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22. Muskox---Nunavut

map showing range of Aoudad in the Artic tundra of Canada, Greenland, Alaska
Red indicates the established range. Blue is where they have been successfully introduced
The muskox is a 600 lb. mammal found in the Arctic tundra of the far North. The name comes from a musky odor emitted by male facial glands. Long shaggy fur allows it to live in the coldest of weather, and the underfur (known as qiviut) is used by natives because it makes the finest wool in the world. The meat is also desirable by native and nonresident hunters. Present populations in Nunavut are very high causing habitat degradation in many areas. For this reason, not only are hunting permits sold to non-residents, but the native Inuits can harvest muskoxen for the meat. But, because they live in very remote regions of the Arctic, there are many areas where there is no hunting, and populations are above carrying capacity.


Samuel with aoudad Hunting on the Arctic tundra is an adventure. However, the idea of doing it at 40 below zero while bouncing over the ice on a snow sled or snow mobile, just wasn’t appealing. You can make the same hunt in August when the ice is off the ocean near Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Day time temperatures at that time of the year can get up to 50 degrees, so that’s when I made this hunt. We spotted three bulls bedded on the shore of Wellington Bay (off the Arctic Ocean), pulled ashore and made the stalk. The biggest bull gave me a 35 yard shot. He ran off a bit, and immediately another bull came from behind us and was very aggressive. Luckily he noticed my bull standing, and charged him, just as the first bull died. Though Musk Oxen are not as wary as whitetails, just getting there is an adventure and living with the natives, even for a short time, was something one never forgets.