Category Archives: Featured Content

The Best Knife For The Alaska Hunter/Angler

 

The following appears in the November issue of Alaska Sporting Journal:

BY PAUL D. ATKINS

I was in awe as I stood on the steep incline and looked into the valley deep below.

The boulder-strewn landscape we had just climbed went on forever, blended into the hillside and eventually up into the high peaks where we were. I tried to keep my balance and not fall and was still in shock, especially after taking the animal that lay before me.

I only came back to reality when Andy handed me a knife and said, “Let’s get this done and get off this mountain.”

A HUNTING KNIFE MAY be considered a hunter’s best friend; for many of us, it was the first real hunting tool we received when we were young. Having a dad entrust you with your own knife meant you were one step away from your first gun, and for most of us it was about as important as it got at that age.

Whatever the case or backstory that shaped who you are, no hunter should be without a good knife. You want something that performs in all situations, whether it’s as simple as cutting rope or complicated as skinning a grizzly, or deboning moose quarters or maybe even a goat. A good and reliable knife is a must-have on any hunt.

Choosing a knife once was pretty simple, but with the vast array of options available today, hunters now have to make difficult decisions about what will work best for them.

Here are some guidelines that I recommend you follow before purchasing one of your most important hunting tools.

 

Your knife decision is based on your needs. Havalon’s new quick-change series is called by some the world’s sharpest hunting knives and are great for just about any circumstance. Gut-hook knives are a designed as a compact tool to make every hunting trip better and in some cases cleaner and faster when it comes to dealing with the underside of an animal. Knives such as this Kershaw Field Knife are designed to be a simple, well-made tool that simply work and are easy to see once you lay them down. (PAUL D. ATKINS)

FIXED BLADE VERSUS FOLDING

Fixed blades are just like they sound: a blade fixed into a handle that usually comes with a sheath. They are, in my opinion, the easiest to use and one of the easiest to clean.

Knives with a fixed blade are very popular; they’re rugged, reliable and are great for heavy-duty work that requires a little more torque. The downside is they are bulkier and harder to transport. They can also be bit more dangerous when it comes to hunting, particularly if you’re hunting/hiking through rough country.

I’ve carried a number of fixed blades, but only a few have performed to my expectations, especially on their second go-around. They work nicely out of the box, but have either been hard to sharpen or just don’t hold an edge. Finding a blade that works consistently on all occasions is the key to a great fixed blade.

Folding knives have also become very popular with many hunters. Their ease of use and storability are the biggest factors, particularly for those hunters who are trying to cut down on weight and want to keep things simple. Most come with a clip and can easily fit into a pocket or attach to the side of your pack. Most folding knives produced today are tough and can handle the most challenging of chores.

Folders basically come in two types: pocketknives and the lock-back. For hunting and safety reasons I recommend the lock-back. The blade folds out and locks into position, creating a rigid blade that can be used as a fixed blade. I find that they’re easy to use and maneuver, plus the ability to stick them anywhere is a huge selling point.

Most lock-back knives come with a thumb spur or a hole that can be easily opened with one hand. This allows you to open the blade in one fluid motion. Spyderco’s Stretch model is a favorite folder of mine. This high-performance drop point is close to 8 inches in length and has a 3½-inch blade weighing in at a measly 3½ ounces – perfect for the sheep or goat hunter.

Pocketknives are a great choice once the heavy work is done. However, I’ve seen a lot of hunters use a small pocketknife to field-dress an entire caribou – and they do work! Tasks such as caping or skinning small game are ideal for the pocket variety, which keeps the chance of cutting yourself to a minimum. There are a wide variety of small pocketknives to choose from, so do your homework to determine what works best.

 

One of Atkins’ favorite tools while hunting is a Muskrat, made by Alaska Knives, is one the coolest tools out there. A rounded end, sharpened all the way around, allows you to get into places that a normal blade won’t. (PAUL D. ATKINS)

BLADES

Like I mentioned earlier, when it comes to using a knife there is nothing better than a good blade that will hold an edge from start to finish. Knife blades were once limited to one or two types, but nowadays there are hundreds of styles to choose from and in a variety of steel types.

If I don’t have my Havalon handy, I like to use a drop-point blade for skinning and just about everything else I do while I’m in the field.

One of my favorite drop-points is the Diskin by Kershaw. It’s made in the U.S. and is ideal for field-dressing and just about any task a hunter will face. It has a slim handle, which provides a comfortable, secure fit into your hand. It’s a combination of function and elegance all rolled into a single knife.

