The Bizarre Hunting Culture of Alaska’s Iconic Brown Bears

  Darwin said: “Man does not live by hunting. This is the reasonable direction of human evolution.” Hunting has been with mankind for a long time as a means of survival, but with the development of the times, hunting has gradually faded out of sight.
  The United States has a long history of hunting and has developed a very strict set of hunting rules. Today, hunting in the United States has strict legal regulations, but legality does not mean that hunting is free. There are clear requirements for who can hunt, what animals can be hunted, the “quota” for hunting animals, and how to reduce the suffering of animals when hunting. Finally, the income from hunting will also be invested in the management and protection of wildlife and the natural environment. For Americans, legal hunting is a way to artificially control the population of wild animals and contribute to the ecological balance of nature.
Inuit “Arctic Hunters” who live on the ice sheet

  In North America, there lives a nation called the “Inuit”. This is a magical nation that thrives on the permanent ice sheets of the Arctic. They represent mankind and live tenaciously at the northernmost point of the earth, known as the “Arctic.” hunter”.
  As the most widely distributed ethnic group among the Arctic aborigines, the Inuit have footprints ranging from the Chukchi Peninsula in Russia, Alaska in the United States, and northern Canada to the southwestern coast of Greenland, but their total population is only 200,000. Because the places where they live are mostly isolated, little is known about them from the outside world.
  From an anthropological perspective, the Inuit belong to the Mongoloid race. Although they originated in Asia, they live a completely different life from Asians. After migrating to the Arctic Circle and reproducing for several generations, their bodies gradually changed as they adapted to the natural environment. In order to allow the cold air to swirl and warm when breathing, their noses become high and hook-shaped, thick eyebrows and thin eyes can reduce the stimulation of the light in the snow, and their keen eyes allow them to see distant targets clearly and identify directions in the dark night. A short stature and thick body fat provide protection against cold in extreme weather conditions.
  Alaska crosses the Arctic Circle. Those Inuit people living in the Arctic Circle are short of food and have difficulty making fire, so meats containing a lot of fat and protein such as caribou, seals, and salmon have become their main food. As a nomadic people, eating raw meat is almost the norm. However, the native Indian tribes in North America despised this behavior and called them “Asiatic Eskimos”. It is used to refer to neighboring tribes who wear animal skins and hunt with tan long hair. It means “people who eat raw meat”, and this name is only applied to the Inuit people in North America. Later, “Eskimo” was generally used by European explorers, and is now more widely used. However, because of its derogatory connotation, the Inuit people are very disgusted with this title and insist on calling themselves “Inuit”, which means “real people”. As people’s understanding of this nation and their respect for them gradually increased, the title “Inuit” gradually replaced “Eskimo” and became widely circulated.
  The Inuit live a nomadic life to a certain extent because the geographical environment they live in is extremely harsh, with very low average temperatures. Winters last for several months and summers are very short. It is one of the coldest places in the world. Large areas of glaciers and frozen soil as well as thick snow cover on the ground have a great impact on the lives and daily travel of the Inuit people. This also results in the residents living here having to adopt special lifestyles and cultural traditions.
  They change camps and hunt types as the seasons change. In summer, autumn and spring, two to six families will form a small camp, and in winter, more families will form a camp. But migration is not without purpose. They will enter the same place year after year, so they will never exceed the range of the group.
Live naked in an igloo and hunt for survival in all seasons

  In the vast and cold polar regions, the Inuit people make full use of the materials provided by nature to resist the severe cold and pass them down from generation to generation.
  Their clothing is very special: men, women, and children all wear clothes made of animal skins. Men wear clothes called “Qiao Qi” and women wear clothes called “Dimi.” The difference between the two is mainly in the sleeves. The sleeves of men’s clothing are wide and long, which is convenient for drawing the bow and shooting wild animals in winter; the cuffs of women’s clothing are narrow and short, which is convenient for working. The most peculiar thing is the “igloo” inhabited by the Inuit people. As the name suggests, it is a house made of snow bricks and ice blocks. The locals call this kind of house “igloo”. From the appearance, the igloo looks like an ice and snow version of a yurt. But they don’t live in it directly, but spread a layer of fur inside the house. Building houses adapted to local conditions in this way mostly occurs in winter, which can not only withstand severe cold and strong winds, but also maintain indoor warmth.
  In addition, it may sound weird to take off your clothes to sleep in the cold polar regions, but it is a traditional habit of the Inuit people. If a family sleeps in an igloo, they will strip naked and cuddle up with each other. Although the practice is a bit jaw-dropping, the science behind it is not ambiguous at all. Because humans are endothermic animals, snuggling up close together with their naked bodies can transfer and balance each other’s body temperatures, thereby increasing the overall body temperature. Secondly, this approach is helpful to keep the body dry and prevent clothing made of fur from becoming wet.
  The Inuit igloo is a wisdom summary of life and a reflection of culture and tradition. Today, there is a small freezer in North America that can be used both at home and in the car called the “Iglu”. It may be seen as the world’s promotion of the traditional culture of the Inuit.
  In addition to housing, the Inuit wisdom is also reflected in changing hunting strategies according to different seasons.
  The social organization of the Inuit is mostly in the patriarchal clan stage centered on the father line. They lived mainly by hunting, fishing and gathering. The Inuit who live in the interior mainly hunt reindeer, musk oxen, polar bears, birds, etc., while those who live by the sea mainly make a living by hunting walrus, turtles, and fish. Spears, bows and arrows, forks, knives, nets, etc. can all be used as their hunting tools.

