I quickly made a call to Dan at Americana. He made calls to Grise Fiord, locked in dates and got back to me in time to get the sale price. Now I could book my flight to Ottawa. The airlines have lost my bags numerous times over the years, so in order to reduce the chance of a reoccurrence, I decided to eliminate the flight from Milwaukee to Chicago by driving to Chicago. I was going to book the last flight of the day, but decided to book the second to last flight, then in case something happened I could possibly get on the last flight.
Airfare done. The next several months were spent taking care of every little detail. I borrowed Northern Outfitter clothes but knew that they're boots were warm but hard to walk in from a muskox hunt so researched and bought Baffin Endurance -100 boots. Forgot extra liners so that was another order. Hand and foot warmers for me and the video camera batteries. Borrowed a white suit for stalking. Two digital cameras and two disposable cameras. Skinning knives, optics, gifts for guides,.300Win Mag bullets the guides wanted and on and on.
And of course I needed a new bow for this trip. I always take two bows and it was time to update- Carbon Spyder 34. The bow came in 10 days before the hunt but I couldn't order the Hogg Father until I took my other Hogg Father off my other bow to see how it would balance on the lighter carbon bow. Balance was great so ordered a custom built sight. Spott Hogg got the sight sent out amazingly fast by UPS. UPS lost the sight for three days so I had to meet the driver at a Harley dealer the morning I left for Chicago. At least I could take the sight along and maybe be able to use my new bow.
I consider myself a little anal preparing for a hunt but no, I did not go off the deep end and sleep in my walk-in freezer to get used to the cold. Sorry, Jake, couldn't resist!
I asked what my chances were and they said not good. I was gut punched. Tomorrows early morning flight from Ottawa to Resolute was nonrefundable with no exceptions. Flights are only available Thursdays and Saturdays. My hunt was blowing up. I asked, How many people in front of me? Six. How many seats? One, but you never know. On my first big game hunt I came up with the saying, "When things go wrong, suddenly they go right". The six people were all travelling together and I got the seat. I told the people at UNITED that my bags had to fly with me. They told me not to worry, this is what we do. We all waited forever for the plane to leave the gate. I figured it was my fault as they had to get my bags on.
I arrived in Ottawa at midnight but none of my bags did. UNITED had no idea where they were.
Good luck, Robb
Looking forward to the rest of the story!
Right then I saw someone walk across this tiny airport wearing Sitka gear. I said to Karine, "I think I know that guy." She asked, "You know Tom?" (tthomas) I replied,"Well, kind of." She had been working with Tom with his rescue dog from his polar bear hunt. Tom and I had never met but knew who each other was.
We walked over to talk with him and as Karine was explaining my situation Tom looked me in the eye and asked, "What do you need?" I told him all I had was what I was wearing and some optics in my carry-on. In the middle of this crowded airport Tom opened his bow case and said, "Here's two bows, some arrows and a release. Then he opened his duffels and gave me everything I needed-base layers, Sitka clothes, mittens, sleeping bag, granola bars and boots he'd borrowed from madtrapper. It all smelled like polar bear so I figured the gear would be lucky. Once again, "When things go wrong, suddenly they go right."
I get all my licenses that night. I meet Jaypettee who will be my "Taxi" to camp tomorrow and Marty brings over my outerwear. Jaypettee asks me if I'm an early riser. I say "Yes." He says "Good, we'll pick you up at 9:30."
Travel was slow, bumpy, cold but do-able.Three hours into the journey we stop for a snack, coffee and a pee. My pee landed four feet left of my left foot. Ya, pretty windy and ya, I know about peeing downwind!
Base camp is less than an hour away.
