At fourteen years old, Mekkar would have to prove himself once again. Successful completion of the wolf test would be important in regard to more important reindeer herding assignments. The whole idea is to show that the individual can protect the herd at all times and under duress.
He was no different from others who trekked with the herds as they had to go through the event as well. With greater trust in Mekkar’s abilities in handling and protection of animals resulted in more responsibility given to him, especially on the trek. Parents in modern societies would have a hard time letting their teenagers be involved in such a dangerous ceremony. The natives knew that it was necessary to test one under extreme pressure, in case that same scenario happened in the wild. Failure to pass resulted in death for the teen. It was very different from flunking a class in school. There was very little margin for error.
The teenager had recognized the reason behind why veteran herders in his village had colored ribbons streaming their hat. One part was to indicate what type of functions each could perform. Herders in other places might not have any of these indicators as they do not care about this. Despite this there are many that are also well experienced in many facets regarding reindeer herding.
On the hat there could be a spectrum of colors like red, yellow, blue, green, and a few others to show adeptness and proficiency in various areas of how to protect the herd. It could range from whether a person gets to use the snowmobiles, those who specialize with operation and coordination with animals to move the herd along. Other symbols can identify which individuals are able carry out other difficult tasks. The toughest is building and removing fences, as well other temporary structures, for roundup and more. Mekkar thought it was because those people had to do it despite the conditions, including in deep snow.
Despite the youthfulness of those who get initiated through this ritual, the only defensive and offensive weapon the participant gets to use is a knife. No guns are allowed. The reasons are very clear in the field. The teenager has take on a live wild wolf one on one with only a knife. In some cases out on the tundra, shooting a firearm could spook and stampede the herd. The herders would be fairly helpless as their animals ran away. That would be similar to waving your bank account, goodbye. Reindeer have some worth and value in monetary terms.
Unknown to many outsiders of the area, it’s rude to ask how many reindeer a person or family owns. Usually there would be no response at all or some type of general response is given to distract from the question altogether. It would be like if one person asked another, who they didn’t know very well, how much money do they have in the bank. A true response would be “None of your business.”
There are usually more than a couple of teens that are the main focus of this ritual. Usually, the wolves are expected to leap up and attack the individual’s throat region. Part of the preparation is that one wolf is separated out and enticed to attack. This becomes a one on one battle between prospective full responsibility herder and the predator. After the initial aggressive stage has begun, no party from the outside can interfere. That is, until either the kid or attacking animal dies. One has to prove their mettle under extreme pressure. What was worse, just prior to Mekkar’s turn, was that boy did not overcome and was defeated. The wolf jumped up and bit him in the throat, which took out the boy.
It was time for the young man to have a go at it and justify himself. He already knew to outwardly show any fear would benefit his opponent. Inwardly he was apprehensive, but this quickly turned to anger and a different mindset. The change in Mekkar’s demeanor became one of Come on, let’s see what you have and you will not defeat me.
Mekkar, being brave and a quick thinker in his mind, stuck his left hand into the attacker’s mouth. Next, he retrieved his knife from its sheath. It didn’t have a small blade but nowhere near as large as a crocodile hunter’s either, but somewhere in between. Then, the animal chomped down hard and almost bit all the way through his hand. One can still see the bite mark scars to this day. It was excruciating is how Mekkar later described it. He took this action because he figured the challenger can’t go for his throat, if it is already occupied with the hand.
The Arctic Warrior then drove the knife up through the aggressor’s jaws while his own hand was still stuck in there. Mekkar came very close to piercing his own limb. Fortunately for him, the extended dagger went right between Mekkar’s middle and ring fingers. This did not mean the action did not result in consequences for Mekkar as he growled in pain. After that, Mekkar twisted the knife back and forth and with his other extremity struck a bone in the neck of the wolf. This basically broke the bone and killed the attacker. Finally, Mekkar was able to remove his injured hand from the animal’s grasp in this dual to the death. He thought to himself what a stupid thing to do. However, it was another instance where Mekkar prevailed to live another day.