How to Hunt the Suspicious Seal, Daily Racing Form, 1919-11-11


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HOW TO HUNT THE SUSPICIOUS SEAL The seals sun naps on the Arctic ice arc continually disturbed by his dreams of his enemy, the polar bear, or at least that seems a reasonable way of interpreting his behavior, for after sleeping for thirty seconds or perhaps a minute, he will wake up, "raise his head as . high as he conveniently can, which is fourteen or sixteen inches, and make a complete survey of. the horizon. If nothing suspicious is seen, this survey takes about ten seconds, after which he drops his head on. the ice again and sleeps a minute more. Sometimes the ice is. a little rough in his vicinity and you can crawl up. and shoot him from behind cover, but more frequently he has chosen a level expanse where no. concealment is possible, and you must, therefore, approach him realizing that lie is going to sec y.ou .before you are near enough to shoot. No mammal that is known lias eyesight which at all compares with that of a man. A wolf can see you under favorable conditions a little more, than a half mile away; a caribou at little more than a quarter of a mile, and a seal commonly at about three hundred yards, if you are standing up, or one hundred yards if you are lying down. You can walk unconcernedly toward a seal until less than four hundred yards away, after which you begin a careful approach. Yon crawl ahead on all fours while lie sleeps and you lie flat and motionless while he is awake. It might seem that something could be gained by wearing white clothing to match the snow, but this is the reverse of wisdom, for the seals one enemy that he fears is a polar bear, and the polar bear is white. If a seal sees anything that is suspicious and white he takes discretion to be the better part of valor and dives promptly into his hole. If the suspicious object is black, he assumes that it is probably another seal that has come out of another hole to bask in the sun. It is, therefore, the task of the hunter to simulate a seal. When the seal first sees you his actions are unmistakable. He turns so as to face you directly; lie raises his head a trifle higher than before, and instead of bending his neck to survey the complete horizon he looks at you steadily and intently. YOu must be careful that his first view of you shall be a broadside view, for a man lying flat resembles a seal most in that position. It is best to lie still with "ones head on the ice for about a half minute; but the seal knows the habits of his own kind as well as the careful hunter knows them, and if you were to lie motionless for more than a minute at a time he would strongly suspect thnt you were not a seal, and in two minutes he would probably be convinced and would go into the water. It is necessary, therefore, after about a half minute of quiescence, to raise your head seal fashion twelve or fifteen inches above the ice, keep it there about eight or ten seconds, and drop it on the ice again. By the time this lias been repeated three or four times the seal is commonly convinced that you are one of his kind and will begin again to take his interrupted naps. If lie is more suspicious than ordinary it may be advisable to move your feet a little as well. Like many other animals, a seal is commonly lousy and scratches frequently with his hind flippers. If a man lying flat flexes his legs from tho knee the motion is similar to that of a seal scratching with his hind flippers. These tactics nearly always convince the most skeptical seal, and when once his regular naps are resumed you move ahead snakewise while he sleeps and play seal whenever he is awake, watching you. Approaching a seal in this fashion is tedious at best, for it takes an hour and n half or two hours to get witliin fifty, to seventy-five yards.

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