Twenty-four hour daylight had my time clock messed up and I only slept a few hours, I climbed up on top of the cabin, sat down in the glassing chair(left side of cabin near smoke stack) and started looking for bears. Today we would stay in camp for three reasons. Kavavow believes in staying in camp for 12 hours so there is no questioning the 12 hr. before you hunt rule even if you don't fly. He is the most respected man in Grise. Second, we needed to get organized to head out on the ice tomorrow and last, we had white out conditions and couldn't see safely out on the ice.
tthomas has gone out of his way to help me out on this hunt. Now I must pay it forward. Remember Jaypettee, my Taxi driver that got me to base camp? He is one of the best guides in Nunavut for polar bear. He has been reduced to the "taxi driver" because of another outbreak of Parvo in Nunavut which killed the majority of his sled dogs and about half the dogs in Grise Fiord. Several of the dogs on my hunt survived the outbreak and were not yet 100%. Jaypettee has been hurt financially by this loss. There are not many good jobs in the north. He and many residents of Nunavat have also lost animals they truly care about. Most residents cannot afford the vaccine.
Dogs commonly travel from town to town by airplane so the virus spreads easily throughout Nunavut. The government does not have a program to help with this problem. My goal is, with Pat's permission, to raise money through Bowsite in conjunction with Pope and Young and start a program to provide vaccines to the residents of Nunavut at no charge.
This is not a fundraiser so a bunch of rich guys can hunt polar bear. Sled dogs are also used in everyday life in the north and are an important link between today's Inuit youth and their heritage. Nunavut regulations require nonresident hunters to travel by dogsled once the hunt begins. Pope and Young requires sled dogs for travel to be considered fair chase. No sled dogs, no fair chase. Sick dogs, compromised hunt.
A plan is in place. My vet has found a program with the vaccine manufacturer where we may purchase at a greatly reduced price. He has also calculated the amount of vaccine needed. Distribution will be through First Air and Ken Boerek Air. Nurses have volunteered to vaccinate dogs.
All we need to do now is raise some money. Pope and Young has agreed to handle the money aspect of this program so you know the money is going to a credible organization. You may mail checks to:
Pope and Young Club 273 Mill Creek Rd P.O. Box 548 Chatfield, MN 55923
Make checks payable to: Pope and Young Club and include Parvo Free Nunavut on the check so funds are placed in the correct account. You may also call P&Y and contribute with a credit card AFTER the convention beginning April 21. I will also be at the convention to answer any questions.
No contribution is too small. If every "lurker" on Bowsite contributes $5.00, this will be an ongoing program for years to come.
By 11:00 that night the only life we had glassed up were seals sunning themselves next to their holes. This was just base camp so I didn't expect to see much. I was short on sleep and my eyes were shot from glassing all day. I told the guides I was headed for my (Tom's) sleeping bag. They were going to glass for a bit longer and then do the same. My notes said I was in my bag (Toms) at 11:10. At 11:20 I was woken. "We got two bears" is what I heard.
I jumped out of bed, got dressed and climbed up to the glassing chair. The bears were way out and all we could tell was one was bigger than the other. That is exactly what we were looking for as the rut was on and the big boars should be with the smaller sows. It could also be a sow and cub. They asked me what I wanted to do and I said ":Lets go."
Our sleepy little camp instantly became organized chaos. Dogs were barking, excited to work. Everyone had a job to do, mainly hooking up the dog team.
Regardless, I had 5 or 6 arrows and 2 of them were missing a vane. I was afraid to shoot any arrows through snow blocks for fear of shaving off more vanes or worse, losing one. I knew the kind of bow hunter Tom is, so I knew the bow was tuned and sighted in properly. He had also given me instructions on his bows such as "The top pin is 30 yds" in the airport.
Question- in the mountain ridge photo there seems to be a lot of tracks. Yours? If not, what are they from?
I wish I had more pictures of this part of the hunt but I was videoing as much as I could, fingers got cold, video camera got cold and nothing turned out well.
We arrive back at camp somewhere around 5:00AM. Everyone is tired and ready for some sleep. Jaypettee greets us and says, "Aahh, we found two more bears over there."
We climb up to the glassing chair and again, could not tell if they were a sow and cub or "husband and wife" as Kavavow called them. They asked me again, "What do you want to do?" "Let's go." These bears were acting differently than the sow and cub and I had a hunch this was a "husband and wife."
Jaypetee, Mark and Jon Neely the CO have to head back to town so we say our goodbyes and we take off again.The dogs are tired and progress is even slower. We get closer and determine that yes, it is husband and wife. Now, is the husband big enough?
