Surviving Alone in Alaska

Uploaded by vice on Apr 25, 2012


JOHN MARTIN: Hi, my name's John Martin.
I'm the publisher of Vice Magazine.

We had heard about this guy named Heimo Korth.
He lives in an area called the Alaska National Wildlife
Refuge, ANWR for short.
Heimo's one of the most impressive
people I've ever met.
He is almost totally self-sufficient, and he's one
of those guys that could survive no matter what.
Now here it is.
Vice presents Heimo's Arctic Refuge.

Visibility one, zero.
Patchy fog.
Few clouds.
at 5,000.
6,000, scattered.
Temperature minus 2.
Dew point minus 2.
Pass, wind zero, one, zero.
At five, visibility one and one-quarter.
Ceiling 400 overcast.
Temperature zero.
HEIMO KORTH: Me and Edna are the last ones left to actually
live out here.
The rest live in Fairbanks, and they just commute from
Fairbanks out here, spend a month or two, and
then they go back.
And this is the only National Wildlife Refuge that has polar
bears and moose and caribou.
It's got a lot of media attention because they want to
drill for oil here.
The vast majority of America's against it.
Eventually, they just want to get people
out of the land here.
That's why this permit for us to be here is only good up
until the death of our last child.
And then after that, that's it.

THOMAS MORTON: Hey, it's Thomas.
We are in the Brooks Mountains.
It's in Alaska, a few hundred miles north of Fairbanks and
basically the rest of civilization.

We're going to the cabin of Heimo Korth and his wife Edna.
He's been a trapper up here for 30 years,
carved out his own life.
Lives completely by his wits with a little assistance from
the occasional bush plane.

Heimo Korth moved to Alaska when he was 19 to get as far
away as possible from human civilization.
He met his wife Edna while living in an Eskimo whaling
village on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea.
Eventually he convinced her to move with him to the harsh
Alaskan interior, more than 150 miles above the Arctic
Circle and even farther from the nearest roads,
supermarket, or schools.
Two of last people allowed to live in an area the size of
South Carolina.

Their nearest neighbor is about 100 miles away, and the
only chance of emergency medical care is by calling the
Army for a helicopter ride.
They've managed to raise a family out here while dealing
with the fearsome climate, isolation, predators, and the
drowning death of their firstborn daughter.
The Korths migrate annually between three separate cabins.
Rotating cabins keeps them from depleting the resources
in any one spot and ensures that there should always be
enough fur and meat available for them to make
it through a winter.
We're going to spend a week with them and see what it's
like to live on America's last frontier.
KEN MICHAELS: Just look for a straight gravel bar,
straight's the key thing.
Hopefully into the wind.
Oh, there's his cabin.
KEN MICHAELS: Oh, there's his tent.

Landing should be still all right at this time.

HEIMO KORTH: My name's Heimo Korth and this is where we
live in the northeastern part of Alaska.
It's beautiful.
Three degrees this morning.
EDNA KORTH: My name is Edna Korth and I'm glad
you guys are here.

THOMAS MORTON: Already breaking in the gear.

This is our lifeline.
It's about to head back to Fairbanks.

HEIMO KORTH: Me, and there are six others in the refuge that
were here prior to it being a refuge.

It's very commonly known as ANWR, you know, it's like
abbreviated for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
So once it became a refuge, I guess we were
grandfathered in.

THOMAS MORTON: God, bear alarm.
Oh, look at all that meat.
HEIMO KORTH: People come out and they 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, and pretty soon they realize,
damn, it ain't like this.
And they build a nice place and they spend two or three
years, just to tough it out, just to prove to themselves.
I mean, for someone to trap this far out like this?
It took me years and years and years to get
what we have here.
Now we come over here.
The reason we set up this tent is because if the cabin ever
burns down, the tent is here.
It has a wood stove, it has wood in there, it has cots in
there, it has extra clothes, extra sleeping bag--
that would actually save your life.
It's very important.
To be out this far without something extra to get into,
you're running a high risk.
Put the branches in like that.
Here's the stock market, which really affects you out here.
OK. do you think you can get it going?
THOMAS MORTON: I think so.
You'll learn really quick.
OK, close it up.
Our youngest daughter and her husband were sleeping in here
when they came up here last month.
Our other daughter, her child, we had the grandkid up here.
THOMAS MORTON: That's great.
EDNA KORTH: When we built the house when the girls were
small, we put moss and logs.
THOMAS MORTON: Is there anything else between them?
Just moss.
THOMAS MORTON: Just moss and log?
EDNA KORTH: Rhonda, she's 24 and she's working at the
emergency room.
Krin, she's married and she's 20.
And she works at Sportsman's Warehouse.
She wants to go back to college.
A week before you guys were here, they were
both here for 10 days.
It was nice to have them out here, but kind of crowded.

