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Great New Clip From Alaska: The Last Frontier

From our friends at the Discovery Channel:

 

Sunday November 20th   

9PM ET/PT – ALASKA: THE LAST FRONTIER

It’s Thanksgiving on the homestead and the Kilchers show their thanks to the friends and family that have helped them out this past year by returning the favor, and doing something nice for them. Atz Lee and Jane battle an overgrown trail to help John Coila haul a refrigerator to his remote homestead. Eivin constructs a pressurized grapple canon for his childhood friend, Micah, and almost blows his foot off in the process. Eve learns that the excavator is not as easy as it looks as she gathers dirt to plant a garden for her sister, Elli. Atz Sr. builds his son a table. Otto relocates his man-cave to give Charlotte a view, and Charlotte helps August build his very first cabin before he leaves for college. Eivin and Eve host this years dinner in the Family Barn as they celebrate Sparrow’s first Thanksgiving.

 

And look for our conversation with Eivin’s wife, Eve Kilcher, in our December issue!

ADFG Forecasts 2017 Sockeye Run

Photo by user "echoforsberg"/Wikimedia

Photo by user “echoforsberg”/Wikimedia

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Photo by The Breach Film

 

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has released its 2017 sockeye salmon forecast for the Bristol Bay watershed. You can view the entire report here. But let’s take a look at some of the numbers projected:

Listed in millions

Total Run 41.47

Forecast Range 31.20–51.73

Escapement 12.46

Commercial Common Property Harvest 29.01

Bristol Bay Harvest 27.47

South Peninsula Harvest 1.53

Inshore Run 39.93

From the report:

METHODS The 2017 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon forecast is the sum of individual predictions of nine river systems (Kvichak, Alagnak, Naknek, Egegik, Ugashik, Wood, Igushik, Nushagak, and Togiak rivers) and four age classes (ages 1.2, 1.3, 2.2, and 2.3, plus ages 0.3 and 1.4 for the Nushagak River). Adult escapement and return data from brood years 1972–2013 were used in the analyses. Predictions for each age class returning to a river system were calculated from models based on the relationship between adult returns and spawners or siblings from previous years.

Tested models included simple linear regression and recent year averages. In general, models chosen were those with statistically significant parameters having the greatest past reliability (accuracy and precision) based on mean absolute deviation, mean absolute percent error, and mean percent error between forecasts and actual returns for the most recent three year (2014–2016) and five year (2012–2016) windows.

 

 

 

 

Sense Of Urgency For Kilcher Family

Look for our feature on Alaska: The Last Frontier’s Eve Kilcher next month in Alaska Sporting Journal. Above is a preview of tonight’s new episode from our friends at the Discovery Channel.

Sunday October 30
9PM ET/PT – ALASKA: THE LAST FRONTIER
Killer Repairs: With Otto’s surgery looming, the rush to complete projects becomes urgent. The herd’s food supply is threatened. Atz Lee and Jane reunite after a month apart when he brings her to his new homestead for the very first time. She’s less than impressed.

What Is This Mysterious “Monster” In The Chena River?

Update: Experts say this was just a very active and twisting piece of debris 🙁

Scotland’s Loch Ness has Nessie;  Vermont’s Lake Champlain has Champ; British Columbia’s Lake Okanagan has Ogopogo. Could Alaska’s Chena River have it’s on, uh, “Cheney?”

Check out the video on the BLM Facebook page and make your own determination.

It’s much more fun to claim it’s a prehistoric beast rather than just a giant sturgeon, right? Or what if it’s not a living critter at all?

 

Last-Chance Salmon On The Delta Clearwater

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

BY DENNIS MUSGRAVES 

The two pairs of wool socks under my stocking-foot waders did little to relieve my painfully numb toes as I shuffled along waist-deep in the icy river.

I’d been eager to tread into the water some 20 minutes earlier, but my throbbing feet were desperately trying to convince me I had made a mistake. The brisk morning air wasn’t helping much either, as my fingertips were starting to yap about feeling frosted.

Ignoring all of my aching digits was not easy, but I pressed forward against the current. A favorite section of the waterway was just around the bend, a deep hole where I knew the salmon would be holding. Anticipating the strike of a feisty fish and imagining my rod bending over helped persuade me to continue.

