What makes a good Alaskan
By JEFF LUND
May 28, 2015
Age and joints ravaged by activity, then inactivity, had taken their toll. We probably wouldn’t get one by just cruising logging roads, but father and son would be armed and hunting.
He died before we had the chance. Well, that’s not true. We had the chance when I was a kid growing up, but neither of us was really into hunting. It was one of those things you take for granted living here. As a resident you can fill freezers and walls with fish and game. Then start on another freezer and more walls.
But that doesn’t always happen. Then things change. Life happens.
I finally got a bear this year. The meat is in my freezer, the hide at the taxidermist.
I guess that’s what the people who walk off the cruise ships think a dude like me does all the time. The hunting part, not the waiting part.
Some afternoons I like walking the docks with the tourists. I think it would be fun to set up a kiosk. Above it would be a sign that reads, “Authentic Alaskan*, Ask Anything.” The tourists would enter one end of the kiosk and be able to ask any ridiculous question, like a confessional, because I’m sure many of them hold back otherwise.
The first question would probably be about the asterisks. I’d respond that while I have lived in Alaska for 18 years, I’m not the archetype of Alaska. I do not match that which the interviewer envisioned from watching the Discovery Channel from a couch in Georgia. Ultimately, he or she would walk away with some insight, but also a little disappointment.
It’s impossible to define what makes a good Alaskan.
Of course the fishing is legendary, but some prefer river to rolling ocean. When it comes to hunting, you can’t fault the residents for the, “one of each kind” method, because if someone is going to kill and process the meat I eat, why isn’t that someone me?
You can’t fault people for living here yet not hunting. Sometimes you’re just not into it. It’s a hiker’s and kayaker’s paradise. No matter where you work, you’re only ten minutes from a good trail. It’s insane. You can stay busy forever.
But maybe I’m a better Alaskan this second time around if only because I do all of it more, and with the benefit of hindsight. I took it all for granted when I was a kid. I hiked, and camped and fished, but surely didn’t maximize the outdoor opportunity that abounds.
You can’t make up for lost time or opportunities, or perfectly fit a stereotype, but going forward, you can take advantage of what’s readily available.
And that’s not something just Alaskans say.
Jeff Lund is a Teacher, Freelance Writer, living in Ketchikan, Alaska