HEIMO KORTH: These are some of the caribou that we shoot.
These are the heads from the caribou.
And we eat the heads.
When we're going to eat them, we just saw off the horns and
skin the head, and then we take the eyeballs out and then
we roast the rest of it.
We eat the tongue, the cheeks, the lip, brain, everything.
THOMAS MORTON: It's good eating.
It's very good eating.
THOMAS MORTON: What's in the bag?
HEIMO KORTH: Oh, a bear skin.
HEIMO KORTH: A bear skin.
This bear came into the yard 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 all of a sudden, I look up and
there's a bear standing in front of me.
Edna, I need my shotgun.
And so with this much meat around, he'll just keep coming
back, coming back.
It's not good.
So you gotta do something about it.
This is caribou meat, the hind leg.
A good healthy sign that--
if you kill an animal and it's fat, the animal's healthy.
If it's skin and bones, there's
something wrong with it.
And this here's part of a moose neck here.
Here's a side of ribs.
THOMAS MORTON: God, it's huge.
THOMAS MORTON: These fish are all king salmon.
And these are the ones in the summertime I catch, and then
we save these and use these for trapping bait.
These are used primarily for martin, mink, lynx, wolf,
wolverine, fox, weasel.
HEIMO KORTH: Kenai, huh?
She's half husky and half Akita.
To alert us when there's bear 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 used for storing food.
Craisins, pancake mix.
And this way, a bear can't get into it.
We have an extra satellite phone, and it goes in there.
And that is in case the cabin burns down.
THOMAS MORTON: How long have you had this cabin?
HEIMO KORTH: Oh, we built this one in 1984.
And this pole here, this is a tree that
was here and it died.
But I attached the satellite phone antenna to it.
And then this other antenna, right straight up, that's for
the aircraft radio so I can talk to airplanes.
THOMAS MORTON: And the salad dressing and the guns?
HEIMO KORTH: You know, the shotgun in
case there's a bear.
There's a rifle here for the 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'm getting there.
HEIMO KORTH: I'm getting there now.
I gotta get my coat.
Hello, Edna.
Oh, this is the antenna for the radio, right here.
In the middle of winter, jeez, we pick up Europe easy.
London comes in real easy.
Tokyo, all that.
You know, China somewhere, I don't know.
They all come in.
THOMAS MORTON: Are these all your traps?
There's maybe 1/100th of them right here.
THOMAS MORTON: Where are the rest?
HEIMO KORTH: All over.
THOMAS MORTON: Oh, oh, they're already out and set.
HEIMO KORTH: Yeah, a lot of them.
This is for marten and mink and muskrat.
And this is a beaver snare here.
We put this under the ice for beaver.
And then here's more snares right here.
THOMAS MORTON: John and John, they're getting a shotgun.
But I'm gonna say, if the dogs go 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.

THOMAS MORTON: I'm still wondering, when did you decide
to go to Alaska?
HEIMO KORTH: I was just looking through 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 hunting guides and see if they
could use somebody.
And he wrote back, and he said, yeah, he uses
packers to pack meat.
I was young, 19 then, and I said, yeah, I'll go for it.
So I did.