No, my final outing of the year for salmon wasn’t going to be interrupted by temporary discomfort from chilly conditions. Suffering through the elements wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew from past experience that the bitter cold would soon fade with each fish I caught.

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WHILE THE SALMON FISHING deep inside Alaska’s Interior doesn’t compare to the iconic fisheries found elsewhere in the state, angling addicts north of the Alaska Range need not despair: there are still opportunities to find your fix. But you’re going to have to wait until summer is gone, and you’re going to need to embrace the cold.

October is the perfect month for Interior fishermen to pick up a rod and reel, as the largest return of coho found anywhere in the Yukon River drainage begins to peak. The annual congregation of salmon happens not far from the end of the Alaskan Highway near the small community of Delta Junction.

Diehard anglers willing to travel the distance and tolerate the precursor to the impending winter freeze will be rewarded with plenty of action from bold-colored coho swimming in this spring-fed waterway.

The Delta Clearwater River is literally the gem of Interior Alaska when it comes to coho fishing. Recent years have seen returns over 50,000, and as you might imagine, that many fish makes it difficult for my friends and I to ignore such a productive location.

The 1,000-mile journey of these salmon begins at the western edge of the state, where the Yukon drains into the Bering Sea. Their swim takes them up the powerful river deep into the heart of the state, and then they turn into the silt-laden currents of the Tanana River before arriving in the Delta Clearwater beginning in September.

The salmon are no longer the dime-bright silver they were in saltwater. Their sides are now colored a vibrant brick red, and males display large pronounced black kypes. Even so, the fish are often harvested by locals. Since the flesh is firm and acceptable for consumption, it’s not uncommon to see limits on stringers near the campground.

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FISHING THE CLEARWATER for coho is normally a catch-and-release event for me, although I have harvested fish in the past for a meal on the grill or so I can put them on the smoker. Current fishing regulations allow anglers to retain three coho per day from the river.

Some anglers may thumb their nose at the outward appearance of the bright-red fish, but I am no salmon snob. I find that Clearwater coho taste just fine and actually hold a certain majestic look in their spawning colors.

The fishery provides excellent action for anglers of all skill levels. Fishing is neither technical nor difficult. Catching coho has an almost consistent predictable conclusion, with terrific fishing lasting as late as November.

As you might imagine, locating schools of these red-coated salmon in the clear-running river isn’t too difficult. During peak timing of the run, catching and releasing a dozen fish within an hour is commonplace for most anglers.   

A boat will enable you to find deep holes that hold large groups of salmon, but you don’t need one in order to be successful. Casting from the riverbank or wading in the current near the state campground will also produce hook-ups with passing fish.

Bitterly cold air temperatures on some days make it cold enough to lock up fishing reels and smother rod eyelets with ice. Moisture dripping off the fly or fishing line from repeated casting accumulates quickly and hardens like cement. You’ll need to constantly chip it away if you want to cast. Indeed, cold-weather coho fishing isn’t for everyone.

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THE DELTA CLEARWATER IS a special place for me since it’s where I caught my very first Alaskan coho. I also cherish the many great memories of camping on the river’s banks with family and friends and spending time together fishing the late season just before the snow arrives.

The strong numbers of salmon present and terrific access to the river provides Interior anglers like myself one last chance to fish for open-water salmon. Just make sure to double up your clothing if you head to the river and you’re good to go. ASJ

Editor’s note: For more of author Dennis Musgraves’ fishing adventures in the Great Land, go to alaskansalmonslayers.com

Alaska: The Last Frontier Episode Sneak Peek

Otto Kilcher photo by Discovery Channel

Otto Kilcher photo by Discovery Channel

Here’s a preview of Sunday’s new episode of Alaska: The Last Frontier on Discovery Channel:

Episode Description:
Still reeling from the recent 7.1 earthquake, the Kilchers rush to make headway on time sensitive projects. Otto, Charlotte, and Eivin travel across Kachemak Bay to rescue a family relic. Atz Lee races the melting snow to transport a sawmill to his homesite before it’s too late. The first fishing trip of the year leaves Eve and Jane lost at sea.

Note: We’ll have a profile of Eve Kilcher in our December issue.