The Bill Moran Drop Point by Spyderco is also a favorite. It has a midsized blade at about 4 inches and is designed for optimal performance. I prefer the black-coated nonreflective model – an excellent choice for skinning and caping. The handle boasts a rubbery texture, which eliminates slipping and keeps the knife secure, even if your hands are wet, cold or gloved.

Another popular type is the clip-point blade. This comes with a concave top and a fine point on the end. This blade is excellent for making small puncture holes or doing delicate work in tight places. Clip points can be used for skinning, but keep in mind that hunters must be careful not to accidentally cut holes in the hide if keeping a cape or skin for other reasons.

Spyderco’s Enuff series are excellent clip-point knives that come with a heavy-duty sheath and are also made in America.

Breaking down something as big as moose is chore. Hunters need a knife that can handle the time it takes to disassemble one and won’t fail. They have to be sharp, tough and keep their edge throughout the long process. Don’t make the job of getting your prize home to your freezer more arduous. (PAUL D. ATKINS)

SPECIFIC-PURPOSE KNIVES

Like choosing different broadheads for bowhunting different types of game, there are knives made specifically for certain purposes. Many knives have gut hooks, which are used to unzip an animal and not puncture the intestines. Certain knives can be purchased with a built-in gut hook located on the topside of the blade; they are ideal for the all-purpose hunter. Kershaw’s Lone rock has a gut hook and also folds up into a nice little package. It’s an ideal option for the hunter who wants the best of all worlds.

One of my all-time favorite special-purpose knives is the Muskrat, made by Knives of Alaska. This caping and fleshing knife is specifically designed for getting into tight spots – specifically around antlers and other delicate areas. It has a sharpened edge extending around the top; once you use it, you’ll wonder how you did without one.

One of the most popular cutting utensils these days is a replaceable blade-type knife, which is more like a surgeon’s scalpel and is crazy-sharp. The Havalon-type folder, with its replaceable-style blade, proves itself again and again on pretty much all big game. It folds and comes in variety of sizes for different applications. It’s become something I trust.

I was a skeptic at first when I tried this type of knife. The small, thin blade looked flimsy, especially if I had a moose down and had to deal with that thick hide and bone structure. But I’ve learned to never knock it until you try it, so I did and it performed flawlessly. It actually made the chore easier and more enjoyable. If you break a blade, just replace it with another, which takes seconds and isn’t too expensive.

Other knives come with saw blades that help the hunter cut through bone and other dense material such as tree limbs or even kindling for the fire. Still more have serrated edges that enable the hunter to saw through thicker material and make cuts that sometimes get pretty difficult.

KNIFE HANDLES

Probably one of the most overlooked aspects when choosing a knife is the handle. You basically have three types: wood, bone and synthetic. Wood and bone grips are pleasing to look at and can be featured in collections. I have many knives that have never seen blood but look great in my gun safe. If I were to use them, they would probably do fine.

I personally like knives with a synthetic or rubberized textured grip. They feel good in your hand, ensure a better grip and, in some situations, feel warmer to the touch, especially when the thermometer drops. These handles are also cheaper in cost but not on performance.

Also, the color orange has become quite popular since it’s easy to see and will allow you to spend less time trying to figure out where you left your knife after a long day of field-dressing an animal.

HOW MANY KNIVES DO I NEED?

If you’re like me, you have several knives, each one bought for a particular reason; some were great and some ended up stored in a drawer or deposited in the trash. In the end, a couple will make the cut (no pun intended) and become your go-to knives.

As hunters, we want a knife that will perform at all times and is trustworthy when it comes to taking care of business, especially after the last shot has been fired and the next step in the process begins. They become our trusted friend but need to be sharp and stay sharp. Like choosing a particular rifle or bow or even a hunting partner, we must choose our knives carefully, because they must perform in the field and, in some instances, that knife might even save your life. ASJ

 Editor’s note: Paul Atkins is an outdoor writer and author from Kotzebue, Alaska. He has written hundreds of articles on big game hunting and fishing throughout North America and Africa, plus surviving in the Arctic. Paul is a monthly contributor to Alaska Sporting Journal.

 

Working Misty’s Magic For Homesteaders

 

Discovery Channel

The following appears in the November issue of Alaska Sporting Journal: 

BY CHRIS COCOLES

When she’s working to help up struggling off-the-grid families from rock bottom, Misty Raney usually finds a connection with the matriarch of the house. 

