(PAUL D. ATKINS)
Happy 2018, everyone!
It was, in many ways, a difficult 2017 to get through given how divisive and tension-filled our country is. But that’s a debate I don’t have the patience nor spirit to tackle right now.
In the pages of our magazine, a lot of interesting Alaskans or those with ties to Alaska quoteed some stuff over the past year.
Here’s our annual sample of he said/she said for 2017:
“THE BIG BULL CAME straight in and stopped 18 yards away and facing me. He looked nervous standing there for what seemed like forever. The other bulls mingled and fought each other while taking turns at the waterhole. Finally, he turned to go and I thought he was leaving, but he only circled the water to come in from behind to the other side. He was 22 yards from me, quartering away hard. I knew this was it, my moment of truth. “
-ASJ writer Paul Atkins, remembering not an Alaskan hunt for a moose or caribou but while our Arctic adventurer was tracking a Cape buffalo in South Africa. -January, 2017
Photo by Paul Atkins
“I scanned the water again, spying the bundled-up passengers who’d paid thousands of dollars for a guided fishing trip after flying to Alaska, paying for a rental car and a hotel, and were looking to catch the same fish I was reeling in. And here I was supposed to be at work! I was not sure how the day could get any better.”
-Correspondent and “Chef in the Wild” Randy King, while trout fishing on the Kenai River. February, 2017
“One of the comforting things about flying in Nepal (compared to Alaska) is, you can be flying around Alaska where you’re the only helicopter within six hours of you, which is the closest (point of) rescue away; that’s a horrifying thought. But you go to Nepal, and yeah you’re remote, but you look down and there are villages everywhere all the way back to base camp.”
-Rescue helicopter pilot Ryan Skorecki, comparing to his days as a pilot in Alaska compared to his expeiences flying on and around Mount Everest as depicted on the Discovery Channel series Everest Rescue.
Ryan Skorecki/Discovery Channel
“I tried my hand at fishing, but unfortunately Lynx was starting to fuss. Bixler tended to him as I watched a large Dolly Varden ignore my latest lure selection. Lynx was not calming down and Bixler mentioned that he might be hungry again after thumbing through the layers to check his diaper. I grabbed him and coordinated feeding a baby while fishing, a necessary skill in Alaska. Soon I felt a familiar tap and set the hook. Lynx hardly flinched, but I had to hand the rod to Bixler to fight the fish. Another solid rainbow had taken the bait and was soon in the bucket for dinner. “
-ASJ writers Krystin and Bixler McClure during an ice fishing adventure with their infant son (and future Alaskan outdoor junkie) Lynx. March, 2017
Krystin and Lynx McClure
-“I look back now and whenever I go home, I kind of take for granted realizing that, ‘Wow! I grew up here.’ I know not a lot of kids get to experience what I did. So it was a special place, remains a special place and is a cool place to call home.”
-Anchorage native and NHL forward Nate Thompson – then with the Anaheim Ducks, now skating with the Ottawa Senators, on growing up fishing and hunting in his home state. April, 2017
“It was a long process to go from Dorchester to the West Coast, and then to (British Columbia) in Canada and the progression into the woods, and then eventually to Alaska and the Tozitna River (his cabin there has been featured frequently on YukonMen) and where I started living.”
“And now I’ve been living around there for the last 40-something years. When I got there I realized that’s what I wanted. Once I was there I thought, ‘This is it,’ and something I’ve wanted for a long time, from when I was a little kid in a vacant lot catching snakes at 8 years old.”
–Stan Zuray of Discovery Channel’s Yukon Men on fleeing the chaos of his native Boston for the wilderness around Tanana, where the show depicts life far off the grid.
