If you’ve ever doubted the practical applications of a whip, then you should read this article from the Edmonton Journal concerning an old Inuit hunter named Simon Tookoome. This story was published almost 3 years ago to the exact date, but I myself hadn’t read it until about a year ago. I’m sure it’ll be as fascinating to some others as it is to me. Here’s a little excerpt from the article as it appeared in the Edmonton Journal on Dec. 18, 2005:
Tookoome was born on the tundra near the modern-day Nunavut community of Gjoa Haven to parents who lived the traditional nomadic lifestyle of the Inuit. Like most Inuit of the day, the family travelled by dog team, which they drove using whips fashioned from the animals they harvested.
Tookoome began using his own whip at the age of seven.
“It was the only toy I ever had,” he says.
Playing with it, he soon realized he could do things that no one else could. While his friends practised striking caribou antlers, he sought moving targets such as mice and ptarmigan. He soon grew so proficient that he was killing 30 ptarmigan a day and bringing them home to his family to eat.
“My mother asked me one day how I was catching all these ptarmigan,” he says. “I was afraid that if she found out, she wouldn’t let me use the whip anymore. So I told her that I was hunting the ptarmigan with rocks” — the traditional, although difficult, way to kill the fast-moving birds.
But she grew suspicious when she saw the severed necks on the ptarmigan he was harvesting, and followed him one day. When she saw what he was doing, she confronted him.
“I was afraid, but I couldn’t hide the truth any longer. So I said, ‘Yes, I’ve been using the whip.’ She was very happy, and told me to use it as much as I could.”
I thought that was pretty wild the first time I read it. If you think about how fast the end of a whip is traveling, knowing that it’s moving faster than the speed of sound, it makes perfect sense that a bird or small animal could be killed relatively easily with a whip. But not just a bird or small animal…you have to read on:
Tookoome took the advice to heart and began hunting bigger animals with the whip, even after his family acquired a rifle and a snowmobile. He took down several caribou, and once even used it to kill a wolf that he had shot and injured. He kept the whip with him because operating a rifle was too expensive.
“We never had enough bullets,” he says. “And I felt I was good enough to hunt and feed myself as long as I had my whip with me.
“Had I tried, I could probably have even hunted a polar bear, because they’re a lot slower than the wolf.”
Sounds pretty crazy, I know, but the man no doubt showed how practical a whip can be for hunting & survival purposes. It’s doubtful to me that someone could actually kill an animal the size of a polar bear, but this was his belief. Some years later, the Inuit legend learned of the power of using his whip for entertainment, cutting cigarettes from people’s mouths and such. Here’s a video of him doing a demonstration before a group of students.
I think maybe one reason why many people doubt the practical uses of a whip is due to Hollywood’s portrayal of it, being viewed more as a prop than a real tool. But that’s a post for another day .
Till next time,