All posts by Chris Cocoles

Kodiak A Hostile Setting For Senate Candidate

Sen. Mark Begich (D) Photo by Wikimedia U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan (R) Photo by Wikimedia

(left) Sen. Mark Begich (D);  (right) Senate candidate Dan Sullivan (R)

You knew this would be full of theatrics. U.S. Senate candidates Mark Begich, the incumbent Democrat, and his Republican challenger, former state attorney general Dan Sullivan, debated Alaska’s fisheries’ issues in Kodiak on Wednesday night.

Begich has made friends of fishermen throughout Alaska for his views, which include opposition to the Pebble Mine project, plus vowing to strengthen the state’s fishing industry. So it was rather obvious who was going to enjoy the homecourt advantage in Kodiak.

The Republican candidate, Sullivan, appears to be the choice to unseat Begich in the Nov. 4 election if those numbers hold. But Begich had his support on Wednesday, and it probably didn’t help Sullivan’s cause as the building’s villain after reports surfaced he tried to avoid the fisheries debate before agreeing to attend.

From the Associated Press:

It was a friendly audience for Begich, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on oceans, atmosphere, fisheries, and Coast Guard and entered the debate with the endorsement of fishing organizations such as the United Fishermen of Alaska and the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers. At one point, Begich, wearing a gold salmon pin on his lapel, said he wouldn’t mind answering some of the questions that were being directed solely to Sullivan.

“Well, Senator Begich, we’ve heard a lot from you, but we really haven’t had an opportunity to question Mr. Sullivan,” one of the questioners, fish industry writer Laine Welch, said before asking Sullivan another question.

During the debate, Sullivan was asked about his brother’s fish business. He said his brother is a wholesaler who buys farm-raised fish as well as fish from Alaska. Sullivan said he is against genetically modified fish, known as “Frankenfish,” a position Begich also holds.

Sullivan said he has never supported the Pebble Mine, a massive gold-and-copper prospect near the headwaters of a world-premier salmon fishery in southwest Alaska. But he said he supports having a process in place for projects like that to be vetted.

Sullivan has said the controversial project should be allowed to go through the permitting process. He and others, including Murkowski and state officials, worry the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will veto the project before it has gone to permitting.

Begich — to applause — called the project the wrong mine in the wrong place.

When Begich said he planned to hold a committee hearing to discuss concerns about Canadian mines and their impacts on Alaska, Sullivan said hearings and letters don’t get the job done.

“Face-to-face contact, face-to-face diplomacy, that’s what you make an impact on,” Sullivan said.

It should be an interesting Election Day in Alaska.



USFWS Considers Elimination Of Invasive Caribou

Photo by Kristine Sowl, USFWS

Photo by Kristine Sowl, USFWS

There’s no room at the inn for caribou. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is considering its options to help contain a herd of caribou that has found its way to an uninhabited island on U.S. Federal land in the Aleutians.

From the Associated Press:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say caribou swim from Adak Island, where they were introduced to provide sport hunting for military personnel, to uninhabited Kagalaska Island, part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The agency proposes to keep a new herd from forming by killing caribou on Kagalaska with refuge staff, volunteers or contractors, starting next year.

Five caribou were shot in 2012 and up to 15 more may be on the island. Kagalaska is a wilderness area and caribou would alter it, said refuge manager Steve Delehanty.

“Things that belong out there ought to stay out there as much as possible,” he said by phone from his office in Homer. “Things that don’t belong out there ought to not be out there, as much as possible.”

Caribou would target the island’s lichen beds, trample other vegetation and create trails, he said.

“None of it is natural,” Delehanty said.

Adak is a 283-square mile island 1,300 miles southwest of Anchorage. The military built an airfield on the island during World War II and it was used as a Naval Air Station until 1997.

The nearest native caribou are 500 miles away. At the request of military officials, caribou were introduced to the island in 1958 to give personnel opportunities for recreational hunting.

When the island housed 1,000 to 6,000 people, sport hunting kept the herd to 200 to 400 animals. After the base closed, by 2012, the herd had grown to an estimated 2,700 animals. Their only predators are people, and hunters can shoot cows year-round.

ADFG Biologist Faces Hunting Charges



An Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist faces two violations from a moose hunt on Aug. 23.

From the Homer News: 

Jason Herreman, 33, was charged with taking moose using illegal methods or means and unlawful possession of game, both minor offenses. Herreman is the area biologist for the Homer office of Fish and Game, but has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of his case, said Kenai area biologist Jeff Selenger.

