An Arctic Miracle on Hold Seth Kantner and I sat, leaning into our binoculars. The sandy knoll commanded a huge sweep of autumn-bright country—rolling tundra banded with willow and spruce, framed by the ragged, snow-dusted heave of the western Brooks Range. Working near to far, we scanned each crease and hummock, studied clumps of brush and jumbles of rock, searching the blue-tinted distance for shimmers of movement, anything that stood out or reflected light a bit differently. This place was far more than a fine view in a landscape defined by countless others. Half a lifetime had passed since I’d first looked out from this crest, and I’d returned more times than I could count. Seth’s attachment lay deeper still. He’d been born just a few miles to the east and knew this place from childhood. Each of us, together and alone, and in varying company, had spent time here…

Looking for game and enjoying being in the mountains is how most hunters actually spend their time when out there. Here, the author’s brother contemplates caribou country. Photo by Bjorn Dihle. MC, my better half, exhaled like an enraged grizzly and flung an antique rocking chair against our home’s wall. Hell knows no fury like an Alaskan woman who wants to go hunting but can’t get time off from work. “If I can’t go caribou hunting you sure as Peter Piper’s pickled peppers can’t either!” she yelled. MC had been a gentle vegetarian when we met, but on our second date, which took place deep in the wilderness, she was faced with a situation where she had to kill or be killed. There, beneath the aurora dancing across the night sky, as wolves howled in tribute, she tasted the blood of the beast for the first time and there was…

The importance of the Porcupine herd to the Gwich’in people

[by Charlie Swaney and Peter Mather | photos by Peter Mather]


A brief tale of squandered opportunity and a chance for redemption

WE HEARD HIM FIRST, the rythmic unkh, unkh, drifting eerily through the morning fog. Closer he came and louder, and suddenly he was on us, wraithlike in the drifting mist, coming straight at us.

The Arctic Refuge remains an unspoiled American treasure—for now [by E. Donnall Thomas jr.] “Here still survives one of Planet Earth’s own works of art. This one symbolizes freedom.” —Lowell Sumner National Park Service biologist, 1953 I will never forget the first time I dipped my toe in the Arctic Ocean. Despite the early August date, a mountain snowstorm had kept us grounded on Barter Island at the beginning of a Brooks Range sheep hunt. Since we were hunting with longbows, the smart money was on the sheep. With nothing else to do while we waited for the weather to clear, I wandered up to the local medical clinic. A young physician with several years of experience in Native communities, I was able to give the friendly staff some advice on their new ER equipment. Then I headed to the beach. Although I’d spent time on six of the seven…