And that makes sense; Raney is a strong, tough, relentless and stubborn woman after growing up in an unforgiving Alaskan environment in a family of hearty outdoorsmen and -women. As one of three Raneys – with dad Marty (Alaska Sporting Journal, July 2016) and brother Matt – taking on the toughest of living crises on the Discovery Channel series Homestead Rescue,  which broadcasts its season premiere tonight, Misty can’t help but get attached. 

“People are patting me on the back and giving me props, telling me, ‘It’s amazing what you’ve done.’ But actually, I say to look at these women and how they’re living their lives,” she says. “They are made of a material that doesn’t exist, because any normal woman would have given up years ago.”

But Misty, 36, won’t let them throw in the towel and abandon the choice they made to trade city life for the wilderness and all the challenges that go with such a drastic change. Underneath the tough love the Raneys must dish out as their subjects deteriorate into desperation territory, there is also unfiltered affection and admiration. Misty, now a wife and mom herself, can relate to what’s going on. 

“I get incredibly emotionally attached. I’m not just blowing smoke; they truly are an inspiration to me. Some of them are older than me, right?” she says. “So there is that bigger sister effect, and I’m in awe. I want to be that woman when I get older.”

 “I just wanted to make it easier on them, because this lifestyle is not easy. Let’s not forget about the hard work for a second; it can be really taxing on you. But you’ve really got to have your head on straight, because every day is a challenge; every day is an inconvenience. Women like convenience and we like nice things and to be taken care of. But this lifestyle is not going to give you those things.”

But it’s also the lifestyle that’s made Raney’s life such a thrilling ride, one that she wouldn’t have traded for any luxury downtown penthouse or suburban mansion. 

Misty (left) with dad Marty and brother Matt. (DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

IF YOU WERE TO use one word to describe Misty Raney’s childhood in the Alaskan bush, don’t let it be the “T” word. 

“I don’t like the word tomboy because I’m not a certain type of person. I’m just Misty. But it was normal for me to do all the boy things. You had to have that edge,” she says.

And in Marty and Mollee Raney’s isolated home, you got to play hard, but only after you worked hard. Misty, who besides fellow Homestead Rescue sibling Matt also has a sister (Melanee, the owner of a Girdwood, Alaska rafting company) and brother (Miles, a mountain biker and adventure traveler), was sometimes wondering what her friends did when the kids were helping with the building materials of their dad’s Wasilla-based business, Alaska Stone and Log.  

“When I was a kid, our buddies, they’d go out and do who knows what. But we were working all the time. My whole childhood we worked – all the time – and I look back at how important those expectations we had at a really young age,” Misty Raney says.

“The older I got I really enjoyed building. In the early days I would say, ‘I don’t want to use a chainsaw or chop wood.’ But then it became my favorite thing to do when I was like 12.”

And there was a trade-off to the sweat equity the Raney kids built up making their contributions. The Alaskan backdrop provided quite the playground to explore. 

All the kids learned their dad’s survival skills after Marty was attracted to the wide-open spaces of the Last Frontier. Misty’s forever pastime became fishing, whether for fun or subsistence reasons (not like there was much of a difference between the two). 

But since these were the Raneys, it wasn’t like many of the fishing trips lacked thrills and chills. She, Marty and Matt once were dropped off along the silty, fast-moving waters of the Chitina River to dipnet for Copper River sockeye. 

“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,” she says. “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.”

But these were the days that made her home so special. 

“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,” Raney says. “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.”

Discovery Channel

GAME NIGHT AT THE Raney house was always a hotly contested matchup that pitted stubborn, independent kids and stubborn, independent parents. 

“Yelling and fighting and shouts of ‘I’m not talking to you for the rest of my life!’” Misty recalls with a laugh. “We’re all so competitive. But I think it’s good to be competitive. It really makes you try harder; you see something and say, ‘I can do that.’”

Then again, in an interview last year, Marty Raney said his is as close-knit of a family as he and Mollee could have hoped for. 

“I don’t know if we hold the patent on a nice, close Alaskan working family, but I will say this: If anybody did a little research on my wife and I and our four kids, they would be blown away,” Marty said. 

“Everyone gets along and I’ve never seen my kids fight. We’re just not that type of people and everyone’s pretty mellow and easy going. But when it comes to adventure or a task, they’re incredibly intense and some are fierce competitors.”  

Misty’s older sister Melanee left home at a young age to get married, leaving Misty to spend a lot of time with her younger and older brothers.  

But it’s her parents who’ve had the biggest impact.

