Great story from Ketichikan’s KRBD radio news director Leila Kheiry on a Southeast Alaska couple, LaDonna and Ole Gunderson. Both in the commercial fishing industry, the Gundersons have authored cookbooks but will take a more diplomatic approach in their latest venture, which will bring them (and a lot of salmon fillets) to the Middle Eastern nation of Oman to spread their livelihood abroad:
LaDonna Gundersen has written several cookbooks, and salmon – always Alaskan, always wild – is heavily featured. The two also have participated in the Live in Ketchikan’s Celebrity Chef cooking program – produced by KPU-TV.
“We received an email asking if I’d be interested in coming over and sharing Alaska culture and fishing and cooking salmon and like that,” she said. “When we first saw the email, we were like, ‘Hmmm. This is curious.’”
LaDonna said she wasn’t sure the email was legitimate, but she wrote back and asked for more details. A month later, they got a reply, and KPU-TV Marketing Manager Michelle O’Brien was cc’d on the email.
So, the Gundersens knew it was legit, and they wrote back to give a resounding “yes!” to the invitation.Turns out, “her friend, Ann Mason at the U.S. Embassy, they went to college together, I think around 20 years ago, and they kept in contact,” LaDonna said. “And they were looking to promote wild salmon in Oman, so she reached out to Michelle, and Michelle suggested looking at my Celebrity Chef stuff I’ve done.”
They worked out some details, and learned that the embassy wanted the Gundersens to share not only the joys of wild Alaska salmon, but also the business end of running a small family-owned commercial fishing operation.
Best of luck to the couple on their goodwill tour of Oman.
Happy Veteran’s Day to all who have served our country (and a heartfelt thank you). Check out this Men’s Journal interview with American Sniper screenwriter Jason Hall on how movies can provide veterans with some perspective.
Here are some interesting points Hall made in the piece:
I hear that Warner Bros. is donating a portion of the profits from sales of the American Sniper DVD to the Wounded Warrior Project. There is going to be a pretty decent donation heading that way. That’s a huge deal. That means a lot to these guys and their welfare. Movies like ours shine a light on some of the issues, but there has to be follow-through there with the public. People still don’t know how to participate or how to help. We’ve been talking about trying to push through a Veterans Bill Of Rights. I’m hoping the film i’m directing, Thank You For Your Service, will open that conversation again and address in a really true way what happens when these guys get home and how long that wait is for these families.
Are soldiers still reaching out to you? I have a lot of families that are coming up there with stories they want to tell. What I’m realizing from all of this is that Chris’s story was his story. It may have been representative of the sacrifice of every soldier, but within that sacrifice is thousands of different stories that are just as important to tell or to document. Just a few weeks ago, I was participating on a stage reading of “The Sky Was Paper” at the Kennedy Center in D.C. You hear these letters from veterans. Not just U.S. soldiers, but soldiers from Germany, Russia, and Japan. What you realize is that war is this plague of destruction on mankind that reaps a toll on families over time.
War movies have been made for decades, but you seem to really be searching for a connection with the soldiers. What drives that? There’s this incredible way that some of these guys are able to speak about what they’ve seen. They’re able to articulate it in a way we never could, they saw something and were able to bring back this understanding of the destruction of war. Some of the guys find hope in the experience. What they saw in war makes them want to live more, live better, because they’ve been so close to death — they understand the value of life more clearly.
Great insight frim Hall on what too many Americans forget about: when these brave men and women return home from the front, many are still involved in a fight, and say what you want about the role snipers have on both sides, American Sniper among the most influential films of this era that depicts what veterans must endure and how difficult it is for them to get back to a normal life.
As someone who spent about 15 post-college years working at newspapers, I can relate to budget cuts. Through runs at two once top 50-circulation publications, those papers are now shells of their former selves. Good, talented people were given “severance packages” – the modern-day way to give someone the heave-ho (laid off), and page counts are now absurdly small and overpriced. I was just in a Dallas Walmart with a friend who wanted to buy a Saturday Dallas Morning News, which has traditionally been one of the best papers around. I knew the days of feeding a rack with a quarter were over; still, I sheepishly asked, ‘What’s that going to cost? 75 cents?” Try $1.50!
