They Said It: The Best Soundbites Of 2019

Happy New Year! And, to be more specific, Happy New Decade. Welcome to the 2020s, folks. Before we usher in a new decade, here’s to the best quotes of 2019 as the 2010s fade into memory:

Photo by Billy Molls

• Hunting guide and TV host Billy Molls (January) on getting his clients on an Alaskan animal of a lifetime: “I’m not so much about getting a 28-year-old kid who’s an ultra-marathon runner a Dall sheep. I want to get one for that 65-year-old man with two artificial knees who worked his full life so he can finally afford to go on his dream hunt. This guy’s only got one climb up the mountain, so he’s got to make it count.”

Photo by Ashley Wallace

• Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Ashley Wallace (February) on the experiences she had sharing the outdoors with her husband Branson, also a Coast Guard petty officer, on Kodiak Island (the couple has since transferred for duty in Louisiana): “You fly out to this island and you forget all the problems of the Lower 48. I feel at peace in Kodiak. I’ve never felt so much a part of a community as I have here.”

Photo courtesy of Laura Zerra

• Survivalist Laura Zerra (March) on her experience in the snow of Alaska participating on Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid: “There were a lot of times when walking through the snowdrift and we’re cutting up our feet, you had to laugh. Because it’s so absurd and so crazy, I thought a lot about my life and said, ‘What’s wrong with me? Why on earth are we doing this?’”

Photo by Chris Cocoles

• Gwich’in Native Bernadette Demientieff (April) on her people’s fight to prevent oil drilling near Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: “We very much still live off of our land, and we honor our tradition and our way of life. It’s been a really tough fight and a battle, because I feel like I’m trying to convince people that we matter.”

Photo by Paul D. Atkins

• Writer Paul Atkins (June) on some of the dangerous Alaska situations he’s faced while hunting: “As you can imagine, I’ve endured a lot of close calls. These were times when I wished I was anywhere but the place I was in. Trips so bad you’d swear out loud that you would never do it again, only to do it again the following year. Crazy, right?”

Photo by Elyse Saugstad

• Alaskan pro skier and outdoorswoman Elyse Saugstad (July) on the Last Frontier lifestyle that shaped her life: “For me, I can’t even really point a finger where I fell in love with the mountains because I fell in love so young. I was feeling like I wanted to be a skier. Kids want to be astronauts or firemen, but I wanted to be a skier.”

Photo courtesy of Scott Haugen

• From Field to Fire writer Scott Haugen (October) on a memorable black bear hunt with a first-time Alaska hunter: “There we sat atop a remote Alaskan mountain and admired one of the most spectacular views on the planet. There were also two bears only a few yards apart from one another.”

Photo courtesy of Tom Walker

• Author Tom Walker (October) about how the area around his home near Denali National Park has changed throughout the 50-plus years he’s lived in Alaska: “To love some terrain so much and see it change so much in a negative way, it has been difficult. Climate change is very real and to watch the effects on the wildlife and plants that have evolved over millennia is difficult. Here in the Far North, the concept is not abstract but a real ongoing process that people who look to nature can readily see and experience.”

Photo by Steve Meyer

• Former ASJ correspondent Christine Cunningham (November), featured in the book Why Women Hunt, on  conservation: “We have a civic duty and obligation because wildlife is held in the public trust. We can’t shirk it – the future of hunting relies on our ability to show this connection, and it isn’t about being badass, elite, athletic, or even entitled because of our conservation dollars.”

I had to leave off several more, but here’s to you, 2019. -Chris Cocoles