Sneak Preview To Tonight’s Gold Rush Episode

Group portrait of all the miners at the claim: James Harness, Jim Thurber, Todd Hoffman, Jack Hoffman, Chris Doumitt, Dave Turin.

Group portrait of all the miners at the claim: James Harness, Jim Thurber, Todd Hoffman, Jack Hoffman, Chris Doumitt, Dave Turin.

Discovery’s hit series Gold Rush returns tonight (check our local listings) with a new episode.

Our friends at the Discovery Channel shared some good news from last week when the show’s new season premiered:

Discovery hit ratings gold with the season 7 premiere of GOLD RUSH – ranking as the #1 show on all of TV on Friday night among M18-49 & M18-34. It was also cable’s #1 telecast across all 25-54, 18-49 and 18-34 demos. The series scored an impressive 2.12 P25-54 rating with 4.0 M Total viewers P2+ on Friday, October 14 in L + 3. It also beat TBS’s American League Championship Series game across all 25-54s, 18-49s and 18-34s. GOLD RUSH drove Discovery to rank as cable’s #1 non-sports cable net in Friday Prime across all 25-54s, all 18-49s, P/M18-34, P2+.

Look for our profile of Gold Rush miner Dave Turin in our November issue, and here’s a sneak peek at tonight’s new show:

 

 

 

 

An Alaskan Ninja Warrior Soars

Photo by Nick Hanson

Photos by Nick Hanson and NBC

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR -- "Los Angeles Qualifier" -- Pictured: Nick Hanson -- (Photo by: Brandon Hickman/NBC)

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR — “Los Angeles Qualifier” — Pictured: Nick Hanson — (Photo by: Brandon Hickman/NBC)

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

BY CHRIS COCOLES

On Labor Day night last month, it seemed like everyone in Unalakleet (population 688) showed up for a watch party to see this Nome-area village’s favorite son defy the odds.

Nick Hanson, 28, appeared in the final rounds of the NBC hit reality competition show American Ninja Warrior, in which athletes attempt to complete rigorous obstacle courses that feature everything jumping, climbing and swinging.

Hanson may be the most unlikely of survivors who’d previously qualified in various cities (Hanson completed his course in Los Angeles). Unalakleet can be a dreary and hopeless place for its mostly Native Alaskan population. But on this night, several of the local kids Hanson coaches in various sports were in the audience and watching their hero attempt to finish the course in Las Vegas in the first of a three-part finale. 

“A ton of the youth from Unalakleet all came, even without their parents,” Hanson says. “To see it and relive it on my own watching the show, but also to hear everybody’s reaction, that’s when you go, ‘This is really cool,’ because everybody in my village looks up to me. That’s when it really soaks in for me when I know I have so many supporters here.”

The ANW courses, both the one he qualified on in Los Angeles and the one he barely missed finishing in the allotted 2 minutes, 20 seconds in the final round in Las Vegas, are a series of tests – mostly physical but also mental.

Hanson, like everyone else who participates, is clearly an elite athlete capable of doing the extraordinary with his body. But that doesn’t change what a grind this exercise can be with the lights on and the cameras rolling.

“You can’t really (think about) beyond the first obstacle, and if you do, you make a mistake,” Hanson says. “It’s like building a wall, because you’re excited about your (new) house, and then you realize it’s the wrong size wall. You’ve got to measure twice and cut once. That’s the way I approach everything I do. When I’m going up on these obstacles, I kind of have to relate them to stuff that I do in Unalakleet.”

And much of what he does in his hometown is help the next generation accomplish his or her own version of American NinjaWarrior

“OK, let’s go Eskimo,” shouts American Ninja Warrior analyst Akbar Gbaja-Biamila – as you’ll soon discover, Hanson is referred to as the Eskimo Ninja when he competes – as Nick prepares for some of the most grueling two minutes and 20 seconds of his life. He traverses a series of wobbly steps and then a sharp incline, pauses and channels his inner trapeze artist by flinging himself from a trampoline onto the course’s “Propeller Bar” and then a Tarzan swing. He easily scales a few climbing obstacles. Two minutes to go.

