Happy New Year, Alaska Sporting Journal readers! Given that it’s been a year of untimely celebrity deaths, a forgettable presdiential election and an uncertain – though clearly fascinating – political future for our country, it’s time to turn the page to 2017. But we feel like our magazine had a lot to say in 2016, at least from many of those characters we introduced you to in the pages of ASJ and our writers. So before we celebrate the New Year, let’s repeat how we ended 2015 and revisit some of the best quotes of the year.
“It’s everybody’s dream, including mine. Growing up you’d dream about hunting in Alaska. It’s a magical place – spectacular, beautiful and it’s adventurous. It’s kind of what everyone eventually wants to do: go hunting in Alaska. And I believe with this company we are selling that dream. And the performance of it allows guys to go and experience Alaska and to perform really well in those places. And that’s really the connection to those places.”
“They looked at me and were terrified… “I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to burn their time with my accident. I told them, ‘You guys do your hike and on the way back down, let me use your shoulder.’”
“That was probably the best part of not knowing what you have. Down here we can guess what we have when bottom fishing, for the most part. But over in Alaska, it could have been a giant lingcod for all we knew. When you’re 400 to 600 feet (down), that’s a lot of line to pick up when it’s straight down on a giant fish. You’re exhausted by the time you bring it back up top and you don’t know if it ends up being a chicken or barndoor (halibut). That level of excitement right there is probably equal to when a tarpon is coming and charging on a fly.”
Definitely. I didn’t go out there and expect to be a Sig Hansen right off the bat. I went out there and I needed to make sure that, for one, we’re safe. And two: to try and figure out and apply all these things that I learned and see if I could catch these crab. I tried to tell the crew that we’re all after the same goal; you gotta work together, and it did take some time for all those guys to find their roles. And once that was established and we knew who was where, things really flowed. It was cool to see that process, because it’s not every day that you just get to start fresh.”
“As I approached that last 20 feet to the top of Denali, I was crying and the tears were freezing … The tears were freezing in my face. And when I got to the top I remember being ever aware that I was standing on the top of the continent and that there was no place higher than this point. And I had never felt so small and insignificant in my life.”
“It wasn’t about jumping up and down or taking the photos or stabbing the flag (in the ground). I never felt so insignificant looking at 360 degrees of foreboding, wild, jagged ridges and glaciers. It was the most scary terrain as far as the eye can see in any direction.”
“The three of us entered the hip-deep water in stages, leaving plenty of room between each other to work particular sections of water with our fly rods without crossing over each other. Chris went in first, then Paul and finally me. Not unexpectedly, the action began immediately with my first drift behind the salmon. And it did not take much work before all of our fly rods began bending over almost simultaneously.”
“There are days when you say, ‘This is not worth it.’ You do feel terrible and question, ‘Why are we doing this?’ But I don’t think I ever (fully) felt that in the big picture. It just always seemed worth it. We were with our family and most of our friends fished, so I don’t think we felt we were missing out on anything. This was our world.”
“This is us; we fish here and this is our identity and I feel so proud to wear this. It was such a good representation to what we were all about. We started screen-printing rockfish or salmon on shirts and they were received so well by our peers and we were so excited to wear them. And we just can’t thank Alaskans enough for supporting us.”
“It’s a weird idea and one of those stranger-than-fiction stories that a cartoonist comes up with this idea to have artwork on a stamp that will save wildlife habitat for the birds and other animals. And then it spirals into this weird American subculture that people dedicate their lives to winning. To me, these were real American characters.”
“We immediately headed to shore, and I got my rifle from its case. I jumped up on the bank and began the short stalk alone. There were five animals in all, each bigger than the four we had seen earlier. Choosing was difficult, and I had to decide quickly, while at the same time get a clean shot. Wanting the biggest bull meat-wise and antler-wise can sometimes create conflict, but once I found him it was pretty easy. The scope found its mark and I waited for him to turn broadside and alone. He did, falling where he stood.”
“I was eight months pregnant when we decided to fill our Tier 1 caribou tag. This far along, I look like a beach ball with legs but am thankful that my camouflage pants still fit with the help of a BellaBand. I’ve spent my entire pregnancy asking my doctor a slew of odd questions about snowmachining and fishing.
Sometime around month seven, I waddled through a group of shocked fishermen to turn in a coho for the Seward Silver Salmon Derby during a particularly difficult fishing year. When I proposed the idea of a low-stress camping and hunting trip to my doctor, his response was, “All you need to worry about at this point is driving the Seward Highway.”
“But I am an Eskimo. Granted, it can be a derogatory term, but only if you use it in a derogatory way. The derivative of it is eaters of raw meat, and I’m not going to deny that; I’m in the muktuk (bowhead whale blubber) contest of eating raw whale blubber (at the Eskimo-Indian Olympics).”
“But being offended by something, that’s all internal. When I’m introducing myself on the show I say I’m the Eskimo Ninja but I’m Inupiaq Eskimo. The term Eskimo Ninja caught on at the show. But (host) Matt (Iseman) did say on the show that I was an Inupiaq from Unalakleet. And we’ll slowly get to the point where we’ll be Inuit people and we won’t be Eskimo anymore. But right now it’s just a slow transition and it’s not going to happen tomorrow.”
“I started this because I wanted to do something with my big brother – a simple thing. And it’s gotten to a point now where if you ask, ‘Why do I do it?’ We’ve had over 1,700 disabled veterans out (in the field) since this program started. So I have 1,700 good reasons why I do this.”
“That’s one thing I enjoy about this job, teaching younger guys about a profession. I consider myself a professional miner; for whatever reason that’s how my life has gone. And I want to instill in the young men that it’s a good job; do your job to the best of your ability. Take the ground and put it back into something useful. We need to extract the natural resources, but we also have the responsibility to put the ground back. And I love teaching the young men to not only be good operators and good miners, but to be good men.”
Dave Turin of Discovery Channel series, Gold Rush. (November)
“I feel like I’m so lucky, and in a way this is the easier way that we’re doing. Because I feel like nature is the ultimate healing force. But what makes everything OK at the end of the day is having a lot of family support around. And that’s also something that a lot of people don’t have.”
“We are trying to live in a family-based culture, and in actuality it’s a lot easier. I don’t know how parents raise kids without grandparents. I have an arsenal of grandparents because of remarriages, and luckily all the remarriages are with wonderful and amazing people. It’s funny: People think we have it so hard and we’re in need of such resiliency, but I actually think it’s harder if I moved to a big city, had to work a 9-to-5 job and never saw my kids. And my hat’s off to people in that situation. I don’t think I have it that hard.”
–Eve Kilcher of TV’s Alaska: The Last Frontier (December)
“When I heard the splash about 40 yards in front of me I was hopeful, briefly, that it was a deer. It wasn’t. Instead, I was graced with a Kodiak brown bear, ungracefully trying to climb a riverbank and falling back into the water. I about soiled my pants since I literally had nowhere to run: The alders were so thick on either side of the creek I would have been lunch before I cleared them. So I did the only thing I could think of: I racked a round into my .270 and yelled, “Hey, bear!” Drenched, the bear shook like a dog and sauntered off into the brush, headed upstream but disappeared in mere footsteps.”
Here’s hoping for more memorable quotes in 2017!