john martin: hi, my name’sjohn martin. i’m the publisher ofvice magazine. we had heard about thisguy named heimo korth. he lives in an area called thealaska national wildlife refuge, anwr for short. heimo’s one of themost impressive people i’ve ever met. he is almost totallyself-sufficient, and he’s one of those guys that couldsurvive no matter what.
now here it is. vice presents heimo’sarctic refuge. [music plays on radio] voice on radio: four. visibility one, zero. patchy fog. few clouds. at 5,000. 6,000, scattered.
temperature minus 2. dew point minus 2. anaktuvuk. pass, wind zero, one, zero. at five, visibility oneand one-quarter. ceiling 400 overcast. temperature zero. heimo korth: me and edna are thelast ones left to actually live out here.
the rest live in fairbanks,and they just commute from fairbanks out here, spenda month or two, and then they go back. and this is the only nationalwildlife refuge that has polar bears and moose and caribou. it’s got a lot of mediaattention because they want to drill for oil here. the vast majority of america’sagainst it. eventually, they justwant to get people
out of the land here. that’s why this permit for usto be here is only good up until the death ofour last child. and then after that,that’s it. thomas morton: hey,it’s thomas. we are in the brooksmountains. it’s in alaska, a few hundredmiles north of fairbanks and basically the restof civilization. we’re going to the cabin ofheimo korth and his wife edna.
he’s been a trapper uphere for 30 years, carved out his own life. lives completely by his witswith a little assistance from the occasional bush plane. heimo korth moved to alaska whenhe was 19 to get as far away as possible fromhuman civilization. he met his wife edna whileliving in an eskimo whaling village on st. lawrence islandin the bering sea. eventually he convinced her tomove with him to the harsh
alaskan interior, more than150 miles above the arctic circle and even farther fromthe nearest roads, supermarket, or schools. two of last people allowed tolive in an area the size of south carolina. their nearest neighbor is about100 miles away, and the only chance of emergency medicalcare is by calling the army for a helicopter ride. they’ve managed to raise afamily out here while dealing
with the fearsome climate,isolation, predators, and the drowning death of theirfirstborn daughter. the korths migrate annuallybetween three separate cabins. rotating cabins keeps them fromdepleting the resources in any one spot and ensures thatthere should always be enough fur and meat availablefor them to make it through a winter. we’re going to spend a week withthem and see what it’s like to live on america’slast frontier.
ken michaels: just look fora straight gravel bar, straight’s the key thing. hopefully into the wind. oh, there’s his cabin. thomas morton: oh, yeah. ken michaels: oh, there’shis tent. landing should be still allright at this time. heimo korth: my name’s heimokorth and this is where we live in the northeasternpart of alaska.
it’s beautiful. three degrees this morning. edna korth: my name is ednakorth and i’m glad you guys are here. thomas morton: alreadybreaking in the gear. this is our lifeline. it’s about to head backto fairbanks. heimo korth: me, and there aresix others in the refuge that were here prior to itbeing a refuge.
it’s very commonly known asanwr, you know, it’s like abbreviated for arctic nationalwildlife refuge. so once it became a refuge,i guess we were grandfathered in. [dog barking] thomas morton: god,bear alarm. oh, look at all that meat. heimo korth: people come out andthey want to do this, and they don’t realize how it is.
they think, oh, i can do it. i can do it. and then they come out, andpretty soon they realize, damn, it ain’t like this. and they build a nice place andthey spend two or three years, just to tough it out,just to prove to themselves. i mean, for someone to trapthis far out like this? it took me years and yearsand years to get what we have here.
now we come over here. the reason we set up this tentis because if the cabin ever burns down, the tent is here. it has a wood stove, it has woodin there, it has cots in there, it has extra clothes,extra sleeping bag– that would actuallysave your life. it’s very important. to be out this far withoutsomething extra to get into, you’re running a high risk.
put the branches in like that. here’s the stock market, whichreally affects you out here. ok. do you think youcan get it going? thomas morton: i think so. heimo korth: ok. you’ll learn really quick. ok, close it up. our youngest daughter and herhusband were sleeping in here when they came uphere last month.
our other daughter, her child,we had the grandkid up here. thomas morton: that’s great. edna korth: when we built thehouse when the girls were small, we put moss and logs. thomas morton: is there anythingelse between them? edna korth: no. just moss. thomas morton: justmoss and log? wow.