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR -- "Las Vegas Finals" -- Pictured: Nick Hanson -- (Photo by: David Becker/NBC)

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR — “Las Vegas Finals” — Pictured: Nick Hanson — (Photo by: David Becker/NBC)

HANSON’S NATIVE BLOOD COMES from his mother Davida’s side of the family; she’s an Inupiaq. His dad, Bret, is a non-Native whose mother and Nick’s “Nona” moved to Alaska years ago when she was battling cancer and worked as an artist. Bret graduated from high school in Barrow but has lived everywhere from Los Angeles to Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories before eventually meeting Davida in Barrow and settling in Unalakleet.

Besides a stable family life, Nick had two major influences in his life: sports and subsistence fishing and hunting. 

“The subsistence lifestyle is the way I grew up, I guess. Trying to look at it from an outsider’s perspective, I talked to (fellowANW competitor Kevin Bull, a stock trader from Northern California), and he’s never gone hunting,” Hanson says. “And I’ve known how to treat and handle a gun since I was 5 and 6 years old; that’s when my grandparents were taking me out. I was taught how to handle a gun correctly and how it’s a tool and not a toy. It’s not something you messed with.”

Hanson also learned at an early age to respect the natural environment around his people and how critical the flora and fauna can be to feed the village. There was always a sense of respect and honor to the big game he’d hunt or the salmon he’d catch over the course of the year to fill freezers with meat. 

“It’s a journey and an adventure to behold,” he says.

His grandparents on his mother’s side learned how to hunt with a bow and arrow and spear – the tools of past generations – and it’s Hanson’s intention to do the same for his children and grandchildren.

He remembered his first time at sea hunting ugruk, bearded seals that are major component of the Native diet in that far-flung corner of Alaska. These aren’t quite the adorable spotted or harbor seals you can watch frolic around local harbors in Alaska. Ugruk are massive pinnipeds that can grow to 600 or more pounds.

Hanson still hasn’t harvested his first moose yet, having been on five different moose hunts but allowing someone else to fill that particular tag.

“But I’ve been there to carry out those 250-pound hindquarters,” he says. “But I think the coolest thing we do here is egg hunting. We’ll go out on the 100-foot cliffs, climb up and gather eggs from the nests of seagulls and murres and bring them home. That’s our egg source. We just have to go rock climbing for them.”

“It’s like a natural farm. If you think about what a farmer has to do – get up early in the morning and take care of the (crops), feed the horses and the pigs. Farming is a full-time job. Up here, we have certain specific seasons that we have to follow. Right now (mid-September) it’s the end of berry season, so you see a lot of people gathering, gathering, gathering. You go to work, and as soon as you get off work you’re gone until the sun goes down getting berries. Right now it’s moose season, and we’ll even skip work and take a day off. Our administration (at the school where Hanson teaches and coaches) will say, ‘Alright, you’re going moose hunting? Thanks for letting us know and we’ll see you when you get back.’”

Salmon runs – usually kings, chums and especially coho and pinks – are obviously also a big deal when they come through. But what Hanson gets out of the notion that you can sustain yourself via the outdoors more so than rolling a shopping cart up and down the frozen food aisle is just how his people hunt.

Rather than stalking an animal, Hanson says waiting for it to come into shooting range is the proper way to hunt.

“We go to a certain spot where we know they’re around, and if it presents itself in the right way, then we’ll take it. When we’re out hunting we’re definitely going with a purpose. We want to make sure that we provide for our family and bring food home. But we also respect that if a seal isn’t giving itself to us, we can’t change that.”

Hanson clutches a cylindrical-shaped log tethered to a rope and glides over the water hazard below, a potential swim no ninjawarrior who has survived this far wants to take. “Well, shoot; now he better hold on here,” Gbaja-Biamila, a former NFL defensive lineman, says as Nick swings back and forth on the log, then lands safely on a mat, then stumbles ever so slightly before jogging across a small bridge where he can catch his breath again; 1:34 on the clock.

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ATHLETICS HAS ALWAYS BEEN one of Hanson’s outlets to escape the vices that take down so many in Unalakleet, but it was initially more out of revenge than any kind of competitive juices pushing him.

“To be honest, I’m going to get a little deep here, and that’s the only way I can tell the story,” he warns. “I’m an Alaskan Native and my mom was born and raised with bloodlines coming from Unalakleet and Barrow. But my dad’s side has Italian in him, so I look white. Only if you look into my eyes and nose and facial hair, that’s where my Native comes out.”

