Gather your tucker

Posted: Thursday, January 27, 2000

I lived in Juneau for 25 years. My wife and I moved to Australia five months ago. We live in a small town called Nelson Bay, about three hours north of Sydney. Subsistence is part of its lifestyle, from shrimp on the barbee, lobsters, fishing off the rocks or gathering pippies (clams) off the beach.

You don't pay the government for a license here to do that. You just go out and fish. Yes, we have limits on the amount of fish and clams or abalone we can take. Here in Australia we call our food ``tucker.''

The land can be harsh and unforgiving just like the land in Alaska. Finding bush tucker is a skill that few people know about here in Australia except for some of the aboriginal people who know where to dig wild yams and find the tasty witchty grub (bush maggot). Yes, the issue of subsistence is not a problem here. It's knowing where the tucker is.

When the tide is out the table is not set here in Australia. You have to have the skill for tucker for supper.

The other day my son and I were playing golf. Chad is a born-and-raised Juneau boy. I always taught my son ``if you kill it you have to eat it.'' And I must say Chad has had his share of

porcupine meat.

Chad drove a hard hit ball down the center of the fairway. A group of kangaroos were eating soft grass in the fairway. The ball hit one of the roos in the head. The other roos seemed to be saying, ``You bloody yank Alaskans, why are you shooting us with these white balls.'' I thought, what if we killed the roo - I know I would have to stick by my subsistence rule: ``If you kill it, you eat it.'' But what if I just left it there in the middle of the fairway? Would that be wanton waste? Maybe I could field dress it and stuff it in my golf bag with my nine iron. I don't think anyone at the club house would notice these Alaska yanks grabbing the bush tucker wile they had a chance. After all we have 25 million kangaroos to 18 million people in Australia. They would not miss one roo.

It just made me think about subsistence and its problems. I like my rule of ``You kill it, you eat it.'' Yes, make those big game hunter who kill brown bear eat brown bear.

It's good to log on on the Internet and read in the Juneau Empire that things haven't changed. You still have the subsistence problems and politicians wanting more time off and not facing the problems.

You are so blessed as Alaskans to be able to gather your tucker and live off the land if you so choose. Thank your lucky stars on the Alaska flag you still have tucker to gather.

Allan EdwardsNelson BayNSW Australia

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