edna korth: rhonda, she’s 24and she’s working at the emergency room. krin, she’s marriedand she’s 20. and she works at sportsman’swarehouse. she wants to go backto college. a week before you guyswere here, they were both here for 10 days. it was nice to have them outhere, but kind of crowded. thomas morton: yeah.
heimo korth: these are some ofthe caribou that we shoot. these are the headsfrom the caribou. and we eat the heads. when we’re going to eat them, wejust saw off the horns and skin the head, and then we takethe eyeballs out and then we roast the rest of it. we eat the tongue, the cheeks,the lip, brain, everything. thomas morton: it’sgood eating. heimo korth: it is.
it’s very good eating. thomas morton: what’sin the bag? heimo korth: oh, a bear skin. thomas morton: oh. heimo korth: a bear skin. this bear came into theyard to get the meat. thomas morton: how long ago? heimo korth: a week ago. a week ago.
i was just– i just walked over here, and allof a sudden, i look up and there’s a bear standingin front of me. edna, i need my shotgun. and so with this much meataround, he’ll just keep coming back, coming back. it’s not good. so you gotta do somethingabout it. this is caribou meat,the hind leg.
a good healthy sign that– if you kill an animal and it’sfat, the animal’s healthy. if it’s skin and bones, there’s something wrong with it. and this here’s part ofa moose neck here. here’s a side of ribs. thomas morton: god, it’s huge. heimo korth: yeah. thomas morton: these fishare all king salmon.
and these are the ones in thesummertime i catch, and then we save these and use thesefor trapping bait. these are used primarily formartin, mink, lynx, wolf, wolverine, fox, weasel. [dog barks] heimo korth: kenai, huh? she’s half huskyand half akita. to alert us when there’sbear and stuff. so the dog stays outside,because i don’t believe in a
dog coming in the house. i’m really against that. these drums are usedfor storing food. craisins, pancake mix. and this way, a bearcan’t get into it. we have an extra satellitephone, and it goes in there. and that is in case thecabin burns down. thomas morton: how long haveyou had this cabin? heimo korth: oh, we builtthis one in 1984.
and this pole here, thisis a tree that was here and it died. but i attached the satellitephone antenna to it. and then this other antenna,right straight up, that’s for the aircraft radio so ican talk to airplanes. thomas morton: and the saladdressing and the guns? heimo korth: you know,the shotgun in case there’s a bear. there’s a rifle here forthe caribou, and
this .22 for grouse. and the salad dressing and all,keep it cool out there. damn, let me get my coat. i’m freezing. you guys ain’t cold? thomas morton: i’mgetting there. heimo korth: i’m gettingthere now. i gotta get my coat. hello, edna.
oh, this is the antenna forthe radio, right here. in the middle of winter, jeez,we pick up europe easy. london comes in real easy. tokyo, all that. [mimics asian language] you know, china somewhere,i don’t know. they all come in. thomas morton: are theseall your traps? heimo korth: all?
there’s maybe 1/100thof them right here. thomas morton: whereare the rest? heimo korth: all over. thomas morton: oh, oh, they’realready out and set. heimo korth: yeah,a lot of them. this is for marten andmink and muskrat. and this is a beaversnare here. we put this under theice for beaver. and then here’s moresnares right here.
thomas morton: john and john,they’re getting a shotgun. but i’m gonna say, if the dogsgo nuts, more likely or not it’s a moose or a caribou,but it could be a bear. how you guys doing? john mcshane: doing all right. thomas morton: basically,they’re like our bear alarm. [sawing] thomas morton: i’m stillwondering, when did you decide to go to alaska?
heimo korth: i was just lookingthrough those outdoor life magazines. you know what them are? them hunting magazines? this is 1974, though,mind you. you know what i mean? you know, i’ll write to huntingguides and see if they could use somebody. and he wrote back, and hesaid, yeah, he uses
packers to pack meat. i was young, 19 then, and isaid, yeah, i’ll go for it. so i did. thomas morton: how didyou get interested in the arctic, though? do you remember? heimo korth: oh, just wantedto go someplace where there wasn’t any people. and so the arctic is oneof the few places
that there’s no people. thomas morton: wheredid you pick up all your trapping knowledge? did you have to learnthat when you got to alaska, or did you– heimo korth: down in wisconsin,when i grew up. a lot of it was trialand error. thomas morton: up here? heimo korth: oh, yeah.
big time. thomas morton: yeah? i just think it’s weird,that you like– you’re so social. heimo korth: that why wouldi live out here? thomas morton: yeah, i reallyexpected you to be– through your teeth, you weregonna say, you know, one-word answers. heimo korth: oh, yeah,get out of here.