“My mom is the toughest person that I know, and a lot of us think she’s the toughest one in our family. She’s this beautiful, soft-spoken woman and she’s made of nails,” Misty says. “She’ll be the last one fishing and she’s out there hunting the longest. I don’t know, man. Everybody knows my dad; he’s very tough. To have those two be our parents … I was raised (to be) incredibly independent and to problem solve and figure things out on your own.”

Of her dad, Misty says, “I’m still learning from him. I think, ‘How did I not know that?’ And there are some episodes that have aired and some to come where he has so much up that pirate shirt sleeve – you are just shocked at how many tricks he has up that sleeve.”

Misty and Marty have incredible chemistry together on Homestead Rescue, which is anything but a surprise to either one, nor to those who are close to both. 

Count Misty’s husband Maciah Bilodeau among the believers (Maciah, Misty and their 6-year-old son, Gauge, split time between Alaska and Maciah’s home in Hawaii). 

“My husband, in a not so weird way – or maybe it is weird – calls me ‘Little Marty,’ which is painful to hear,” Misty says with a laugh. “It’s such a compliment at the same time. I don’t know what your relationship is with your dad, but it’s so important. That’s from who you learn how to do everything – how  to love everything. He’s an all-in type of guy and he’s the hardest worker you’ll ever meet and he has really high values and morals. He loves the outdoors and the mountains. He just takes so much joy at working really, really hard.”

Misty, a wife and a mom, is passionate about fishing. (MISTY RANEY)

WANT TO KNOW WHAT puts the Mist in Misty? Ask her about the families her family has visited on Homestead Rescue. One such case seen earlier this year were the Crums, a couple overwhelmed by their new home in the Montana wilderness and the medical condition of the husband, Jay.

“I remember having to say goodbye to Pattie Crum. I loved her … I was the first one to talk and just burst into tears,” Misty says. “You spend so much time with them – side by side – in these crazy places. You become so incredibly attached to them.”

And given her family’s swashbuckling lifestyle and personal choices to live off the grid, the heartbreaking reality of Homestead Rescue is this: Not everyone is as steadfast and prepared to handle the harsh environment of the wild.

 “One of the biggest things people who watch our show say to me, they’re really hard on these families. I think it sounds easier than it actually is,” Misty says. “A lot of people think, ‘I can do that. Why would they do that?’”

“This is their last chance. All their money, all their this and all their that, is crammed into this measly, broken little homestead. And they’re just doing their absolute best with what they have. For me to enter that world, I try to work as possibly hard as I can … We have this crazy job where we help people fix their homesteads. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.” ASJ

Editor’s note: New episodes of Homestead Rescue can be seen on the Discovery Channel starting tonight (check your local listings). For more, go to discovery.com/tv-shows/homestead-rescue. 

Discovery Channel

Sidebar 

GO CLIMB A MOUNTAIN 

Marty Raney’s biggest passion is mountain climbing. As a guide and otherwise he’s summited Alaska’s mighty Denali multiple times. But one ascent was memorable for both Marty and daughter Misty a few years back. Here’s how she described her first climb of the tallest peak in North America:

Misty Raney’s climbing of Denali was an emotional moment for her and Marty, an accomplished mouintaineer. (MISTY RANEY)

“There were nine Japanese people, my dad and me. The craziest part is my dad ended up getting altitude sickness and we stayed at 14,000 (feet) for like 10 days. The weather cleared and we moved, but then my dad ended up getting sick.” (Editor’s note: The ordeal was made into a documentary back in Japan.)

“We had this crazy conversation where he said, ‘I want you to come back with me.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘I’m not going any further and I don’t want you going up; the mountain will always be here. You’ll have the rest of your life to climb it. ‘I’m not going back, Dad’ … We were all roped together, and to unclip from my dad was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”

“It meant more than just unclipping and climbing this mountain. It was really just letting go. I think later it blew his mind; he said, ‘You really are an independent person.’ When I unclipped I was fighting back the tears. He’s had so much experience having grown up mountaineering. And I just had a handful of experiences and I’d never been on Denali …”

“I knew I was old enough to make my own decisions, but I rely on my dad still. And all of that experience I had to let go and totally believe in myself and my own abilities … I’m still surprised that I unclipped and told myself, ‘I’m going to do this. I want to see what I’m made of.’ And we ended up getting caught at 17,000 (feet). But we ended up summiting and we ended up getting separated for five-plus days … So he watched and waited and waited, and finally I strolled in and he was so stoked and pumped. I’ve never seen my dad so happy.” ASJ

Race On To Protect Arctic NWR From Drilling

The above video and following press release is courtesy of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

MISSOULA, Mont. – As Senate members prepare to advance legislation that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas development, public lands sportsmen and women are amplifying calls to reject the measure.

On Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a markup of the bill, introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and touted as an economic booster. In a short film released today, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members visit the Arctic Refuge for an epic, once-in-a-lifetime caribou hunt, fishing trip and exploration of the region’s awe-inspiring terrain. The film ends with a call to action: urging public lands advocates to contact their senators to oppose drilling the refuge.

“This is the crown jewel that every backcountry hunter and angler should have the opportunity to fulfill in their lifetime,” said BHA member Barry Whitehill, of Fairbanks, Alaska, who appears in the film and traveled to Washington, D.C., recently to meet with members of Congress in support of the region’s conservation. “It’s the dream for anybody that’s passionate about hunting and fishing.”

“You can’t be seen as a public lands champion if you’re on the wrong side of history,” said BHA Conservation Director John Gale. “Sportsmen and women are looking to our elected officials to take action at this crucial moment in support of this unique place, its irreplaceable fish and wildlife habitat and hunting and fishing opportunities it provides. Strong, sound Senate leadership is needed now more than ever to ensure that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge remains wild and free from energy development that belongs in more appropriate and productive places.”

BHA has emerged as a leading voice in support of conserving the Arctic Refuge. BHA supports responsible energy development in places where we can achieve balance and limit impacts to fish and wildlife, but polls commissioned over the summer in Arizona and Colorado show strong public opposition to energy development in the refuge. In Arizona, 61 percent of voters opposed the proposal, along with 58 percent of Colorado voters.

Established in 1960 by President Eisenhower “for the purpose of preserving unique wildlife, wilderness and recreational values,” the refuge’s 19.5 million acres, including 8 million acres of wilderness, provide habitat to iconic game species including grizzlies, Dall sheep and caribou.

Said Whitehill in the BHA video, “Last frontier…you know, you take this out of the equation we have no more frontier. I don’t know if that’s a world I’d want to spend much time in.”

The Senate last month rejected a budget amendment that would have prevented oil and gas development within the refuge.

Watch the BHA film on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – and take action.

Mushers Hold Meeting As Iditarod Faces Scrutiny

Wikimedia/Public domain photo

With the iconic Iditarod – “The Last Great Race On Earth” – under fire after reports said some of four-time champion Dallas Seavey’s dogs tested positive for illegal substances,  mushers and race officials gathered for a closed-door meeting on Sunday.

Here’s KTUU’s Beth Verge with some details:

“It was a heated meeting in some ways,” said current Race Director Mark Nordman. “But what I felt coming out of there is that people want to see this race survive and grow.”

The meeting comes amid allegations of dog doping that have rocked the race community and triggered threats of withdrawal from the race by big names, including 2017 Iditarod Champion Mitch Seavey.

But that’s not all: Outside of the race, a veteran Iditarod musher, Paul Gebhardt, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Jason Mackey was charged with stealing kennels from another competitor.

And it all happened in the last few months.

“It’s been a tough couple of months,” Nordman said. “Everybody’s aware of that.

“But bottom line is,” he said, “this event is so much more than myself or a board of directors or the mushers. It’s the whole state’s event.”

When it comes to the race itself, Nordman said, the main focus right now is to make sure everyone is on the same page. And while most in attendance declined to comment, those who agreed to speak with Channel 2 said potential changes for the Iditarod were discussed during the meeting.

 

 

 

 

Spike In Anchorage Shootings Of Bears

ADFG photo

 

An eye–opening report from the Alaska Dispatch News today in terms of the staggering numbers of bears that were shot to death in the greater Anchorage area.

Here’s reporter Tegan Hanlon with more:

So far in 2017, 34 bears have been shot to death in the Municipality of Anchorage, a vast area that spans from Eklutna to Portage and includes many thousands of acres of wilderness.

Half of the bears were killed by people who said they were defending their lives or their property. The other half were killed by police, park rangers or wildlife biologists.

 

Dave Battle, the Anchorage-area wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said this year’s tally of bear kills is among the highest ever recorded in the municipality. It’s nearly four times more than last year’s total.

“We had light years the past few years,” Battle said. “Then this year we just kind of had an explosion.”

 

So what caused the spike in bear kills?