THOMAS MORTON: How did you get interested
in the Arctic, though?
Do you remember?
HEIMO KORTH: Oh, just wanted to go someplace where there
wasn't any people.
And so the Arctic is one of the few places
that there's no people.
THOMAS MORTON: Where did you pick up all
your trapping knowledge?
Did you have to learn that when you got to
Alaska, or did you--
HEIMO KORTH: Down in Wisconsin, when I grew up.
A lot of it was trial and error.
HEIMO KORTH: Oh, yeah.
Big time.
I just think it's weird, that you like--
you're so social.
HEIMO KORTH: That why would I live out here?
THOMAS MORTON: Yeah, I really expected you to be-- through
your teeth, you were gonna 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 have to be like that.
HEIMO KORTH: The stomach needs food and
the mind needs people.
HEIMO KORTH: I mean, people need other people.
You just can't say, I'm going to be alone, you know?
That's not normal.
THOMAS MORTON: In your first couple years, weren't you
going it alone, though?
HEIMO KORTH: Oh, I was alone.
I was only here from August until the first of March.
First of August to the first of March.
THOMAS MORTON: That's still a very long time.
HEIMO KORTH: I know it is.
Oh, yeah.
Tell me about it.
When you're alone, that's a 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 got kids and daughters.
And you know, just have family.
That's important.
It's very important.
Let's say if something happened to Edna, that I was a
widower, I--
I wouldn't do it alone.
This one's done.
All right, thank you.
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, of course it's black.
I'm stepping in the mud right now.

No matter what, it's my fault.
So I'll just leave it at that.
THOMAS MORTON: Do you ever think about how long you can--
HEIMO KORTH: Live out here?
THOMAS MORTON: Yeah, you can keep this lifestyle?
HEIMO KORTH: Well, I hope to die out here.
How does that sound?
I just do it not because I want to be a survivalist.
It's just because it's a way of life.

Burned my lip.

THOMAS MORTON: There you go.
MALE SPEAKER: You ready?

HEIMO KORTH (WHISPERING): Yeah, it's gone now.
But I'm just listening for something
swimming across the water.
That's-- you see across the river, right
where my light is shining?
I shot--
I shot the caribou over there.
And the good pile is over there, you see?
And when I came out here just now, I looked over there and I
saw a pair of eyes looking 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 there and get water.
And if that starts swimming across the river, then--
tell me.

HEIMO KORTH (WHISPERING): Kinda eerie feeling, ain't it?
You know, you look over there and see two white
eyes looking at us.
THOMAS MORTON: We had a good summer camp vibe going by the
end of night one, but the monster eyes across the river
served as a good reminder that we had a lot more to fear out
here than constricted bowels and shitty cocoa.
HEIMO KORTH: Who saw the eyes, besides me?
THOMAS MORTON: I think I saw them.
I saw something.
HEIMO KORTH: Here's the gun.
You might as well take it, anyways.
THOMAS MORTON: Being told to sleep with a loaded shotgun
also didn't help.

It's another day in the Arctic.
We got about two inches of snow last night.
This morning I woke up to a gunshot.
THOMAS MORTON: That was evidently
Heimo popping a squirrel.
I just want to check on the temperature before we go in.
It's 20 degrees.
I think it's good to point out how far down these
thermometers go, and that is to negative 80.
But that shit hopefully happens months
from now, not tomorrow.

EDNA KORTH: There's a chair over there.
How's oatmeal today?
THOMAS MORTON: Oatmeal's great.
HEIMO KORTH: There you go.
The .22 for grouse and that.
HEIMO KORTH: You know, so we can have--
THOMAS MORTON: Shoot some dinner.
HEIMO KORTH: Yeah, there you go.
There you go.
Right on.
EDNA KORTH: We do this every year.
This time of the year, we go fishing, Arctic grayling, so
we could eat them at the wintertime.
I went fishing a lot with my dad.
I'd hunt and trap with him because I was the oldest.
JOHN MARTIN: Where did you grow up?
EDNA KORTH: Savoonga, St. Lawrence Island.

THOMAS MORTON: I mean, you're following the same route you
normally take?
HEIMO KORTH: After living out here for 35 years, you just--
you just know.
It's just in you.
A person just has a sense in him.
You just know where you're going.
Look at this.
See these big slivers like that, and this, and that?
This was cut down with a stone ax, prior to the white man
coming here.
Because there's still stuff out here like that.
THOMAS MORTON: When'd you first come to the bush?
EDNA KORTH: In 1982 we got to the lower cabin.
Heimo has a little tiny cabin that you could
walk around like this.
I thought to myself, what am I getting into?
And then, two days later, I told him, we gotta do
something about the roof because I'm walking around.
You hold the line, flip it back, and then as you cast,
you leave go of the line.
THOMAS MORTON: I think I put it in the tree.
I've been having a real hard time.
And then you got to remember it's this again, and again,
and again, and again, times 50 to 100.
Which is huge.
It's mind-boggling.