don’t ask stupid questions. thomas morton: doing it wrong. heimo korth: you know, just’cause you live out here doesn’t mean you haveto be like that. heimo korth: the stomachneeds food and the mind needs people. heimo korth: i mean, peopleneed other people. you just can’t say, i’m goingto be alone, you know? that’s not normal.
thomas morton: in your firstcouple years, weren’t you going it alone, though? heimo korth: oh, i was alone. i was only here from augustuntil the first of march. first of august to thefirst of march. thomas morton: that’s stilla very long time. heimo korth: i know it is. oh, yeah. tell me about it.
when you’re alone, that’sa real long time. i would never do that again. there’s no way. i mean, that’s not normal. you know, i’m glad i gotkids and daughters. and you know, justhave family. that’s important. let’s say if something happenedto edna, that i was a widower, i–
i– no. i wouldn’t do it alone. this one’s done. all right, thank you. heimo korth: what? thomas morton: was it my feet? edna korth: no, it’s his. heimo korth: what happened?
i didn’t step on the carpet. heimo korth: well, ofcourse it’s black. i’m stepping in themud right now. no matter what, it’s my fault. so i’ll just leave it at that. thomas morton: do you ever thinkabout how long you can– heimo korth: live out here? thomas morton: yeah, you cankeep this lifestyle? heimo korth: well, i hopeto die out here.
how does that sound? i just do it not because iwant to be a survivalist. it’s just because it’sa way of life. ooh. aah. burned my lip. thomas morton: there you go. male speaker: you ready? thomas morton: shall we?
thomas morton (whispering):it’s gone now. heimo korth (whispering):yeah, it’s gone now. but i’m just listeningfor something swimming across the water. that’s– you see acrossthe river, right where my light is shining? i shot– i shot the caribou over there. and the good pile is overthere, you see?
and when i came out here justnow, i looked over there and i saw a pair of eyeslooking at us. i don’t know what it was. right there it is. see it over there? see it? see the eyes over there? ok, nobody talk. let’s all go over thereand get water.
and if that starts swimmingacross the river, then– tell me. thomas morton (whispering):ok. heimo korth (whispering): kindaeerie feeling, ain’t it? you know, you look over thereand see two white eyes looking at us. thomas morton: we had a goodsummer camp vibe going by the end of night one, but themonster eyes across the river served as a good reminder thatwe had a lot more to fear out
here than constricted bowelsand shitty cocoa. heimo korth: who saw theeyes, besides me? thomas morton: i thinki saw them. i saw something. male speaker: john? heimo korth: here’s the gun. you might as well takeit, anyways. thomas morton: being told tosleep with a loaded shotgun also didn’t help.
it’s another dayin the arctic. we got about two inchesof snow last night. this morning i wokeup to a gunshot. [gunshot] thomas morton: thatwas evidently heimo popping a squirrel. i just want to check on thetemperature before we go in. it’s 20 degrees. i think it’s good to pointout how far down these
thermometers go, and thatis to negative 80. but that shit hopefullyhappens months from now, not tomorrow. edna korth: there’s achair over there. heimo korth: oatmeal? how’s oatmeal today? thomas morton: oatmeal’sgreat. heimo korth: there you go. the .22 for grouse and that.
heimo korth: you know,so we can have– thomas morton: shootsome dinner. heimo korth: yeah,there you go. there you go. right on. edna korth: we dothis every year. this time of the year, we gofishing, arctic grayling, so we could eat them atthe wintertime. i went fishing a lotwith my dad.
i’d hunt and trap with himbecause i was the oldest. john martin: wheredid you grow up? edna korth: savoonga,st. lawrence island. thomas morton: i mean, you’refollowing the same route you normally take? heimo korth: after living outhere for 35 years, you just– you just know. it’s just in you. a person just hasa sense in him.
you just know whereyou’re going. look at this. see these big slivers likethat, and this, and that? this was cut down with a stoneax, prior to the white man coming here. because there’s still stuffout here like that. thomas morton: when’d youfirst come to the bush? edna korth: in 1982 we gotto the lower cabin. heimo has a little tinycabin that you could
walk around like this. i thought to myself, whatam i getting into? and then, two days later,i told him, we gotta do something about the roof becausei’m walking around. you hold the line, flip it back,and then as you cast, you leave go of the line. thomas morton: oh, did i– shoot. edna korth: what?
