The last few days the kids have been commenting on a fox that has been hanging around near the teacher housing and school. Thursday on my way to the school I ran into him sitting almost on the school porch. Foxes are considered a nuisance here. They tear up trash, rob food cashes, may harass very young children and very occasionally have rabies. More to the point they have beautiful fur and are in season.
So I went back into my house and came out with my .22. By this point he had moved and was now sitting feet from the porch of another teachers house. I felt she would not be pleased if I put a hole in her wall so I attempted to move for a better angle. It was tricky with the buildings all around but he very kindly ran over to a sandy hill which provided me a clean backstop.
I was supposed to do my formal evaluation that morning and had planned a reading activity, but as often happens, plans changed. With the blessing of the principal we hung the fox out on the fish rack that the high schoolers had built for the school and the students got to help skin it. We opened with a discussion about choosing the right tool for the job, choosing between a cleaver, fillet, bowie, and skinning knife. Then we went to look at were it was shot and to decide if different angles would be safe to shoot or not.
So my formal evaluation was on skinning a fox… Only in Alaska.
We also had Coast Guard visitors. They came to talk to the secondary students about water safety and cold water survival. They also came in style, in a Coast Guard helicopter. Many of the younger students had never seen one before and were very excited. They got it from the airport at the end of the day and brought it to do a touch and go right outside the school for the kids.
Friday we worked on a shear lashing with the intent of making a stretcher. We have done square lashing before but this was the first shear lashing. Most of them were pretty loose but a few were decently tight. We put the fox on my example to stretch it as it drys. This weekend I will put a little salt on it and next week with the help of some elders and school staff, we will work on tanning it.
Friday night and Saturday morning we had some volleyball games and some of the kids mentioned seeing another fox. Just after the games ended I was walking back to the house and saw another in almost exactly the same place. This one was kind enough to give me a clean shot from my front porch. Again… Only in Alaska.
Some of the kids got to help clean it again so it does have a few holes, but what a great learning experience for them!