But I digress. Newspapers are not the only industry that’s suffered cuts during our long stretches of recession. A report on KFSK in Petersburg had some disheartening news for Alaska’s fishing industry:
Because of Alaska’s budget crisis, state agencies cut spending this year and are planning additional reductions in the next few years. For the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, those cuts have meant less monitoring of fish runs, a change that will lead to more conservative management and less fishing opportunity. That was the message from Fish and Game officials to a commercial fishing industry organization that met in Petersburg in late October.
ADFG commissioner Sam Cotten told the board members of the United Fishermen of Alaska at its fall meeting in Petersburg that the department is looking at several years of budget reductions.
“Last year I think we took an 18 percent cut and the governor’s asking for another 10,” Cotten said. “And the legislature’s not going to be satisfied with that. So it isn’t a matter of whether our budget’s going to get cut it’s a matter of how much. But we would like your help on the where part.”
The story also talked about the state “consolidating administrative staff,” so that’s not exactly a good sign for everyone involved. But it’s hardly a shocking development.
Dutch Habor led the way with 761.8 million pounds of fish landings last year. (US GOVERNMENT WORK)
This just in: Alaska has a huge presence in the commercial fishing industry. So it shouldn’t be a major shocker that the three Alaska ports ranked 1-3 in the U.S. in terms of seafood landings last year.
“The Alaska port of Dutch Harbor continued to lead the nation with the most seafood landings – 761.8 million pounds, 87 percent of which was walleye pollock,” said Dr. Richard Merrick in announcing the national rankings in the annual Fisheries of the U.S. report for 2014.
It’s the 18th year in a row that Dutch Harbor has claimed the top spot for fish landings. Kodiak ranked second and the Aleutian Islands were third, thanks to Trident’s plant at Akutan, the nation’s largest seafood processing facility. In all, 13 Alaska communities made the top 50 list for landings: Alaska Peninsula (8), Naknek (10), Sitka (14), Ketchikan (15), Cordova (16), Petersburg (20), Bristol Bay (23), Seward (27), Kenai (34) and Juneau (45).
In terms of the value of all that seafood, Dutch Harbor was second at $191 million, coming in behind New Bedford, Massachusetts, for the 15th consecutive year. The relatively small 140 million pound catch at that New England port was worth nearly $330 million at the docks, due to the pricey Atlantic scallop fishery, with prices ranging from $12.50 to $14 a pound, according to the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.
Sportsman Tracker Launches New Mobile App Featuring The World’s Most Advanced Prediction Formula To Forecast Wildlife Movement
New all-in-one hunting and fishing app allows users to track and follow more than 200 species of wildlife
GRAND RAPIDS, MI, October 25, 2015—Sportsman Tracker, the technology company that provides cutting-edge hunting and fishing tools for tracking wildlife, has announced the launch of its newest app, which inputs eight unique variables into a proprietary algorithm to help users know where and when to find the best hunting and fishing spots. The new Sportsman Tracker mobile app enables outdoor enthusiasts to track and forecast peak wildlife activity times for over 200 different species, to log fishing and hunting experiences and to connect with friends to share photos and successes. The app is free and is available now for Android and iOS devices.
The app features Sportsman Tracker’s new proprietary prediction algorithm, Wildlife Intelligence Technology™, that is based on scientific research in the field of wildlife behavioral patterns. The unique prediction formula analyzes different environmental variables, including key weather patterns and the solunar calendar, and applies these factors to the user’s location and specific species, allowing users to identify and track the best times and days to hunt and fish.
