An Eskimo named Kuptana remembers the hunting of his first two ducks with a bow and arrow and remarked on the difficulty it to catch even three of them.
January 1, 1912
The Northern Copper Inuit - A History
Eider Duck Hunt
William Kuptana: The first duck I got was from a small pond. It was shared by the elders as tradition called for. It is a custom to share your first kill with your elders. When the ducks come up in the spring, because of the lack of open water along the shore, they are found mostly on the mainland. This is where I got my first eider duck. Later, I was with a group of hunters. We came upon a large flock of eiders. They had alighted on the shore lead and were resting and feeding. As we approached, some flew away, while others dove into the water. We immediately advance as swiftly as possible before the ducks emerged from the water. I waited for the ducks to come up for air. As they came up, I was lucky enough to get one by using a bow and arrow. That was my second duck. It was so difficult to hunt ducks with bows and arrows in those days that if a person got at least three ducks, it was considered a large catch.
Once spring arrived, Copper Inuit families spread out over a large area of the tundra, seeking fish and waterfowl. Although caribou were also beginning to return in both small and large herds, they were infrequently hunted in early summer due to leanness and the poor quality of their skins. Before the introduction of firearms, the number of ducks and geese harvested was probably quite small. Most food in the early summer came from fishing. In certain areas, such as Victoria Island, most fishing was done on inland lakes, where it was especially productive as the ice began to melt along the lakeshore. In other areas, mostly on the mainland, Copper Inuit had access to early summer runs of char which were intercepted at stone weirs built in streams and rivers. The Copper Inuit prepared dried lake-trout and char for use throughout summer and fall.