Herreman has not yet been served with charges, but intends to plead not guilty, said Myron Angstman, his Anchorage attorney.

According to a complaint by assistant attorney general Arne Soldwedel and based on an investigation by Alaska Wildlife Trooper Trent Chwialkowski, Herreman had gone hunting on Aug. 23 and shot a moose near Anchor Point but lost it. The state alleged that on Aug. 24 Herreman went back to search for the moose and had an air taxi pilot help him search for it. The pilot had limited radio communication with Herreman, the complaint said, and later reported his activities to wildlife troopers. Chwialkowski said he went to the area and found Herreman packing out the moose. The trooper said Herreman admitted shooting a moose on Aug. 23 and shooting what he believed to be the same moose on Aug. 24.

Angstman called the incident “an unusual circumstance.” He said state law allows hunters to use any reasonable means to track down and salvage a wounded animal. Salvaging an animal using radios and aircraft versus not salvaging an animal also has to be taken in the context of wanton waste of a game animal, he said.

Silverking Lodge: Closer Than You Think

sign and boats

SKL Lodge Pic

Silverking Lodge’s proximity to Ketchikan means more time with lines in the water for you! Guests can leave Seattle mid-morning and be fishing by early afternoon. Silverking Lodge offers just one package, which begins around noon on Monday and ends with all guests leaving the lodge on Sunday morning. Six days at Silverking will give you plenty of time to target multiple salmon and bottom fish species, including halibut!



First-time fishermen to expert anglers will be able to pick up tips and tactics from our experienced dock crew and from other guests at the lodge, with plenty of time on the water to perfect techniques. If the fishing isn’t enough, Silverking Lodge provides the perfect setting for winding down after a day out on the water. Large decks and spacious guest areas allow you to connect with family and friends – and to make new acquaintances. Homestyle cooking and plenty of homemade treats are literally the icing on the cake to a phenomenal fishing trip!

Mariko self-guided

Avedon & Colby Launch Signature Line Of Performance Field Wear

Avedon and Colby

(Madison, WI) After 30-plus years designing and supervising the manufacturing of over 500 individual styles of distinctive garments and accessories for iconic brands like Willis & Geiger, Orvis,

Beretta, Woolrich and Eddie Bauer, Burt Avedon and Susan Colby have launched a new line of high?performance field wear under their own label: Avedon & Colby. The first garment in the new collection is their Signature Field Shirt, which was introduced on Kickstarter® (search “field shirt” on Kickstarter) and online on October 1st, 2014.

Burt Avedon, a WW II Navy fighter pilot, former Top Gun instructor and president of Willis & Geiger from 1978 until 1999, was inspired to launch the Avedon & Colby Signature Collection on his 90th birthday. “I figured there was no time left to waste, so Susan and I pulled out the stops to get our ideas down on paper and into production”, Avedon explained. “Then somebody asked me ‘Why start at 90?’ and I replied ‘Why the hell not?’ ”

Designed with the philosophy “function not fashion”, the new field shirt incorporates 19 distinct performance features: some “signature” features they developed over the past 40+ years – and two new innovations never seen in a field shirt before.

“Our objective was to create the most comfortable, most functional field shirt you’ll ever wear,” Avedon continued. “So, when it came to quality and attention to detail, we spared nothing. From our

100 percent cotton long?staple bush poplin – in historic “tea?dyed” British Tan – to quality details only found on fine?tailored shirts, we’re confident our Signature Field Shirt will live up to the standards of those who require the very best – and then some.”

Avedon concluded, “Susan and I are very excited to be back to designing premium performance garments for ourselves once again – the way we did together in the early Willis & Geiger days.”

The new Signature Field Shirt is available on Kickstarter until October 31 (search “field shirt”), and can also be pre?ordered on the Avedon & Colby website: The shirt will retail for $179.

About Avedon & Colby

Burt Avedon: After a distinguished career as a Navy fighter pilot serving in combat during both World War II and Korea – and later as a test pilot, Top Gun instructor and a bush pilot in Africa — Burt purchased Willis & Geiger in 1978. Founded in 1902, Willis & Geiger was the major creditor to the original Abercrombie & Fitch when it went into bankruptcy in 1977?78. Armed with a Navy?financed Harvard MBA and three years’ experience as a professional hunter in British East Africa, Burt set about to revive the bankrupt company by re?introducing improved and entirely new versions of many of the iconic Willis & Geiger styles that had so capably outfitted adventurers and explorers like Teddy Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and others. When Land’s End closed

Willis & Geiger in 1999 during a company?wide downsizing, Burt and Susan launched their design and consulting firm, Avedon & Colby, to create premium performance wear and accessories for leading outdoor and lifestyle brands.