There’s no single answer, Battle said, but there are theories. One of them: After the fatal mauling of a 16-year-old on Bird Ridge, some people just became less tolerant of bears.

The map in the tweet above pinpoints all the locations around Alaska’s largest city, which makes for an informative interactive tool to measure just how significant these numbers are.

When Alaska Went To War

USWFS/Public Domain photo

 Technically, Veterans Day is on Saturday but it’s being observed today, so please take a moment to give some thanks to our soldiers and sailors who have sacrificed so much for their country.

Thankfully. the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is honoring Alaska’s role in World War II with an upcoming 75th anniversary commemoration of the state’s role in the Pacific Theater when Japan attacked and eventually occupied areas of U.S. soil.

Here’s a timeline of the events courtesy of USFWS Alaska:

June 3-4, 1942: Dutch Harbor Bombed by Japanese

The Imperial Japanese Navy launch two aircraft carrier raids on the Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and U.S. Army Fort Mears at Dutch Harbor on Amaknak Island.

Buildings burning after the first Japanese attack on Dutch Harbor, Alaska (USA), 3 June 1942. U.S. Army 

June 6, 1942: Japanese occupation of Kiska Island

Kiska’s sole inhabitants were the crew of the U.S Aerological Detail. When the Japanese arrived, they fled to the hills; most were captured after a few days. William C. House was not initially captured; he was able to hide out for 50 days before finally choosing to surrender to the Japanese. Freezing and starving, he had survived on earthworms and vegetation and was a meager 80 pounds when he turned himself in to his captors.

 

The crew of the U.S. Aerological Detail on Kiska prior to their capture by the Japanese in 1942. William C. House is in the second row, third from left. Courtesy National Archives and National Park Service.

 

 

The Japanese would stay for over a year, building bunkers and infrastructure, blasting tunnels, and even planting gardens–they had intended to be here for the long haul.

 

 

Imperial Japanese soldiers marching during the occupation of Kiska 1942. Alaska State Archives Collection 

June 7, 1942: Japanese occupation of Attu Island

Exactly six months to the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, 1,200 enemy soldiers landed and captured all of the island’s 47 residents. The Attuans would be held as prisoners in Otaru, Japan for over three years. 22 would die, including 4 babies born in captivity, due to starvation and the rigors of captivity. Lives and legacies forever altered, upon return to the United States the survivors took up residence in unfamiliar places–their Attu home was destroyed and there were too few able-bodied enough to rebuild.

 

Attu natives pose for a photo at their village taken during a 1935 archaeological expedition of the Smithsonian Institute. University of Alaska Anchorage, Alan G. May Collection, uaa-hmc-0690-s1-1936-117a. 
Japanese troops pose on Attu after occupying the island. Creative Commons 

“One day, 14 Sept, 1942 a coal carrier came and they told us to get ready we gone to Japan. We take our stuff to vessel. We got aboard at late pass midnight. They put us down in hole where the coal had been. Everything all black and dirty. Some of the little kids didn’t want to leave Attu. They cry but Japs solders pick them up throw them down in hole too. There are 42 of us Attu people and Mrs. Jones. Some old peoples very bad scared.” ~Mike Lokanin (From Attu Boy, by Nick Golodoff)

 

 

 

“As things were, our men were put to work. Shortly after that, they started admitting our people to the hospital. The people were getting sick one after the other until I was almost the only one left at home to cook. While I was doing that, they took my husband to the hospital. After they took my husband, my children were starving. So when I went to fetch some water, I would pick orange peelings off the ground. Then I would cook them on the top of the heater. Then I fed them to my children, and only then would they stop crying for a while.” ~Olean Prokopeuff (Golodoff ), (From Attu Boy, by Nick Golodoff)

“We lost twenty-one people in Japan. My step-mother gets sick first. She got TB and Japs take her to kind of hospital. But there is no heat and very little food so she died. Some died of beri-beri. Our chief, Mike Hodikoff and his son, George, eat from garbage can and get poison food. Lots of children and babies die because they hungry and nothing but rice.” ~ Alex Prossof (From Attu Boy, by Nick Golodoff)

 

June 12, 1942: Evacuation of Atka Island

While the Attu residents would be the only Unangax sent overseas as prisoners of the Japanese, other Unangax villagers would find themselves victims of circumstance, indecision, and racism–issued by those that had come to “protect” these citizens. A tragically similar story would play out through nine Unangax villages in which U.S. authorities would hastily order villagers to grab one suitcase, board a ship, and watch as their homes and churches go up in flames.