Hanson says his culture is rather young in the eyes of Western civilization.

“The racism is still strong from both angles, and in my generation it’s only starting to heal, and that’s why they call us the Healing Generation,” he says.

So here was young Nick Hanson, who was every bit the Native to those he grew up with in Unalakleet, but he looked like an outsider from the big city. That created tension and teasing within his tiny community.

“A lot of the kids looked at me and they laughed because I was talking Native but was white. The first thing I experienced was these two girls – and they’re really close friends now who I love dearly – came up to me and said, ‘You’re not supposed to be here.’ I was getting beaten up, the other kids thought I looked funny and was weird because I did my homework and wore rubber boots to school on a rainy day when all the other kids were so used to rain they just wore their tennis shoes.”

The bigoted razzing got to be too cruel one day in third grade when Nick hit rock bottom. He sobbed all the way on his walk home, but for some reason had an epiphany. He was not going to put up with this anymore.

“As a third grader that’s a big step to take. So that year, I started to play basketball. All I did was not care about anyone else and turned everyone else off except my coach. I listened to my coach, Steve Ivanoff, and did what he wanted me to do. And I did it.”

By seventh grade, his court skills were so advanced he was practicing with the older kids from the high school. By then, Hanson was running cross country and playing volleyball. These days, besides his athletic TV prowess on ANW, Hanson has excelled competing in the Arctic Winter Games – he currently holds the world record in the scissor broad jump and has won multiple medals – and the World Eskimo Indian Olympics.

“My competitive drive just grew and grew. And the roots were deep. I was trying to fit in with the other kids, and when they saw how good I was at sports and how athletic I was, that’s when they would start to say, ‘Hey, Nick, how’s it going?’ And I thought, ‘This is my in.’ Then it took over, and that’s been my lifestyle ever since.”

By the time he’d reach adulthood, Hanson wanted to be on the other end of the spectrum and help others get out of their shells.

In Unalakleet – as Hanson painfully discovered – kids there often can’t get the help they desperately need.

The course is unrelenting as Nick defies gravity and any semblance of Newtononian logic. Another launch brings him to a narrow space between two walls, known as the “Jumping Spider.” Only the strength in his appendages keeps him from falling into the pool. He must work his way across the walls, all the while climbing higher in the process. Host Matt Iseman: “Not a lot of spiders up in Alaska, but no problem for Nick Hanson.” Again, a chance to exhale, but only as precious seconds tick away before contesting “Sonic Curve,” a set of six angled steps and then right into another swinging rope. The clock is under a minute now and the Eskimo Ninja knows he’s got to pick up the pace a little.

It’s becoming clear that all the working out he’s done back in Unalalkeet – not to mention his successful completion of his Los Angeles qualifying course – has served Hanson well. Next is running down a slope and running up a ridiculously steep wall to grab the top of and continue his quest to move on. His upper arm strength is somehow enough at this point to get up and over rather smoothly. The reward? A harrowing journey across “Broken Bridge,” something of a sprint through spread-out steps A few nervous steps later and finishing in the allotted time is looking feasible. “It seems like a lot of time left,” Iseman theorizes at the 32-second mark.

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HANSON STUDIED CIVIL ENGINEERING at the University of Alaska Anchorage, but he knew all along that teaching and coaching other Natives in his hometown was a chance to make a difference through sport.

Turning on that lightbulb above someone’s head is not easy – especially in Unalakleet. Kids here are terrorized by the demons of temptation and vice. Drug and alcohol abuse can be chronic issues. Depression is widespread. The Alaska Dispatch Newswrote a profile of Hanson and reported that six teammates he played high school basketball with committed suicide. 

“We had 12 players, so we’ve lost half. It’s tough to think about because I can look at those athletes and I won’t say any names, but some of these guys were the top basketball players in the state,” Hanson says. “One had the potential to be a point guard in college. He was the best player I’ve ever met. I played right alongside with him and was excited to be his shooting guard. And I was excited to get an outlet pass from him every time because it was on-point.”

