There’s something special about waking up in a cabin with a bunch of peers who all want the same thing: to catch a bison. It puts a goal in everyone’s head, a sense of unity. There is also the excitement and thrill that this could be the day, the day we finally get that elusive animal. With the bison comes the pride that you found the animal and are able to feed your community.
The bison hunt that my school in Carcross sponsored about five years ago didn’t go off without a hitch, though. Some students forgot stuff that was quite important, like clothes and sleeping bags. This caused us to halt the trip for 20 to 30 minutes while parents were contacted to get the gear needed.
The girls were also in charge of the music and they made an mp3 CD of all the popular songs of the time. As an eleven-year-old boy, it was insufferable to hear six straight hours of music about on how a particular boy with an irritating voice thought all the girls in the world were beautiful. It was also truly bothersome that the hum of the bus wheels overpowered my headphones, so I was forced in listen to the girls shriek along to the songs.
But the bus trip wasn’t all bad, as we were allowed to stop at various stores to buy massive amounts of junk food. Of course, the children weren’t really allowed to buy so much pop and chips, but kids are very good at hiding things in places adults never think, or never really care, to look. So the travels to the hunting grounds suddenly became a lot more bearable with copious amounts of sugar.
When we were finally on the back roads to the cabins where we would be staying, the going was rough. The 16-seat bus didn’t seem meant for such a narrow road, as we nearly got stuck at various points. The driver was incredibly experienced, nevertheless, and we didn’t get stuck until we came to part of the road that was washed out and was especially muddy. We found some wooden beams and put them on the road for the bus to cross. Unfortunately, the back left wheel slipped off and got stuck in the mud. With the towing power of the vehicles ahead of us, we were able to get out, but I dread to think what would’ve happened if all the wheels were cemented in the mud. Coming back from the hunt, we were fortunate enough that the mud dried.
We got to the grounds and by the time everyone got settled, it was nearly 11:30 p.m. After spending some time around the fire chit-chatting, everyone headed to bed, getting ready for the hunt.
The first two days were riddled with problems, which seemed usual with this trip. The snowmobiles constantly broke down, most likely linked to both old age and the -40°C weather. The snowmobiles also tended to get stuck, causing people to constantly get off and pull them out of quicksand-like snow. This only strengthened our resolve to find the all-mighty bison.
Finally on the fourth day, while I was on kitchen duty, our group got a bison. It was glorious! Everyone was celebrating, all the troubles and problems thus far became null. We spent the next couple days ice fishing, hoping to get a little more bounty before heading home.
The trip home was much better, as the mp3 CD had been destroyed during the camp stay. It almost seemed like every problem before getting the bison was a trial to see if we were worthy of it. I am proud to say we were worthy of such a great animal and also grateful we found one.