  Arrowheads made of hand-polished reindeer antler are the traditional hunting tools and weapons of the Inuit people. Because they are closely related to their production and life, they occupy an important position in the culture of the Inuit people. They use these arrows to hunt larger fish and even polar bears. This high-hardness arrow can penetrate the fur of almost all mammals living in the Arctic. When an animal is hit by a barbed arrow, even if it is not fatal, the barbs will prevent them from breaking free of the arrow, and they will eventually die from excessive blood loss. This is also the experience summed up by the Inuit people for thousands of years.
  Inuit people love dogs and dogs are their must-have animals. Their land transportation mostly uses dog sleds. This kind of dog is called Eskimo dog, which is bred from the mating of wolf and dog. Each sled is harnessed to seven or eight strong dogs, tied with bells, and gallops on the snowy wilderness, leading the Inuit people across the vast Arctic land, adding infinite vitality and vitality to the Arctic desert.
  During summer hunting, men will paddle the unique Arctic kayak “kajak” made of multiple seal skins, carrying harpoons, bows and arrows and other tools to wander around the sea where seals often appear, in search of prey. The good eyesight gradually developed due to the environment allows them to quickly detect distant prey. Once prey is discovered, the Inuit will enter a silent state, slowly approach to attack range, and then strike quickly.
  During this season, Inuit women and children are responsible for collecting wild berries and tender grass, and the whole family fishes in the river ponds made of stone beams. From the end of August to September, people go upstream and come inland to hunt deer. Inuit caribou behavior on the islands dates back to 3,500 years ago. Reindeer and nature, reindeer and people maintain a wonderful relationship in this magical land. Over the long years, the Inuit people have long been familiar with the habits of reindeer, and they regard hunting as a harvest.
  In the 1940s, the reindeer population hit a low point and deer hunting became extremely difficult. So they boarded dog sleds and traveled hundreds of kilometers to capture reindeer in hidden places. The round trip lasted almost a year. The captured reindeer hides and meat are used as winter food for families living on the coast, and the skins are made into warm clothing. When there are no large enough mammals like reindeer to hunt, birds will become the second choice for summer hunting.
  In winter, when the sea freezes, the Inuit must hunt seals in different ways. Seals are mammals that breathe with their lungs. Under the frozen sea, seals must find breathing holes or make breathing holes to ensure breathing. These breathing holes are the key to the Inuit’s successful seal hunting. They rode on a dog sled and drove on the ice. After discovering the breathing holes, they stopped around and stayed silent. When the seals surfaced, they waited for opportunities to hunt them. The seal’s meat can be eaten, its oil can be used for fuel, its hide can be made into a pair of waterproof boots to keep out the cold, or it can be stitched to store food.
Everything has animism and life is changing

  The Inuit believe in “animism” and shamanism. They are used to burying their dead at the highest point in the village, believing that their souls will always pay attention to this land. They would hold ceremonies after capturing or killing animals, using dances, smokes, and sacrifices to commemorate the sacrifices of these animals and to thank them for providing them with food. More often than not, the Inuit would even bury the fish and wait until it rots a little before digging it out and eating it. They would also hold ocean ceremonies before going out to fish to pray for the protection of the ocean god. They believe that the gods in nature can control natural phenomena and animal behavior. It is these animals that allow them to continue their lives, so they worship and revere animals.
  The Inuit worship totems, which represent “kin”. They will never kill relatives of the same totem at any time. They held various rituals and customary activities, expressed their emotions through music and dance, wore animal skins, and danced as wildly as beasts to pray for blessings and to prevent danger.