“It’s tough to see these guys make the choice to take their own life. It’s just like, ‘Why? You had such potential and you’re so smart. I grew up with you and know how smart you are.’ Why would you make a choice like that? You start thinking about it, ‘What’s going on?’ You look back and try to read between the lines with those guys and what made them make that choice. Obviously alcohol was involved, but, man, it just really sucks.”

Of the substance abuse – drugs and especially alcohol – that has affected so many young people in tiny Alaskan villages, Hanson makes a valid point about the Native population. Again, it’s a young culture, one that just can’t handle the effects of being under the influence (a fitness fanatic, Hanson abstains from alcohol and tobacco).

This is not other societies, where taking a few – or more – drinks is almost acceptable behavior and in the DNA of younger generations. But the vices did irreparable damage to Native teenagers.

Hanson feels fortunate he had responsible parents – Davida is a recovering alcoholic and hasn’t gone to the bottle in years – and the Hanson residence became something of a halfway house for Nick’s troubled friends.

“I’ve had kids coming over to my house all my life – sometimes three at a time. We’d have kids sleeping over and we’d all just pile into my bed; we’d all just sleep head to toe, even on school nights. They would just come over because their home wasn’t working.”

“That’s just kind of a normal thing out here in Unalakleet, where it takes a village to raise a child. That statement really does mean something, because my parents have helped raise quite a few kids. I know plenty of other parents in this community that are really great parents and they’ve helped raise (troubled children). It’s not the kids’ fault and it’s not even the parents’ fault because they got sucked into it and the trauma that they had in their own life.”

And now that he’s an adult and coaching every sport that’s offered to the kids in the village, Hanson hopes his brush with American Ninja Warrior fame can make him a built-in mentor for struggling youth. He’s become heavily involved in an Alaska Department of Health Services organization, Play Every Day (dhss.alaska.gov/dph/PlayEveryDay), which encourages kids to get outside move.

The ninja course Hanson and his buddies built along the waterfront in Unalakleet – a nephew convinced Nick to build it and pursue the show – is also a safe haven for many in the community.

 “You definitely have those moments where there’s one kid that you just say, ‘Come on – work with me here.’ And you get frustrated because that’s the way life is. You’re not going to have a perfect day every day. But on the day that they do click and you see that moment of ‘A-ha!’ in their eyes, you know it when it happens more than once that week; you made it click in that moment. And it’s that moment that I live for every day.”

When you have to deal with something called the “Flying Squirrel” and time is ticking away, you know the degree of difficulty is ratcheting up. Holding on with both arms, Nick meticulously rolls back and forth, leaping from one set of bars to another, a climbing net waiting on the other side. He makes it, but with less than 15 seconds remaining, Gbaja-Biamila reminds that Nick has “to get high on this cargo net! He’s already staring to get a little tired.” A little tired? When he makes it onto the net, he has just over 11 seconds left to climb up and over and then reach a small catwalk, where a button must be pushed before the final buzzer.

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THE TERM ESKIMO HAS become a taboo subject for how to describe Native North Americans who settled in Alaska and Canada. To many, especially in Canadian circles, the term is a derogatory one and has been replaced with the term Inuit to describe Natives of the far north. The movement includes the U.S. as well.

In May, President Obama went so far as sign HR 4238, legislation that officially replaced Eskimo with the term Native Alaskan. 

The controversy has not gone unnoticed for Hanson, who embraces his American Ninja Warrior nickname, the Eskimo Ninja(two of his cousins came up with the moniker).

“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.

But tomorrow is what Hanson is looking toward. He’ll surely go back to American Ninja Warrior, but he has a higher calling than the bright lights of the obstacle courses and TV land.

Besides plans to get a master’s degree in math so he can teach the subject, Hanson is also pursuing a bachelor’s in Native Alaska studies. He can understand the Unalakleet dialect but wants to be able to speak it fluently with the few old-timers who still speak it and then introduce it to the village’s youth.

“It’s been an honor to represent my culture, and that’s the biggest wow moment for me,” he says of his celebrity status.

“Another thing I wanted to show with my ninja thing is I want (village youths) to see that they can do something positive in their lives and do something amazing. All they’ve got to do is set their minds to it. And if I can make that difference in maybe five or six kids per village and they can look up to me and change their ways, that’s going to turn into 10 or 15 in the next generation and then maybe everybody in a few generations.”