From a long distance away we can tell that the sow is hunting seals meaning she is standing motionless at a seal hole staring intently, waiting for a seal to pop out. The boar is laying down in the wide open 200 yds. away from her. We have no idea how big he is.
Long before this adventure began ,I vowed to myself that I would not shoot a bear bayed up by the dogs. I must stalk him. I am now soul searching. I am on a hunt that I can do only once. I don't have my own equipment. I have a bow that I have never shot with a very limited number of arrows. Polar bears are not afraid of people in many situations. If I stalk a bear with an unfamiliar bow and don't make a perfect shot things could go haywire. I don't want a poorly shot bear to charge and put guides at risk or have a bullet in the bear. What distance can I ethicly shoot at a stalked bear with this bow? I struggle with the situation as the dogs pull closer.
I make a decision. The right thing to do in this situation is to allow the dogs to bay up the bear. I am disappointed to say the least.
We approach and the sow takes off to our right. The boar just lays there. I am trying to video but the camera won't focus and my fingers are freezing. I need my fingers to shoot. To hell with the camera!
The dogs excitement level has increased with the scent of the bears but soon they see it.
Polar bears are magnificent animals and I feel fortunate to be here.
The dogs gain on the bear and Kavavow cuts the dogs loose.
The bear bays up and because of the situation I do not get the adrenalin rush I am so accustomed to. Part of it may have been the pressure to make the shot this animal deserves with an unfamiliar weapon. One of the dogs gets too close and the bear almost pulls him in. My first shot is right behind the shoulder but sixteen inches high. Now I don't know if I made a bad shot or if that is how Tom's bow shoots for me. I aim slightly lower and the next arrow hits two inches lower than the first. I quickly aim underneath his belly and release the fatal shot.
e all are happy
this is why I love bowsite
Def a hunt and adventure many of us will never get to experience in person, but have experienced on bowsite.
Here is a map of Nunavut. Amazing people, culture and way of living. We were up there Caribou hunting last year, even in September it was frigidly cold.
ARE YOU NUTS? That is an AWESOME bear!!! Beautiful coat and BIG!!! I can tell you are a bit bummed with having to use the dogs, but c'mon man! Once in a lifetime trip and given all the "set backs" with your bags and bow I would be ecstatic!
Just a bit more from my recollection as our meeting in the airport only lasted a few brief minutes.
1. When I met Jim at the airport, I did know him but probably was not as friendly as I should have been. I had my rescue husky to deal with and was worried sick about her. She was in a broken down kennel and I had just had taken her off the ice and then still had several flights still to go. I was a bit stressed, as was my newly adopted husky. She smelled like the inside of a rotten seal, I probably wasn’t much better as I didn’t think she smelled so bad. Also they were calling for Jim’s flight to board but the young lady was going to hold it for him as I sorted out what gear he was going to take. I was worried about my flights, and had a scared and wild husky at my feet, in the middle of an airport. I was worried about her health and she was not at all housetrained, nor airport trained. 2. Jim and I are close to the same build so I knew my gear and my bow should work for him. In my hurry, I didn’t explain that there were extra arrows at the bottom of the SKB double bow case. There were two bows and there were at least another six arrows in the bottom, but it was clear when I got the case back that he didn’t get that deep. I wish I would have been clearer. Also I can shoot the two vane arrows as good as the ones with three vanes. 3. I left my backpack Griz Archery target with my guide as he had another bowhunter coming in. I was worried about that hunter as I was told there was an archery target in Pond Inlet but it was a piece of crap. I didn’t anticipate giving all my gear to some bowhunter in the airport. 4. I had googles but my guide’s grandson lost his on the ice and I gave mine to him so that is why Jim didn’t have mine.
I love Jim’s saying “when things go wrong, suddenly they go right”. It is rare when an opportunity to do some good presents itself. On my trip north, I was presented with, not one but two. I didn’t have to look far. The first was rescuing that beautiful and crazy husky. She has a good life now. The second was when Jim came over and asked if I was Tom Foss and Karine, the person who was in charge of baggage for First Air explained that his luggage was lost. It was an easy decision to just give Jim my bows and my Sitka duffel. I wish I wasn’t so rushed and could have spent more time with Jim.
