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Gold Rush Season Finale Is Friday

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From our friends at the Discovery Channell:

Airing Friday, March 4 from 9-11 PM ET/PT on the Discovery Channel

As the Klondike winter closes in, the final race for gold intensifies. Todd runs two massive washplants, Tony pushes to get his dredge out of the water before it freezes and Grandpa John comes to see if Parker has beaten his rival Todd. Then, Parker, Todd and Tony appear together on the set of the Dirt to discuss the epic season finale.





Deadliest Catch Captain Sig Hansen Suffers Heart Attack


We’ve written two stories on Deadliest Catch crab skipper Sig Hansen, including a cover story (with the above photo) of Sig and his daughter Mandy, who has followed in her dad’s footsteps.

Unfortunately, Sig Hansen suffered an apparent heart attack aboard his ship, the Northwestern, during filming.

Yahoo news has more:

Hansen regained consciousness and wanted to continue fishing for crab, but crew members convinced him to seek medical attention. He was then airlifted to a local hospital.

Hansen’s daughter posted a picture on Instagram (later removed) of herself, her father and her mother at the hospital where Hansen is recovering. The caption read, “Capt survived the ‘widowmaker’ !! Beating a heart attack ain’t easy. Welcome back boss.”

“Deadliest Catch” premiered on Discovery in 2002, with Hansen serving as a star and technical adviser on the show since it began.

Back in August, Tony Lara, another captain who had appeared on the show, died of an apparent heart attack while attending the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. He was 50.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Sig.




Alaska Parks In Running For Premier Wildlife Viewing



Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge (Lisa Hupp/USFWS)

Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge (Lisa Hupp/USFWS)

Arctic NWR (Robin West/USFWS)

Arctic NWR (Robin West/USFWS)


Becharof NWR (USFWS)

Becharof NWR (USFWS)


Denali National Park (Lian Law/NPS)

Denali National Park (Lian Law/NPS)


USA Today has a fun poll that allows visitors to vote for the best place to see wildlife in the country.

Not suprisingly, Yellowstone National Park leads the voting. Even less of a shock: three Alaska national wildlife refuges and a national park are in the Top 20 so far. Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge leads the way at No. 4, followed by Denali National Park (fifth), Arctic NWR (ninth) and Becharof NWR (13th).

Voting continues through March 28.





Puget Sound Boat Show Coming Soon





Northwest boat dealers showcase the latest boat lines and models at the Puget Sound Boat Show, March 17-20 at the Tacoma Dome. With more than two-dozen area dealers offering great values on both 2016 and closeout models, the event is the go-to destination for Puget Sound area buyers preparing for on-the water fun this spring and summer.

Sponsored by Twin Star Credit Union, the show offers free parking (a $10 value) in Tacoma Dome parking lots each day of the show.

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On the eve of the boating season—in one of the hottest markets in the U.S.–showgoers will have the opportunity to shop and compare from the best selection of boats under one roof. Dealers will showcase entry-level and popular welded aluminum models, the latest fiberglass sport boats and offshore boats offering luxury and durability.

Fun and enjoyment is the focus of several exhibitors offering marine accessories, fishing gear plus wakeboards, water skis and other on-the-water toys. Local experts will offer how-to advice on fishing, navigation, safety and other topics in free seminar presentations each day of the show.

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Hours for the Puget Sound Boat show are Thursday through Saturday (March 17-19) 11:00 am to 8:00 pm, and Sunday (March 20) 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Admission to the show is $12 for general admission and free to children 16 and under. Get $2 off discount coupons online at www.pugetsoundboatshow.com.

Chefs Teaming Up To Protect Wild Salmon



From our friend Mark Titus, director of The Breach film that we featured last year in ASJ.


A Tale of Two Toms

Two of America’s most vibrant and dynamic chefs are stepping up to help save Bristol Bay’s storied wild salmon runs.

