> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Random Thoughts: Alaskan Homesteader Shows



Random Thoughts: Alaskan Homesteader Shows

I've been enjoying a couple of the Alaska shows on Discovery over the past while - Alaska: The Last Frontier and Yukon Men. While the families featured on these shows obviously have the help of some outside resupply and resources, they are living largely self sufficient homesteader lifestyles. And they've been doing it for a long while, so they've got some expertise in the matter. Enjoyable shows, and certainly a few things to take notice of for us trapped in suburbia types.

All of the men have a rifle slung over their shoulder or within arms reach at all times. Bolt action hunting rifles are most common - .30-06s and .300 Win Mags have been mentioned, but a couple of the guys on Yukon Men have AR-15s, which they use in the dead of Alaskan winter without problem. Shotguns used for hunting birds and nothing else. Handguns are few and far between - an old .22 revolver for dispatching trapped animals is about all I can remember seeing.

Don't remember seeing anything in the way of high-end knives, and certainly nothing bigger than maybe 4 or 5 inches, despite lots of caribou and bear skinning going around.

The Kilcher family on Alaska: The Last Frontier live a more classic homesteading lifestyle, raising lifestock, growing some crops, and using hunting and fishing to supplement their food supplies. The families on Yukon Men are primarily hunters, fishers and trappers - not much in the way of live stock, fields or gardens have been shown. I'm guessing this is largely due to location - the Kilchers live near good pasture land for cattle, and the village in Yukon Men is right on the Yukon River. The Kilcher families seems to be less on the edge of survival and worried about their next meal, but there are certainly other circumstances that probably play into that. But, the farming lifestyle won out over the hunter/gatherer a long while ago, so I suppose that makes plenty of sense, too.

The families on both shows all rely heavily on wood stoves for heating, but also on fuel to power tractors, snow machines, chainsaws and boats. A few of the families on Yukon Men have trained dog teams, who are used with varying degrees of success. Without fuel, they'd all have a pretty rought time getting by.

All have a generally rough time surviving in the wilds, despite having years of experience, really low population density, and the natural resources of Alaska at hand--lots of trees, lots of big fish and lots of big and small game. Despite our obviously milder climate, many areas in the continental U.S. have much less abundant natural resources, and population densities many orders of magnitude gear.

Some helpful perspective at the challenges involved, perhaps. Certainly not something that's easy to do, or that one can just walk into unprepared and hope to fare very well!