  In the long river of the universe, just a drop in the vast ocean, on the vast planet, human beings are also the strongest warriors, especially the Inuit. In the past few thousand years, they had no written language, so they used language to transmit information and amorphous symbols to aid memory. Their world has no currency or commodities, and they live in a completely self-sufficient, real natural economy. They established an independent society and passed down their unique cultural heritage from ancestors to descendants, making the Inuit a unique cultural group in the world. It was not until the 16th century that Western gun-toting hunters discovered their existence, and then the word “Eskimo” appeared in newspapers and periodicals in various countries.
  Nowadays, with the advancement of science and technology, the lives of the Inuit people have also undergone earth-shaking changes. The Arctic is no longer an inaccessible desert, sealskin rowing boats have become speedboats, spears have become shotguns, dog sleds have become cars, and scarce vegetables have become within reach. Igloos have long been replaced by houses with heating, water and electricity.
  However, the Inuit who have changed their original livelihood and have relied on government welfare and relief for a long time are facing severe challenges, such as employment difficulties and crowded housing… For a long time, the harsh natural environment has not been able to stop the perseverance of the Inuit. As long as people survive, the development of modern society may seem like a blessing, but it has fractured this highly respected national culture and pushed them once again to the crossroads of the times.

You can only hunt one bear a year, Alaska’s bizarre bear hunting culture

  The brown bear is the largest terrestrial carnivore on earth. Its strong body and savage nature are intimidating. They once roamed vast areas from Europe to North America and represented wilderness more than any other animal. But now the world is getting smaller and smaller, and Alaska is one of the last places for brown bears.
  An Alaskan brown bear weighs about 1,500 pounds (about 680 kilograms) and can stand more than 10 feet (about 3 meters). The huge body is covered with fluffy fur, ranging from dark brown to almost golden, and the “skin color” of brown bears also varies. Most of the time, Alaskan brown bears are solitary, so in the wild, their intimidating appearance serves as both camouflage and a warning signal to potential rivals.
  In the vast Alaskan wilderness, brown bear footprints are everywhere. They can be found in forests, tundra and open plains, from coastal areas to inland forests and mountains. The Alaskan brown bear has an amazing ability to adapt to different climates and terrains, making it the undisputed king of the wild north.
  The world’s largest brown bear sanctuary is located in the cold climate of southwest Alaska. This arc-shaped area facing the Pacific Ocean and backed by the Bering Sea has a unique place – Katmai National Park. This is a world ruled by brown bears, with more than 2,000 brown bears living in this area. Every year from July to September, there is the salmon migration period. At this time, brown bears gather at Brooks Falls, lazily waiting for salmon to jump into their mouths. As a result, Katmai National Park has become the most famous brown bear viewing spot in the world.
  There is a strange law in Alaska, USA: you are not allowed to wake up a sleeping brown bear to take pictures. But hunting brown bears is legal. There is only one hunting quota for the entire continent a year, and Alaska natives can obtain hunting qualifications through a lottery. Generally speaking, in order not to affect the population, only males are hunted. A male who sees a female with her young is likely to kill all the young so that they can mate.

  Participating in North American bear hunting requires some preparation in advance, including obtaining relevant bear hunting licenses, choosing appropriate hunting gear and equipment, and learning basic bear hunting techniques. This is the most dangerous hunting in North America. Generally, you need to hire a licensed guide to hunt, and then choose a suitable hunting method, such as tracking on foot, hunting on a snowmobile, or taking a small plane or boat to hunt. . It is worth noting that Alaska stipulates that hunting is prohibited on the first day after the plane arrives in the hunting area, so this day can be used to rest and prepare.
  Before hunting, the hunting guide will teach hunters some wilderness survival skills, how to use a shotgun, find brown bears and how to set up a scene and set up an ambush for hunting after finding a brown bear. The most important thing is to learn to prevent fatal attacks from brown bears and to escape for their lives. During bear hunting, hunters first look for the brown bear’s tracks based on paw prints and scat, and then follow the brown bear’s movement path. Once brown bear tracks are discovered, tactics such as ambush and bait are used to hunt them.
  With the advancement of history and the baptism of culture, the laws on hunting are also gradually improved. Whether it is the Inuit who hunt for a living or the Alaska bear hunting sport as a hobby, hunting is nothing more than a way of life. This approach and culture constantly emphasizes the importance of interacting with nature and maintaining ecological balance, allowing us to re-examine our relationship with nature.