thomas morton: i thinki put it in the tree. [sigh] yeah. i’ve been having areal hard time. and then you got to rememberit’s this again, and again, and again, and again,times 50 to 100. which is huge. it’s mind-boggling. heimo korth: little smallerthan an arctic grayling.
ooh, jeez. let me get a stick and– look how pretty they are. see the spots onthem like that? yellow underneaththere like that? fuck, yeah. there we go. edna korth: all right,you caught one. yay.
heimo korth: that’sa nice one. that’s a good-sized one, yeah. shake it hard. thomas morton: oh, and itjust comes right out. thomas morton: ok. heimo korth: just hold himlike– no, you’re going to hold him, in case you miss. i don’t want get myfingers smushed. don’t hit your fingers,but hit him hard.
hard. hard, hard, hard. thomas morton: oh, i feel bad. i feel like i’ve– wait,that did it, right? heimo korth: there, see, we’vegot a stringer of fish. supper tonight. fry him up with riceand salad? thomas morton: soundsvery good right now. edna korth: well, digin, you boys.
heimo korth: good fish? thomas morton: oh, it’s great. hats off. heimo korth: we’re goingto go hunt caribou. we’re gonna go climb up to aridge and we’re going to look for caribou. and hopefully there’llbe caribou. and if there are, then we’reshoot a young bull or else a lone cow.
then we’ll have somefresh meat. thomas morton: oh, ok. we’re gonna– this is wherewe’re gonna hunt from? heimo korth: yeah, thisis a little rock outcropping right here. we’ve got a good view. you see all the trailsdown there? heimo korth: you just keep aneye on the trail, see if anything follows them.
if they do, then we go afterthem, and that’s it. then we’ll be at it. this is the my theoryabout mankind. thomas morton: mmhm. heimo korth: mankind was muchbetter off a nomadic hunter. once he starts farming, civilization, it didn’t improve. it went downhill from there. i mean, when you look at humanbeings, how long they’ve been
on earth, there were far morehunters and gatherers than what they were farmers. we’re out to set some snowshoehare snares. tomorrow we’re going to checkthem and hopefully we’ll have a meal. they used the earth’sresources too much. it drained– i mean, crime increased,diseases increased. life was too easy.
thomas morton: thisis the snare. i kind of blame, like, europe. i mean, because everybody ineurope was a nomadic hunter. except i blame the romans forcoming there and trying to make people into farmers,just like them. there’s his tracks underneaththe snare. you want the snareright there. like in france, the gauls,they did that. and then in britain, to him,they conquered them.
and they were all just littletribes living off the land, like hunting. food was semi-reliable,so then you bred more, had more children. so then the more children,the more mouths to feed. people lived closer together,so in turn, disease came. see, i’d like it if youguys catch some, too. because then when we eatit, you’ll feel better. it’s a good feeling.
it’s better than going to thestore and buying some. that doesn’t give you the samefeeling, you know, if you go out and hunt it or something. and now, and now what happenedto the roman civilization? thomas morton: they allgot lead poisoning. heimo korth: yeah, that’sright, they did. i mean, there is only x amountof resources on this earth, and we’re using them up atan unbelievable rate. thomas morton: whatabout drilling?
heimo korth: oh, i’m not– thomas morton: you aren’treally for that, right? heimo korth: no, not really. no, i’m not for that. thomas morton: if there was asmuch oil in there as there is in saudi arabia, wouldyou, would you think it was ok for–? heimo korth: if, yeah, butit isn’t like that. so it’s not evenclose to that.
it ain’t there. it just ain’t there. so i mean, what are we gonna doin another 5,000 years, if we’re here? how much oil is there, ifthey’re going to be using oil? and then how many more peoplecan this earth feed? that’s another issue. state opened the beaver seasonearly now, because there’s so many beaver and hardly anybody’strapping them.
so we’re going to go trapus some beaver. i mean, things got really,really bad in the world over. not just in one country,but the world over. it’s the suburbanitesand the urbanites that’s going to suffer. the rural people, they’regoing to have the food. and they’re going to knowhow to get the food. not just planting,but hunting. thomas morton: what’sthat tree for?
whoa. 747. heimo korth: it has to be. john martin: do you likeseeing the planes? heimo korth: in someway, yeah. because it’s– even though we got radio, it’sstill, it’s like, there are people out there. thomas morton: it’s nice tohave a little contact.
