Category Archives: Featured Content

Atz Lee Kilcher Children On Reality Show

 By Chris Cocoles

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Our Alaska Sporting Journal cover story is on the popular Discovery Channel reality show, Alaska: The Last Frontier. Correspondent Luke Kelly, who just happens to be an avid watcher of the show that chronicles the homesteading Kilcher family of Homer, Alaska, submitted a series of questions that were answered by Atz Lee Kilcher, son of the family’s current patriarch, Atz Kilcher, whose father Yule Kilcher immigrated to the U.S. from Switzerland and settled on Alaska with the intention of living a simple life away from bright lights and big (or even little) cities.  Atz Lee’s answers were rather short, but they seemed adequate enough to capture what the Kilchers are all about. Here are a couple of Atz Lee’s responses to Luke, and a few of the Discovery Channel photos we didn’t have room for in the story:

Luke Kelly When Yule Kilcher came to Alaska in 1936, he had a vision of the self-sufficient lifestyle that he wanted his children and grandchildren to live. How does that vision affect you today? Do you feel like you’ve lived up to it?

Atz Lee Kilcher His original vision was of a large scope. Thanks to my grandparents’ hard work, I am able to carry on the vision as well as pass it down to my kids, the fourth generation of Alaskan homesteaders.

LK Is all of the action that appears on screen real, or do you ever have situations that are presented to you?

ALK I am proud to say it is a non-scripted show! Some of the stuff they capture is by the pure luck of being around with a camera rolling.

 LK What would you like viewers to take away from your show?

ALK That regardless of where you live, you can do your own version of subsistence living; whether it’s growing herbs in a skyscraper window or catching a trout in a nearby pond instead of buying one.

The Kilchers are greeted with gorgeous settings like this every day. (THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

The Kilchers are greeted with gorgeous settings like this every day. (THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

Another of the Kilcher brothers, Eivin. (THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

Another of the Kilcher brothers, Eivin. (THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

A group gathering on a beaiutiful Alaska day. (THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

A group gathering on a beautiful Alaska day. (THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

The Kilchers are their DIY finest. (THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

The Kilchers at their DIY finest. (THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

Merry Christmas from Alaska Sporting Journal

By Chris Cocoles

Merry Christmas, everyone. The January edition of Alaska Sporting Journal should be available for sale in the next week. We think this is an excellent issue to kick off the New Year. We have a diverse collection of stories, with everything from a cover story on the hit reality TV show Alaska: The Last Frontier, features on Alaska’s craft beer and distillery industry, a first-person account of  a Lower 48 man fulfilling his dream of fur trapping Alaska, and plenty more.

I’ll have some previews of those stories later this week and into next week leading into the New Year. So enjoy your holiday and be safe!

 

 

 

Michigan Hunter’s Remarkable Survival Story

A Michigan hunter detailed his Alaska survival story. Adrian Knopps, 51, was stranded for almost a week back in the fall after his hunting partner drowned. Here are a few details, courtesy of an Associated Press report out of Detroit:

Resigned that he would die, the 51-year-old electrician from Grand Ledge carved a farewell message on his rifle and collapsed.

That’s when a Coast Guard helicopter came to his rescue.

“It probably was the most wonderful sound I ever heard,” he told The Detroit News.

Knopps was stranded for seven days in September after his hunting partner, Garrett Hagen, drowned while boarding their boat.

Knopps, who shared a river delta with bears and wolves, was pelted by rain the entire time, including a storm that packed 70-mph winds. Because of the wet conditions, he rarely sat or lay down, sleeping three hours all week. During high tide, Knopps clutched the upright roots of an overturned tree while surrounded by a mile of water in all directions.

How he survived is a minor miracle.

 

But you do you recall…. the most famous reindeer of all

This just in: The Alaska Department of Fish and Game with a report on Santa’s reindeer known to be congregating in Alaska.

Photo of a Santa's Reindeer

 

 

Among the “facts” about Santa’s special deer:

 

Santa’s reindeer are cared for by Mr. and Mrs. Claus, as well as a few specially trained elves, at the North Pole. Even though there are very few Santa’s reindeer, they are not listed as a threatened or endangered species because their life expectancy is infinite.

