Gates Of The Arctic Map

The Hunter, the Artist and the Ski-doo Riders

We now meet Looty’s hunter, Luis Rivera Siaca, coming from Puerto Rico, himself a huge bear of a man, about two metres tall. (He tells us later he weighs around 128 kg.) He’s very bearded, has big shaggy hair and is wearing an enormous pair of Bean, grey worsted trousers, very good quality and obviously expensive. This is topped with a red wind-cheater and gigantic red braces. Naturally he has a gold medallion hanging from his neck.

Luis tells us he is in fact Sicilian and lives and runs his own building company in Puerto Rico. As if to emphasise his Sicilian background he insists upon showing us his guns and knives. He is only here to hunt for polar bear and has two hunting rifles with him; one a Remington, the other a Webley. They are both hand-made, custom built and sighted for accuracy. Both the guns are loaded and Luis delights in showing us how they work and unloads and loads them several times. One seems very much a sniper’s weapon and I decide that this is definitely not a man to have an argument with. He doesn’t look like he takes any prisoners. His knives are equally as impressive and as deadly. All are handcrafted works of art, costing over 1,000 dollars each Luis proudly tells us.

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The Sicilian has been here over a week waiting for the opportunity to go hunting again. With a previous guide, he was out hunting when they were trapped by a sudden, ferocious storm and had to sit it out in the hunter’s hut for five days till it subsided. When a blizzard occurs, everything, man, animal, ski-doo, aeroplane must stop and wait till it abates. You need to shelter in a hut or your tent, build an igloo or dig an ice hole. Otherwise you are likely to freeze to death. To qualify as a blizzard an Arctic storm must be -12 oC with winds blowing at speeds in excess of 40 km/h. Additionally visibility must be reduced to 1 km. (The terrifying white-out condition occurs when visibility drops to less than 10 metres.) These conditions also have to last for three to six hours.

I think Luis’ five days certainly qualify as a white-out I wouldn’t like to come across him in a black-out! He said he stopped himself going mad by reading six books. Although he doesn’t look like the kind of man who reads, he certainly does look like the kind of man with whom one doesn’t argue about such matters. He hadn’t been able to get a bear during that time. Today he is going out with another guide/ hunter, Larry, who has also sold him his bear permit. There’s a silence as we all digest this information. I think most of us hope his luck remains the same.

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