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Thread: How do people live in the bush?

  1. #1
    Member gotta_get_there's Avatar
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    Default How do people live in the bush?

    i dont know where to start on this question, if i have land(fully own) by hewitt lake (example)how would i build a home? use logs? ( lets say i have power and water covered) or is there dirt roads near that area thats not on maps?
    also i want a hermit lifestyle-kinda. i just want a area where i can hunt/fish for food and earn a little bit of money here and there to get some things i need and pay property tax, gas for generator,bullets or reloading.. also would fellow hermits take me under their wing?
    this is what i have dreamed about for 15 years..and in the next year or two i can be there!
    ......well i will leave it at that for now, i might get everything answered in this thread! or not. i will still do research...i will find a way!
    thanks!

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    1. Many areas of the State have been infested with the Spruce Bark Beetle, so there are huge areas without descent enough trees for construction.
    2. Logs are not the best thing for a warm cabin.
    3. Many remote houses are build from flown-in or snowmachined-in standard construction materials.
    4. Subsistance living is a thing of the past. Like 40 years in the past.
    5. If you are far enough out to be a hermit, you can't make any money.
    6. The fish and game laws, can find you no matter what.
    7. There is not nearly the amount of game per square mile that you would think. We life-long Alaskans have exagerated it for years to impress the outsiders.
    6. No, the few old time folks (and there are VERY FEW) do not care for outsiders.
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    Default Good luck with that......

    Float Pilot summed it up well. Alaska is a harsh place, even if you are a independently wealthy hermit. The people that do live subsistence style have been doing it since time and immemorial. They also have tight communities and share resources. Transportation costs for basic necessities and travel eat up the money fast.

  4. #4

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    Floatpilot is more off the beaten track in terms of leading you down whatever path you set for yourself.

    I been in many cabins built out of logs that are very very warm both in summer and winter. It all comes down to how you handle the wood. If you cut down a tree and pile it onto a frame, of course its not going to be warm. You allow the tree to dry for at least a year or more....my family built a camp of 6 cabins in the span of 30 years, all them of where suitable and warm.

    As for subsistence hunting, again, Floatpilot kinda is misleading you, i go out with 15 other hunters every fall to get moose which supplies each family throughout winter with meat. Subsistence hunting is very much a part of every native Alaskans livelihood, unlike Float pilot, many people out in the bush cant afford $9.99/lb meat or have the convenience of 2 for $6 gallon of milk (out in the bush, its more like $7 for 1 gallon of milk)

    Sure alaska is harsh but many people have made it home, including people who want to live the real 'bush' type of living.

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    Member gotta_get_there's Avatar
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    oh thanks for the input! neg/pos i dont care- my life here in ohio is not a joy ride.. im one of those people that can make good in situation, im sure its not a easy life and thats what i want.. im not the average person either, above average on many things but spelling. but i also thought it would take me a year to get in rhythm
    of my environment ( in general).. im a good shot,i can fish like anyone else..
    also thought about a sat link to run a couple web pages.. i have read about the fur laws permits/tags bag limits.. and also how these papers can be filled out when the official person is not there and.... but im not suggesting walking around shooting every thing i see! heck, in one area there are several things to hunt year long! IF i got just 300 pounds of meat out of a bear-- how long would it take to eat that much? i might eat 3 pounds a day (example) so i would be eating bear for 100 days! by then im sure i would like to have anything else out there but more bear..

    and i thought about the hunting lodges might use a hand for a few days here and there to help with the grounds..and they have to fly things in/out so there might be something worked out.... but thats why i started this thread, to see what i could learn about the odds of me making it in alaska.. and just getting buy is good enough for me....thats all i do here but the taxes go up but not the pay/hours available.....
    and after this thirteen year marriage im ready for many years of meditation ....hug a tree and shoot a moose..
    thanks for your input! im here to learn!