 

Only a few facts are known about Santa’s reindeer as they are more often heard than seen. Every Christmas Eve, sharp-eared children may detect the faint sound of harness bells and hoofbeats on rooftops. Department researchers encourage everyone to record observations and document sightings so that we can learn more about this rare subspecies.

 

Further data is available here on the ADFG website; only nine days until Christmas, folks. 🙂

Santa would be happy to deliver a subscription to Alaska Sporting Journal for the outdoors enthusiast in your life this Christmas. Click here for details about a great offer on either one, two or three years of ASJ.

 

 

 

 

All About Snowshoes

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By Chris Cocoles

Last night I attended a seminar on snowshoes, put on by sister snowshoes companies Tubbs (tubbssnowshoes.com) and Atlas (atlassnowshoe.com), which have combined on the website snowshoes.com. Kelsey Boyce, marketing coordinator for Tubbs (a division of K2 Outdoors), hosted a group of snowshoe enthusiasts. Here are some photos of the event at REI in Seattle. And we’ll have a story in the January issue of Alaska Sporting Journal.

 

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Sarah Palin Is Going Outside

Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, is heading back to the small screen in the reality show game and combining that with her love of the outdoors. Palin will debut a new show on the Sportsman Channel in April, Amazing America. Here’s a snippet from the New York Daily News:

“The network showcases a lifestyle that I love and celebrate every day and it’s great to be a part of their team,” Palin said in a statement.

Channel CEO Gavin Harvey said “a sportswoman, humanitarian, and patriot who has visited every corner of the USA, there is no one more qualified to host ‘Amazing America’ than Sarah Palin.”

The 49-year-old Tea Party darling is also a commentator on the FOX News Channel, but she previously dipped her toes in the pool of reality TV.

In November 2010, she starred in “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” an eight-episode series on the TLC network that showcased her family’s favorite adventures in her home state.

Good luck to Governor Palin on this project.

 

With the holidays approaching fast, a great last-minute gift for the sporting man or woman in your life is  a subscription to Alaska Sporting Journal. Get $10 off a one, two, or three-year subscription. Click here for details.

 

Kenai brown bear controversy still “bruin”

The contentious battle between the state of Alaska and federal authorities over the Kenai Peninsula’s brown bear population pertaining to hunting continues to be, well, contentious. In the December issue of Alaska Sporting Journal, we ran a story about the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge’s controversial decision to shut down brown bear hunting on what was then deemed a temporary basis. Needless to say, the Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife was not happy with the decision.

Now there is talk of placing limitations on brown bear hunts for the 2014 season, which should guarantee no egg nog will be shared come Christmas between state and federal fish and wildlife personnel.

Here’s an Anchorage Daily News update on the subject, which includes this line from reporter Lisa Demer: “It’s a classic Alaska fight that pits the state against the federal government and big game hunters against wildlife watchers.”

Here’s from her piece:

The total number of Kenai brown bears killed this year is 69, more than one out of every 10 on the Peninsula, he said. That counts those hunted legally, hunted illegally, killed in defense of life or property, killed by authorities as nuisance or dangerous bears, and hit by vehicles, he said. An additional 70th bear may also have been killed, he said, though the state has not yet confirmed that.

“So it’s an enormous jump in bear take,” Morton said.

At that rate, the entire Kenai brown bear population has a 33 percent chance of being wiped out in 25 years, he said. In just a few years the number would drop below 500, which is considered “evolutionary not viable,” Morton said.

For the spring 2014 hunt, the Alaska Board of Game is further loosening the rules for Kenai brown bears. It will allow them to be hunted over bear “bait stations” used to lure in black bears, which are far more prevalent and valued by some as a food source.

Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2013/12/02/3209164/federal-protection-of-kenai-brown.html#storylink=cpy

 

Sled Dogs Of The Yukon

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Photos courtesy of Bush Alaska Expeditions

Thanks to a find by Rachel Alexander, our Western Shooting editor, we are able to bring you a December cover story on a bunch of hard-working dogs and their rugged owners of a dog sled adventure outfitters, Bush Alaska Expeditions, located near the Alaska/Yukon, Canada border. Wayne and Scarlett Hall, pictured above, were gracious enough to give us an inside look at their adventures with their beloved huskies and other sled dogs who take guests out for a hardcore trip in the remote lands of Alaska. Here’s a little taste of the story:

 

Our sledding trips are full of incredible stories. Often over the years we have found ourselves on American Summit as the 40-Mile Caribou migration has been passing through. Some winter hunts have been very successful via the dog teams. But never doubt that when caribou are in the area the runs with the teams have been full of excitement and speed. 
Wayne once fell off his team; his wheel dog, realizing it, allowed himself to start dragging, slipped his collar and then jumped off the trail into the deep snow. The dog effectively became a doggie drag brake and slowed the team to a crawl, which allowed Wayne to catch up and regain control over the dogs. Well, he had as much control as you can have with hundreds of caribou all around. ..

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Subscribe to Alaska Sporting Journal today and get a full year of Alaskan adventures like this one for just $19.95. Click here for details.

Way, way, way out in the Barren Islands

A nice yellow eye to go with the lingcod.A small but beautiful lingcod-1

 

Photos courtesy of Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer loves to hunt and fish in his home state of Alaska. His latest adventure is on a deep sea trip he took out to the Barren Islands, far out in treacherous waters in Cook Inlet. Steve shared with us how far out of Homer his charter boat had to travel. Look for the full story in December’s Alaska Sporting Journal:

 

The further we go, the fewer boats we see. There are a small number of charter boats that operate out this far to ply their trade. Seventy miles from port is a lot of fuel and a lot of alone time, which is certainly a part of what makes these trips so special. When you’re fishing off the Barrens or Gore Point there is often not another boat in sight; you are really alone.
These waters are the frontier for rod-and-reel anglers; it is absolutely fishing at its finest. With that brings seas that are not for the faint of heart. Many times we find ourselves looking out at a wall of water as the huge swells we are riding drop from underneath the boat. These waters produce some of the most magnificent seas in Alaska, with waves up to 50 feet during the period between late fall and early spring, when storms overcome the area. Wild places are supposed to instill a bit of fear and respect and there is no disappointment in this part of the world.
The southern tip of the Barren Islands has some phenomenal seafloor structure that is the home to lingcod, yelloweye, black rockfish, quillback rockfish, halibut and the occasional salmon. But fishing these waters comes with a price in lost tackle.
The jagged structure below the surface requires the captain to constantly watch the depth finder and bark out orders. “Reel up, pinnacle coming, drop back down 30 feet,” and up and down as you drift across what has to be gorgeous underwater rock formations.
And in the process, jigs inevitably hook into these formations and, as often as not, there is no getting them back. This day we lost 23 jigs to the sea, roughly $230 in gear. So if you go on one of these trips you will understand the insistence in the captain’s voice when told to “reel up!”

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Alaska grizzly hunt goes awry

An Alaskan  grizzly bear hunt that took place four years ago has gotten a pair of respected Michigan hunters into some trouble.

The Alaska Dispatch with the report:

 

One of the “Michiganians of the Year” for 2013 has been ordered, along with her son, to pay more than $50,000 in fines and write a public letter of apology to Safari Club International, an organization that maintains records of trophy game, for getting a jump on the 2009 bear hunting season on Alaska’s North Slope.

Sixty-six-year-old Charlotte Peyerk and 40-year-old son Mark Peyerk of Mio, Mich., so badly wanted to put a trophy grizzly in “the book” — as big-game hunters call the register of records — that they started the 2009 hunting season in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge a day early, according to federal prosecutors.

On Monday, Charlotte and Mark were sentenced in a Fairbanks court for crimes in connected to that hunt. Charlotte and her husband, Dan, enjoyed a better moment when they were recognized as outstanding citizens earlier this year by The Detroit News. The newspaper described them as “environmentalists from Glennie, Mich.”  They were commended for hosting disabled children at their lodge in the Great Lakes State.

 

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