 The final countdown is on. As the Eskimo Ninja climbs up the rickety net the seconds are evaporating … five … four … three … two … Coming from a place where the statistics don’t favor the locals, when he pulls himself onto the runway he’s just a few feet from achieving what seems like a statistical improbability. But then the buzzer sounds as he’s on his knees trying to get up off the mat one last time. “Noooo!” Gbaja-Biamila screams, his hand on his head in disappointment. Hanson’s agonizingly close to moving on but going home instead. Nick rests his head against the pole. But he smiles. Surrounded by what seems like his entire hometown of supporters (his family, his girlfriend Joanne Semaken, friends) he chats with sideline reporter Kristine Leahy. “I was just like, ‘Ah, frustrating.’ But I was there; I had it,” Nick says calmly. “If you fail, keep working – keep working hard.” Someone is listening to those words back home. Nick is sure of that. ASJ

Editor’s note: For more on Nick Hanson, like him at facebook.com/eskimoninjaunk, follow on Instagram (eskimoninjaunk) and watch his videos at youtube.com/channel/UCjRYT67aAC9-dV12dsUBhwQ

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Nelchina Caribou Hunting Season Reopens On Friday

Nelchina Caribou Herd photo by Larry Whyte

Nelchina Caribou Herd photo by Larry Whyte

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

All state managed caribou hunts in Game Management Unit 13—including hunts CC001, RC566 and DC485—will reopen on October 21. Harvest is open to hunters who currently hold valid permits and have not yet harvested a caribou.

Nelchina caribou herd numbers are currently above management objectives and biologists do not anticipate reaching a harvest quota during the winter season. The winter hunt is scheduled by regulation to remain open through March 31, 2017.

A series of mild winters and relatively low predation have combined to raise Nelchina caribou herd numbers above the fall management objective of 35,000 to 40,000 animals. Analysis of data from a photo survey conducted in July places the 2016 population near last year’s estimate of 48,700. To help bring herd numbers closer to healthy management goals, hunters are encouraged to harvest cows.

The Nelchina herd has moved into the eastern part of Unit 13 and animals have been crossing the Richardson Highway between Paxson and Sourdough. Caribou have also been seen scattered along the Paxson end of the Denali Highway. Hunters are warned that the Denali Highway is not maintained during winter; a sudden snowfall could render the road impassable and leave motorists stranded.

Hunters are reminded to be aware and respectful of private and native corporation land boundaries, controlled use areas, and closed hunting areas including the Clearwater Controlled Use Area, Paxson Closed Area, and the Tangle Lakes Archeological District. To learn more about lands closed to hunting, see the 2016-2017 Alaska Hunting Regulations.

For herd movement updates and emergency orders, call the Nelchina caribou hotline at 267-2304. The hotline will be updated periodically for the remainder of the hunting season.

Panhandle Hunter Survived A Bear Attack

Photo by Lisa Hupp/USFWS

Photo by Lisa Hupp/USFWS

Sorry for just getting this in now, but I was on vacation and out of the office all of last week. The Alaska Dispatch reported that a hunter survived a bear attack two weekends ago in Southeast Alaska.

Here’s the paper with more:

A deer hunter from Hoonah was injured in a brown bear attack on Chichagof Island in Southeast Alaska Saturday, and was saved when his hunting partner shot and killed the attacking bear, Alaska State Troopers reported.

Anthony Lindoff, 36, of Juneau and Josh Dybdahl, 30, of Hoonah, were approaching a brushy spot in an area of muskeg near Neka Bay on Chichagof Island, preparing to call for deer when the bear attacked around 12:30 p.m. Saturday, troopers said in an online dispatch. 

“They heard a ‘whoof’ and then a brown bear emerged from the brush charging at them,” troopers wrote.

The bear pinned Dybdahl on the ground; Lindoff grabbed his rifle and shot the bear, killing it, the dispatch said.

The bear, a sow, had two cubs with her, according to the dispatch.

“Investigation revealed that the attack likely occurred as a result of the bear being startled,” troopers said.

Lindoff and Dybdahl called the U.S. Coast Guard, which picked them up in a helicopter and took the men to Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau.