A ‘Hard One’ in Kugluktuk

Photo courtesy of MCpl Baba Pedersen, Kugluktuk Canadian Ranger Patrol

One November, when it was dark and the ice was still thin, a lone hunter went missing. He had no GPS or SPOT device with him, and he had told no one where he planned to go hunting. Kugluktuk’s GSAR team was notified and together they drew upon their knowledge of the land, ice, and hunting grounds to figure out where to look. They figured the man had gone seal hunting along the coast towards High Lake and Bathurst Inlet. Roger and Jack led a small team of GSAR volunteers down the coast. After 130 miles of travel in terrible weather and treacherous ice conditions, they finally spotted the hunter’s snowmachine. The man had shot a seal and went to retrieve it on his snowmachine, only to hit some rough ice, fall off, and hit his head. This left him disoriented and confused. The GSAR team delivered first aid to the injured and near-hypothermic man. Using his Ranger-issued satellite phone, Hitkolok reported his position and requested a Twin Otter from 440 squadron in Yellowknife to evacuate the hunter. Next, he used his Ranger training to instruct his GSAR team on how to prepare an ice strip for the Twin Otter. The team filled pots, pans, and plates with whatever they could light on fire to illuminate the strip. The Twin Otter landed on the austere landing strip that the GSAR team had made on the ice and the man was successfully evacuated. As Roger casually tells it: “It was a hard one.”

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