Tom Douglas – (aka Tom D – or West Coast Tom if you prefer) has been an active supporter of The Breach from the very beginning.  Tom D appears in the film, is a co-producer on it and has supported us time and again as we’ve moved the movie and our message out into the world:  #EatWildSaveWild.  As a high profile restaurateur, Tom has long been an enthusiastic booster of regional food sources, such as local organic farms, Washington wines, and Pacific Northwest fish and seafood. The company’s goal of “deliciousness served with graciousness” includes a commitment to the future of wild salmon. Wild salmon is a treasured, sustainable resource that this company considers to be economically, ecologically, and culturally essential to the Pacific Northwest region.  Tom D is partnering with The Breach yet again to help save the legendary sustainable wild salmon runs of Bristol Bay.  25% of each rental or sale of the film goes directly to Save Bristol Bay.  You can join Tom in his efforts by clicking right HERE.  (You’ll also get a super easy + delicious how-to video we shot on the fly to make a delicious wild salmon dish with wild Bristol Bay salmon from a CAN!)

Tom Collichio – (Tom C to keep things straight, representing the East Coast) was awarded his first three stars from The New York Times as executive chef of Mondrian. Since 2006, Tom C has been applying his experience and expertise to cable television as the head judge on Bravo’s hit reality cooking series “Top Chef.”  Tom appears in and served as executive producer on the 2012 documentary, A Place at the Table which has become the starting point for a national movement centered on ending hunger in the United States. Tom co-founded Food Policy Action in 2012 in collaboration with national food policy leaders, in order to hold legislators accountable on votes that have an effect on food and farming. He has been an outspoken voice on issues like GMO labeling and the use of antibiotics in food sources, and he continues to lobby for better anti-hunger policies in America.  I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Tom C and his team in their headquarters in New York last year, discussing the vital importance of saving Bristol Bay’s wild salmon runs and supporting them by eating them!  Last night, Tom tweeted out his support for Bristol Bay’s wild salmon by renting or buying the Breach.  Same deal as Tom D.  25% of each transaction will go to Save Bristol Bay.    Here’s Tom’s Tweet right HERE.


Tom Douglas – “West Coast Tom”
Tom Collichio – “East Coast Tom”
Upcoming 2016 theatrical screenings for The Breach can be found by clicking right HERE.

TONIGHT, the film will screen at the legendary Bijou Art Cinemas in Eugene Oregon as part of the inaugural PIELC film festival.  This is a thrill, as I used to go to many-a-movie at the Bijou when I was a student at the U of O in the early 90’s.  Click for details right HERE.

Of particular excitement for me is a trip back to Eugene next week to participate in the 2016 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC). I’ve been asked to deliver a Keynote Address on Saturday March 6th.  We’ll screen the film later that day.   You can find all the details about that by clicking rightHERE.

Thank you for your continued support and passion for wild salmon.  We hope to  have one last round of fireworks with The Breach in 2016.  Stay tuned for details and remember to #EatWildSaveWild….

Safari Club Alaska Banquet Coming Soon

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Here’s some info on the Alaska chapter of Safari Club International banquet in Anchorage, and the feature that is running in the February issue of Alaska Sporting Journal. 

Come on out and join us on February 26th and 27th for the 40th annual Alaska Chapter of Safari Club Internationals Hunting Expo and Sportsman’s Banquet.
Tons of great hunt auction, gear and rifle raffles.
It’s a great time to meet and reunite with fellow hunters from around the state.
Tickets: http://www.aksafariclub.org/ or call (907) 980-9018

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Alaska became a state just over 50 years ago, and the Last Frontier remains the last great mecca for America’s anglers and hunters. However, there are storm clouds on the horizon.

It’s true that while outdoor traditions remain strong here in Alaska, there are those who would deny us our cultural traditions that date back thousands of years. Those of us who were here at statehood in 1959 could have never imagined that our way of life would be subjected to determined attacks to end those ancient traditions. Fortunately, for much of our existence as a state we’ve had effective organizations that have held the line in the battle to preserve the freedom to hunt.