 

June 14, 1942: Evacuation of St. George & St. Paul Islands

On June 14, the residents of St. Paul Island were given one hour to pack one bag each, and were ordered to board the overcrowded Deralof Army transport vessel, not yet knowing the arduous and deplorable conditions that would meet them at their internment site at Funter Bay in Southeast Alaska. There were 477 Aleuts and 19 Fish and Wildlife Service agents evacuated from the Pribilof Islands that day.

 

Evacuees of St. George Island, Agnes and Anna Lekanof. University of Alaska Fairbanks, UAF-1970-11-94

Daniel C.R. Benson, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent and caretaker of St.George details his orders for the evacuation:

“I was first instructed to prepare the village for destruction first that night by placing a pail of gasoline in each house and building, and a charge of dynamite for each other installation such as storage tanks, light plants, trucks, radio transmitters, receivers, antenna masts, etc. The packing of everybody was to be very simple–absolutely nothing but one suitcase per person and a roll of blankets.”

 

Evacuees of St. Paul Island aboard the U.S. Army transport, Delarof. National Archives, General Records of the Department of the Navy (NARA 80-G-12163)

 
A petition letter from Unangax women of the Pribolof Islands citing their living conditions at the Funter Bay Evacuation Camp in southeastern Alaska. National Archives

 

“We the people of this place wants a better place than this to live. This place is no place for a living creature…” ~Petition from group of Unangax women interned at Funtner Bay. The Aleut peoples’ internment at Funter Bay lasted two years under the supervision of the Fish and Wildlife Service, and many did not make it back. Nearly 50 people died from the cold, crowded, difficult and inhumane conditions. Their graves remain in Funter Bay. Read more here.

 

August 30, 1942: Allied troops land on Adak

The United States took strong initiatives to take back the islands. 4,500 U.S. Army troops secured the island of Adak, to be used as a staging post for the recapture of Kiska. It took only two weeks for Army engineers to construct an airfield on the island, and on September 14, Consolidated B-24 Liberators used the airfield in their raids on Japanese occupied Kiska. There would be repeated bombing campaigns on the island throughout the remainder of the Battle of Attu.

 

January 12, 1943: US troops land on Amchitka Island

 

March 26, 1943: Battle of Komandorski Islands

 On March 26, 1943, Japanese ships in the Bering Sea traveled near Russia’s Komandorski Islands (aka Commander Islands) in an attempt to deliver supply reinforcements to Japanese soldiers on Attu. They were intercepted by U.S. Navy forces and after several hours of fighting, the Japanese suddenly withdrew. Japanese soldiers on Attu and Kiska would now haveonly meager and sporadic supply deliveries via submarine for the remainder of their Aleutian occupation.

Southeast Alaska Red Personal-Use Red Crab Season Looming

Map by ADFG

The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Juneau-  The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today that the 2017/2018 winter personal use red and blue king crab season in Section 11-A will open at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, November 15 and will continue through 8:00 p.m., Saturday, March 31, 2018, unless closed earlier by emergency order.

Analysis of data from the 2017 Juneau leg of the annual red king crab survey indicates sufficient stock abundance to allow prosecution of the Section 11-A personal use red and blue king crab fishery. The winter season fishery will proceed with the following daily bag and possession limits and restrictions:

  • Fishery will be open from 8:00 a.m.Wednesday, November 15, through 8:00 p.m., Saturday March 31, 2018, unless closed earlier by emergency order.
  • Daily bag and possession limit for the red and blue king crab fishery is 2 male crabs per household permit.
  • Winter seasonal limit for the red and blue king crab fishery is 6 male crabs per household permit.
  • King, Tanner, or Dungeness crab may only be taken using one pot or two ring nets per vessel, or diving during this fishery.
  • A household permit is required to participate in the fishery and permits will be available at the Douglas Fish and Game Office at 802 3rd Street, and the Fish and Game Headquarters at 1255 W. 8th Street starting 8:00 a.m., Monday, November 13, 2017. Permits will not be available online.
  • Winter king crab permits must be returned to the Douglas ADF&G office immediately once the seasonal limit has been reached, or by April 2, 2018.

Residents are reminded that they must also be in possession of a valid sport-fishing license if 18 years or older prior to harvesting king crab.

Current regulations on personal use red and blue king crab fishing can be found at: www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/folioproxy.asp

Information regarding the red and blue king crab personal use fishery outside Section 11-A may be found in the September 18 News Release #091817 NR1. For more information on the status of the red and blue king crab personal use fishery outside Section 11-A please contact Joe Stratman (772-5238) or Adam Messmer (465-4853).

