during my four years in Uummannaq.  But a rifle, well, that was something new.

I finally decided that I would take the rifle with me, clean it up and make it work.  In the back of my mind I realized that I had no way of knowing how damaged the rifle was, nor if it would ever be safe to fire, but I was determined.  Back inside my tent I stripped the rifle, removed the bolt and scope, packaged everything in watertight combinations of gaffa tape and pastic bags, and then began to break camp.

As I piled all my gear up I was still questioning my actions, remembering Frederick’s comments about good hunters not stealing food from others.  I also considered that it was quite likely that a hunter would return one day, pick up the rifle, chamber a new round and shoot a seal, before discarding the rifle again.  I thought too how the hunters’ camp was no different than a boat moored in the harbour, full of gear, ready and waiting to go.  Could I really just take the rifle?

I argued with myself – there was no one else in the neighbourhood – about how dangerous it was to just leave a gun lying around for anyone to find, about what might happen if some kids found it, etc.  I tossed the question back and forth, remembering that these waters were the stomping grounds of a hunting society, that the camp was no different from the boat, that my views on firearms and safety were different than a hunter’s views.  I spent quite a while on this when suddenly another Arctic Fox announced his arrival. 
This was all the distraction I needed as the fox and I played tag over several hundred metres.  As I gave up trying to catch the fox with my lense I walked back to the camp, clear in my mid about what I must do next.

It took me ages to remove all the protective waterproofing tape and plastic.  It took another while to screw the rusted scope back onto the rifle.  More time was wasted trying to remove what little grease there was from my hands.  I then plodded back over to the hunters’ tent, paced out two metres from the tent entrance and laid the rifle on the rocks, all the while conscious of the fox watching me from on high.

Two hours later than planned, I paddled on up the fjord.

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