Stan Zuray photos by Discovery Channel
“It’s a place where the pictures just don’t do it justice. It’s kind of like the Yukon [Shockey, a Canadian, is from Vancouver Island in British Columbia]. You just don’t get the feeling of it until you’re there – when you’re smelling it and feeling the damp air and seeing the eagles fly by in front of your face. It’s just something where the hunt itself is cool and the animals are amazing. But I love the trip, because the minute you leave your front door until the minute you walk back through your front door, it’s an adventure. You’re kind of at the will of Mother Nature and it depends on what she feels like doing. And you really just can’t plan for a lot of it. The beauty up there is something that I can’t describe. I wish that everybody could get up there and see with their own eyes and smell it with their own noses. You can’t imagine it until you see it for yourself.”
-Hunter, TV personality and now author Eva Shockey, on what hunting in Alaska has meant to her. Shockey’s new book, Taking Aim, shared a harrowing deer hunt incident in the Aleutians. September 2017
Eva and her dad Jim Shockey glass for bull moose in the Yukon. (SHOCKEY ENTERPRISES)
“Close to some open water where the ice shelf had broken off we spotted some nice bears hunting along the open water,. We were a long way out and in Russian territory. My guide picked out a landing spot behind some big ice chunks about a quarter mile from the bears. It looked smooth from the air but it wasn’t. The ice was very rough under the snow. After we stopped, we stamped out a runway with our snowshoes so Bill and his guide could safely land. It was very cold work. After we were all together we started working our way towards the bears.”
-Retired Air Force Col. George T. Boone, to writer Conrad Jungmann recalling a 1960s Cold War-era polar bear hunt when it was still legal in Alaska. October 2017
George T. Boone
“My dad and me and Matt had to sleep on this side of the cliff for a couple hours, with no tent, of course, and we only had one sleeping bag, And we had to think about it really logically. We’d say, ‘OK, Dad, you’re the biggest and you go on the bottom, because you’re going to roll down on top of us.’ Matt was in the middle and I was on top, and we were just sandwiched in. I don’t what the point was because you don’t sleep; you just close your eyes for a second.”
“Alaska is a very challenging place; it’s very harsh and cold. Maybe we don’t know any better but it’s the best place on Earth; it’s paradise. Even now when you do know better it’s still a special place. No place for the weak, that’s for sure. It takes a special type of person to love it in their hearts. I love Alaska. It’s your home. It was really challenging. It’s a challenging place that expects a lot out of you. Growing up in Alaska I think I was destined to have a good time.”
–Homestead Rescue’s Misty Raney. who along with her dad Marty and brother Matt come to the aid of struggling off-the-grid residents on the Discovery Channel series, discussing her Last Frontier upbringing. November 2017
Misty Raney and the Discovery Channel
Misty (left) with dad Marty and brother Matt. (DISCOVERY CHANNEL)
“Our family is so scattered, and Thanksgiving is one of the times of the year when we do get together. It is sort of a time when almost all of us are together, compared to just a few here and a few there. It’s a celebration of all the projects you’ve done … I think we just take that moment to appreciate where our food came from, and sometimes we hear some pretty crazy stories.”
-Otto Kilcher, one of the homesteaders on Alaska: The Last Frontier, discussing the Kilchers’ holiday traditions. November 2017
“In the last 33 years, I have watched my oldest son, Mason, ride behind his grandpa through the enormous valleys and foothills of the Alaska Range, shooting spruce hens and gutting a moose. I have watched my youngest son, Fischer, sing and carry on so loudly while riding the packhorse that Grandpa turned around and gave him the moose call. Little Fischer started wailing away on the horn and a little spike bull came right out of the alders.”
-Correspondent Megan Corazza, reminiscing about hunts with her family’s multiple generations of Alaskans. December 2017
“No … yes! There it is at the top of that huge chalkboard. First place for the whole state of Alaska. My name: Atz Kilcher!”
“That moment, that precise moment, is still a part of who I am. It opened new horizons and gave me a glimpse of what I could be, of who I really was. And in some way, it forever aligned me with the underdogs, the ones who can’t afford the best but somehow make it work, all the ragamuffins out there without much more than a hope and dream.”
-Kilcher patriarch Atz in an excerpt from his new book, Son of a Midnight Land. December 2017
Photos courtesy of Atz Kilcher
Here’s hoping for more great soundbites for 2018. Happy New Year, everyone!