HEIMO KORTH: Little smaller than an Arctic grayling.
Ooh, jeez.
There you go.
Let me get a stick and--

Look how pretty they are.
See the spots on them like that?
Yellow underneath there like that?
Fuck, yeah.
There we go.
EDNA KORTH: All right, you caught one.
HEIMO KORTH: That's a nice one.
That's a good-sized one, yeah.
Shake it hard.
THOMAS MORTON: Oh, and it just comes right out.
HEIMO KORTH: Just hold him like-- no, you're going to
hold him, in case you miss.
I don't want get my fingers smushed.
Don't hit your fingers, but hit him 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've got a stringer of fish.
Supper tonight.

Fry him up with rice and salad?
How does that sound?
THOMAS MORTON: Sounds very good right now.

EDNA KORTH: Well, dig in, you boys.

HEIMO KORTH: Good fish?
THOMAS MORTON: Oh, it's great.
Hats off.

HEIMO KORTH: We're going to go hunt caribou.
We're gonna go climb up to a ridge and we're going to look
for caribou.
And hopefully there'll be caribou.
And if there are, then we're shoot a young bull
or else a lone cow.
Then we'll have some fresh meat.

We're gonna-- this is where we're gonna hunt from?
HEIMO KORTH: Yeah, this is a little rock
outcropping right here.
We've got a good view.
You see all the trails down there?
HEIMO KORTH: You just keep an eye on the trail, see if
anything follows them.
If they do, then we go after them, and that's it.
Then we'll be at it.

This is the my theory about mankind.
HEIMO KORTH: Mankind was much better off a nomadic hunter.
Once he starts farming,
civilization, it didn't improve.
It went downhill from there.
I mean, when you look at human beings, how long they've been
on Earth, there were far more hunters and gatherers than
what they were farmers.

We're out to set some snowshoe hare snares.
Tomorrow we're going to check them and hopefully
we'll have a meal.
They used the Earth's resources too much.
It drained--
I mean, crime increased, diseases increased.
Life was too easy.

THOMAS MORTON: This is the snare.
I kind of blame, like, Europe.
I mean, because everybody in Europe was a nomadic hunter.
Except I blame the Romans for coming there and trying to
make people into farmers, just like them.
There's his tracks underneath the snare.
You want the snare right there.
Like in France, the Gauls, they did that.
And then in Britain, to him, they conquered them.
And they were all just little tribes 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 you guys catch some, too.
Because then when we eat it, you'll feel better.
It's a good feeling.
It's better than going to the store and buying some.
That doesn't give you the same feeling, you know, if you go
out and hunt it or something.
And now, and now what happened to the Roman civilization?
THOMAS MORTON: They all got lead poisoning.
HEIMO KORTH: Yeah, that's right, they did.

I mean, there is only X amount of resources on this Earth,
and we're using them up at an unbelievable rate.
THOMAS MORTON: What about drilling?
HEIMO KORTH: Oh, I'm not--
THOMAS MORTON: You aren't really for that, right?
HEIMO KORTH: No, not really.
No, I'm not for that.
THOMAS MORTON: If there was as much oil in there as there is
in Saudi Arabia, would you, would you
think it was OK for--?
HEIMO KORTH: If, yeah, but it isn't like that.
So it's not even close to that.
It ain't there.
It just ain't there.
So I mean, what are we gonna do in another 5,000 years, if
we're here?
How much oil is there, if they're going to be using oil?
And then how many more people can this Earth feed?
That's another issue.

State opened the beaver season early now, because there's so
many beaver and hardly anybody's trapping them.
So we're going to go trap us 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 suburbanites and the urbanites
that's going to suffer.
The rural people, they're going to have the food.
And they're going to know how to get the food.
Not just planting, but hunting.

THOMAS MORTON: What's that tree for?

