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io: On March 26th, Oliver Durham, Gary Todd, and three Inuvialuit guides, will be setting out on an expedition through the frozen lands of the Northwest Territories. With dog sleds below and sun dogs above, these men will be on an authorized exclusive bowhunt for the largest and most dangerous predator in existence.

Location: The M'Clure Strait separates Prince Patrick Island and Banks Island. This Arctic Ocean strait, like most of the ocean in this region, is frozen year round. The surrounding icelocked islands are some of the most inaccessible parts of Canada.

Prince Patrick Island is the most westernly of the Queen Elizabeth Islands in Northwest Territories, Canada. The area they will be hunting is further north than the most northern point in Alaska. It is separated from Melville Island by the Kellett and Fitzwilliam straits. Prince Patrick Island is about 150 miles (240 km) long, 20–50 miles (30–80 km) wide, and 6,119 square miles (15,848 square km) in area. Prince Patrick Island is uninhabited and there are no known communities, past or present.

A station called Mould Bay was opened in 1948 as part of a joint Canada-U.S. military effort to support a high arctic weather station network. It had a temporary staff of between 10 and 40 people. The station was closed in 1995 due to budget cuts and replaced with an automated weather station. The remains of the buildings still stand. Prince Patrick Island was first explored in 1853 and (much later) named for Prince Arthur William Patrick, Duke of Connaught, who was Governor General 1911-16. The island rises to only about 200m, and the area is seismically active. 


Polar Bears: In the Arctic, polar bears dine primarily on seals. Adult male polar bears weigh from 775 to more than 1,500 pounds. Polar bears are well-adapted to severe cold. Winter temperatures in the far north often plunge to -40° F or -50° F and can stay that way for days or even weeks. The five "polar bear nations" where the ice bears are found include the U. S. (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Denmark (Greenland), and Norway. 


M'Clure Strait, Northwest Territories, Canada
Latitude : N74° 13' 37.99600"
Longitude: W117° 27' 13.91676"
UTM: Zone = 11 : N = 8237282.760 m : E = 486228.618 m

Weather : Sachs Harbor
 Partly Cloudy
High : -12°C
Low : -19°C

Current Temp: 
Windchill : -25°C
Humidity : 86%

-16°C




28.03.05 : 10:23 A.M. EST
- Oliver and I left Saturday and arrived Sunday at 4 p.m. in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. To get here, we first left Detroit which was roughly 30°F, we went through Las Vegas which was 60°F, then flew into Edmonton with 4°C, then YellowKnife at -7°C, and finally to Inuvik with a jaw-freezing -24°. But, we were still 400 miles from where we were going, where the temperature is a blistering -30 to -40°C.

- We met the area's Fish & Game Manager, Ian Elsworth, and he gave us some insight into the area and what to expect, and not expect. Oliver and I spent the evening in a small shack, roughly 12' by 12'. The housing structure we stayed in, and all structures here, are built a distance above the ground because of the dangerous permafrost.

- I was interested to discover that the road we drove on from the airport to our camp, was the Mackenzie River - a river that is plowed free of the snow to service vehicles. The rivers are chosen for roadways because when they freeze, not only are they 6' thick, a smooth path is created - a suitable road for vehicles in this cold, trecherous terrain.

- In the morning, we are going to fly 350 miles north in an Otter to Banks Island. We then are taking dog sleds on the pack ice 60 miles where the old ice meets the new ice. Our guide says we are to expect temperatures to be -40°C.

- I have been told by many that the dog sled rides are quite abusive to the body. I guess some guys got so beat up and sore they used there duffle bags to sit on.

03.29.05 : 9:14 PM EST
(Gary Todd transcribed via satellite phone)
- We traveled today 60 miles out by dog sled, where the young and old ice meet. The temperature has been cold, roughly around -30 below zero. We spent last night 60 miles out from Sachs Harbor. We are getting ready to go out another 60 miles into bear country, but have not seen anything yet. 



 04.01.05 : 9:30 PM EST
(Gary Todd transcribed via satellite phone)
- We are atop the Arctic Ocean. I am talking outside at the moment because my satellite phone is not transmitting from inside the canvas tent we are camping in for tonight.

- This is our third camp. We are 120 miles out on the pressure ridges onto what looks to me like Mars. The area we are travelling through is called the Beaufort Sea. We are off of the west coast of Norway Island. In this area there are thousands of ice slabs randomly jettisoned upward from the ice.

- The tents we camp in are made of canvas and are heated by kerosene heaters. One tent is 10' x 12' and the other is 8' x 10'. We have been eating musk ox and caribou most of the time.

