The staple food of the Esquimaux of North Hudson's Bay and Melville Peninsula is "ivick" (walrus). The season for killing the walrus lasts nearly all the year - that is, all the time when the natives are not inland hunting reindeer, in order to secure sufficient skins to make their winter clothing and sleeping blankets. The Kinnepatoos, who inhabit the shore of Hudson's Bay in the vicinity of Chesterfield Inlet and its tributaries, are the only tribe I know of who live almost exclusively upon the reindeer. Indeed, they only kill a sufficient number of walrus and seal to provide them with shoes and gloves for summer wear. The Netchillik and Ookjoolik tribes live mostly by sealing, and as they are not provided with fire-arms, find it almost impossible to kill reindeer when the snow is on the ground. The Ooquesiksillik people, who live on Back's Great Fish River and its tributary, Hayes River, live almost exclusively on fish. The Iwillik tribe, that inhabits the coast of Hudson's Bay from near the mouth of Chesterfield Inlet to Repulse Bay, the Igloolik, Amitigoke, Sekoselar, Akkolear, and, indeed, all the various tribes along the northern shore of Hudson's Strait, Fox Channel, and Southampton Island, rely chiefly upon walrus meat for their food. The walrus is one of the largest animals that inhabits these waters, and when one is killed it supplies a quantity of food. An average-sized walrus weighs about a thousand or twelve hundred pounds, and when it is remembered that every particle is eaten except the hardest bones, the reader will see that it is a valuable prize for the captors. The blood, blubber, intestines, even the hide, the undigested contents of the stomach, and the softer bones, as well as the oesophagus and windpipe, are all eaten, raw or cooked. If my experience might be mentioned, I would say that all of these enumerated delicacies I have eaten and relished. Walruses are usually found resting upon the ice near the edge of the floe or the shore piece, unless there is much loose ice near it, in which case they will most always be found on the larger cakes of loose ice.

There they are hunted in boats, or when the wind is from such a direction as to keep the pack on to the floe they can be successfully hunted on foot. The method of hunting is precisely the same as that already described in reference to hunting seal, except that the spear is generally used in preference to the rifle to secure the walrus, and the rifle is preferred to the spear in seal-hunting. Usually there are two hunters who approach the walrus, one hiding behind the other, so that the two appear but as one. When the spear is thrown, both hold on to the line, which is wound around their arms so as to cause as much friction as possible, in order to exhaust the animal speedily. The spear-head is of walrus tusk, and is about three inches long and three-quarters of an inch thick, with an iron barb that is kept very sharp. The line is attached to the middle of the spear-head, the near end being slanted, so that when the line is tightened it lies cross-wise in the wound, like a harpoon, and it is almost impossible for it to draw out after once passing through the tough hide of the animal. When the line is nearly run out, the end of the spear-shaft is passed through a loop in the end of the line and held firmly by digging a little hole in the ice for the end of the spear to rest in, the foot resting upon the line and against the spear to steady it. This gives the hunter an immense advantage over his powerful game, and if he is fortunate enough to secure this hold, there is no escape for the walrus except that the line may cut on the edge of the sharp ice, or the thin ice break off, and hunter, line, and all be precipitated into the water - a not unusual experience in walrus hunting. Another cause of misfortune is for the line to become entangled around the arm of the hunter, so that he cannot cast it off, in which case he is most assuredly drawn into the sea, and in nine cases out of ten drowned, for his knife is seldom at hand for an emergency, and no amount of experience will ever induce an Inuit to provide against danger.

Sometimes the hunter is alone when he strikes a walrus, and in that case it requires considerable dexterity to secure the spear hold in the ice; or if he fails to get that he may sit down and brace his feet against a small hummock, when it comes to a sheer contest of muscle between the hunter and the walrus. In these contests victory generally perches upon the banner of the walrus, though the Inuit will never give up until the last extremity is reached. Often he is dragged to the very edge of the ice before he finds a protuberance against which to brace his feet, and often he is drawn down under the ice before he will relinquish his hold. He is very tenacious under such circumstances, for he knows that when he loses the walrus he loses his line and harpoon also.

