As Jen and I settle into our Alaska lifesytle, we are reminded constantly of the obstacles we have to cross in order to live free. I always dreamed of living off the Alaska land, hunting and fishing for a subsistence way of life. However, we are finding out that we lived a more subsistence lifestyle in the lower 48 than we do in the Alaska outback! For example, the last couple of years we have applied for a “moose tag” to be able to harvest a moose, but we have not received one yet. The largest of all deer species wanders into our yard constantly, but we cannot shoot it for food, unless our name has been pulled in some lottery-style system.
You must have a tag issued from the ADF&G here in town in order to legally “bag” a moose and fill your freezer. I have been assured by the wildlife and game department that the permit awards are done on a points system, computerized by an algorhythm. Your chances increase by the more years you’ve been here, the more you hunt, and the more you rely on hunting and fishing for food. I’m beginning to think I’m on some sort of “black list” because I reported that I hunt for 100% of my food. I figured I might be on this secret “black list” because of all the small town rumors about me that have been spreading like wildfire. I have been told that people in town refer to me as “The Bear Killer from Louisanna”. I have heard several rumors of bears that I’ve killed In places that I have never even been. I kinda like the attention though and think it’s hilarious. I also sorta bring it upon myself. By law, every animal I hunt and harvest
out here has to be turned in to the fish and game to be “sealed”. This is a major hassle living remotely, but I comply with all of the regulations and understand the scientific data purposes behind it.
On one occasion, I was bringing a black bear to be sealed at the department of fish and game. I knew there was a crusie ship in town that day. The streets would be flooded with tourists, and I figured they would love to take pictures of this beautiful animal. Maybe it was a little extreme to prop the bear up and tie him to the boat’s steering wheel, but I thought I could get some good chuckles out of some the tourists. As I drove the truck down main street pulling the boat, there was the bear, driving the boat in all his glory. I think I had all two thousand tourists that were in town stop and take a picture that day. People were actually running to my boat to see the bear. There was a couple of guys from Baton Rouge, LA that saw the Rajun Cajun sticker on my boat. I think they were cracking up the most. They said, “Only a coonass from Lousianna would have a bear driving a boat in Haines AK.” Not only did this attract the tourists, but the local game warden decided to come and see this boat-driving bear that everyone was talking about. He arrived, but I never did hear any chuckling coming from him. I advised him that I was on my way to the fish and game building to have the bear sealed, but the bear just wanted to stop for his 15 minutes of fame. Still no chuckles.
This game warden is familiar with me due to all the rumors that he’s heard about us out on the lake. He actually came all the way out to the property one day to give Jen and I tickets for having the wrong type of fishing licenses. Yes that’s right. Not only do you need a fishing license to live off the land and fish, but you better be sure you have the right kind. We thought the incident was so silly. The Warden heard a rumor that we were running an illegal fishing operation out on the lake and taking in thousands of dollars! We saw 3 or 4 people total that year out on the back lake so this was kinda humorous. Jen and I were both issued citations totaling $600, for having resident fishing license. We had both trucks and boats registered in the state of Alaska, we both had Alaska drivers licences, we were both registered voters in the State of Alaska and voted in the local elections, and we had paid Alaska property taxes for over a year. As he’s standing on my property, outside of my house, my dwelling, the place where we live, he insisted that we are still not residents of Alaska. I was really confused?? I felt like a “Dreamer”. What he was telling us is that we dont have residency anywhere. I guess Jen and I are in limbo and we can only say that we are residents of planet earth at this point. He read on our blog about our drive up here and assumed that the blog post date was our exact Alaska move date. He thought we had only been living here for 8 months therefore he said we needed nonresident Fishing licences. Here’s the kicker….it would have only been a $200 fine if we would have been caught fishing with no license at all. We took it to court and the judge considered me a resident but my wife a nonresident. Now I was really confused?? I felt so dirty and felt like a criminal. Here I am a resident, married and living with a nonresident. My fines were waived thankfully. I’m not sure if all the time spent to come out to our property issue us tickets and battle us in court, was a good use of taxpayer’s money, but It’s all water under the bridge, or at least I thought it was.
He is familiar with my boat and noticed that I had upgraded my motor. I went from a 90hp to a 115hp, for a little extra punch. He asked what was wrong with my other one and why the change?
I told him, “Nothing was wrong with the other motor, I just needed something faster than yours”. No chuckles there either.
On top of all that, I felt compelled to tell him about the booger hanging out of his nose.
Yep…I’m definitely on this “blacklist!”
In another example of this struggle, we received a call from a FEDERAL Fish and Game Officer just the other day. He wanted us to meet him in town so he could go over the events of a bird encounter that he read about on our last blog post. Most migratory game birds are federally protected, so a special Federal Wildlife & Game Officer had to be flown in a from Jueanu for this bird investigation. The FBBI!!! He was with the Federal Bureau of Bird Investigation!! Yes This country is in a trillion dollar deficit, but the bird police are still on patrol.
This FBBI Officer and my buddy, the local Game Warden, were on their way out to our property on the lake when they noticed our snow machines at the farm and that our truck was gone so they figured we were in town and that they could catch up with us there. He called me and we agreed to meet up with them at the local hotel. We were dumbstruck at all the resources and money that was spent to come interview us about our blog post. I guess we are getting all kinds of exposure, good and bad. It’s kinda cool though that so many people read about our adventures out here. Our witness protection officer isnt gonna think this is cool though.
I was flattered when we met with the officer he said he has been wanting to meet the “legend of Motes Mountain.”