HEIMO KORTH: It has to be.
JOHN MARTIN: Do you like seeing the planes?
HEIMO KORTH: In some way, yeah.
Because it's--
even though we got radio, it's still, it's like, there are
people out there.
You know what I mean?
THOMAS MORTON: It's nice to have a little contact.
Like when 9/11 was there, you know, remember they stopped
all air traffic for a while?
And there was no jets.
Almost felt kind of lonely, you know?
THOMAS MORTON: Did you hear about 9/11 on the radio?
HEIMO KORTH: Well, I heard on the radio.
I was like, what?
So you know, but I never have seen actual footage of the jet
hitting the towers.
HEIMO KORTH: I've never seen that in my life.
Because we were out here, there's no TV.

OK, first one.
Now watch.
You see the bottom there and 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 bunch of sticks like this.

That's it.
It's just so vast, huh?
It just goes forever and ever and ever.
No roads, no trails, no people, nothing.

THOMAS MORTON: I don't know whether that's comforting or
HEIMO KORTH: It's comforting to me, but it
depends the way you're--
everybody feels different about 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 there on them mountains.

THOMAS MORTON: Heimo just saw a bunch of caribou coming down
off the ridge, so we're going to go up on the tundra and try
to head them off.
This is the Korths' last chance to get some meat.
They're well stocked.
They could survive without it, but you know, it would be nice
for them before the herd heads off, if they
could take one more.

HEIMO KORTH (WHISPERING): If something scared them, yeah.
If they ran into a wolf or bear.
Yeah, oh, yeah.
Oh yes.
Well, when they came out, they cut that way.
no caribou today yet.
Maybe on the way home.
Who knows?
We'll find out.
Just keep trudging along.

Something killed a calf caribou here.
Either wolf-- wolverine-- or bear.
One of the two.
THOMAS MORTON: Oh, yeah, look at all that fur.
HEIMO KORTH: The bones, see the pelvis bone, the back one?
THOMAS MORTON: How long ago, do you think?
HEIMO KORTH: Oh, I don't know.
That was probably when we--
when all them caribou came through
in the end of September.

HEIMO KORTH: Let me get the saw.

See all the eggs in there?
Full of eggs.

HEIMO KORTH: Oh, that's out here, 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 East LA, Addams Family.
Munich takes a long time.
That's like almost a three-hour movie.
JOHN MARTIN: Predator or whatever.
THOMAS MORTON: That night after looking through family
photos on Edna's gas-powered laptop--
HEIMO KORTH: We'll watch this one.
THOMAS MORTON: Heimo treated us to a special
screening of Predator.
The irony of watching Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer try to
trap and kill Predator in the company of a fur trapper did
not escape us.
Nor did Heimo waste any opportunity to point out when
and how Schwarzenegger's various Predator traps were
total bullshit.
At this point, it was very easy to forget that we were on
the furthest brink of human civilization and not just
sprawled out on a friend's couch, basking in the glow of
a TBS staple.

Apparently there were bear tracks near where the outhouse
is. (SOFTLY) What the fuck are they doing?
The next morning, our feelings of suburban safety and
contentment were vanquished for good by the discovery of
bear tracks near the cabin.
JOHN MARTIN: Here they come again.
HEIMO KORTH: Good morning.
THOMAS MORTON: Good morning?
HEIMO KORTH: We'll show you.
JOHN MARTIN: See, you went to find the tracks?
we'll have to show you.
We gotta get rid of him.
Because otherwise he's going to wreck your tents and

HEIMO KORTH (WHISPERING): He came to right there.
That's the track, yeah.
Those paws are enormous.
THOMAS MORTON: This is the time of year that bears are
putting on their last few pounds before going into
And Heimo guaranteed us that our nocturnal visitor would
not only be returning soon but would continue to do so until
either it was dead or we were.
HEIMO KORTH: See where he scraped the ground to cover
the carcass?
THOMAS MORTON (WHISPERING): Where's the carcass?
He covers it.
THOMAS MORTON (WHISPERING): He's probably nearby?
And guaranteed to attack us.
If he comes behind us, I want you to duck
down like that, so--
'cause I'm going to shoot over you.
Hey, bear.

