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Toggling harpoons are still used by Quinhagak seal hunters

July 22, 2014

Today John Hunter showed us his sealing harpoon, made with a toggling harpoon the same size and shape as prehistoric examples we have been finding at the Nunalleq site.  John’s point was made from aluminum while the early harpoon points are made from antler.  Both the old and new points are designed to toggle or turn sideways inside the seal to prevent it coming out.  A line attached to the shaft unwinds as the seal struggles to escape, slowing him down as the shaft drags sideways behind him in the water.  Then the seal is shot and brought into the skiff.  In earlier times the seal would be towed behind a kayak.



John Hunter


One Comment leave one →
  1. August 19, 2014 12:55

    What else do folks use to harpoon seals. I cannot legally hunt seals-Federal law- but my sons can. My Nelson island relatives still use a toggling harpoon for seals, Summer seals sink to quickly otherwise. Most seals barely float and often sink unless they are really fat. Some folks use a barbed dart and a drag but usually you see a toggle harpoon in most . skiffs. Walrus are usually shot while sleeping on an ice floe/ If killed in the water they rapidly sink and a wounded walrus in the water is dangerous. Men like my father-in-law probably harpooned walrus swimming and then after a buoy was attached shot them. He was much braver then me.

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