  6. #6
    Member akfarmer's Avatar
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    Default Bush Living

    If you plan to use logs for building and subsist off the land, you should at least visit the site of your future homestead. Many areas do not have trees of sufficient size or quantity for log home building. It can take 30-40 large trees to construct a cabin. If you do your homework and find a good building site with lots of trees you will still need to educate yourself on how to construct a cabin, survival skills, etc. You should move to Alaska, learn how to survive at 50 below zero (without wind chill) when there is only 5-6 hrs of daylight, and learn how to handle any number of life-threatning situations that you WILL encounter if you try to move into the bush. Do not expect someone to be there to save you when you break through the ice, get run over by a moose, charged by a griz, trapped in a white-out blizzard with zero visability, or just plain starve. You need to develop many skills that you can't begin to learn in Ohio.

    If you are serious you will meet people that will help you, but you have to first spend some time learning what you need to know about bush Alaska before moving there. Spend some time on the road system somewhere in the state fairly close to where you intend to stay, listen, learn, and take short trips into the remote areas. This is a beautiful, wild, and unforgiving country so don't be another statistic. If you take your time and educate yourself you will probably survive and stay for a long time, if you don't you probably won't last a year.

    If you wish to live remote, get used to preparing your food the old fashioned way. Try to make all your own bread from scratch (grind flour etc). Eat lots of beans and rice. Try to live without running water, refrigerator, freezer, kitchen appliances, washing machine, etc. Only go to the grocery store once a year. If you want to go somewhere- walk! Try to set your alarm clock and wake up every 4 hours, get up, walk around, then try to go back to sleep. (this will simulate you having to get up and put wood in your wood stove)

    Does this all sounds extreme? It is! Your generator or photovoltaic system will fail sometime! In the winter there is very little power generated by solar cells. You may run out of gas and it may be a couple of weeks before you can get more. In many places it is only practical to bring supplies in in the winter with a dog team or snowmachine. (thus getting groceries once a year)

    If you still want to live in the bush, first try living in a cabin where you can be rescued easily.

    Good Luck!

  7. #7
    Member gotta_get_there's Avatar
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    ak farmer- THANKS! thats what im doing, i have two notepads full of " what ifs" and what to do and not do...im contacting people in different areas about trees and many government sites. (so far heavy woods birch,aspen)...and for survival skills i do need to brush up..and construction of a cabin is what im looking up now..will try a model of one before i set out.. but im not set on the bush, studying the way of life there... the long/short light hours of light dont bother my circadian rhythm- mine is set more to a 36-40 hour.. im a cold weather person too, but from what i see on the weather history of some areas- yeah it gets bad fast, but it *looks* like it dont stay bad for real long..
    how long would it stay at -50 in south central about 100 miles nw from anchorage?
    Thanks!
    oh yeah, i will have weapons covered rifle and two pistols poles,tackle and everything for cleaning fish/whatever, and the dark periods i will watch the stars when weather permits...and other nocturnal activities..
    ..so many things to learn..im all ears!

  8. #8
    Member akfarmer's Avatar
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    Default Bush weather

    I've seen 40 to 50 below for 7-10 days in the area you're talking about with a low of minus 60 for a day or two. It can change a lot with elevation and location.

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    Member gotta_get_there's Avatar
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    COOL! thanks, thats what i saw too! and i figure with my parka,bibs,boots,arctic gear, and a hot fire, and thousands of trees ( local owner told me) it would'nt be to bad! i mean i now these things happen so i would be prepared for the worst at all times..but still im sure i would be thinking "what if" about something while everything was going good!
    one article i read said to be prepared to be cut off from everyone for a month at a time! well i think i would be with two month supply ready..but then again what if... keeping an open mind and being realistic..

  10. #10
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    I been in many cabins built out of logs that are very very warm both in summer and winter.
    Just science and experience. I have lived in round log houses, square log (much warmer) and two sided log cabins north of the Circle. Not visited, but lived in year round with kids plus a spouse and had to chop the wood to heat the places.

    Soild wood has an R value of around 1.5 (pine or spruce) per inch of thickness. Of course a log wall is only as warm as the most narrow places between the logs. Plus they shift over the years sometimes open gaps here and there.