One of those organizations is Safari Club International (SCI) and its Alaska Chapter (AKSCI), which has been standing up for hunters for much of Alaska’s existence as a state. SCI is the world’s largest hunter-conservationist nonprofit, and, as its motto so clearly states, is “First for Hunters.”

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SCI has four mission areas, with the three most important being preserving the freedom to hunt, conservation of wildlife and education of the general public and future hunters. The fourth mission area is humanitarian services.

In Alaska, AKSCI led the fight to defeat anti-hunters at the ballot box twice in the last decade.

We’ve successfully worked with SCI National to take on the feds, where they have misinterpreted the law, and we are currently the only hunting conservation group to file an amicus brief on the very important Sturgeon Case, which is now before the U.S. Supreme Court (SCI member John Sturgeon has challenged the National Park Service’s regulations on waters in Alaska’s national preserves).

We maintain full-time lobbyists in Juneau and in Washington, D.C., and SCI is the leading champion of political candidates who support hunting through our political action committee, SCI-PAC.

AKSCI is a major supporter of conservation in Alaska and abroad. Perhaps the best example of our commitment to wildlife was our leadership role in re-
introducing wood bison to the Alaskan landscape. We’ve also funded several wildlife management projects such as the chronic wasting disease study on Kodiak Island for Sitka blacktail deer.

Our efforts for education and humanitarian services are also well established. Every year we sponsor youth outdoor education programs, the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program, National Archery in the Schools program and the Youth Education Leadership Program. Along with the numerous outdoor and conservation education programs, AKSCI is heavily involved in providing outdoor adventures to disabled veterans and our Friday evening banquet at our annual Hunting Expo is fully dedicated to America’s heroes.

As a leading chapter within SCI, ours has been recognized as the premier chapter worldwide four times in the last decade, winning four Top Gun Awards and one Diamond Conservation Award. We were excited this past fall to learn we just won our fifth Top Gun Award for 2014 and also our second Diamond Conservation Award, to be presented at the national convention in Las Vegas. Each of these prestigious awards is given to only one chapter from nearly 200 in the world.



This month will mark the 40th anniversary of AKSCI’s annual Hunting Expo and Sportsman’s Banquet. From its humble beginning to its current status as the world’s “Top Gun” chapter, AK
SCI continues its fight to protect Alaskan hunter-conservationists. This year’s event will be held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26 and 27, at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage.

The event will consist of banquets, silent auctions, raffles, taxidermy competition, photo contest, gun drawings, hunting seminars, visiting outfitters from throughout the world, and perhaps the most incredible live auction you will ever witness.

This two-day live auction event is unparalleled in both size and offerings, and will feature over 80 hunting and fishing trips valued at over $500,000. There will be trips from North America (Alaska Governor’s Dall sheep tag, muskox, moose, whitetail deer, mountain lion, elk, antelope, aoudad sheep, wild hog, javelina, pheasant, plus many more); Africa (both plains game and dangerous game, including elephant, Cape buffalo and darted rhino); New Zealand (red stag, chamois, tahr); South America; Europe; Belize; Australia and more.

If you have ever wanted to be a participant in what can only be described as the ultimate sportsman’s “bucket list” auction, you simply must attend this event.




As Alaska’s sportsmen and -women living here, we are able to experience the finest hunting and fishing the world has to offer. The Alaska Chapter of Safari Club International is working hard, as evidenced by the Top Gun and Diamond Conservation Awards mentioned above, to preserve the freedom to hunt for us and for
future generations.

Our annual fundraiser allows us to give all hunters the opportunity to continue their heritage. We would ask you to please help us in our effort by becoming a member of AKSCI and by joining us at our upcoming
banquet. ASJ

Editor’s note: For more information on available hunts and other adventures, or to purchase tickets, please visitaksafariclub.org. You can purchase tickets or full tables online or by calling (907) 980-9018 or email admin@aksafariclub.org. For sponsor tables call (907) 841-0358 or email eddie@aksafariclub.org


Gold Rush’s “Grandpa” Turns 96 Today!