Susan Colby: Susan joined Burt at Willis & Geiger in 1986 with an art degree from Smith College following a successful career as first an art teacher, then as a member of Westinghouse’s Design Center, Associated Merchandising Corporation, and finally at Paul Stuart/NYC as a designer and buyer.

Together, Burt and Susan designed garments and accessories for Willis & Geiger that blended the classic good taste of a bygone era of wilderness exploration with high?performance features never before seen by outdoor enthusiasts. They continued this tradition after the close of Willis & Geiger, designing premium performance clothing and accessories for leading outdoor and lifestyle brands like Orvis, Beretta, Woolrich, King Ranch, Kevin’s and Eddie Bauer.

Dropped: Project Alaska 2.0 Returns

Casey and Chris Keefer will use their survival skills again in the Sportsman Channel's Dropped: Alaska 2.0, which returns with new episodes on Friday at 8. (SPORTSMAN CHANNEL)

Casey and Chris Keefer will use their survival skills again in the Sportsman Channel’s Dropped: Alaska 2.0, which returns with new episodes on Friday at 8. (SPORTSMAN CHANNEL)

Brothers Chris and Casey Keefer love “roughing it,” and the Sportsman Channel’s series, Dropped: Project Alaska 2.0 provides a sneak peak into their world of survival in the most remote places.

The show’s season premiere is Friday at 8 p.m. on the Sportsman Channel. Here’s a release with all the details:

Award-Winning Series “Dropped: Project Alaska 2.0” Returns to Sportsman Channel, October 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT 

NEW BERLIN, WI (September 29, 2014) Chris and Casey Keefer can’t get enough of being dropped in remote places with little food, little direction and only one goal: survive by hunting. They were first “dropped” in Alaska in 2011 and made television history by floating on a remote river for 28 days. Now, they are dropped again into Alaska’s backcountry in the Sportsman Channel original series – Dropped: Project Alaska 2.0 presented by Buck Knives. This version has them once again pitting their skills as hunters, woodsmen and anglers against an unforgiving landscape. Produced by Rusted Rooster Media, the original series will premiere exclusively on Sportsman Channel, the leader in outdoor TV for American sportsmen and women, on Thursday, October 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT

Catch a sneak peek of the show by visiting 

The Keefers’ new Alaskan adventure began by traveling 80 river miles to their extraction spot while carrying only 100 pounds of gear each in their backpacks. They had no provisions – all their gear was for catching or killing their food and then preparing it. They are once again floating downriver to land that hasn’t been hunted for more than a decade due to predation.

Chris Keefer scouts in Alaska. (SPORTSMAN CHANNEL)

Chris Keefer scouts in Alaska. (SPORTSMAN CHANNEL)

“Dropped has proven to be a very exciting and adventure-filled program that Sportsman Channel viewers can’t get enough of,” said Graig Hale, vice president of business development for Sportsman Channel. “The Keefer brothers are entertaining, extreme adventurists who are also skilled outdoorsmen. The combination makes for a great television program.”

“The first two series of Dropped earned phenomenal coverage from both a survivor angle and hunting angle,” said Casey Keefer. “Our fans couldn’t get enough of seeing us suffer. We have to get our bodies – and minds – in serious shape before attempting these treks. It is a true test of stamina, grit and brotherly love.” 

Just like in the past, they make their way through perilous and game-rich country while attempting to call in or spot and stalk caribou, moose and black bear. The brothers also get more than they bargain for with charging grizzlies. 

“The grizzly encounters happen more than once and it is intense,” said Chris Keefer. “It is difficult to describe the rush of thoughts and emotions in that moment when it is just me, my brother and a cameraman literally stuck on the water in a floating raft with a sow whose only goal is to protect her family.” 

Learn more about Dropped: Project Alaska 2.0 at and on Twitter at  Use the hashtag #BeAlive 

To find Sportsman Channel in your area click here.