Section 11-A includes the waters of Gastineau Channel, Stephens Passage and Lynn Canal north of a line from the Coast Guard marker and light on Point Arden to Bishop Point at 58°12.33′ N. lat. and 134° 10.00′ W. long., and south of a line at the latitude of Little Island Light at 58°32.41 N. latitude, and east of a line from Little Island Light to Point Retreat Light.

USFWS Removes Congress-Imposed Non-Subsistence Hunting Regulations

USFWS FILE PHOTO

The following press release is courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed regulations from the Code of Federal Regulations that were published in 2016 regarding the non-subsistence take of wildlife, public participation, and closure procedures for national wildlife refuges in Alaska. This administrative step has been taken in response to a congressional resolution that nullified the regulations under the Congressional Review Act, which was signed by the President in April 2017.

Hunting is deeply rooted in American tradition and is a way of life for many Alaskans who often depend on the land and resources. We all share the same goal of conservation of wildlife and habitat for future generations. The Service looks forward to working closely with the State of Alaska to ensure that mission is met.


For more on the specifics of the regulations,  go here. 

It’s Back To School For These Brown Bears

The above video is courtesy of Margaret Cichoracki (via Anchorage station KTUU), and as you can see, these brown bears apparently couldn’t get a table at the school cafeteria at Eagle River High School in the Anchorage suburbs and helped themselves to a few leftovers in the trash bins.

Here’s KTUU with more:

In video provided by a KTUU viewer, that scene was captured at Eagle River High School. In the video, a mother brown bear and her three cubs can be seen digging in trash and walking around the school grounds.

“They are still in and around our neighborhood, making it difficult to get kids to the school bus or high school,” said Margaret Cichoracki, who captured the bears on video. She said she reported the family of bears to Fish and Game.

Ken Marsh, spokesperson with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said that while it can be exciting to see bears, this case is very serious, both for humans and for the bears themselves.

The schools, which do not deploy bear-resistant trash cans, are among other food sources in the Eagle River area that may be delaying the bears’ natural hibernation process.

“Bears, especially brown bears, if provided with a continuing food source, may delay their hibernation, and stick around,” Marsh said. That’s why authorities say it’s really important to keep trash locked away.

Eagle River’s nickname is the Wolves, but we propose to make thie members of this bear family the new mascots of the school!

Board Of Game Meeting This Week In Anchorage

The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

The Alaska Board of Game will meet in Anchorage on November 9–17, at the Lakefront Hotel located at 4800 Spenard Road. The board will hold a one-day work session November 9 followed by an eight-day regulatory meeting to address changes to statewide provisions related to hunting and trapping.

All portions of the meetings are open to the public. Live-stream audio is scheduled to be available on the board website at www.boardofgame.adfg.alaska.gov. Other meeting materials, including the agendas and roadmap order of proposals, a list of staff reports, and public and agency comments on proposals can be viewed online at www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=gameboard.meetinginfo.

Topics scheduled for the November 9 work session include setting the 2018–2019 schedule and meeting locations; informational reports, letters, policies, and other administrative and miscellaneous items.

Topics of proposed regulatory changes to be considered at the November 10–17 regulatory meeting include: Unlawful methods for taking game and furbearers; provisions for the possession, transportation, and use of game; hunting permits and harvest tickets; permit hunt conditions and procedures; falconry; cultural and subsistence uses; hunter education; intensive management; permits for possessing live game; and other miscellaneous topics.

Proposals to be considered by the board have been received from the public, local fish-and-game advisory committees, the Department of Fish and Game, and other agencies. The public is encouraged to review the proposal topics available on the board’s website at: www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=gameboard.meetinginfo&date=11-10-2017&meeting=anchorage.

The board invites oral public testimony for the regulatory meeting only, beginning Friday, November 10, following oral reports. Anyone wishing to testify before the board must sign up at the meeting location before 10:30 a.m. Saturday, November 11. Public testimony will continue until all who have signed up have received the opportunity to be heard. Deliberations on proposals will begin following public testimony and continue through the remainder of the meeting.

Documents submitted to the board during the meeting will be posted online throughout the meeting. Written public comments from individuals or groups may be submitted in person at any time during the meeting; written comments must not exceed 10 single-sided pages, and 20 copies must be provided. Individuals who cannot attend the meeting may submit comments via fax to (907) 465-6094.