A fourth-grader delivered the killing blow to a 32-foot bowhead whale in Barrow recently: A singular, hands-on hunting lesson from the boy's Inupiat uncles.
Paul Patkotak, 9, is the youngest whaler in memory credited with a kill, said his uncle and whaling crew captain, Qulliuq Pebley.
"Every now and then it happens. But he's the youngest guy, for sure," Pebley said. "The youngest before was one of my cousins, and he was 15."
The crew landed the whale Tuesday as Barrow hunters approached the city's annual quota of 22 bowhead whales in what has quickly become a successful fall season. With each successful strike on a whale, several boats haul the bowhead back to the old Barrow airport runway where the animals are butchered and shared throughout the Arctic city of 4,100.
Patkotak's father, Ellis Patkotak, described the boy as a shy kid who loves snowmachining and playing "Rock Band" on his PlayStation 3. And hunting.
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