About Sportsman Channel: Launched in 2003, Sportsman Channel/Sportsman HD is the only television and digital media company fully devoted to honoring a lifestyle that is celebrated by millions of Americans. The leader in outdoor television, Sportsman Channel delivers entertaining and informative programming that embraces outdoor adventure, hunting and fishing, and reveals it through unique, surprising and authentic storytelling. Sportsman Channel embraces the attitude of “Red, Wild & Blue America” – where the American Spirit and Great Outdoors are celebrated in equal measure. The network also is dedicated to promoting our nation’s military heroes and veterans, as well as providing a voice for conservation throughout the United States. Sportsman Channel reaches more than 36 million U.S. television households. Stay connected to Sportsman Channel online at; Facebook, (; Twitter ( and and YouTube ( 

Helping To Prevent Human-Caused Wildfires



It hasn’t been a good summer for wildfires in the West.  So many fires are triggered by human-created reasons like burning cigarettes, so companies such as Green Smart Living/GEO are attempting to help prevent such issues by eliminating the combustible cigarettes. Here’s a release that will coincide with National Fire Prevention Week, which is Oct. 7-13:

GEO To Help Support National Fire Prevention Week

SALT LAKE CITY – Each and every summer, we all hear news stories of wildfires reeking havoc to our nation’s forests. To make these matters even worse, up to 90 percent of all wildfires in the U.S. are caused by humans.

While some of these fires can be contributed to unattended campsites, or a variety of other natural causes, many of these fires are caused by discarded cigarette butts. GEO (, a leader in creating a conscious living and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional combustible cigarettes, understands that this issue needs to be addressed.

By helping to eliminate the traditional combustible cigarette, they focus on helping reduce the amount of fires that plague our national forests, and even our own communities. “In one year alone, 900 people were killed, and 2,500 people were injured just because of fires started from cigarettes. If that wasn’t enough, the toll of human and property damage in these fires totaled 6 billion dollars. All of this simply because of reckless and careless smoking.” Stated GEO CEO Adrian Chiaramonte. This is one of the main reasons that GEO wanted to help.
In an effort to help support this worthy cause, GEO will be donating 5 percent of online sales to a local wildfire organization during National Fire Prevention Week. With this donation, the hope is that everyone will learn about the dangers of wildfires, and how preventing them can benefit us all.

GEO recently emerged as one of the leading environmentally friendly rechargeable e-cigarettes in the industry, and is creating a solution to the problems of the smoking industry though its GEO recyclable e-cig products.

Many people do not realize the environmental toll that it takes just to produce cigarettes, or the total damage that is done by improperly discarding the cigarette waste.

By helping people realize that small actions can make a big impact on our planet, we can help people live a bit more responsibly. This in turn helps everyone live in a place that is a bit greener, cleaner, and more sustainable.




Solving Alaska’s Chinook Decline



Laine Welch, one of Alaska’s go-to reporters for fish-related news, weighed in on the concern about Alaska’s struggling Chinook salmon population. 


From Welch’s report in the Anchorage Daily News/Alaska Dispatch:

“It’s not the freshwater production of the juvenile Chinook that is the reason this decline is occurring; it’s being driven by poor marine survival,” said Ed Jones, the lead for the initiative and sport fish coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

 “We don’t know why but once these juvenile Chinook salmon are entering the ocean they are not surviving at the rates they once did,” Jones added.“And at the same, we also are seeing younger and smaller Chinook returning to spawn, and this obviously results in smaller fish being caught.”

 At each river system, the Chinook team is estimating how many young fish are going to the ocean, refining estimates of how many older fish are returning to spawn, and tracking the marine catches.

 “That’s an effort to estimate the harvests of these 12 indicator stocks in detail,” he explained. “So we’re going to implement tagging programs on the juveniles, and as they go out to the ocean they’ll be marked with an adipose fin clip. We also will include a tiny coded wire tag in their heads, and those will be sent to the Juneau lab where we can tell when and where those fish were released.With those three components we can do full stock reconstruction.”

Jones said his primary focus is on the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers because of the importance of Chinook salmon to subsistence users.

“A major part of this initiative is to make sure we can help those folks fish when there’s fish around and pull the reins back when they are not around. But we need to gather the information that allows us to do that accurately each and every year. We are trying to learn from the users and gather information on historical harvests, what the people know and what they’ve learned for centuries. We’ll feed that information into our stock assessment program,” he said.

Chinook salmon spend up to five years in the ocean, and production goes through up and down cycles. A few years ago, West Coast and British Columbia stocks were said to be doomed, but they have rebounded and are at record numbers in some cases. Jones believes that’s what will also occur in Alaska.

“The take-home message is that productivity cycles, and unfortunately in Alaska right now, we are at the low end of that cycle,” he said. “We are experiencing a tough time right now, but it will turn around so don’t lose hope.”