HEIMO KORTH: Pretty spooky back there, huh?
Just with the carcass, and--
so is he eating the other bear carcass?
HEIMO KORTH: Oh, yeah.
They do that all the time.
One bear'll eat another bear carcass.
THOMAS MORTON: No manners amongst bears.
HEIMO KORTH: Well, remember he raked it all in and covered
the carcass like that?
THOMAS MORTON: Oh, you got to see the carcass.
All our farcical bear alarm jokes from earlier in the week
were revisited, but this time in deadly earnest.
If we so much as needed to shit, we had to take a shotgun
with us and establish that we were in clear shouting
distance of someone else.
JOHN MCSHANE: Apparently there were bear tracks near where
the outhouse is.
I've been told to carry this with me.
EDNA KORTH: Don't shoot this way.
EDNA KORTH: If you see him 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 MARTIN: Good luck.

THOMAS MORTON: So we're eating moose tacos tonight?
THOMAS MORTON: Taco night.
EDNA KORTH: Heimo's favorite.
Usually I'll just have two taco shells tonight, and
there's 10 or 12 in a box.
He'll eat the rest.
THOMAS MORTON: Do your daughters eat a lot?
THOMAS MORTON: Were you worried when they were little
about bringing them up out here?
I taught them from since they were five.
THOMAS MORTON: Heimo told me they 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 to teach them anymore because I
don't want to do high school again.
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 missing all 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.
This year's exceptionally weird.
It really is.
This is the third time a neighbor come in.
THOMAS MORTON: I think 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'll it sound like?
HEIMO KORTH: The dog'll tell us in a heartbeat.
Me and Edna, and you and you, we're gonna have to boogie out
real quick and take care of it.
EDNA KORTH: I'll be the last person.
HEIMO KORTH: You're gonna be right with us.
'Cause you and me'll be in the lead.
Especially you.
You'll be--

THOMAS MORTON: Heimo just heard the dog bark.
THOMAS MORTON: We may, we may have gotten our visitor.
HEIMO KORTH: Come on, come on.
This is serious.
He's there.
EDNA KORTH: Somebody else--
HEIMO KORTH: No, I need you, Mom.
Let's go.
Come on, let's go.
Mommy, gun's right here.
Extra shells.
Hey, John, in that box up there, wooden box.
Reach for some--
pack of shotgun shells.
There are five in there.
When we walk up there, quiet.
Nobody talk.
We just have the light.

EDNA KORTH: Ain't for me, Mr. Korth.
HEIMO KORTH: Don't get upset.
THOMAS MORTON: It just got dark.
(WHISPERING) There is a bear.
This is--
THOMAS MORTON (WHISPERING): The bear's making some
terrible fucking noise--
like the bear's moving.
fuck is it still alive?
HEIMO KORTH: It's dead.
EDNA KORTH: He's dead.
HEIMO KORTH: Hey, you guys--
Can we come?
JOHN MCSHANE: We're good?

THOMAS MORTON: We can shit in peace.
The uh, the bear is dead.
HEIMO KORTH: Imagine if you got attacked by that.
THOMAS MORTON: Was he on all fours, or was he up high?
HEIMO KORTH: He was all fours.
HEIMO KORTH: All fours, and then--
THOMAS MORTON: That makes it harder to shoot
him, doesn't it?
HEIMO KORTH: Once he was hit, he was rolling around all over
just like a ball, and that was even worse.
THOMAS MORTON: That's terrifying.
HEIMO KORTH: To try to shoot him.
HEIMO KORTH: That could take a chunk
out of you in a heartbeat.
HEIMO KORTH: It was so dark that we kept shooting and
shooting and shooting.
And I know I missed a bunch because I couldn't see the
bear in the sights of my gun.
The dog knew there was something amiss, and then I
could hear the bear back in there.
And that's when I ran in the house and
got Edna and everybody.
Come on, we gotta go.
I couldn't see the bear in the sights of my gun.
And as you saw, it was a big bear.
It was a really big bear.
And he's gone, and--
HEIMO KORTH: And we protected our--
I mean, us.
And property.
Otherwise he might have killed the dog.
So we lost a dog already.
A bear came in the yard and ate the dog alive, you know?
And that was pretty sad.
That's, you know, that's life in the Arctic.
HEIMO KORTH: It's just the way it goes.
THOMAS MORTON: You guys'll be sleeping good tonight.
HEIMO KORTH (YAWNING): Well, everybody.