“Since launching our platform in 2013, we’ve made more than five million predictions for hundreds of thousands of users around the world,” said Jeff Courter, co-founder and CEO of Sportsman Tracker. “Now, with a completely rebuilt mobile app featuring the world’s most advanced forecasting algorithm, we can offer logging not just for whitetail and common fish, but for more than 200 game species. In addition, we can now more accurately predict when success is most likely to occur, whether you’re hunting whitetail or fishing for bass.”
The app also introduces logging capabilities that allow users to quickly and easily record details of their results, upload photos, add notes and rate their experiences. Current locations, dates, times, and weather information are automatically captured in each log to improve future predictions. Users may choose to keep their information and locations private or to share log details and photos with their close friends. Instant Buddy Notifications allow users to stay up to date with their friends’ fishing and hunting photos and to discover other great sportsmen in their area to follow.
The Sportsman Tracker app includes the following features for predicting, logging and sharing fishing and hunting experience:
Hourly, Daily & Weekly Predictions – A one to five star rating tells users when and where to hunt and fish. The company’s unique prediction formula, Wildlife Intelligence Technology, utilizes adaptive learning algorithms and analyzes the key factors that influence the behavior and specific movement of hundreds of hunting and fishing species for each GPS plotted location.
Hourly Weather – 10-day forecast with detailed hour-by-hour information lets users plan for wind direction changes, barometric pressure, temperature, weather conditions and precipitation.
Lake Contours: Comprehensive database of lake contours provided by Navionics in more than 18,000 lakes and rivers to help users pinpoint hotspots and plot fishing locations. Available via web only.
Log Activities – Capture memories from the woods and water by tracking and logging activities. Logs automatically include current location, date, time and weather variables, and users can choose to document their target species, number of game shot/seen, photos, notes and a star rating of their experience.
Instant Buddy Notifications – Instantly share logs with close buddies who will be notified of all log details. Enable push notifications to automatically share future logs with friends via push alert or email.
About Sportsman Tracker:
Sportsman Tracker is the ultimate hunting and fishing toolset that allows users to locate, log, report, and predict for all of their hunting and fishing activities. The company’s Wildlife Intelligence Technology prediction algorithm provides hunters and anglers with the most advanced and accurate forecast of where and when to hunt or fish. Hundreds of thousands of users have utilized Sportsman Tracker’s tools to forecast their success since 2013, logging in more than 5 million predictions in over 1.5 million locations. The company is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was founded by Jeff Courter and Jon Schwander.
For more information about Sportsman Tracker visit www.sportsmantracker.com.
Hockey player Willie Mitchell, who we profiled in 2014 when he was a member of the Los Angeles Kings, has been an advocate for protecting wild salmon from fish farms in his native British Columbia.
Mitchell, now the captain for the NHL’s Florida Panthers, offered his support to see a B.C. soccer-playing teen who spoke out against her team being sponsored by a fish farming company.
Here’s CBC with more:
The captain of the Florida Panthers, Willie Mitchell, tweeted on Friday night he would sponsor 14-year-old Freyja Reed after she was told to stop protesting about the fish farming company who sponsors her soccer league.
Mitchell called Reed’s case “outrageous” and said the ability to “speak up for what we believe in” is reason why it’s a “privilege” to live in North America.
I recently returned from a week road tripping through four different nations/territories (technically five, as our rental car briefly crossed into Croatia but only for about an hour’s worth of driving) that were once part of the now dissolved Yugoslavia: Serbia, Kosovo (a fascinating place that, despite claiming independence from Serbia in 2008, is still not recognized as an independent nation by 110 other flags), Montenegro and Bosnia. I could relay a lot about the cultural diversity and strong opinions my friend and I experienced spending time in nations that hate each other and had a war to prove it.
But this is a far less tension-filled fishing and hunting website. So rather than show off my less than knowledgeable stand on politics and religion, how about simply a collection of fishing images I snapped throughout my trip:
I never figured if these Belgrade, Serbia anglers were fishing the famous “blue” Danube or the converging Sava River that also flows through the capital city.
Belgrade has fishing shops too!
This guy (pictured above) had quite a great time around the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro catching a lot of small fish that he surely made a great meal from.