like when 9/11 was there, youknow, remember they stopped all air traffic for a while? and there was no jets. zero. nothing. almost felt kind oflonely, you know? thomas morton: did you hearabout 9/11 on the radio? heimo korth: well, iheard on the radio. i was like, what?
so you know, but i never haveseen actual footage of the jet hitting the towers. thomas morton: no? heimo korth: i’ve neverseen that in my life. never. because we were out here,there’s no tv. ok, first one. now watch. you see the bottom thereand everything?
just set this down like this,and push it into the mud good. ok, that’s the first one. now we put one more with a bunchof sticks like this. that’s it. it’s just so vast, huh? it just goes foreverand ever and ever. no roads, no trails,no people, nothing. thomas morton: i don’t knowwhether that’s comforting or terrifying.
heimo korth: it’s comfortingto me, but it depends the way you’re– everybody feels differentabout that, you know? i feel safe that way. i feel safe. have you checked [inaudible]mountain? goroy mountain? let me have the binoculars. let me look over thereon them mountains.
thomas morton: heimo just saw abunch of caribou coming down off the ridge, so we’re going togo up on the tundra and try to head them off. this is the korths’ last chanceto get some meat. they’re well stocked. they could survive without it,but you know, it would be nice for them before the herdheads off, if they could take one more. heimo korth (whispering): ifsomething scared them, yeah.
if they ran intoa wolf or bear. shit. yeah, oh, yeah. oh yes. damn. well, when they came out,they cut that way. that’s– no caribou today yet. maybe on the way home.
who knows? we’ll find out. just keep trudging along. something killed a calfcaribou here. either wolf– wolverine–or bear. one of the two. thomas morton: oh, yeah,look at all that fur. heimo korth: the bones, see thepelvis bone, the back one? thomas morton: how longago, do you think?
heimo korth: oh, i don’t know. that was probably when we– when all them cariboucame through in the end of september. thomas morton: ooh. grisly. heimo korth: letme get the saw. see all the eggs in there? full of eggs.
[generator motor] heimo korth: oh, that’s outhere, east somewhere. i’m into movies somewhat,you know? i like the sci-fi movies,you know, like aliens and stuff like that. i like stuff like that. transporter, born in eastla, addams family. munich takes a long time. that’s like almost athree-hour movie.
john martin: predatoror whatever. thomas morton: that night afterlooking through family photos on edna’s gas-poweredlaptop– heimo korth: we’llwatch this one. thomas morton: heimo treatedus to a special screening of predator. the irony of watching major alan"dutch" schaefer try to trap and kill predator in thecompany of a fur trapper did not escape us.
nor did heimo waste anyopportunity to point out when and how schwarzenegger’s variouspredator traps were total bullshit. at this point, it was very easyto forget that we were on the furthest brink of humancivilization and not just sprawled out on a friend’scouch, basking in the glow of a tbs staple. apparently there were beartracks near where the outhouse is. (softly) what thefuck are they doing?
the next morning, our feelingsof suburban safety and contentment were vanquished forgood by the discovery of bear tracks near the cabin. john martin: herethey come again. heimo korth: good morning. thomas morton: good morning? heimo korth: we’ll show you. john martin: see, you wentto find the tracks? we’ll–
we’ll have to show you. we gotta get rid of him. because otherwise he’s goingto wreck your tents and everything. heimo korth (whispering):he came to right there. that’s the track, yeah. those paws are enormous. thomas morton: this is the timeof year that bears are putting on their last fewpounds before going into
hibernation. and heimo guaranteed us thatour nocturnal visitor would not only be returning soon butwould continue to do so until either it was dead or we were. heimo korth: see where hescraped the ground to cover the carcass? thomas morton (whispering):where’s the carcass? heimo korth (whispering):under all that. he covers it.
thomas morton (whispering):he’s probably nearby? heimo korth: mmhm. and guaranteed to attack us. if he comes behind us,i want you to duck down like that, so– ’cause i’m going toshoot over you. [whistle] hey, bear. hey.
john martin: hey. heimo korth: pretty spookyback there, huh? just with the carcass, and– so is he eating the otherbear carcass? they do that all the time. one bear’ll eat anotherbear carcass. thomas morton: no mannersamongst bears. heimo korth: well, remember heraked it all in and covered the carcass like that?
thomas morton: oh, you gotto see the carcass. all our farcical bear alarmjokes from earlier in the week were revisited, but thistime in deadly earnest. if we so much as needed to shit,we had to take a shotgun with us and establish thatwe were in clear shouting distance of someone else. john mcshane: apparently therewere bear tracks near where the outhouse is. i’ve been told to carrythis with me.