Our friends at the Discovery Channel and Gold Rush provided this report on star Parker Schnabel’s grandfather, John, who turns 96 years young today! Happy birthday, John!


As anyone who watches Discovery Channel’s mega-hit series GOLD RUSH knows, John Schnabel has been a guiding force to his grandson Parker. Born in 1920, John is the son of a Kansas wheat farmer. His father brewed bootleg alcohol during prohibition and the family had to leave the farm when the US Marshals came looking for him. At 19 years old, John packed up his possessions and took a steamer north to Haines, Alaska, where he joined his father, who had set up a sawmill.

John has certain seen and experienced much of the world. The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, he volunteered to join the US Navy, but was placed in the Air Corps. After the war he returned to Haines and bought Porcupine Mill, which he renovated to produce 10,000 feet of board wood per day. John went on to open a local hardware store and was later even elected mayor of Haines!

At 68, John suffered heart problems and underwent a triple bypass. His doctor recommended that he keep active so John bought the Big Nugget mine and started gold mining. He taught his grandsons Payson and Parker how to prospect, pan and operate equipment and passed on to them his passion for gold mining.

Today John – affectionately known as Grandpa – turns 96 years old. He continues to be a guiding force to all those who know him (as well as the millions of fans of GOLD RUSH). He lives his life with optimism and believes a positive attitude improves your chances of longevity and quality of life.

We recently caught up with Grandpa to hear what advice he has to share. Check out the video below. Wishing him a very happy and healthy 96th birthday!

What would you tell a young person is the most important virtue to have?
I think the most important virtue to have is honesty. You have to be honest. When you tell the other member who you’re addressing that you love them … that you’re being honest. When you tell the other person you love them – if you’re honest in what you’re saying – you’re going to be a winner. If you’re telling them because that’s what they want to hear, then you’re a loser.

What is the best way to deal with difficult people?
Don’t give up on them. If a person is being difficult, try to find out why. If you can develop an ability to have some measure of empathy with them that will enable you to understand why they act the way they act …you can be a very valuable element in making their life better.

If you could go back 50 years and choose to do something different, what would it be and why?
It’s a thought I’ve never entertained for the simple reason that I am pleased with what I did. I’ve raised a beautiful family, I’ve helped a lot of people overcome their difficulties, I’ve tried my best to be a contributor to others — never to ask them to give something to me. If they want to give me something, I want to feel I’ve earned it. Because whether it’s their time or their help, I have to feel I’ve earned it. Or I don’t think I have done the right thing.

Be sure to check out Discovery’s #1-rated series GOLD RUSH airing Fridays at 9 PM ET/PT

K9 Police Deaths Are Increasing, Unfortunately

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska –Photo from 673rd Security Forces Squadron K-9 explosives training at Hillberg Ski Area on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Monday, June 20, 2011.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Justin Connaher)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska –Photo from 673rd Security Forces Squadron K-9 explosives training at Hillberg Ski Area on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Monday, June 20, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Justin Connaher)

If you’re a dog lover like me, read this report at length at your own peril, because it’s sort of sad but important. At least take a look at this sample:

Should killing a police dog be punished more severely than killing another animal? There’s a movement underway by animal welfare advocates to increase the penalties for K-9 murders: Last month alone, five police dogs died at the hands of criminals around the country.

“We’re only in February and we’re already equal to all of 2015. There’s really been a troubling increase in canine officers being killed. It’s a spike. It’s very unusual to see so many K-9s killed in such a short period of time,” Steve Weiss, a New York police lieutenant and director of research for the Officer Down Memorial Page, said in an interview with Yahoo News.

Why Are Seabirds Turning Up Dead In Alaska?

Murres are turning up dead in Alaskan waters. (JEFF WILLIAMS/USFWS)

Murres are turning up dead in Alaskan waters. (JEFF WILLIAMS/USFWS)

The Economist published this report trying to explain why seabirds – common murres –  are turning up dead on the shores of Alaskan waters.