Lake Skadar is a massive freshwater fishery that is bordered by Montenegro and Albania on its southeast shoreline. We saw a lot of folks fishing for trout, carp and even eel, which is a delicacy in this part of the country.
I stumbled onto the remains of a Bosnian fish hatchery next to the Buna River.
In the same area, a cool outdoor restaurant patio had a small pond of seemingly carefree trout that will likely become a pond-to-table dish.
One of the Discovery Channel’s flagship shows has been Gold Rush, which we profiled in the December, 2014 magazine. The show’s sixth season premieres on Friday. Here’s the Discovery Channel with more:
As the Klondike winter comes to an end, a new mining season begins. And this year, the tables have certainly turned. There are bold new challenges, new equipment and massive power shifts. It’s a battle like never before among the crews as they push to find the most gold yet. Gold mining is a dangerous business and you never know who’s going to come out on top. Discovery’s #1-rated show GOLD RUSH returns for its sixth season on Friday, October 16 at 9 PM ET/PT, with the pre-show, The Dirt, at 8 PM ET/PT.
Last year, Todd Hoffman rose from the ashes and brought his crew back from the brink of bankruptcy. This season he has gold-rich ground, a seasoned crew and is in position to keep his hot streak alive. But Todd’s a big dreamer and this year even his crew is blown away by the staggering season goal he sets. For the first time, he’ll have three generations of Hoffman men working on the claim as Hunter, his 16-year old son, keeps the family tradition alive. The only thing standing in Todd’s way could be his ego. Can he keep it in check and finally give young Parker Schnabel a run for his money? Or will his lofty season goal backfire leaving the Hoffman crew disappointed yet again?
Meanwhile, Parker Schnabel has his hands full. Last season, he mined an unprecedented $3 million of gold. But it came at a price as he drove his crew into the ground leaving many questioning whether they would ever work for the young mine boss again. Parker, who turns 21 this year, finds out the hard way that one season of gold mining has nothing to do with the next. He’s forced to draw on everything his beloved Grandpa John has taught him in order to avoid a disastrous season. Parker has to do more than find a lot of gold this season, he has to figure out how to become a leader of men.
Tony Beets, aka “The Viking,” is a Klondike legend. As winter closed in at the end of last season, Tony was finally about to resurrect his million dollar, 75-year-old gold mining dredge. But this year, he has to get the machine, which hasn’t run in 30 years, to actually produce gold. Tony desperately needs the dredge to start paying for itself but more than anything, he wants to shut up the naysayers that think he’s crazy to gold mine the old fashioned way. This season it’s all hands on deck as dredging for Klondike gold becomes a family affair. Can the Beets, the first family of Yukon gold mining, revive an ancient way of pulling gold out of the ground or will the massive undertaking turn into a giant money pit? Tony’s out to prove that the old timers had it right…that dredging is the future of gold mining in the Klondike.
Also returning is the GOLD RUSH pre-show “The Dirt,” a series of one-hour shows, beginning 8 PM ET/PT on Friday, October 16, where the miners give the inside scoop on all things GOLD RUSH and where fans can get access to behind-the-scenes, cutting room floor material that never makes it into the show.
Season 6 of GOLD RUSH is full of shocking twists and far more gold than our miners have ever seen before. The question is…who gets it all? Tune in on October 16 to see all the drama unfold on Discovery’s #1-rated show GOLD RUSH.
Photo by Discovery Channel
Here’s my interview with Parker Schnabel (above right) that appeared in the December, 2014 issue of ASJ:
By Chris Cocoles
Parker Schnabel is just 20 years old, so please forgive the young man if he’s not satisfied with finding over $ 1 million in gold last year.
“We’re going all out this season – I’m setting a 2,000-ounce goal for us,” the Haines, Alaska, resident tells his crew from his claim on Scribner Creek in the Yukon, during a Season 5 episode of the Discovery Channel hit, Gold Rush.
