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While alone trapping in the wilderness, Ingstad shoots two nine-hundred pound moose - "An enormous quantity of meat. It was almost unbelievable. Here was food for hungry dogs, and here were marrowbones, fat, kidneys, tongues, and all manner of good things — enough so that I could eat as much as my belly would hold."

September 1, 1929

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The Land of Feast and Famine - The Trail to Solitude

Man The Fat Hunter
Facultative Carnivore
Carnivore Diet

Helge Ingstad

I carefully set up my tent on the very spot where the buck had stood, crept into my sleeping-bag without any supper, and fell asleep. Early next morning I was up prowling through the woods. Yes, there had been caribou here, thousands of them. Everywhere I found the marks of their hoofs. But had they all forsaken these parts? It appeared so. 


After pottering around for half a day without glimpsing a living thing, I clambered up a barren ridge and sat down for a consoling smoke. It was a sparkling autumn day. Far off in the distance lay the subdued green of the forest, alternating with the glittering surface of small lakes. Beneath where I sat, white birches were growing in the lee of the ridge, the sunlight dancing in and out amongst those snowy trunks and caressing with its rays their foliage of pure gold. 


I thought at first that my eye had fallen upon two huge caribou bucks, but then I saw that they were moose. Sedately they were stalking along through the birches. I threw myself down on the ground, crawled forward and fired. One moose tumbled head over heels. On my running up to it, the other simply stood there looking at me, so I shot it, too. 


An enormous quantity of meat. It was almost unbelievable. Here was food for hungry dogs, and here were marrowbones, fat, kidneys, tongues, and all manner of good things — enough so that I could eat as much as my belly would hold. Had I suddenly inherited a fortune, I could not have felt more wealthy. Fate, in spite of everything, had kept a friendly eye upon this solitary trapper, wandering about through the wilderness. 


I immediately moved my camp over to the place where I had felled my game. This marked the beginning of a busy time for me, for to transform two moose carcasses, each weighing approximately nine hundred pounds, into dried meat required slightly more than a wave of the hand. Day after day I sat outside my tent and cut off slab after slab of meat. The piles grew. The knack of cutting the meat off in broad thin slices I had acquired from my friends amongst the Caribou-Eaters. First you must cut the muscles, one by one, then, grasping each one in turn in the left hand, roll it over the wrist whilst a large meat-knife cuts it loose from the flesh. It is otherwise with the rib meat, which must be cut off and dried in its entirety. 


Outside the tent I had erected a good stout scaffold from which I hung the meat to dry over a slow fire. The hides I stretched as tight as a drum across two four-cornered frames made from spruce poles, at once proceeding to flesh them and prepare them for tanning. It was my thought to get some of the Indians to tan them for me later, a service they would gladly perform in return for half the finished leather. Moose hide is both warmer and stronger than caribou.