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  • SUE: All right.

  • We got something just poked its head out of the ravine there.

  • I got a bunch of caribou and I've got a big ass bear coming in.

  • I got a bear over here and I got caribou over here.

  • He's actually quartering north,

  • so I'm sure he's trying to get around without giving his scent trail up.

  • He's damn close to camp, so, that's not safe to me.

  • My name is Susan Aikens.

  • I am the sole resident and owner of Kavik River Camp.

  • It's an old oil camp 200 miles above the Arctic Circle.

  • I'm the only refueling station and I do it on my own.

  • In order to run a business, I have to cater to the people

  • in the season that they're roaming around.

  • That's summer.

  • And in that June, July, and August,

  • I need to make enough revenue to support the camp

  • and get ready for the next year.

  • I am working 24 hours a day and then boom!

  • Winter hits.

  • I've got nine months of some of the harshest conditions on Earth,

  • and for the nine months or more that I'm totally alone out here,

  • I hunt for the meat that I eat.

  • I live by my wits and sometimes those are lacking.

  • The older I get, the slower I get, but the animals keep getting faster.

  • But, I rise to the challenge every day.

  • It's the challenge that keeps me going.

  • Welcome to Kavik, it's where I live.

  • I think what I'm gonna have to do is try to get down there.

  • Down the road a little this way.

  • If I scare all the caribou, I'm gonna scare the bear as well.

  • Either way I've got caribou to get, and there's a bear.

  • It may be a twofer.

  • Welcome to winter.

  • (theme music plays)

  • ♪ ♪

  • SUE: Every caribou is staring at me.

  • Where is my (bleep) bear?

  • It's like he disappeared off the planet.

  • I've gotta get a little elevation here.

  • Okay, they're all coming towards me.

  • So, the bear must be on the other side starting to push.

  • All right, these are bear tracks, but this is a pretty big bear.

  • He's not a juvenile-long stride.

  • This is just King Mamma-Jamma slothing his way through.

  • But, I gotta get jamming.

  • This is a lesson in frustration, right here.

  • I'm trying to get the easiest place to get at this bear in a

  • 100% open field,

  • without giving up 100% of my opportunity at caribou.

  • Whenever you're hunting bear, the longer you take, even seconds, they're gone.

  • Your hunt is blown before it's ever started, but I gotta try though.

  • Yeah.

  • They're cruising now for the river, which means they're in migration mode.

  • But, it's possible that the bear is up there.

  • I may just sit put and just see what develops.

  • The bear across this open ground, there's no way I'm gonna sneak up on him.

  • He heard me. He didn't smell me. But he heard me.

  • He probably saw the vehicle.

  • I don't have the tracks on the vehicle.

  • All's I'm gonna do is end up getting stuck somewhere and no way to get myself out.

  • That's not smart hunting.

  • Bummed out about the bear.

  • But not so bummed out that I'm gonna put my life in jeopardy chasing him down.

  • That just, that's a fool's errand.

  • All right, Mr. Bear.

  • Live to see you another day, man.

  • CHIP: Subsistence is basically just being able to make a living

  • from the land with the things around you.

  • And we do a pretty good job at that.

  • And, we mix it into a modern 21st Century.

  • Okay. We got one good one. Let's get another one.

  • What's up little guy?

  • You rolling up on us, seeing what we're doing?

  • We're making you a sled.

  • CHIP: We can make you a sled.

  • Tata and Carol are gonna make you a sled.

  • I'm gonna make a sled for Wade.

  • It's gonna be something that he can play with for a few years.

  • It'll be substantial.

  • It'll be kind of a big sled, but over the next few years,

  • he'll probably grow right on into it.

  • And plus, just to be able to drag him around will be a lot of fun, too.

  • I'm Edward Hailstone.

  • My friends call me Chip.

  • I'm married to Agnes Hailstone.

  • AGNES: I'm Inupiaq Eskimo, and I was born and raised here in Noorvik, Alaska.

  • We pretty much live a semi-nomadic lifestyle.

  • We just go from area to area depending on season.

  • CHIP: We're hunters, gatherers, fisher people.

  • AGNES: I'm hunting in the same areas that my parents had hunted for hundreds of years.

  • CHIP: We got seven kids together.

  • Three of them still live with us.

  • The four oldest have grown up and moved off.

  • AGNES: We pretty much try and teach our children everything I was taught by my parents,

  • and my mother and father learned from their parents.

  • It's very important for me to pass down my knowledge to my children

  • and to their children.

  • CHIP: Okay. What we need to do is go inside, since the sun's heading down.

  • And I think, actually, what I wanna do first is bend the boards I wanna bend.

  • You know what I mean?

  • CAROL: Come on. CHIP: Come on, grandson.

  • Let's go inside the house and go work on your sled.

  • CAROL: Come on, baby. Follow us.

  • CHIP: There you go. Ho, ho, ho!

  • You gotta walk on your own, crazy boy.

  • Open the door for Tata.

  • Hold it open. Hold it open. Thank you.

  • Okay. Carol, check this out.

  • CAROL: Yup.

  • CHIP: First thing that we're gonna do is make the runners.

  • CAROL: All right.

  • CHIP: We're just gonna start steaming these things,

  • and we'll be able to put foil over it to catch this,

  • and as soon as these are nice and soft right here,

  • we just have to make a bend up about yay far.

  • And we can make a sled about that big.

  • Just perfect for Wade to do his thing for a couple years.

  • This will do.

