Knight's Taxidermy
It's almost summer in Alaska. Love is in the air. The first sweet flowers are just now starting to tantalizingly reveal themselves after a long, dark winter. Tourists are arriving. And oosiks are popping up all over the place.

Simply put, an oosik -- pronounced OOO-sick -- is the baculum, or penile bone, of the walrus and it is often as long as 24 inches. (Yep, that's not a typo. Please ignore that sudden urge to run out and buy a monster truck to compensate.)

But it turns out that once the walrus is done with it, there's myriad other uses for a 2-foot penis bone.

Here's a list of some of those uses and instances of the growing marketing clout associated with the oosik.

Traditional Native Alaskan Tool
Oosik harpoon
Travis S., Flickr
Traditionally, native Alaskans -- particularly the Inupiaq and Yupik peoples scattered along the Bering Sea coast -- used oosiks for a variety of purposes. The long, hard bone made a perfect handle for anything from harpoons to knives. (Which just begs for a whole series of jokes, told in poor taste, that we're simply going to refrain from.)
Tourist Trinkets
Oosik ulu
Playing off the anything-"native"-sells souvenir mentality, you can find an oosik in just about any of Alaska's thousands of gift stores. Only Alaskan natives (i.e., Native Americans) can actually hunt walrus, so modern oosiks must be fashioned into some other form before being sold. Typically, that takes the form of an ornamental ulu or a piece of fanciful scrimshaw art, bound to start many awkward conversations at family gatherings.
The Oosik Ski Classic
Oosik Ski Classic
Held each spring in Talkeetna, the Oosik Classic is a true celebration of spring. Hundreds of folks come out for either a 50- or 25-kilometer ski race/tour along the Susitna River in the shadow of North America's tallest peak, Mt. McKinley. But the event is more known for the after-party than the actual skiing, featuring live music and free beer, also of the oosik variety (more on that farther down).
The Frozen Oosik Rugby Match
Completely on the opposite side of the sporting spectrum, the Frozen Oosik rugby match occurs each March in Anchorage. The event is hosted by the Bird Creek Barbarians, and draws teams from every large community in Alaska. OK, so that's just Fairbanks and Kenai, but still, lots of guys come from hundreds of miles away just to smash each other up in the name of a frozen walrus boner! The Frozen Oosik does share one thing with the Oosik Classic: a greater reputation for the post-event drinking festivities than the event itself.
Oosik Beer
Midnight Sun Brewing
So, of course, why not a beer too? Oosik Amber Ale is brewed by the Midnight Sun Brewing Company in Anchorage. Despite the origins of it's name, it's guaranteed not to taste like piss. Nor to have involved any actual oosik parts in the brewing process. In fact, after assurances to the above facts, we can proudly report that it's quite good.
Finally, an "Ode to the Oosik": A witty parody (first devised by who knows) of the Robert Service poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee," this little ditty is a fitting conclusion to any survey of the fertile culture of popping oosiks ...

Strange things have been done in the midnight sun,
and the story books are full --
But the strangest tale concerns the male,
the magnificent walrus bull!
I know it's rude, quite common, and crude,
Perhaps it is grossly unkind,
But, first glance at least, this bewhiskered beast,
Is as ugly in front as behind ...

Look once again, take a second look then,
you'll see he's not ugly or vile --
There's a hint of a grin in that blubbery chin,
and the eyes have sly secret smile ...
How can this be, this clandestine glee,
that exudes from the walrus like music.
He knows - there inside, beneath blubber and hide,
lies a splendid contrivance ... the oosik!
"Oosik" you say, and quite well you may,
I'll explain if you keep it between us;
In the simplest truth, though rather uncouth,
"Oosik" is, in fact, his penis!

Now the size alone of this walrus bone,
would indeed arouse envious thinking.
It is also a fact, documented and backed,
there is never a softening or shrinking!
This, then, is why the smile is so sly,
the walrus is rightfully proud!
Though the climate is frigid, the walrus is rigid,
pray, why is not man so endowed??
Added to this is a smile you might miss --
Though the bull is entitled to bow,
The one to out-smile our bull by a mile,
Is the satisfied walrus cow!