Filson Life: Mush

As spring approaches, professional dog mushed Lauro Eklund preps his team to head into the bleak and beautiful lands of the North Slope in search of Caribou. As a subsistence hunter, this Alaskan knows that if he can bag one, it will provide him with enough meat to last into the early fall. Driving close to ten hours up the Dalton Highway, he and his girlfriend unload twenty of his dogs, a few sleds, and enough supplies and gear to last him for a week in the backcountry.

lauro with daogs

After twelve miles, they are surrounded by nothing but open country to the north and the towering slopes of the Alaskan Range to the south. On the doorstep of the Gates of the Arctic National Preserve, the two set up camp just inside Itkillik Valley, where they can easily get ice to melt for water, and some shelter is offered for the dogs.

lauro cleans glasses
lauro with dogs

Once the dogs are fed and bedded down, the two crawl into their tent as the temps drop down to -25.

As the sun rises the next morning, the dogs are wining with anticipation at heading out into the snow-covered tundra. Eklund loads up his sled with supplies and heads out with a string of eight dogs; he will rotate them out each day to give the younger dogs a chance to work with the older, more mature ones. He heads up the flank of the nearby mountains to gain a spot to look for the Porcupine Caribou herd on their annual migration north. In the distance, he spots them through his binoculars.

Working his way forward, he parks to sled a couple of miles out behind a small hill next to some scrub alder bushes. Each dog is individually secured, he will be gone for about six hours, and he needs to make sure his prized possessions, his dogs, are safe. Then he heads off with his gun over his shoulder. As he creeps closer to the herd, he spots a bull and with one shot, he drops it, and the rest of the herd quickly moves away.


He field preps the bull and says a silent prayer over it, thanking it for its sacrifice. Then he heads back to bring his sled up to transport it back to his camp. Once there, he fully butchers it and stores it to take out at the end of the week when he is finished hunting. Now that he has his Caribou, he will spend the rest of the week looking for other meat to help him survive another summer season in the Alaskan bush.

lauro sitting

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