Delicious beaver

mary_gun1.jpgMary Olympic shows off her semi-automatic 22 caliber rifle that she used to bust a cap in a brown bear, taking him down with one shot. The fuzzy wuzzy had been messing with her salmon . Photo by Ben Knight

Add beaver to the list of things I’ve put ketchup on. Mary Olympic, 75, an Igiugig (Iggy-ah-gig) village elder and great-grandmother prefers mustard on her beaver. I guess if you like your beaver tender, it’s good to let it dry before you cook it. Who knew? Rumor has it the tail is the best part, but I wasn’t offered the tail. I was offered something that didn’t resemble food, but I was hungry, there was ketchup, and there was a little dark meat left near a joint. It reminded me of pot roast, but it tasted like a cross between a really dry chicken liver and what I would imagine dog tasting like. Not a lab per say, but maybe a street dog that hasn’t bathed regularly or had his shots and swims around ponds with a flat tail. It was a tad gamey, so maybe more like a wild dog. The next day lunch was smoked salmon and rice. I thought ok, can’t go wrong with salmon and rice. I peered into the pot and to my horror there were hundreds of maggots fleeing the meat of the salmon and twitching around in the hot water. I didn’t say anything… I just tried to stay calm. I whispered to Travis “dude, check this out” and ushered him over to the stove. “Are you gonna eat it?” he said. After a defeated sigh I replied “I guess so”. By the grace of God, Martha, Mary’s daughter saw the maggots and took the pot outside and dumped it. By that time I had already prepared myself to do the “polite thing” and eat it.

True story: This one time… [at fish camp] Mary was in her boat on the Kvichak river and noticed a bull caribou swimming across. Seeing an open opportunity to score some serious meat, she pulled her boat along side of it and held its head underwater until it was at the mercy of the current. You go girl.

mary_smokehouse.jpgMary Olympic keeps an eye on her smokehouse as strips of salmon breathe in their third day of flavor. Photo by Ben Knight

We had the pleasure of meeting Tim Bristol, the director of Trout Unlimited Alaska. Tim has been fundraising and writing grants [busting his ass] to help make this film possible. I feel like Tim could be raising the bar for Trout Unlimited as a whole. For him to sack up and take on a development of this size seems extraordinary. For him to dedicate his time and sacrifice an employee for an entire summer because he believes in the power of a documentary… well, just add Tim to the list of phenomenal people that I don’t want to let down.

laurens_scar.jpgThis is Lauren’s mangled forehead shortly after the accident. Donations for costly the reconstructive surgery can be made sent to:

Attn: Bristol Bay Film Project/Lauren’s Face Fund
Hillary Coley, CFO,
Trout Unlimited 1300 North 17th Street Suite 500
Arlington, Virginia 22209

Beware: Really long sentence ahead. Besides being embedded with a sweet family in a quaint native village of 25 at the mouth of the spectacular Kvichak (queejack) river while spawning sockeye motor up the banks in the gin clear water like a trail of ants across a picnic, everything is going straight to hell. Our primary hard drive is dying a slow pitiful death and TU girl just slingshot a led weight into her forehead after her hook broke free from a running salmon. (Go sockeye go! Hustle! Swim it like you stole it! Go blanket the streambed in sperm you spunky bastard!) After the bleeding stopped and the color came back to her face I talked her out of chartering a $1,000 flight to Anchorage for emergency reconstructive surgery. A handy local woman with some first aid skills came to the rescue shortly and taped her forehead back together. Dear Tim, [Lauren’s boss] you may not recognize her brutalized face when she returns to work, but just try to remember that she’s still the same Lauren you used to know and try not to stare. Just stick her in the back where she won’t have contact with the public.

trav_littleroom.jpgWelcome to the current Felt Soul Studio in a random spare room in Igiugig, Alaska. This is where dreams come true, and where Travis tries not to scream and throw hard drives at the wall. Photo by Ben

Back to the hard drive: Literally seconds after I said “Jesus dude, it looks like a fucking disco over there,” [referring to all the flashing lights on 3 different hard drives Travis had transferring video at the same time] we proceeded to stroke our egos re: how few film makers would have the balls to take on the challenge of going completely digital dependent in places this remote. Cue the karma: Alarms go off, the drive goes down, both of us go pale, and the emergency problem-solving begins. No joke.

brian.jpgBrian Kraft of the Alaskan Sportsman’s Lodge. www.alaskasportsmanslodge.com Photo by Ben Knight

Cue our savior, the solver of all problems, the CEO of gettin’ er done. The one and only, Brian Kraft. Ex hockey pro, owner of the world renowned Alaska Sportman’s Lodge, fishing guide, hunting guide, bush pilot, carpenter and anti Pebble Mine advocate. When you’re making a film in the middle of nowhere Alaska it really helps to have an ally with 8 skiffs, a jet boat and 3 bush planes at his disposal. It also doesn’t hurt to have a fisherman who can pretty much tell a sockeye when and where to eat his fly for the camera. Did I mention he has a chef who encrusts halibut with crab and smoked salmon? Long, tedious story short, Brian is now figuring out a way to get [two] terabyte hard drives from the Apple store in Anchorage into our hands by Friday. Two days from now. As far as we can tell no precious footage has been lost. But, the biting mental anguish of possibly loosing something we’ve filmed because no one can seem to make a decent hard drive makes me want to unzip my tent and put a hurtin’ on the first bear I can find. But, I’ll probably just suck it up, pout for a while and make really bitchy comments to Travis.

hands.jpgIgiugig village elder Mary Olympic holds her new grandson at her home after a long day of splitting fish. Photo by Ben Knight

TECH UPDATE Our new hard drives arrived today in the Athabascan village of Nondalton. To our absolute bewilderment, one doesn’t work… brand new-out of the box. I’d like to send out a sincere FUCK YOU to the quality control staff at Wiebe Tech and Rocstor. Our problem solving continues.

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4 thoughts on “Delicious beaver

  1. Glad to hear that technical and culinary difficulties aren’t getting you off track. Stay the course. Don’t be affraid to jump. Seems like the net will appear. Keep the updates coming.

    Lauren, consider the arrow on your forehead a thing of beauty….kind of like an alaskan tatoo.

    All the best,
    El Pescador

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