The day is finally here, and I will be leaving for Kangerlussuaq, Greenland in a few short hours. As a hunter, you know the excitement, the anticipation for this trip is sometimes more exciting than I can stand. The preparation over the last few days has become obsessive, I have worked on my bow to the point of changing and adjusting everything from the way I stand to the position of my sight. Finally its time, the car is loaded and the only things still not in it are me and my bow. I force myself away from the target, put my bow in its case and get in the car. My journey to super slam animal #3 has begun.
The first leg of my trip is a 4-hour car ride to the Newark Airport. I will board here and travel to Copenhagen, Denmark then on to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland where I will meet my guides. The drive is long, but I have no shortage of excitement as my thoughts are racing. Even with the numerous bits of information about what to expect I still do not know how to prepare for something as massive as hunting the arctic tundra. The temperatures will be as low as -40 which causes concern for clothing but also camera equipment, archery equipment, batteries, and safety. I was fortunate enough that most of my gear will crossover and be usable without much change in what or how I use it. I have to make sure that I take everything I need, but there is no extra room for unnecessary items as the baggage fees from Denmark to Greenland are some of the most expensive I have ever encountered in my travels.
The trip to Greenland has gone smoothly, layovers are reasonable, and flights had no issues outside of the standard bag search I always encounter. I am used to carry-on searches, as a hunter, I take items that are integral pieces of my hunts and they often peak interest. I keep little things like my bow tool, string wax, Garmin, and my Cirrus Wind indicator in my carry-on and the one thing that gets my bag pulled every time is the Cirrus wind indicator. They are always curious as to what this gadget is and what it does, it is something I always take because it has become an essential tool on all of my hunts especially this one. It has a built-in charger, and in the Arctic, my batteries will drain very quickly, there is no electric at camp to recharge, so the charger and flashlight will be essential.
Finally here in Greenland, My guides, Jan, Vivi, Carsten, and Tooma are all waiting. Everyone is friendly and quickly moving to grab luggage and get it loaded. I never really know what is to come, but they try to give me a summary of what will happen next. We are off to our first stop which is my guides home, here I am welcomed by some other members of the family. They want to take a few minutes to eat and go over my hunting clothing to make sure I will be able to endure the sub-zero temperatures while hunting. I had chosen a very expensive base layer and decided to utilize my Treezyn late seezyn camo as a mid-layer for extra warmth and wind blocking ability. My outer layer became an issue it would be ok for shorter hunts like a fox or arctic hare but not for the longer days when we are out muskox hunting. They quickly gear me up in Canada Goose down hunting wear and we started loading the sleds for the 2-hour journey to camp.
The ride to camp is long and cold, we ride on snow machines pulling sleds down the frozen fjords. Finally, around the corner I see a small green cabin, this is it we haven’t seen any other signs of civilization along the way. We pull into camp, and there is a small outhouse beside the camp but nothing else in sight. We start unloading the sleds and sorting out what will stay outside and what will come inside. My bow and archery equipment must stay outside it’s too cold to bring the equipment in and out, while all batteries and filming equipment will come inside with me. Once unloaded it is still daylight but not for long, so there isn’t enough time to go scouting for muskox, but there is time to hunt a hare or ptarmigan. It was difficult to see both the ptarmigan and the arctic hares as they rely on their camouflage to blend in but finally, we find our first arctic hare. It isn’t long until I am in range with my shotgun and have harvested the first animal of my journey, an Arctic Hare.
Amenities are limited in the Arctic this includes indoor restrooms, electricity, cell service, even making drinking water is an added job. We eat our dinner by candlelight with plans for the next day of hunting as the conversation. Our meals include amazingly delicious and simple dishes like muskox and caribou steaks. I wake in the mornings to the smell of coffee, so I head out excited to see what the day holds. It is approximately -40, so the machines will not yet start. I start to gear up and get all of my cameras and equipment ready. The batteries will not hold a charge in this weather, so a lot of hand warmers are necessary to keep them from coming in contact with the cold for prolonged periods. I then head outside to start checking archery gear, the weather is beyond brutal, and the guides are working away in temperatures most have never felt, but they seem unphased. An ice fishing tent is used to pull machines into and get them warm enough to start. Everything that has to be done here is a process and is time-consuming, I watch another hunter at camp attempt to draw his bow, and the string seemed just to fall right off it. I know I need to try my equipment to make sure it will work in these temperatures, but I am so afraid something will happen, I attempt to draw my bow slowly and luckily my Bowtech Realm X pulls back flawlessly. I breathe a sigh of relief as that would have stopped my entire hunt. Now time to check the rest of the equipment and get everything loaded, it is the first day of my muskox hunt.
My first morning out brings sightings of a few smaller herds of muskox and finally, there is a small herd that is feeding beyond a frozen knoll. The muskox is in a position that will give me an opportunity to stalk without being seen, and we post two other hunters up ahead in case we drive them forward. The muskox move as expected just beyond bow range, I will not be able to get to a position where a shot would be possible, so this stalk is over, so we move on to another.
Day two brought a couple of successful muskox hunts for other members of the camp and a fun stalk for me, but unfortunately, I was to short to shoot over the bank and was spotted by the bull muskox when I tried to get to a higher position. There wasn’t a second that I wasn’t enjoying every stalk or sighting, with so much to learn about this beautiful place I couldn’t get enough of it.
Day three 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. With so many reasons I need to complete this hunt looming the concern of not harvesting a muskox is starting to arise in my thoughts. This happens on all of my quests I try to prepare myself at this point by thinking thoughts of acceptance because regardless of the outcome I have accomplished the journey to a place few will ever get to see, and I am grateful for each experience.
As I ride along to the next stalk we are hours away from camp and we have just left another hunter’s harvest to attempt to stalk a herd we had 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 the hunt, my guide is an experienced muskox hunter and guide, he knows how important this is to me, and I know there isn’t a guide out there that could be a better guide for me. When you hunt an environment that you do not know your trust in your guide is one of the most critical aspects of your hunt and my guide Jan, has my complete confidence both in my safety and in my success.
As we continue closer to the herd, I am trying to prepare for a potential shot, and everything is failing. The temperatures are frigid, I remove a seal skin mitten and luckily have a bow mitt attached to my bow to keep the air away from my hand while preparing for a shot. The rest of the equipment is becoming a problem all at the same time, I attempt to nock an arrow, but the glue I used for my fletchings was not holding, this was not something I had anticipated. Some arrows have one fletching left, and some have two, I finally find one that is usable. My level has fallen out of my sight but I know my bow, so this is the most insignificant problem I have. Two large bulls have separated from the heard and have moved to a point where I can approach them. The larger of the two is on the far side but I know he is the one I want, I try to attach my release to my D-loop, but it is frozen shut, and I do not have any way to pry it open. After several attempts using the side of the camera lens, I can get it open far enough to attach it but I know I cannot let it lose or I won’t have the opportunity to pry it open again. My one pin HHA sight has my pin set at 30 yards, and the more massive bull is ranging at 23 yards. I have a good arrow, my release is attached, and I can compensate for the yardage difference. The bull moves to the front, it is a perfect broadside shot, I draw and shoot. The shot looks perfect, but these animals are so tough I want to nock another arrow, so I turn my head for a second and my guide yells “he is down.” It was a perfect 23-yard double lung shot. My Element Storm Micro arrows and Flying arrow archery Orion broadheads along with ideal shot placement did what every hunter hopes for and took down a beautiful muskox bull as quick as possible.