I was advised that in order to kill birds that are attacking your chickens, you have to purchase a $100 permit. Yep…. you have to pay to eliminate birds that are attacking and killing your livestock. You may or may not be approved for this permit either. I know that being on the “black list”, I aint ever gonna get this permit! I’ll be out 100 dollars and out of chicken eggs. We sat there and listened to him tell us that it is upwards of a $1,500 fine for even having a bird feather in your possession. Then he proceeded to hand me a list of all the protected birds in North America. As I’m scanning through the 12 page list of thousands of birds, my 11 year’old self pops into my head. I see myself holding my Red Rider BB gun in one hand and the same bird list in the other hand. My 11 year-old self keeps nodding his head as he is scanning down the list and saying…”yep got that one, hey that one too,…oh yeah that one for sure…two of those…etc.”
After the investigation interview concluded, we were told to mail in the bird foot, and any feathers of any migratory game bird we had on the property. I have lots of feathers that we have collected through the years hiking in the woods. I have spent many hours bird watching out the window. I have set feeders up throughout the property. I’ve been researching and reading about Alaska’s birds and it has been one of my new hobbies. Yes, I’m a “birder” now.
We even plan on putting up nesting poles to attract more Owls and Osprey.We have several Spruce Grouse that come on our property and mingle with the chickens every year. They are always followed by 6 or 7 chicks that we watch grow up throughout the summer.
I respect all birds, and all living creatures for that matter, but come on if another animal is attacking you or your livelihood, you should be able to protect yourself and your animals. I’m gonna be sad that I have to let go of my bird feather collection, but I must comply with the federal government. I’m horrified to think of the consequences. I could be thrown into federal prison. I can just see myself explaining to my new cell mate “Big Tyronne” that I’m in the slammer because of a bird feather collection. He then would call me his “Little Sparrow!” This would be my nightmare scenario!!!
He then told us all these feathers are sent to a lab in Montana. It blows my mind that there is a federal building somewhere full of bird feathers, where countless hours and tax payer’s dollars are spent doing what? Hopefully, these feathers won’t go into an unsolved X-Files folder and sit in a cabinet ’till someone reopens the cold case file to solve the question of where these feathers came from??.!!! Who knows, maybe they are making pillows for Washington’s elite politicians. Either way, when they get my package, they gonna have some work to do! I’ve plucked every feather off all my roosters and stuffed them in that envelope!
I’m sure I will not be getting any chuckles from them either. Let’s hope this doesn’t go as far as me meeting “Big Ole Tyronne”.
It’s a shame that we live in a world today where you can go to a clinic, remove an unborn human from inside the womb, discard it as waste and that it is tolerated by society. But the minute you harm a bird that is attacking your chickens, you’re breaking the law!!!??? Unhatched bird inside the eggs are valued as live animals and are protected by law as well. Unborn humans aren’t though!!!???
The FBBI agent told us that it was the local guy who runs the newspaper in town that called them after reading our blog. We can only assume that he was looking for a story to print in the local paper and thought if he could get us into trouble that it would make a good headline. Yes, this is the silliness that comes from living in a small town. We really enjoy this weekly newspaper. It has been a constant form of entertainment for us out here on the mountain. There is definitely a lot of small town drama that plays out on these pages. Reading this paper over the years, at times I feel like Im reading the Onion Publication. Front cover headlines are about chickens being attacked by hawks and learning to live indoors.
You would think this guy would have some sympathy towards me since I was also attacked by a hawk. This is the same paper that weekly highlights the police blotter. This reports every police call that comes in each week.Most 911 calls are like someone saw a moose in the road, or someone found a box of cat litter on main street, or, in our case, someone called 911 to report harm to a bird at Chilkat Lake.
We really enjoy this newspaper though. It makes excellent fire starter and they give it away for free after a week. So, I ain’t mad!
If he really wanted a good story, he should have interviewed us about the huge rattlesnake we killed under the house on our property this past summer. Let’s hope there’s no Federal Snake Police reading this.
The newspaper guy could come out and interview us about our new friend on motes mountain….. BoBo!!
We have kinda taken in a juvenile bear since last summer. I call him “BoBo, the teenage bear”. He has been hanging around the property for months now. Staying on the edge and coming in and out to meet us. Recently, in the last few months he has made a perfect little bedding area under our cabin. Over time, he has warmed up to us. I think it took a total of 6 months and 84 bags of marshmallows to make him my friend. He still won’t let us get close enough to pet him though. I am determined to tame him and hopefully be able to ride on him one day.
Now these are the types of stories people want to read about!!!! Put this in your paper!
For the record, I have the utmost respect for all of the local Wildlife & Game Officials and appreciate all the hard work they put in to sustaining a healthy population of wildlife. The Federal Officer that came out was very professional and really great. So is my buddy, the local Game Warden. I have been a wildlife conservationist my entire life (not counting my bird-killing spree when I was an 11 year old child.) I am an avid hunter and fisherman and do my part to help harvest and maintain wildlife population. This is the sole reason I moved to Alaska-to hunt, fish and live free! Hunting and fishing is the most important tool to wildlife mangement. Without wildlife management you will not have wildlife conservation. Although I don’t agree with a lot of the regulations, I understand their purpose, and I respect and obey all laws. I promise, this is my last plea for a moose tag!!! Anybody??
I have been told Alaska attracts all kinds of crazy people. Maybe that’s why I fit in this land so well. I respect and love all the people I have come across in this community! We hope to build new and lasting realsionships with many more people to come. Anyone is welcome to come out and stay with us on our property and enjoy the beauty of Motes Mountain. This blog originated for us just to let friends and family get an inside look at what we are up to out here in Alaska. The stories and tall tales are for entertainment purposes only. We appoligize if we offend anyone along the way.
Just remember though…. if you are ever out on the Chilkitty (The smaller part of Chilkat lake) and you see someone riding a bear in the woods….it’s probably the Motes Mountain legend “The Mighty Bear Killer from Lousiana!!!!”………….but then again all of this is just rumor;-)