    Fiberglass batts have an R value of 3.14 per inch. Foam board is higher at 4 to 7 per inch depending on which type. Plywood sheeting is about .65 and sheetrock is about the same.
    That is why moving into a "HUD house" as we used to call them in the village was a real step up for keeping warm when it was 60 below outside.
    Although it also meant the residents were dependent on the taxs of others for their housing needs.

    As for subsistence hunting, again, Floatpilot kinda is misleading you, i go out with 15 other hunters every fall to get moose which supplies each family throughout winter with meat. Subsistence hunting is very much a part of every native Alaskans livelihood, unlike Float pilot, many people out in the bush cant afford $9.99/lb meat or have the convenience of 2 for $6 gallon of milk (out in the bush, its more like $7 for 1 gallon of milk
    Yes, it was around $8 per gallon in Fort Yukon and Galena back in the early 1980s. Good thing the post office, AC store, city run liquor store or the airport building did not burn down. The only true subsistance hunters were in their 60s back then, the rest were a bunch of young wannbes who equated semi-legal poaching with some sort of special lifestyle.
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  11. #11

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    If your property is at Hewitt Lake you have lots of options for a cabin other than logs. I would build with stick frame. There is not many good cabin logs around there and lots of private property. There are many cabins on the lake. My place is 4 miles to the west. I flew it in with 11 ski-equipped Single Otter loads on a weekend (40,000# for whole cabin, all furnishings, stove.... everything). Haul it to the building site with a snowmachine and sleds.

    You can snowmachine freight loads easily. Or get a cargo plane like a DC-3 or CASA and place the load in Skwentna at the airport and have an easy 4 mile shuttle to Hewitt. There is one DC-3 on skis, that you could get it flown right into Hewitt Lake in the winter. Or there are a couple of barge freighters who can get it placed in Skwentna in the summer, and maybe able to get in the slough off of the Yentna into Hewitt too. Or you can riverboat it from the Skwentna airport to Hewitt. You just need to do the research, pencil the numbers, and figure out what you can do to help (snowmachine or river boat). If you freight by either of those means, you need the right type of equipment. Most who live out there have freight carrying capable machines, as that is a big part of their life of living out there (being able to bring freight in to your site). You will need to set yourself up with transportation, as you can go nowhere on foot out there. You will need at least a snowmachine and boat to be able to come and go, and do the things you need to survive.

    You will not find much chance of surviving on game living at Hewitt Lake. There are alot of people in the Skwentna Area, and the long timers have the Tier II permits for moose. The area is heavily hunted by aircraft and boat equipped hunters during the regular season, and it is before the leaves are off of the trees/brush, so hard to hunt. There are many swamps and meadows in the area, but the moose are wise to the activity during hunting season. Also, the "thousands of trees" you stated you need for firewood is right, but it is becoming more of a problem in that area to get. Whose property are you going to cut wood on? You need to compete with lots of other people living in that area who are doing the same, and have been doing it for many years.

    I have seen many people come and go the thirty years or so that I have had a place out that way that think that they can come out and survive off of the land. Just cant happen in the greater Skwentna/Yentna/Lake Creek area in my opinion. You need money to build, get supplies to survive, feed your transportation devices (plane, boat, snowmachine) as well as all those unexpected things that come up (medical, mechanical, etc.) Don't mean to naysay your idea, but you should really check it out (the property and area) before getting to ingrained in making a move to make it your home. Talk to someone who lives out there about how to best set yourself up and realistic evaluate what it will cost and how your living environment is going to be. From a financial point, you may be better to reconsider buying a place that is already built and setup, as the costs of getting stuff out there are going up significantly recently due to fuel costs, and real estate market is soft. If I had a recommendation for really getting a remote place where you have more elbow room for survival it would be much farther away from the populous Skwentna area.

  12. #12

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    Not looking to start a fight, just a question - what's the difference between what the "real" subsistence hunters were doing in their time and the "wannabe poachers" were doing? Was it that the laws changed around the same activity? Game drying up? Or were they actually doing something different? I don't have a dog in that fight personally, but I'm curious what the distinction is.

