Archive for the ‘fishing’ Tag

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Author pic salmonIn case anyone doesn’t believe that I really live this crazy Alaska lifestyle — here’s me with a king salmon. I did not catch this salmon (Brad did), but I have caught ones as big … in a large landing net on a 15-foot-long telescoping pole from a wild Alaska river.

As I am the family photographer, you will usually not see me on camera.

Posted August 22, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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How About You Talk to Some Real Alaskans?   Leave a comment

In my ongoing question to slay the Alaskan misperception dragon, I ran across an interesting article.

The Lower 48 mentality about Alaska generally drives Alaskans crazy. People fly into this remote outpost of humanity, see things that are strange to their eyes and draw their assumptions without spending more than five minutes with anyone. Yeah, quote some Greenpeacer in Anchorage, but don’t actually talk to any people who actually live here and have hunted for game.–alaska-where-men-have-guns-and-animals-don-t-have-a-chance

Most Alaskans cannot afford the equipment that is described in this article. Even if we could afford it, most of the hunting areas are not suitable for the big track vehicles described here. Possibly, this was going into a mine, carrying equipment, possibly it was carrying rich outside hunters into a guiding camp, but it’s unlikely it was being used for hunting by Alaskans.

Moreover, even if it were, such machinery makes a LOT of noise and therefore, scares off the game, which actually works to the game’s advantage.

“Hey, do you hear that? Maybe we ought to move to the next valley.”

My husband and I have hunted many times. We live off the salmon we harvest from the Copper River, using landing nets on long polls, perched a few feet above a river that nobody comes out of when they fall in. Yes, it’s exciting. Mostly, though, it’s food. Healthy, preservative- and hormone- free food that can be had at an affordable price.

We’ve also hunted, but with far less success. In 30 years, we’ve gotten four caribou and five road-killed moose. The caribou we actually got by hunting. Four caribou in maybe 15 hunting expeditions. We’ve gone moose hunting at least as many times and we’ve had maybe six in our sights and missed all shots. Why? Because moose aren’t stupid. It’s their backyard. They move away from the roads into the high country come hunting season. They can move into a copse of trees and just disappear. As huge as they are, they are silent when they travel. They are used to much better predators than us. Where they get stupid is in walking in front of speeding automobiles in the middle of winter. Alaska allows charities to harvest road-kill and most charities allow the harvesting volunteers a portion of the harvest to offset their day off work and gasoline.

It was quite apparent that hunting in Alaska comes to the human inhabitants as naturally as breathing. They seem to be obsessed with this urge to kill the wildlife. And with our modern technology and our rapidly increasing human population, what chance do wild animals have of escaping the guns of people who kill them just for kicks?

This writer was clearly traveling Alaska’s highways, which are normally devoid of animals in September not because they’ve all been killed, but because the military bozos who are road hunting have scared them away with their big manly vehicles.

It might have been nice if he’d bothered to talk to some actual Alaskans, rather than just draw his own conclusions. He might have learned that the rigs he was seeing are not owned by Alaskans, but by military members who are only here for three or four years and think they need this equipment to get the game, but rarely do. They might also have learned that heating oil is $4 a gallon here and it typically takes 1200 to 1500 gallons a winter to heat an average 2000 sq foot home. If we can get a moose, that’s about $1000 worth of meat. Guess what we spend it on? That’s right, heating fuel. Guess what we don’t eat a whole lot of the years we don’t get a moose or a caribou? That’s right – meat.

The writer really needs to get off his high judgmental perch. I’m going to guess he was travelling Alaska with plenty of money to enjoy staying at McClaren River Lodge (from the description), which owes its existence to the excellent fishing in the area and the snow machiners who adventure there in the winter. Maybe if he’d bothered to talk to the waitress instead of assuming she was hero-worshipping the hunters, he might have learned something about the state and the people who actually live here. It’s not a comfortable or simple life here. For people in the villages, the grocery store is a $600 plane ride away. For those of us living in the urban areas, a grocery bill of $200 a week for a family of four is not unusual – and is, when you have teenagers, unavoidable. Hunting is how we take the edge off of those high prices. As I said, very few of us can afford to use a tracked vehicle and even if we did, it would just scare the game away.

When I travel the Lower 48, I sometimes see things that I judge ridiculous too, but I always remind myself that I don’t live there, so don’t understand the situation. It might be a good idea for the writer to learn that.

And, by the way, guns safely closed up in black cases on the sides of trailers are not terrible menacing. Numbers of such rifles going off accidentally — ZERO!


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