. . .that's what we used to call it in Alaska, anyway. In politically correct Oregon, it's known as The Sportman's Banquet.
But it's all the same thing. Eating dead animals, enjoying dead animal decor, bidding on dead animal skins and hearing stories about how the animals ended up dead. Even the hats that are sold at the dinner have Acts 10:13 embroidered on them: "Rise, kill and eat."
The food was especially tasty this year. I donated about 20 lbs. of halibut (gotta make room in the freezer for this year's haul) and someone had given a generous supply of salmon. We also served up moose chili and burgers, caribou steaks, fried pheasan and duck.
And of course, the "mystery meat"--which turned out to be black bear. Kind of tame after the jellied moose nose from last year.
Roger Huntington, an Athabascan Indian from Galena Alaska, was the keynote speaker. He kicked off the evening with bear hunting stories. Apparently, Athabascans hunt bear a bit differently than white folk. They prefer to sneak up on them while they are still hibernating in their dens, wake them up and annoy them, and then shoot the groggy animal as it charges out of the den after its tormenters.
I think I'll stick to fishing . . .
Hunting wasn't the only thing Roger talked about. He shared his powerful testimony--a story of God's grace and mercy. After most of his body was burned in a plane crash in 1988, Roger surrended his proud spirit to the Lord and has poured himself out in ministry ever since. He and his Eskimo wife, Carol, travel around Alaska together in Roger's small plane, sharing God's redemptive purpose for the Alaska Native people. If you'd like to read more about Roger and his ministry, check out his ministry website: www.nativealaskan.org.
This annual event is held not only as an outreach to our community--it's also a fund-raiser for Kokrine Hills Bible Camp (www.kokrinehills.org) which is one of most effective ministries to Native Alaskan children. The camp, which is located on the banks of the Yukon River, serves kids from 12 villages (both Athabascan and Eskimo) in Interior Alaska. This year, the banquet raised about $12,000, which will purchase much-needed equipment for the camp.
"Ya know," I told my husband as we were recuperating after the banquet last night (I'd sold raffle tickets and served wild game and Greg pretty much ran the show. He makes a very cute emcee), "I think the Sportsman's Banquet is my favorite event. It's more fun than the Annual Women's Tea."
"Can't say that I'm surprised--but why is that, exactly?" Greg asked, rubbing his aching feet.
"I just love to watch the men," I told him. "All these big, burly guys are tranformed into excited little boys as they walk through the doors. The cares of life are left behind and they become hunter-gatherers, all bonded by some primal urge to kill something."
And, men who would never step foot in a church hear the gospel for perhaps the first time in their lives, while funds are raised to help share the light of Jesus in the dark places of Alaska.
Kind of a win-win situation, if you ask me.
Except, of course, for the animals . . .
(For the whole story on how I caught the big salmon in the picture, check out the May 17, 2006 post . . . "the secret of my fishing success").