Occasionally a dead walrus is found with a harpoon and line fastened to him, in which case the walrus and line belong to the finder. I remember a curious incident of this kind that occurred at Depot Island. Toolooah and Ebierbing (Esquimau Joe) were hunting together and Toolooah struck a fine young bull walrus, and got the spear hold against the ice for Joe to hold. It is a powerful hold, and a child could hold a whale in that way if the line did not break. But poor unfortunate Joe, for some unaccountable reason, raised the spear, and, of course, the line was drawn from under his foot, and both walrus and line were lost, notwithstanding Toolooah and Sebeucktolee (familiarly "Blacksmith") caught the running line and held until their hands were cut to the bone. They did not know at this time that another walrus had been killed a mile or two further along the edge of the floe. The loss of the line was also a sad misfortune. Joe felt so badly about it that he was ashamed to come in, and walked several miles farther along the ice with an Inuit companion, in the hope of killing a seal with his rifle; but Toolooah, who had taken no rifle, inasmuch as he had taken a spear and line instead, returned to camp and came into the igloo which he and I occupied in common, looking very much dejected in consequence of the loss of his walrus and line, the circumstances of which he explained to me, showing his terribly lacerated hands. The fact that another walrus had been killed was a relief to him, but did not dissipate his grief for the lost line, which was the last we had.

About half-past ten o'clock that night, while we were eating some boiled walrus meat and entrails (about the fifth meal since four o'clock on the afternoon, when the meat arrived), some one came to the entrance of the igloo and handed in Toolooah's walrus line, saying Joe and Blucher had found the walrus dead upon the ice near where it was struck, the animal having crawled out and died after the hunters had left. Now for the first time Toolooah's face brightened up, and he was so impatient to hear the circumstances of the recovery of the lost game that, late as it was, he went to Joe's igloo to inquire. He soon returned with an exceedingly woebegone expression, for which I failed to elicit an explanation until the morning, when I found out from Joe that, according to the laws and customs of the Inuits the walrus belonged to him because he found it.

"What interest has Toolooah in it?" said I.

"None," was Joe's reply. "All over here country same way. Man he strikee walrus; let he go again; somebody else findee; he walrus."

"Well, Joe, suppose the somebody else lets the walrus go, how is it then?"

"All same way."

"So Toolooah has no interest in that walrus he killed and that you let go again?"

"Yes, all same way here country. But I give'm back he line last night. Line my, all same; I findee."

"That was certainly noble in you, Joe, I am sure."

"Oh, yes; Toolooah my friend."

And so, I noticed, always was the case whenever there was any doubt about a point; "custom here country" always managed to give Joe the best of it, and I came to the conclusion that he had become pretty thoroughly civilized during his residence in the United States.

Sometimes an inflated seal-skin, called an ah-wah-tah, is attached to the end of the line, that buoys it up and soon exhausts the wounded walrus. This is a very good plan, but is not considered advantageous when working in loose ice unless hunting from a boat, for the wounded animal is apt to get beyond the reach of the hunter. After the ice disappears walruses are then killed on the small islands, to which they resort to sleep, and are sometimes found in great numbers.

In the fall of 1878 I went with a party of Inuit hunters to a small rocky island opposite Daly Bay, where we found a herd of from seventy-five to a hundred, most of them asleep; but some were complaining and grunting, and punching their bed-fellows with their long tusks. Our approach was made cautiously up the slippery side of a wet rock until within range, when at the suggestion of my Inuit companions I fired at a fine young bull, being instructed to hit him just behind the ear. I did so, and sent a 320-grain slug from my Sharp's rifle through his skull. His head dropped to the ground and he never moved a muscle. At the same time another shot was fired by one of the Inuits; but the hunter's foot slipped at the same moment, and the bullet whistled harmlessly over the heads of the herd. A grand rush was then made by all the hunters, and the walruses were wriggling and sliding down the slimy rocks into the sea. One of the Inuits darted his harpoon into what he took to be a sleeping walrus, but it proved to be the one I had already killed. I followed into the midst of the herd and put a bullet through the head of another bull before they had all left the rock. Had Oxeomadiddlee not struck a dead walrus we might have had three, for an ahwahtah was attached to his line, so that we could have regained it at any time with the boat. The walrus never appeared to me the dangerous animal I have known him to be represented. If wounded and brought to bay he will certainly turn upon his assailants, and many Inuits have been killed in these encounters, while others still bear scars received from the tusks of those which they were hunting. But as long as there appears to be a chance to escape by flight the walrus usually will seek safety in that way.