  • Basically, we're just gonna let all this stuff cook.

  • CAROL: Should we do the next step now?

  • CHIP: Yup. We'll start shaping the different pieces.

  • Carol. Yeah, sitting on this so, you would really help me a lot.

  • CAROL: It's always good to do activities with my dad, 'cause, like,

  • I get to learn faster.

  • CHIP: Grab me the, um, small diameter and thread it in.

  • CAROL: Okay. My dad, he has fun teaching me.

  • CHIP: See what you can do with that, love.

  • CAROL: It's real useful out here knowing how to build,

  • and being with my dad and doing the one on one work,

  • it's pretty fun.

  • I love it.

  • CHIP: Yeah, these are good.

  • Come here, bun.

  • I'm gonna pull this off, we're gonna take these two ends right here,

  • and put them in there, and I'm gonna ease 'em down this way.

  • If we hear any cracking, if we see any lifting, we stop. Okay?

  • CAROL: Okay.

  • CHIP: The runners have to be bent, and it's kind of a delicate process.

  • Because, when you bend them together, they're a match pair.

  • You can't duplicate, uh, another bend.

  • So, so the trick is to just do it right the first time as best you can

  • and make your bends carefully, and listen, and feel when you do it.

  • So, ready. Let's give this a try.

  • (mimics dramatic music)

  • CAROL: Are you sure you're gonna bend it that way?

  • CHIP: I am sure. I know exactly what I'm doing.

  • CAROL: Hey, stop.

  • CHIP: That's all right, it's not decent.

  • Okay. There we go, there we go, there we go, there we go.

  • Gently. Okay, I don't hear any badness.

  • Now go choke up these two together.

  • CAROL: Yeah. CHIP: These two right here.

  • Okay, right there is perfect. Absolutely perfect.

  • Tighten it. Okay, that's good.

  • Okay, that way they have the same bend, and the same place,

  • and the same time, same bat channel.

  • We just have to let it dry now.

  • CAROL: All right.

  • CHIP: That's all we can do.

  • CAROL: So, we're done for tonight?

  • CHIP: We're done for tonight.

  • This needs to dry and tomorrow we'll, uh,

  • we'll take it off there when we have everything else prepared,

  • and this will be the last thing that we mount

  • and that we fit everything to.

  • CAROL: All right.

  • GLENN: Wherever you are, there are dangers.

  • If you don't wanna take a risk, don't get out of bed in the morning.

  • But the reality is, that knowledge will protect you

  • from the dangers in your environment.

  • About 1,000 feet above lake elevation here.

  • Hey, there's the camp.

  • I can see it. See it, Amelia?

  • AMELIA: Yeah.

  • GLENN: I got my own airplane this summer.

  • The nearest road is a 60 mile walk from here.

  • If you wanna get somewhere, you're not gonna drive.

  • You gotta fly or you gotta walk.

  • Those are your two choices.

  • AMELIA: Feels good to be back at the Brooks Range, huh?

  • GLENN: Yeah.

  • NARRATOR: Before dark winter hits,

  • Glenn Villeneuve and his family return to their cabin in the Brooks Range.

  • Glenn will hunt for a bull moose,

  • an important supplement for his family's diet.

  • GLENN: Okay. Landing gear is up for water.

  • We got four blues.

  • Can you check on your side, make sure it's up?

  • AMELIA: Confirmed on my side.

  • GLENN: Looks good on my side.

  • First thing I do when I fly into camp,

  • I always like to make a pass over the cabin,

  • look down, see what's going on.

  • Anytime I leave camp, even like now, when it's only for a couple of weeks,

  • I have to check things out when I get back,

  • because things happen when I'm gone.

  • That's when bears are more likely to come into the yard,

  • that's when things can get damaged,

  • that's when things can cause problems.

  • I didn't see anything from the air,

  • but when I get up to the cabin,

  • I'm gonna look for smaller details.

  • Things can happen here that I can't see from the air.

  • I don't do what I do because it's easy.

  • I don't do what I do because it's hard.

  • I do what I do because I have a lot of fun doing it.

  • Everything is a choice.

  • I chose to live in the Brooks Range.

  • I choose to hunt for my food,

  • and now I choose to have an airplane.

  • It all goes together for me.

  • My name is Glenn Villeneuve.

  • I live in Alaska.

  • I moved up here almost 20 years ago,

  • 'cause this is the only place in the world where

  • I could live this lifestyle I'm living.

  • I built a cabin in Fairbanks, I got a place in the bush,

  • and I live half the time in each of them.

  • There's no other place on this planet Earth where

  • I could live the way I live here.

  • I'm in control of my own destiny.

  • I decide where I'm gonna go,

  • when I'm gonna go there, what I'm gonna do.

  • Nobody is telling me what needs to be done.

  • I just see what needs to be done and I do it.

  • My family is growing.

  • I had a new baby born last summer, I got four kids now.

  • It was always my dream to have my family in the bush with me.

  • It took time to achieve that,

  • and there were times when I had to set the priority on

  • being out here even though I didn't have anybody to share it with.

  • I've spent a whole winter out here by myself,

  • but it gets lonesome.

  • I mean, I'm only human.

  • And now I got everything I want.

  • I got the wilderness, plus I got my family with me.

  • Made it back to the camp.

  • There you go.

  • TRISHA: Camp looks good.

  • AMELIA: Hey, dad, it looks like the meat pole is knocked down.

  • GLENN: What happened here?

  • Our meat pole got knocked down.

  • This has never happened before.