Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles 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. There are not many things that can reach up there and knock that down. That's been up there for 10 or 12 years.