The likely cause is warmer ocean waters. Temperatures in the North Pacific have been three to seven degrees Fahrenheit higher than average for the last two years. The “warm blob”, as it has been called, is rattling the marine food chain from bottom to top. “Whole systems are out of whack,” says Heather Renner of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, a federal agency which manages a collection of far-flung islands and remote coastline in Alaska which, if laid over a map of the continental United States, would stretch right across it. The refuge contains nesting colonies for most of the state’s murres, which are a sizeable chunk of the worldwide population.


Alaska’s Airplane Obsession

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Alaska aviation musuem 8 Alaska aviation museum 6


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



The history of the exploration and development of Alaska in the 20th century is so closely aligned with aviation as to be nearly inseparable.

In a state where more than 90 percent of the land area is inaccessible by any other means, the airplane continues to be the primary, and often only, way to explore.

The state also boasts the highest per capita airplane ownership in the country at about 1.3 percent, and active pilots, again at about 1.3 percent. That’s more than triple the per capita rate of pilots for the next closest state on the list.

To document and preserve the state’s rich aviation history, the Alaska Historical Aircraft Society was founded in 1977 by Ted Spencer, and in 1985 its first plane, a PBY Catalina, was acquired. The warplane made an emergency landing at Dago Lake on the Alaska Peninsula in 1947 and couldn’t take off again because of the size of the lake. It was stripped of parts and later acquired by the museum. It was retrieved via an Army training mission and put on display for the museum’s opening in 1988.

Since then, the collection of airplanes and other aviation memorabilia has grown considerably. The museum’s current exhibits are housed in several hangars and on the grounds, with restored and static airplane displays – ranging from a 1928 Stearman c2b to a decommissioned Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 and a mothballed Air Force F-15 fighter.

This place is an aviation history buff’s go-to resource.

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The facility sits on Lake Hood, the busiest floatplane base in North America. As you approach, you see some of the outdoor exhibits: the PBY, 737 and F-15, and an old Army Huey helicopter, among others. On the shore is the old Merrill Field control tower cab, open to visitors; you can enter and go up to the second floor, get a great view of the lake and watch planes come and go while listening to the control tower over the piped-in audio feed.

Once inside the museum, you enter through the gift shop and then into an open conference room, where you need only look up to see the first two planes on display: a 1943 Taylorcraft L-2 and a 1929 Travel Air 6000 from Al Jones Airways in Bethel, perpetually simulating flight while suspended from the high ceiling.

Just off the conference room is the room where the first of several videos on aviation history is played, this one entitled “Alaska at War.” This film recounts the 15-month war in the Aleutian Islands, the only military campaign where both sides fought on soil of the current 50 states in World War II.

Continuing around the perimeter of the room brings you to the Alaska Aviation Hall of Fame, featuring photos and short biographies of aviation pioneers who paved the way for future Alaska flyers. Some of the names will be familiar to Alaskans – aviation icons such as Merrill, Wien, Eielson and Reeve; they were pilots whose names have been commemorated on airlines, airfields and even geographic landmarks.

One fact that becomes increasingly apparent as you wander through the museum is the number of defunct Alaska air operations represented. The list is impressively long, and only a few extant survivors such as Northern Air Cargo and Alaska Airlines have endured through the years, a testament to the harsh and unforgiving nature of defying gravity time after time in the remote north.

Wandering from room to room among the various planes you’ll find a multitude of interesting and diverse displays, including testaments to women in Alaska aviation, Alaska Natives, lighter-than-air craft, cockpits both real and simulated of interesting planes, and historical artifacts from all over the state.

There are also video booths showing historical and contemporary footage, and several flight simulators are available for use. Of these, all but one are included in the price of admission. And that one, according to staffer Mark Ransom, is well worth the dough.

“We use the War Thunder software on the total immersion, 3-D simulator, and it’s a very robust program,” he said. “You can fly a P-38, a P-39 or a P-51, and it’s a real kick in the pants; the pilots who visit can’t stay off of it.” At a charge of five bucks for five minutes, it’s definitely a bargain.