One of my companions in this hunt - Toogoolar, or Oxeomadiddlee, as he is usually called - is a famous walrus hunter, and his success is probably largely due to his immense physical strength. He is a perfect Esquimau Samson, and when he is on one end of a line, with his feet braced against a hummock, the walrus at the other end has no advantage. Indeed, the odds are in favor of Oxeomadiddlee. His singular name is self-imposed, and is an Inuit expression of greeting, or rather when one unexpectedly arrives, as the clown says, "Here we are again," and occurred in this way. Several years ago he was hunting walrus in the pack-ice, when the wind changed and blew the ice away from shore. This is a contingency to which the hunters are constantly liable, and is the greatest danger to which they are subjected in their pursuit. Many are thus carried away, sometimes out to sea, and are never heard from again; while others have been drifted a long distance from their homes before the drift again touched the shore-ice and allowed them to find their way back, if possible. Sometimes they starve to death before the ice again lands, though occasionally they are quite comfortable under such circumstances, as, for instance, were four who were carried off just before we started on our trip to King William Land a year ago last spring. Equeesik and his brother Owanork, who were to accompany us, and Nanook and Blucher were thus carried off from Depot Island, with one of our sleds and a dead walrus which they were cutting up at the time. They did not get back for four or five days, but suffered scarcely at all while away. They built an igloo on the largest cake they could reach, and of course had plenty to eat. They made a lamp of walrus hide, and burned the blubber to heat their house. When the ice touched the shore below Chesterfield Inlet they jumped on the sled and drove home. There is always more or less risk attending these adventures under all circumstances.

The time of which I was speaking that Toogoolar was carried away, he was gone a long time, until, indeed, his tribe had given up all hope of his returning. But one morning during a severe snow-storm he arrived in camp, and no one had noticed his approach until, crawling through the door of an igloo, he stood amid his friends and exclaimed, "Ox'-e-o-ma-did'-dle-e" (Good-morning. Here we are again). He had been carried from Repulse Bay to the vicinity of Whale Point, when an easterly wind drove the pack on shore and he escaped, but had to make his way on foot from there back home again. He had his walrus line and spear with him, and had killed a walrus while in the pack; but the piece that held his food was broken off and floated away from him, so that he was for many days without anything to eat. Inuits are somewhat accustomed to such experiences, and can be deprived of food for a long time without starving. When a walrus is killed it takes some time to cut it up and prepare it for removal to camp. There are usually several helpers in the vicinity of any one who carries a line and spear. Others walk along the edge of the pack until they find some one working up to a walrus, or a party engaged in cutting it up.

According to Inuit custom, all who arrive while the walrus is being cut up, no matter how many, are entitled to a share of it. The man who strikes it, however, has the first pick, which, if there are four of them, is one of the hind quarters; if there are only two or three, he has both hind flippers if he prefer them, and is always entitled to the head, which contains some of the choicest morsels either for cooking or eating raw. I know of nothing more palatable in that climate during winter and spring than raw frozen walrus head and tongue. It is not an inviting-looking dish, but is most enjoyable. The meat is hard, but not particularly tough - for walrus - and consists of alternate layers of lean and fat. It is eaten with the addition of more blubber, and is generally the occasion of a common feast for all the men in the camp. If there is any left the women can eat it if they want to, but the women never eat with the men, and if the tupic or igloo where the feast is being held is small, even the women that dwell there are banished until the feast is over. An ookjook, when killed, is divided up in the same way as a walrus, all the bystanders receiving a share. In making the division of the carcass the portions are kept in a bag made by lacing the edges of the skin that holds the share with a line made of a strip of the raw hide. In this bag are also deposited such portions of the entrails, liver, etc., as fall to the share of each. In hunting on foot the men usually take one or two dogs apiece to drag home their dividends. When encamped upon a hill, such as Depot Island, which commands a view of an extensive tract of ice, the natives seldom go walrus hunting unless they first see one on the ice, in which case one of the best hunters starts immediately with his weapons, and the "bummers" follow later with a sled and dogs. The arrival of a sled-load of walrus meat into a hungry camp is one of the most cheerful sights that it ever falls to the lot of a traveller to witness, and I have noticed that his interest is seldom diminished by the fact that his own is one of the hungry stomachs to be fed from this plenty. The women see the sled coming, while still at a great distance, and then the big stone lamps are lit, and snow put into the kettles to melt, so that no time need be wasted after the meat gets there. The cooking is seldom done in each dwelling separately; but he who has the largest kettle or the biggest heart, when his own meal is ready, goes to the door of his igloo or tupic and calls out, "O-yook, O-yook," which means warm food, and all the men and boys gather in, each with a knife in his hand, and without further ceremony they fall to and devour what is set before them. The largest part of an Inuit's food is, however, eaten raw. These o-yooks are merely festal occasions, though they occur several times a day, and may happen at any hour of the day or night when the natives are assembled in villages and have plenty of food on hand. It is then that they recompense themselves for starvings in the past or in prospect.