National Geographic : 1900 Mar
A HUNTING TRIP TO NORTHERN GREENLAND boat, and in another second would be tearing along through the water in the wake of an angry walrus. As the huge beast came to the sur face the man whose turn it was to shoot would try to put an end to the animal's struggles by a well-placed bullet in the back of the neck. It often happened that walrus would be seen on an ice-floe, some times from six to a dozen being on a single pan. In such cases one or even two of the natives would come into our boat and stand up in the bow while we headed directly for the walrus. Silently we would creep up until the floe was reached or even struck by us before the walrus would take to the water. Then the harpoon would flash, the sea would be alive with angry tusks, and it would look as though the destruction of the boat was inevitable; but after firing a few shots here and there at the more furious of the animals peace would again reign, with only the absurd-looking floats to tell of the tumult. Early one morning, while we were still on the sea after a night of it, we came upon so many walrus that the natives hesitated to attack them. Everywhere could be seen herds of a dozen or more, now rising high above the water, now disappearing below its surface, and as we drew near their furious grunts and bellowings rent the air. The shore was miles away. At this point there was nothing but glacier front and steep gray cliffs, while but a single ice-pan floated between us and the land. Nearer and nearer drew the lines of battle, our white boat a conspicuous object against the green of the water, and still the walrus kept closing in about us. Suddenly a herd of six or eight rose out of the water but a few yards away and bore down upon is as we lay with our broadside turned toward them. Each man grasped his rifle, while one stood up and, imitating the grunts of the, animals, called them on. Then, when but a few feet of water sepa rated them from us, he raised his rifle and fired at the leading bull in the herd. The shot struck the animal fairly in the face, and quick as a flash the whole herd disappeared. They must have gone right under the boat, so great had been their impetus. As the early morn ing mists faded away the walrus became quieter, and in a short time only a few dozen of them were seen sporting among the ice-cakes in the mouth of Inglefield Gulf. Needless to say, there were several walrus heads in our boat when, after a long, hard row, we landed be fore the camp. The next day the Diana appeared. Those on the ship had had walrus hunting as well as we, having received a message from Lieu tenant Peary to the effect that he needed fresh food for his dogs.