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But the real stars of the show are the airplanes. At any one time there are roughly 20 airplanes on display, and they are magnificent. Rejuvenated by dedicated technicians, they look like they just rolled off the assembly line. The glistening paint jobs and scrupulous attention to detail show these flying machines off to their best advantage.

The variety of aircraft on display is impressive. Many of them are glimpses into Alaska’s distant flying past, showing the logos and insignia of long-gone and short-lived local airlines. But others, such as the Piper PA-18 Super Cub, the Helio Courier and the Grumman Goose, are stand-ins for planes that, despite their age, are still flying all over the state and carrying people and cargo safely and efficiently to remote destinations.

So, one may ask, where do these flying works of art come from, and how did they all wind up here? Good question; glad you asked. Some have been restored by owners and donated to the museum, while others have been retrieved from crash sites and lovingly restored.

The restoration process involves years of painstaking work, tearing down an airplane to its component parts. The workers must then figure out which parts are salvageable, which can be found through their network of suppliers, and which will have to be fabricated from scratch.

There are currently three planes undergoing this process for the museum. There’s a Stinson L-1 being worked on at a warehouse at Merrill Field in Anchorage, and in the museum’s workshop there’s the original Fairchild 71, in which Bob Reeve made his famous glacier landings.

The current hot project is the restoration of a Curtiss P-40e Warhawk. This plane was piloted by Winfield McIntyre and shot down by a Japanese Zero in 1942 on Umnak Island in the Aleutians. The pilot was rescued but the plane was damaged beyond repair and later stripped of useable parts. It stayed in place on the island until 1998 when it was recovered by the U.S. Coast Guard and moved to the museum.

Since then the plane has been worked on by the museum’s cadre of volunteers.

“This plane has been stripped down to its bare bones for this project. The next major step is to have it sent to a shop Outside where it’s put into a jig and a new skin is applied,” said George Dorman, one of the people working on the plane. “That’s a level of expertise we just don’t have here.”

When asked for a guess on when the plane will be ready to fly, he quickly replied, “Thursday. Any time someone asks when a job is going to be done, that’s what we tell them. Of course we never specify which Thursday we’re talking about.”


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To make a wrecked airplane airworthy again involves a lot more than making it cosmetically perfect. The Federal Aviation Administration is pretty picky about that sort of thing, and the requirements for getting an old warbird into the air are extensive.

Ernest “Mitch” Mitchell has been in the aviation business since 1955, when, at the tender age of 15, he started attending A&P (airframes and powerplants) school in Tennessee. After a career in the Air Force and work in general aviation and for the U.S. Department of the Interior, he has been spending his spare time volunteering here.

Mitchell outlined the procedures required for certifying a plane, including going over the original plans and the Type Certificate Data Sheets and making sure that every part of the restored airplane conforms to the specifications used when it was first cleared to fly.

These sheets cover every part of the machine – from engine, propeller and instruments down to the seats and tires and everything in between. It’s a complicated process, which explains why the P-40 has been in the shop for 12 years so far, and is still a long way from completion. After all, it only takes enormous amounts of time, expertise and, of course, money to bring these machines back from the dead and make them fly again.

Mark Ransom outlined the mission of the museum.

“Our mission here is that an exhibit has to be Alaska specific and meaningful to Alaska aviation history. That makes for a very narrow focus, but it’s substantial enough that it takes the average visitor about two hours to tour the museum,” he said. Ransom also weighed in when asked what projects were on the horizon. “Everything’s on the horizon. There are crash sites all over the state with hundreds of planes to choose from.”

If ever there was a mission that will never be fully accomplished, it’s retrieving, resurrecting and restoring aircraft from their resting places in the Alaska wilderness. However, the staff and volunteers at the museum will give it their best shot to “Preserve, Display, Educate, and Honor the History of Alaska Aviation.”  ASJ