All worked out well. Jim got to hunt and got a huge bear. We named that husky Juno and she is one charming and lovable dog. She was 36 pounds and now weighs 52. Just last night she ate Kaiser (120 pounds) and Kenzie’s (55 pounds) raw food as it was thawing on the counter. She gobbled five pounds of frozen beef in only a few seconds. I guess she thought she was back on the ice. I still love her, though just now we thaw the food in the sink where she cannot get to it.
She got busted up a bit on the ice, but now she is safe. I write a few posts on the Sitka website and the one about Juno, has been sitting in my drafts for several months. It was pretty emotional being on the ice, not knowing if or how or what I could do to save her. Sharing and writing that story has been hard. Its been almost a year so hopefully I can share it soon.
Wouldn't it be great if we could get some of these dogs sent down south rather than ending up cracked over the head and tossed in the dump.
What a beautiful and wonderful dog Miss Juno has grown into. I can not image my life without her or how I could have looked at myself in the mirror if I had not brought her home.
It is a wonderful thing that Jim has started here. My other dog Kenzie had all her brothers and sisters die of Parvo. She survived and we rescued here as well.
First of all, the U.S. policy of non-importation angers Canada. Who are we to tell Canada how to manage their bears. The polar bear research team was staying in the same hotel as me. I asked them their opinion on hunting polar bears(which could have gone really wrong) and the lead researcher told me he has no problem with hunting. Most populations are increasing, a few are stable. They are trying to figure out what the populations will be 50 yrs from now.
Second, residents don't like the fact that the U.S. hurt their local economies for a year or two. Lucky for them, the rest of the world also hunts.
Third, northern community residents laugh at our stupidity. Each community is allotted the proper number of tags for the area. Residents shoot the majority of the allotment, the rest are sold as trophy hunts to add to their local economies. No trophy hunts-the residents just shoot more until the quota is met. Often times residents shoot sows because they are easier to sew into clothing. Trophy hunters tend to shoot boars. Which is better for the population?
Tom, glad Juno is doing great. Understood, Juno was and should have been your focus in the airport but I did think you were the quietest Canadian I had ever met!!!! Couldn't get anything out of you about your hunt!
Team Foss is alive and well!!
Good luck, Robb
Tom, the only thing you do when you stay away from here is make sure that this place isn't quite what it once was, or what it could be. What you did for Jimmy was awesome, and even though I know it was just you being you, please know that to some of us, it was one of those little reminders, that there are great people out there, the entire world isn't ruled by the jerks.
Haters are gonna hate, liars are gonna lie, and some people should just stfu and or keep their opinions to themselves. I'm truly sorry that you feel as if the best thing for you is to not post much. You're a class act, and one hell of a bowhunter, and a great storyteller as well.
Bowsite is diminished by your absence, and while I can understand it if you choose to not post, PLEASE do not feel as if the name callers speak for all of us. I'll go so far as to say that I don't think they speak for very many of us.
Thanks so much for the update on Juno, it sure brought a big smile to my face.
With Trump in charge, any hope to get your bear home? Removing the restriction might also help us in our fight to keep grizzly bear hunting open as well. Closing the British Columbia griz season is a hot topic in the current B.C provincial election right now.
Of course there is not science to close the season and even less science not to allow polar bears to be imported to the US, but who am I to tell a government what to do. They didn't let me vote in the last election :)
Tom, Don't let the belittlers get you down, there are a lot of good people on here and you are definitely one of them, we hope to hear more from you! BTW, That's one lucky pup, and you are a good man for taking her in!
How did the Parvo Project turn out? Any word from up north?
Scar, Some day I will post the seal hunt but by law I had to hunt with a gun. I'm not a gun hunter but it was fun.
TD, I had everything setup with veterinarians, transportation, distribution, a pharmaceutical company and never received a donation. P&Y did not want to get involved either so I let it go.
Tom, Hope you post again- you have a great following here on Bowsite. I think we have eliminated most of the rif-raf.