edna korth: don’tshoot this way. john mcshane: right. edna korth: if you seehim on that side, shoot at him that way. and a killing shot is where? like head or the heart? edna korth: in the chest. john mcshane: chest? edna korth: yeah.
john martin: good luck. john mcshane: thanks. thomas morton: so we’re eatingmoose tacos tonight? thomas morton: taco night. edna korth: heimo’s favorite. usually i’ll just have twotaco shells tonight, and there’s 10 or 12 in a box. he’ll eat the rest. thomas morton: do yourdaughters eat a lot?
thomas morton: were you worriedwhen they were little about bringing themup out here? edna korth: oh, no. edna korth: uh-uh. i taught them from sincethey were five. thomas morton: heimo told methey went to boarding school for a couple years. both of the girls did,because i think it’s time for them to move.
i didn’t want– i told him i didn’t want toteach them anymore because i don’t want to do highschool again. there. we just opened it. it’s too hot. heimo korth: it’s too cold. the first taco i ever had,it’s like, i fell in love with it.
man, what have i been missingall these years? oh, it was good. ooh, i loved it. any kind of mexican food,i had to come to alaska to have it first. alaska. this year’s exceptionallyweird. it really is. this is the third timea neighbor come in.
thomas morton: ithink that is. there more of them? heimo korth: i think so. i think so. until everything’s resolved,we’re going to have to stick close. thomas morton: what’llit sound like? heimo korth: the dog’ll tellus in a heartbeat. me and edna, and you and you,we’re gonna have to boogie out
real quick and takecare of it. edna korth: i’ll bethe last person. heimo korth: you’re gonnabe right with us. ’cause you and me’llbe in the lead. especially you. you’ll be– thomas morton: heimo justheard the dog bark. thomas morton: we may, we mayhave gotten our visitor. heimo korth: come on, come on.
this is serious. he’s there. edna korth: somebody else– heimo korth: no, ineed you, mom. let’s go. come on, let’s go. mommy, gun’s right here. extra shells. hey, john, in that boxup there, wooden box.
reach for some– pack of shotgun shells. there are five in there. ok? when we walk up there, quiet. nobody talk. we just have the light. edna korth: ain’t forme, mr. korth. heimo korth: don’t get upset.
thomas morton: itjust got dark. (whispering) there is a bear. thomas morton (whispering):oh my god. this is– thomas morton (whispering):the bear’s making some terrible fucking noise– thomas morton (whispering):ohh, it sounds like the bear’s moving. thomas morton (whispering):how the
fuck is it still alive? john mcshane (whispering):i don’t know. heimo korth: it’s dead. edna korth: he’s dead. heimo korth: hey, you guys– thomas morton: he’s dead? can we come? john mcshane: we’re good? thomas morton: we canshit in peace.
the uh, the bear is dead. heimo korth: imagine if yougot attacked by that. john martin: fuck. thomas morton: was he on allfours, or was he up high? heimo korth: he was all fours. heimo korth: all fours,and then– thomas morton: that makesit harder to shoot him, doesn’t it? heimo korth: once he was hit, hewas rolling around all over
just like a ball, andthat was even worse. thomas morton: that’sterrifying. heimo korth: to tryto shoot him. thomas morton (shivering)ayyyy, hey, hey. heimo korth: that couldtake a chunk out of you in a heartbeat. thomas morton: yes. heimo korth: it was so darkthat we kept shooting and shooting and shooting.
and i know i missed a bunchbecause i couldn’t see the bear in the sights of my gun. the dog knew there was somethingamiss, and then i could hear the bearback in there. and that’s when i ranin the house and got edna and everybody. come on, we gotta go. i couldn’t see the bear inthe sights of my gun. and as you saw, itwas a big bear.
it was a really big bear. and he’s gone, and– heimo korth: and weprotected our– i mean, us. and property. otherwise he might havekilled the dog. so we lost a dog already. a bear came in the yard and atethe dog alive, you know? and that was pretty sad.
that’s, you know, that’slife in the arctic. thomas morton: yeah, yeah. heimo korth: it’s justthe way it goes. thomas morton: you guys’llbe sleeping good tonight. heimo korth (yawning):well, everybody. morning. i am really a little bituncertain which one. i’ve got– i’ve got no clue what dayof the week it is,
either, i just realized. heimo korth: don’tfall on ’em. lot of air bubbles, huh? thomas morton: howare we looking? heimo korth: situationlooks quite bleak. heimo korth: maybein the morning. we’ll just come here in themorning and see what’s there. just have to do that. thomas morton: gotta go dealwith that bear right now.