I am really a little bit uncertain which one.
I've got--
I've got no clue what day of the week it is,
either, I just realized.
HEIMO KORTH: Don't fall on 'em.
Lot of air bubbles, huh?

THOMAS MORTON: How are we looking?
HEIMO KORTH: Situation looks quite bleak.
HEIMO KORTH: Maybe in the morning.
We'll just come here in the morning and see what's there.
Just have to do that.

THOMAS MORTON: Gotta go deal with that bear right now.
It's just, like, lying there in the middle of the trail.
We're gonna have to skin it, de-skull it, and do something
with the meat that doesn't involve leaving it for another
bear to come and try to eat.
There's the bear.
Still dead?
I wouldn't want to fool with a bear like this.
Because you'd be in deep doo-doo.
His belly was full.
So he stinks pretty bad.
One, two, three.
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 whiff of 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 worse than anything I'm going to do
on this trip.
Is this gonna happen again, now?
HEIMO KORTH: Yeah, he's kind of, kind of
rigor mortis in here.

HEIMO KORTH: You smell?
Oh, oh.
HEIMO KORTH: I could use somebody else to help, too.
You guys spread the arms, OK?
Watch your fingers.

I learned this from a hunting guy that I worked for.
He taught me how to skin bears.
Without him, I wouldn't be up here.
He's the one that offered me the job, so I moved up here.

Bend down hard, hard.
Real hard.
HEIMO KORTH: There you go, that's what we needed.
Now, put on a pair of rubber gloves because you're going to
grab the meat now.
I mean, this is more than one slug.
And right here, look at that.
You see what I'm saying?
Like I feel like a lot of people would see this and just
automatically be like, this guy must hate animals.
HEIMO KORTH: No, I don't hate animals.
Not in the least.
Because I want to see them here all the time.
I do.
THOMAS MORTON: Well, you live among them.
HEIMO KORTH: Everybody, Everybody's ancestors were
hunters and trappers.

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.
One, two, three.
There we go, there we go, there we go.
Just like this.
Tell you what.
To keep that clean, fold that there like that.
That's good.
There we go.
Put your fingers in the nose and--
no, really.
Can you do it?
Oh, that feels kind of odd.

THOMAS MORTON: Oh, there's the ears.
There's the eye holes.
HEIMO KORTH: There you go.
THOMAS MORTON: There's our bear.
HEIMO KORTH: I gotta cut that skull off.
The skull has to be brought to the Alaska
Department of Fish and Game.
I mushed up the skull bad.
THOMAS MORTON: These are all shots that are gonna give me

HEIMO KORTH: It's not so bloody this way,
you know what I mean?

OK, push it down like this.

One, two, three.
Once we get on the snow, it'll be easier.
THOMAS MORTON: It is easier.
JOHN MCSHANE: Funeral procession for a bear.

HEIMO KORTH: To there.

That's good.

Well, let's go check snares.
THOMAS MORTON: When do you start getting really busy with
the trapping?
Like when does that kick in?
HEIMO KORTH: November.
And how long does it last?
HEIMO KORTH: Until March, I'll be really busy,
trapping every day.
First one empty.
See it?
Right down here.
See the snare you set there?
David's is empty.

Too much fox and wolverine hanging around.
THOMAS MORTON: So that's why we don't have--
HEIMO KORTH: That's why the bunnies-- you know, they
either killed 'em, or else the bunnies took off to Timbuktu.
Because they ain't gonna stand around 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 sorry it was a struggle, but I'm
happy we have food.
HEIMO KORTH: Christ, see, this guy, he caught a fish, and he
got a bunny.
THOMAS MORTON: Heimo got a bunny, but it's alive.

How are--
how are you going to dispatch this bunny?

Is that the--
is that the final--?
I got to admit, that was a little bit rough.
HEIMO KORTH: What's up?
What was?
THOMAS MORTON: You know, it's kind of like, buying it at the
supermarket, was the first time that we just-- we found
it and it was, the deed had already been done.
HEIMO KORTH: And this time 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, I grew 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 bad for the bunny?
HEIMO KORTH: Well, it didn't suffer.
I mean--
THOMAS MORTON: No more than it would in the wild.
HEIMO KORTH: Oh, god, no.
THOMAS MORTON: I mean, I order rabbit on menus.
Just because I don't see it happening doesn't mean it's
not happening.
And it's probably happening a lot worse than what you did.
HEIMO KORTH: You're darn right, it is.
Hey, I'll show you once.
And then the next one, you do, OK?
THOMAS MORTON: I do myself, OK.
Wet your hands a little bit.
Right where this joint is, there, just--
just in that joint area, pull it like this
and the skin'll pop.
No knife cuts.
HEIMO KORTH: No knife cuts.
Stick your finger right here, go right to the butthole area,
and come up and around.
You grab the whole tail part and everything, the poop chute
and all that, pull it like this.
THOMAS MORTON: You know, there wasn't a time when, like, all
us animals hung out together.
We treat them--
HEIMO KORTH: All animals are 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's a bunch of baloney.
It's not even close.
OK, just cut up, now.
Cut up.
They can have their dogs and pets, you
know what I'm saying?
I mean, that's not going to come close to
another human being.
You can't rate an animal with a human.
That's not right.
Skinned and gutted your first bunny.

HEIMO KORTH: You guys ready?
Of we go into the wild blue yonder.
THOMAS MORTON: Can you tell me where we're
walking to right now?
HEIMO KORTH: Oh, we're going to go up in the ridge, by our
daughter's cross up there.
The daughter we lost out here, we put
flowers there every year.
So that's what we're going up there for now.
THOMAS MORTON: Heimo and Edna's daughters, Krin and
Rhonda, are grown and live in Fairbanks now.
Heimo and Edna, however, had another daughter named Coleen
before either of them was born.
When Coleen was two, she and her parents were crossing the
Coleen river in a canoe when it tipped over and she was
swept away by the current.
EDNA KORTH: We were floating down to the lower cabin.
We had that sweeper on the bank.
It tip us over.
She drowned and floated.
We couldn't reach her in time.
The only thing we found from her was her little boot.

We call it Goroy Mountain.
We named it after our daughter.
We used to call her, in Eskimo, little pigs that eat a
lot, we say, goroys.

THOMAS MORTON: Did you try to have this hill renamed?
You gotta go through a couple committees.
The state said that she didn't do anything significant.
THOMAS MORTON: That's awful.
HEIMO KORTH: They said.

EDNA KORTH: She would have been 27, 28 years this year.
That's the Eskimo word for "come." [ESKIMO]
HEIMO KORTH: Say it, Mom.
THOMAS MORTON: Sounds a lot nicer when she says it.
EDNA KORTH: I told you, you make things yours.
HEIMO KORTH: Oh, come on.
Well, this is something we were going to do whether you
guys were here or not.
We had to do it before the snow got too deep.
And it's a beautiful day for it.

HEIMO KORTH: I don't know how to 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 the beginning, but once she
starts, she won't stop.
THOMAS MORTON: Does it bum you out that there aren't a new
generation of Heimos and Ednas to come out here?
That once you guys are gone, there probably won't be--
in ANWR, there won't be another--
another set of people.
HEIMO KORTH: Another final frontiersman?
HEIMO KORTH: I mean, the youth nowadays, very few are
interested in the outdoors.
And a lot of them don't know survival skills, which is sad.
Because they could run into a situation where they need that
to save their life, you know?
Because you never know what's going to happen in life.

THOMAS MORTON: Last day 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 in tonight, and the seasons are
about to change in a really major way.
It's going to get a lot colder than it's been
when we've been here.
And hunting season's going to give way to trapping season.

Folks like Heimo and Edna, and the bush pilots out here,
they're some of the last people from whom you can learn
this dying skill set.
They ain't supermen.
They're ordinary people who learned how to do it and then
went out and did it.
I'm now capable of feasting off rabbit that I have caught.
These are all, you know--
these are all skills we can rediscover.

HEIMO KORTH: All right, guys.
HEIMO KORTH: Take care.
THOMAS MORTON: Have a good winter.
HEIMO KORTH: Yeah, you too.
HEIMO KORTH: All right, bye.

Me and Edna, we got our-- when we go, you know, I told her if
I go first, where to put me.
I mean, if they find me out here.
That's the thing.
If they find me.
And then my ashes are going to be way up in there.
That's where I wanted them.
And then Edna said she wants to be here, you know.