Jean Marie Itturiligaq figures he was around five years old when he first accompanied his father on a hunt.
“I remember when he got a caribou,” he says.
His own first harvest would come when he was 11 or 12. He too shot a caribou.
Caribou meat is something special, whether it’s fried, dried or boiled, he enjoys eating it just the same, he says.
There have been many successful hunts since then: seals, walrus, whales and a wide variety of birds except ravens and seagulls.
“When I come back with meat, I share it with my family,” he says.
His first polar bear eluded him for quite a while but that changed last fall. He lined up the predator in the sites of his trusted rifle – he tends to hunt with a .243 – and made the shot to bring down the seven-footer.
Itturiligaq, 22, says he doesn’t practise shooting. His aim has often been true and he chalks it up to remaining calm while tracking his prey.
On another occasion a bear approached him, his dad and his uncle, getting really close, about 12 feet away, he estimates. However, they weren’t on a hunt for one at the time.
“The polar bear came to us,” he says. “We let it go – scared him off (by) shooting at the air.”
Trips out on the land happen fairly regularly, he says.
“Every spring, every summer, even winter… all the seasons.”
Most treks are made by snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle to a cabin located between 200-300 km from Hall Beach. Sometimes Itturiligaq and his relatives stay for a few days, sometimes for a week.
He tends to keep animals’ hides for himself. Antlers and tusks usually go to his dad, who uses them for carvings.
To ensure safety when heading out on the land, Itturiligaq is sure to pack a Coleman stove, knives, his rifle, meals, among other items. He also urges good communication.
“I always have to know what are they going to do, where are they going to go,” he says. “Safety first.”