Hunting the Umimmack
Umimmak? I had no idea what it meant either. So what is it, Muskox, Muskoxen, Musk-ox, and what does it mean? Well, it means "the long-bearded." Muskoxen and caribou are the only two ungulates that survived the Pleistocene era, which in itself makes this bovine so fascinating. But there is so much to know about the muskox, I would love to give facts about these amazing animals all day, but my journey doesn't have me playing that role for you. So I will get on with the story.
Stepping off the plane in Greenland was overwhelming. It was both exciting and very very chilly, I can never convey the immense feeling of gratitude for the opportunity and the families that I meet every time I land in a new place and this was no different. I quickly loaded my gear at the airport, and I headed out to spend a bit of time learning the beginning stages of this plan to locate and hunt the Muskox. The family I would meet here was the Lings family it was not much different than meeting so many other outfitter families. Their lives revolve around, contributing to the conservation of a species through hunting and with this comes the strong family ties built by working together.
This animal's importance to Greenland's culture is no different from any other 29 large game animals I have and will encounter. Winter hunting in Greenland is cold and beautiful; the sun shining on the tundra, the crisp cold air, and the experience of feeling -40 temperatures is not something many ever know and I am so excited to live it all. The days fly by, and hunting day in and day out is, of course, exhausting. When there is nothing to hide behind, chasing muskox is tricky, and walking on crispy snow seems task enough until you find yourself falling through the crisp top layer up to your waist. The days go on and are all as exciting as the last. Three days of hunting brought more herds and more hunting as I ride along and enjoy meeting up with others from camp to see their harvests; I am genuinely excited for everyone.There are so many reasons I need to complete this hunt, and the concern of not completing it starts starts to arise in my thoughts. This feeling is not abnormal; it happens in all of my pursuits; I try to prepare myself by thinking of accepting thoughts. I know that regardless of the outcome, I have accomplished the part of my journey that is most important; learning and understanding these animals on their terms is why I am grateful for this experience.
As I ride along to the next stalk, we are hours away from camp. We have just left another hunter's harvest to attempt to stalk a herd we have seen from a distance. We all know we are pushing our time; it is getting late, and to put on a stalk, complete it and clean and load a harvest will put us into some dangerous temperatures late in the evening. We continue regardless; Jan is an experienced guide and knows how important this is to me. I know there isn't another out there that could be a better guide for me. When you hunt an environment that you do not know, this guidance is the most critical aspect of your hunt; Jan has my complete trust in my safety and success.
As we continue closer, I am trying to prepare for a potential shot; there is so much to plan in a few short minutes. The temperatures are so cold; I remove a seal skin mitten, under it is another glove and luckily have a bow mitt attached to my bow because it is that intense of a cold. We have managed to separate two larger bulls from the herd and have moved to a point where I can approach them. The larger of the two is on the far side; I know that is the one I want. I try to attach my release to my D-loop, but it is frozen shut. I pry it open, I can get it open far enough to secure it, but I know I cannot let it loose, or I won't have the opportunity to open it again. My one pin sight at 30 yards, the larger bull is a bit closer at just about 20 yards. I have the right arrow set up, and I know I can compensate for the yardage difference. The bull moves to the front; it is a perfect broadside shot, so I draw and hit the trigger. These animals are so rugged I want to nock another arrow; I turn my head for just a second, and he goes down. It was a perfect 20-yard double lung shot. My Micro shaft arrows with weighted outserts and fixed blade broadheads coupled with ideal shot placement did what every hunter hoped for and took down a beautiful muskox bull quickly and painlessly.
There is no reason that I would ever choose not to go back. The beauty, cold, family, animals, I fell for it the second I stepped off the plane. One day, I look forward to spending time again with the Lings family and learning more about Greenland's animals