    Also, it sounds like ferrying in any kind of freight gets to be a spendy proposition (11 otter loads has got to be what... 10K or more?)- how do folks out back of beyond make enough of a living to pay for that kind of freight hauling? Are we talking mostly folks who already made a living elsewhere pretty much selling it all to make the move and scrapping by on a pension or something? Or local industry of one kind or another?

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    Member akfarmer's Avatar
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    Subsistance hunting /gathering has mostly gone by the wayside anywhere the general public has easy access to fish and game. Game laws are just there to prevent people in their airplanes, four wheelers, jet boats etc. from decimating the wildlife populations. It has only been 100 years since there was virtually no way to travel in Alaska but by dog sled, boat, or walking. Transportation in those days took much longer and was necessary to hunt game along the way in order to survive. More responsible hunters in those days took only small game during the warm months as the meat would only spoil on large game. Game is not "drying up" in areas not readilly accessable, however, game in Alaska is generally fairly scarce to begin with (measured in square miles/ animal). Most poachers today have motorhomes, airplanes, four wheelers, snowmachines or all of the above.

    True subsistance hunters can't afford airplanes and $50,000 jet boats or leave to go "subsistance hunting" with their large motorhome with $20-$30k worth of four wheelers or snowmachines in tow. There are still some people who like to live remote and "subsist" but most just supliment their food supplies as they can with berries, fish, and large game if possible. Game laws today make it more difficult for people without freezers as many of the seasons do not occur late enough in the season for it to be possible to preserve meat by ambient cooling/freezing. It is a massive project to can a moose!

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    Default Good discussion

    Coming from a Southeast perspective, there used to be many folks who lived of the grid and many who I would consider to be hermits. back when logging was going on, you could make enough money during the summer to keep going all winter and maybe supplement with some winter time trolling or trapping. There was more scheduled flights, barges and services available to the camps and such. That made it easier to get the things you need in the bush, especially if you happend to have a place near a camp or small community. There was always someone coming or going you could share a ride with or chip in for fuel for a grocery run. In other words, it was cheaper and easier to live. Also, the Forest Service turned a blind eye to the folks living in float houses and such. Nowadays, the Forest service has made it very hard on inholders living in the Tongass.

    SE is the place to go if you want to "live off the land". Lots of shellfish, good deer hunting and fishing year round. In addition, the mild weather is nice.

    I always thought a modest live-aboard would be the way to go. It would be nice to be able to move about and tie up where you want. It would be easy to take advantage of any camp or lodge jobs that came available and you would always have your own place to stay. I know folks who still do it, but it's a different kind of lifestyle.

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Back when I was posted in Petersburg, I always though South East would be a good place to disappear. Super huge trees, little coves and channels everywhere, steep canyons totally hidden by the thick trees or mist, deer and bears all over the place.
    Plus a shorter winter. I really liked it down there, my ex-wife went nuts due to the constant rain. Maybe she was nuts anyway..

    My old house was 7-8 miles out of Petersburg on the beach. It was an old log camp float house that had been pushed up and made into a pier type house. The tide came in under the house. I used to get off graveyard shift and fish off the back deck. Nothing like cold left-overs and a cool beer at 0830 AM while you are fishing in your underwear.

    All a guy needs in South East Alaska is a real good skiff.


    Also, it sounds like ferrying in any kind of freight gets to be a spendy proposition (11 otter loads has got to be what... 10K or more?)- how do folks out back of beyond make enough of a living to pay for that kind of freight hauling? Are we talking mostly folks who already made a living elsewhere pretty much selling it all to make the move and scrapping by on a pension or something? Or local industry of one kind or another?
    You would be amazed at the money some folks in the villages spend. Certain social/cultural groups find themselves blessed in numerous financial ways. Plus there are support programs (paid for by you) only available to certain groups. Many a village has been washed away due to poor placement, only to be rebuilt with the taxpayers funds in yet another inappropriate place, over and over again.