- It's cold. Really cold. Someone just mentioned to me that it is -50 below zero and I can feel it! I have some slight frostbite on my cheeks. I noticed when I took my gear off earlier, the wires from my monitoring headphones were like coathangers. 

- So far we have seen two sows with cubs; the first with three and the second with two. All of our gear is holding up well. 


04.02.05 : 9:33 PM EST
(Gary Todd transcribed via satellite phone)

- Well, tonight I am able to call from within the tent. The temperature is warmer, roughly -30°C. I am feeling the abuse in my body from riding the dog sled. My nose and cheeks are slightly frostbitten, and are beginning to turn brown. Our guide had to warm my cheeks up today with his hands because my cheeks got so cold. This is very dangerous country up here for those unprepared. I am glad we were fortunate enough to be supplied with durable, quality equipment as we trek across this wilderness. 

- We saw a male polar bear today. The animal came in to about 60 yards to check us out, as we gauked at the beautiful creature. He was an eight-and-a-half footer. We were excited to site the bear but we couldn't shoot because it was just too small. As he turned to go away from us, he took off at a break-neck pace that makes you respect, just how fast these animals can run.

- Today we travelled a lot around the west side of Norway Island. We saw a lot of fresh tracks... large too. We are in polar bear country for sure. By the end of the day today, we had to slow the dogs down. They were hungry and needed to be fed from the long haul today. These old dogs are tired from running too much, and are suffering from sore feet. 


04.05.05 : 7:27 PM EST
(Gary Todd transcribed via satellite phone)

- We have been stuck at camp for two days because of the wind conditions. Up here, with all this flat open area, along with the ice crystalized snow, it becomes like sand being blown through the air at 30 and 40 miles an hour. When that wind and snow gets blowing through the air, and then the temperature often may be -30, you take those two weather chracteristics and mix them together and the body and spirit can take a real beating.

- Well, Oliver recently became frostbitten on his cheeks and face as well. I was already frostbitten on my face, but, I have managed to improve my condition tremendously. Although he became frostbitten, Oliver is also nursing this condition.

- The winds have died down today. We are having a heat wave and the temperatures have soared to -10°C. The sleds have travelled to the more outer reaches of the old ice, where the color has become as transparent blue as a tropical ocean, it's beautiful. Continuing on, we were led to open water, where we saw bearded seals. As we began to travel back to camp, and became within 1.5 miles of our camp, we discovered numerous large polar bear tracks criss-crossing the area. We are hoping to track down and see this bear soon. We can't wait. With the warmer weather here, we are much more able to enjoy the hunt, rather than tread the cold.

- Today we saw another polar bear. As we were coming back to camp, there was a male polar bear roaming around our camp, thankfully he did not destroy anything. Oliver got to within 100 yards of the animal but he held his shot because it was only a 9 footer.

04.06.05 : 3:05 PM EST
(Gary Todd transcribed via satellite phone)

- We are currently stuck in a white out. We were going to move to a new location, but we are remaining here for the time while the weather is not permitting. We have been here for a couple days because of the difficult intermittent weather conditions. Right now, when I look out the through the tent's doorway, you can only see about 75 yards due to the wind and the snow.

- Recently, we went 40 miles north, and came back to camp. Yesterday we saw 4 bears. The guide seen one off the hill he was scouting on. The others we seen in the distance as we were traveling.

04.13.05 : 8:05 PM EST
(Gary Todd transcribed via satellite phone)

- We have been having difficulty with our generator. A generator was brought along to charge our phone, batteries, and other electrical devices that we have brought along to film this production. Well, since the item has not been functioning properly, our phones and other devices have been down. We have seen many polar bears; more than 15, and mostly 8 to 10 footers. The team is being patient, as we stalk the largest one we can find in these desolate parts of the globe. 

- Today the guides captured a bearded seal bull weighing 500-600 lbs. The animal was cut up to feed to the sled dogs. The seal was cut in half to manage the animal, and was then cut up into smaller portions for the dogs to eat. Well, as we were sitting in our camp, we herd the dogs become aroused and my suspicion instantly was "there is a polar bear in the camp." We peeked out of our tent, and noticed the polar bear pick up, and carry away - not drag, but carry away in its mouth - the entire other half of the bearded seal. This really makes one realize and respect how strong these predators can be.

- I was sizing up the polar bear tracks and I placed both of my large, cold-weather boots into the entire footprint of one of these creatures.
These bears are simply enormous, and strong. These are an amazing species to live and prosper in spite of these conditions. The coldest it became up here during our travels so far was -82°F with the wind chill.