it’s just, like, lying therein the middle of the trail. we’re gonna have to skin it,de-skull it, and do something with the meat that doesn’tinvolve leaving it for another bear to come and try to eat. there’s the bear. still dead? heimo korth (whispering):oh, yeah. i wouldn’t want to foolwith a bear like this. because you’d be indeep doo-doo.
stinks. whew. his belly was full. so he stinks pretty bad. one, two, three. [whoosh of air] thomas morton: oh, ohh. ho, ho. he– ho, ho. (gagging)ho, oh, oh, huh, ho.
oh, no. oh, god. oh, that’s– oh. heimo korth: terrible, huh? you get a good whiffof that, huh? thomas morton: oh,i got plenty. he basically just deflated. and that air. oh my god.
heimo korth: pretty rank, huh? thomas morton: that was–that was some, that was some rank air. that was– thomas morton: that was worsethan anything i’m going to do on this trip. is this gonna happenagain, now? heimo korth: yeah, he’skind of, kind of rigor mortis in here.
thomas morton: ohh. ohh. heimo korth: you smell? oh, oh. heimo korth: i could usesomebody else to help, too. you guys spread the arms, ok? watch your fingers. i learned this from a huntingguy that i worked for. he taught me howto skin bears.
without him, i wouldn’tbe up here. he’s the one that offered me thejob, so i moved up here. ok. now. bend down hard, hard. real hard. [snapping bone] heimo korth: there you go,that’s what we needed. now, put on a pair of rubbergloves because you’re going to
grab the meat now. i mean, this is morethan one slug. and right here, look at that. you see what i’m saying? like i feel like a lot of peoplewould see this and just automatically be like, thisguy must hate animals. heimo korth: no, i don’thate animals. not in the least. because i want to see themhere all the time.
i do. thomas morton: well, youlive among them. heimo korth: everybody,everybody’s ancestors were hunters and trappers. everybody. hold that leg, grab this one. you and me– you and me, thomas,pull this one. you gotta lift it up.
it’s gonna be hard. there we go, there wego, there we go. just like this. tell you what. to keep that clean, foldthat there like that. that’s good. put your fingers inthe nose and– no, really. can you do it?
oh, that feels kind of odd. heimo korth: now, ok. thomas morton: oh,there’s the ears. there’s the eye holes. thomas morton: there’sour bear. heimo korth: i gottacut that skull off. the skull has to be broughtto the alaska department of fish and game. i mushed up the skull bad.
thomas morton: these are allshots that are gonna give me nightmares. heimo korth: it’s notso bloody this way, you know what i mean? ok, push it down like this. once we get on the snow,it’ll be easier. thomas morton: it is easier. john mcshane: funeral processionfor a bear. heimo korth: to there.
well, let’s go check snares. thomas morton: when do you startgetting really busy with the trapping? like when does that kick in? heimo korth: november. thomas morton: november? and how long does it last? heimo korth: until march,i’ll be really busy, trapping every day.
nothing? first one empty. right down here. see the snare you set there? david’s is empty. too much fox and wolverinehanging around. thomas morton: so that’swhy we don’t have– heimo korth: that’s why thebunnies– you know, they either killed ’em, or else thebunnies took off to timbuktu.
because they ain’t gonna standaround with all these wolverines and foxes around. who set this one? thomas morton: um, maybe me? heimo korth: you got a bunny. there’s part of supper. thomas morton: look at that. these things are really big. i snared my first bunny.
thomas morton: oh, i’m sorryit was a struggle, but i’m happy we have food. heimo korth: christ, see, thisguy, he caught a fish, and he got a bunny. thomas morton: heimo got abunny, but it’s alive. how are– how are you going to dispatchthis bunny? is that the– is that the final–?
i got to admit, that wasa little bit rough. heimo korth: what’s up? what was? thomas morton: you know, it’skind of like, buying it at the supermarket, was the first timethat we just– we found it and it was, the deedhad already been done. heimo korth: and thistime i had to do it? thomas morton: and this time,you had to do it, yeah. so you have to–
i’d have to get used to that. heimo korth: well, igrew up like that. thomas morton: does it ever– does it ever affect you? heimo korth: bother me? you ever feel bad for– you ever feel badfor the bunny? heimo korth: well,it didn’t suffer. i mean–
thomas morton: no more thanit would in the wild. heimo korth: oh, god, no. thomas morton: i mean, iorder rabbit on menus. just because i don’t see ithappening doesn’t mean it’s not happening. and it’s probably happening alot worse than what you did. heimo korth: you’redarn right, it is. hey, i’ll show you once. and then the nextone, you do, ok?