Schnabel’s rookie season running his own Klondike operation brought in quite a haul – 1,029 ounces worth a cool $1.4 million. You know that had to bring a smile to the face of Parker’s grandfather John Schnabel, an Alaska-toughened 94-year-old who has battled through an aggressive prostate cancer to see his original mining company, Big Nugget, handed down to his wunderkind of a grandson.
At one point, John visited Smith Creek, a Southeast Alaskan mine site the family’s patriarch has vowed to find gold at before he runs out of time, and found his son, Roger and grandsons Parker and Payson. It was an emotional moment for the family.
“I think my grandpa was really pleased to see us up here working together, side by side,” Parker Schnabel says. “That’s a big thing, and at his age he’s gotten pretty sentimental about family.”
It’s become the most human element of Gold Rush. Sure, it’s about striking it rich; but for young Schnabel, it’s about carrying on a family tradition at the youngest of ages and doing quite nicely for himself.
We caught up with Parker Schnabel and talked success, family and his clashes with landlord and fellow miner, Tony Beets.
Chris Cocoles I’m sure you get asked this all the time: you’re 20 years old having this success and leading your own crew, but have there been moments when you’ve asked yourself what you’ve already accomplished before the age of 21?
Parker Schnabel It’s a little surreal sometimes, for sure. I’ll be the first one to say that I’m awfully lucky; I’ve had a hell of a lot of good opportunities. It’s not like I started at the very bottom shoveling ditches or anything. Really, a whole lot of it has to do with being at the right place and the right time, and I don’t forget that.
CC But you’re clearly way ahead of the curve from a business sense.
PS I grew up doing this, watching my dad run a business – and a pretty successful one. And I was pretty lucky because he didn’t really keep any secrets from me. He was letting me watch what he was doing. I’d sit in his office during meetings while he’d hire people and fire people; anything I wanted to see as a far as a business goes, I could. It got me into a position where, two years ago, it wasn’t all completely foreign. So while a lot of it is a little scary and daunting, if you just tear into it it’s not that bad.
CC What kind of positive influences have you had from your family?
PS My grandpa was the one who was doing the gold mining. My dad runs a construction business. But it’s the same idea. You’re trying to move dirt from Point A to Point B as smooth as you can. And it’s not like I’m the most organized person in the world. I pay my bills as long as I have money in the bank, and that’s about it.
CC What I love most about the show is the dynamic of the relationship between you and your grandpa. How much of an impact has he had on your young life?
PS It’s pretty easy to say that none of this would be happening if it weren’t for him. But he’s definitely a big part of my life and my whole family’s life. He’s one of a kind – that’s for sure.
CC Is there one moment that stands out between your relationship?
PS There’s no one thing, really, I don’t think. I basically spend three to four months a year with him for almost 10 years, from the time I was 8 until I was 18. When I’d get out of school I’d still be staying at home. But I would go there every day. I can’t really say there’s one specific thing that defines us.
CC Is there one word that defines what it takes to be successful in finding gold? Persistence? Patience?
PS Stupidity? Honestly, it’s probably that you have to be a pretty stubborn. You look at the guys who have been in the Yukon for a while mining like Tony and a lot of those other guys, you’re a long ways away from anything that you need. If you need parts or some steel, things like that, you’re not going to be able to get it anytime soon. So you really have to work with just what you’ve got and to make due what you have there. And I’m not very good at that; I don’t have the greatest imagination. But the guys on my crew like Gene (Cheeseman) and Mitch (Blaschke), and another new mechanic I brought in, Mike Beaudry – they’re some of the best of the best when it comes to that kind of stuff. We can pretty well make do with whatever we have laying around.
CC As a team, have you built it around each other’s strengths and weaknesses?
PS For sure, especially this season because it’s our second year together for most of them. And now that we kind of know what everybody’s good at and bad at, things go together fairly smoothly, usually. [pauses] Maybe I shouldn’t put my foot in my mouth too far in case a few things don’t work out too well.