thomas morton: ido myself, ok. wet your hands a little bit. right where this jointis, there, just– just in that joint area,pull it like this and the skin’ll pop. thomas morton: wow. no knife cuts. heimo korth: no knife cuts. stick your finger right here, goright to the butthole area,
and come up and around. you grab the whole tail part andeverything, the poop chute and all that, pullit like this. thomas morton: you know, therewasn’t a time when, like, all us animals hung out together. we treat them– heimo korth: all animalsare not people. that’s a disney world. i mean, people that say, my cat,or else my dog, that’s my
kid, that’s my child– that’sa bunch of baloney. it’s not even close. ok, just cut up, now. cut up. up. they can have theirdogs and pets, you know what i’m saying? i mean, that’s not goingto come close to another human being.
you can’t rate an animalwith a human. that’s not right. skinned and guttedyour first bunny. heimo korth: you guys ready? ready? of we go into the wildblue yonder. thomas morton: can youtell me where we’re walking to right now? heimo korth: oh, we’re going togo up in the ridge, by our
daughter’s cross up there. the daughter we lostout here, we put flowers there every year. so that’s what we’re goingup there for now. thomas morton: heimo and edna’sdaughters, krin and rhonda, are grown and livein fairbanks now. heimo and edna, however, hadanother daughter named coleen before either ofthem was born. when coleen was two, she and herparents were crossing the
coleen river in a canoe whenit tipped over and she was swept away by the current. edna korth: we were floatingdown to the lower cabin. we had that sweeperon the bank. it tip us over. she drowned and floated. we couldn’t reach her in time. the only thing we found fromher was her little boot. we call it goroy mountain.
we named it afterour daughter. we used to call her, in eskimo,little pigs that eat a lot, we say, goroys. thomas morton: did you try tohave this hill renamed? you gotta go through acouple committees. the state said that she didn’tdo anything significant. thomas morton: that’s awful. heimo korth: they said. edna korth: she would have been27, 28 years this year.
heimo korth: [eskimo] that’s the eskimo wordfor "come." [eskimo] heimo korth: say it, mom. edna korth: [eskimo] thomas morton: sounds a lotnicer when she says it. edna korth: i told you,you make things yours. heimo korth: oh, come on. well, this is something we weregoing to do whether you guys were here or not.
we had to do it before thesnow got too deep. and it’s a beautifulday for it. heimo korth: i don’t know howto use one of these things. edna korth: just press. heimo korth: oh, there. heimo korth: you want this? you want this? there, there you go. she’s a real picky eater in thebeginning, but once she
starts, she won’t stop. thomas morton: does it bum youout that there aren’t a new generation of heimos andednas to come out here? that once you guys are gone,there probably won’t be– in anwr, there won’tbe another– another set of people. heimo korth: anotherfinal frontiersman? heimo korth: i mean, the youthnowadays, very few are interested in the outdoors.
and a lot of them don’t knowsurvival skills, which is sad. because they could run into asituation where they need that to save their life, you know? because you never know what’sgoing to happen in life. thomas morton: lastday of camp. we got little gifts from edna. she made us– mine is a fox skin chain toggle,which i’m pretty excited about.
gonna miss this old cabin. all right, this is it. supposed to be snow coming intonight, and the seasons are about to change in areally major way. it’s going to get a lotcolder than it’s been when we’ve been here. and hunting season’s going togive way to trapping season. folks like heimo and edna, andthe bush pilots out here, they’re some of the last peoplefrom whom you can learn
this dying skill set. they ain’t supermen. they’re ordinary people wholearned how to do it and then went out and did it. i’m now capable of feasting offrabbit that i have caught. these are all, you know– these are all skillswe can rediscover. heimo korth: all right, guys. thomas morton: bye.
heimo korth: take care. thomas morton: havea good winter. heimo korth: yeah, you too. thomas morton: we will. heimo korth: all right, bye. me and edna, we got our– whenwe go, you know, i told her if i go first, where to put me. i mean, if they findme out here. that’s the thing.
if they find me. and then my ashes are goingto be way up in there. that’s where i wanted them. and then edna said she wantsto be here, you know.