CC Over the course of time, have you found yourself needing to earn the respect of a crew that’s mostly older than you?
PS There are always issues with that. I don’t really think it has to do with my age; maybe it does. But I haven’t had those kinds of issues before with people. I’m going in blind to certain extent and I do the best I can. But it’s still tough. I would say it’s still an issue. When you watch this season you’ll see there are still some of the same issues with my crew as there were last season. And it’s just part of the game.
CC Does it sort of feel like a big family that you know will have moments of insanity?
PS Yeah, one big dysfunctional family.
CC What about Tony Beets? I’m sure at times he’s been both a mentor and the enemy along the way.
PS Tony is a tough guy to work with. He’s very demanding as far as the way he wants things done. And that’s OK, but it changes too. You think you’re doing everything perfectly fine, he’ll see you doing it and won’t say a thing; and the next day, you’re doing the worst thing you could do in the world. And that I don’t really appreciate. He’s probably the toughest guy who I’ve ever worked with.
CC What was life like growing up in Haines? Was it normal or pretty unique?
PS For Alaska and the town I grew up in it was normal. There were a lot of kids I grew up with, who, at the same age I started doing what I was doing, they bought a fishing boat and started commercial fishing. Or there were other people who don’t really own a business but are running a business. Everything is obviously smaller, but it’s still a lot of responsibility. I still (had time to) play basketball. I played all four years of high school. And it wasn’t like I was some social outcast.
CC Was the haul you had last season with over 1,000 ounces in gold a surprise?
PS Last season was [pauses], we were surprised with it, but, at the same time, we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t have anything to base it off of. We didn’t know what the grade in the ground was going to be as far as how much gold we were going to get every day or every week, or anything. We didn’t how to deal with permafrost or any of that kind of stuff. So anything would have been a surprise – either 500 ounces or 5,000 ounces.
CC It had to be awfully satisfying to accomplish what you did.
PS Yes, it was. And it put us in position where there is a huge amount of startup cost with a new operation.
CC On an episode recap show your mom and you talked about wanting you to go to college. But what’s in store for you in the future?
PS There are a lot of things I want to do, like getting back to college. But, at the same time, I’m getting the opportunity do something (special). I’m not going to learn any more than I am now sitting in college.
CC I guess what you’ve done is already quite the education.
PS Two days ago I was having lunch with the COO of Discovery Channel. That’s not going to happen sitting in some college classroom, as fun as that sounds. ASJ
Last year, we introduced you to the Keefer Brothers of Dropped: Project Alaska, a Sportsman Channel series that saw brothers Chris and Casey Keefer use their outdoor skills and creativity to survive the Alaskan wilderness. The new season of the show is premiering this month a bit of a twist.
A father-and-son team from Fairfield, Utah will appear this season as the show alters its format a bit.
KSL in Salt Lake City had the details:
Kaid Panek said he and his father, RL Panek, both love hunting, camping and spending time in the outdoors. RL Panek always had a life goal of hunting moose in Alaska, but his dream was put on hold when he was diagnosed with stage 2 brain cancer in 2011. He underwent radiation and surgery to have the tumor removed and was declared cancer free by the end of the year.
After the near brush with death, Kaid Panek told his father to book an Alaskan moose hunt.
“We told him it was time — that he needed to start chasing some bucket list items,” Kaid Panek said.
In 2013, RL Panek booked a hunt in the Yukon, and while preparing for it, began watching the first season of “Dropped,” a reality TV show featuring two brothers who get dropped into the wilderness and have to hunt for food and survive 28 days in rugged Alaskan terrain.
“He got hooked on the show and loved what they stood for and their mission,” Kaid Panek said. “And it was just kind of a, ‘How cool would that be?’ “
Typically, “Dropped” features brothers Chris and Casey Keefer, but for its fourth season, the producers decided to invite two guests on the show. A video contest was created to select the participants and RL Panek decided to enter with his son. They made a submission video and were shocked when they were contacted by the Keefer brothers.