    Now if Joe and Jane Blow want to move a bunch of materials out to the sticks, they would indeed go broke doing so. And ,,if they do get out there, they often find that they have been beat to the area by a few rich folks who sold their house in California a couple years back and split the million bucks on an Alaska property, one in Arizona and one in Florida.
    That explains why there are 3,000 square foot houses in the middle of nowhere, owned by a childless couple in their 60s who only come here for two months a year. The realators and support businesses make out, while the middle and low middle class loose.
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    Quote Originally Posted by flyboy View Post
    ...From a financial point, you may be better to reconsider buying a place that is already built and setup, as the costs of getting stuff out there are going up significantly recently due to fuel costs, and real estate market is soft. If I had a recommendation for really getting a remote place where you have more elbow room for survival it would be much farther away from the populous Skwentna area.
    THANKS! yeah i have been crunching some of the numbers... im starting to see all the little things add up, but thats good! better to see them now than later.. even if i dont make it to alaska, at least i have learned some things about living in the bush!..i have been searching about the communities out there ( trading villages or whatever) not much info- just some type of loan untill work/money comes around again to pay it off..
    a few other areas of land was at least by a highway and not too far from a good size city.. but there were lots of homes in a little area, and very little sunlight. ( for panels)..
    IF i had the extra cash i would fly up there and look around,ask around..
    but for now i have the internet to contact people like you to guide me in the correct decision.. i also dont know how to compare the people in alaska to the people of ohio ( in general). i have been to a few states and every state seems to have its own way/manners/?...
    another thought, fire look outs? is this a real job? sitting in a big tree house and radio/call in smoke reports/fire? i bet i would have to be a resident though..i dont know- just kicking around ideas and hear about what you guys/girls do up there.. its a huge help! thanks!

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    Looks like he is talking about Rainy Pass area to me. I lived and worked there for several months.

    *portion of post deleted*

    When I was there the nearest neighbor was about 30 miles away.

    *portion of post deleted*

    With all that said, someone out there also stole a .50 cal bullet press that was made for me by a friend who at the time worked for Corbin. The upside is that the item was insured, and my friend who made it got paid for the loss.

    Aside from the negatives, it was a beautiful place. And, were I rich, I'd own such a piece of property myself.
    Last edited by Brian M; 06-24-2007 at 21:52. Reason: Edited in accordance with forum rules

  18. #18

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    Where did Rainy Pass Lodge come in to the post?

    Anyway, back on point, those who make it in the western Su valley living the "bush lifestyle" generally have some type of seasonal job. Work on the Slope in the oil patch, commercial fish, do summer construction. You need some cash, you just can't live off of the land very easily.

    When I flew in my cabin, Otter loads to my location were $350 a trip, now they are who knows, but probably over a $1K. That was my point about buying a place already built, or using alternative methods like the barge or snow machining. The Yentna is a highway with people freighting building materials and supplies in the spring when the traveling is good. It costs though too, and you will pretty much wear out a machine carting a cabin out there by snowmachine. I have a friend on my lake who built out of logs, took them 10 years, and they had to go long ways to find enough cabin logs. It is slow hard work too, finding/cutting/hauling, stripping log bark, cutting/fitting, etc. You can build a small framed cabin quickly, and for not too much money. Used to be you could double your cost of building materials to get in on-site in the Skwentna area. Might be more now with fuel costs.

    My cabin is all solar powered, 12V lights (regular light switches), 16cf refrig/freezer, water pumps, TV, bear-fence, etc. I also have a 4kw inverter for 110 circuits (microwave, coffee grinder, small tools, etc) and a 4kw generator. During November-January if you are out there full time you need to run the generator every four days or so for 4 hours to charge up batteries. But I save a whole lot of money on being solar powered. But it is money up front, as it costs you a bunch to install. Propane for cooking range, and backup lights.

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    Member gotta_get_there's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flyboy View Post
    "bush lifestyle" generally have some type of seasonal job. Work on the Slope in the oil patch, commercial fish, do summer construction. You need some cash, you just can't live off of the land very easily.
    yeah, i need to pay prop tax,hunt/fish tags,gas....im looking into what kind of jobs are out there, here in ohio i have done all kinds of work - die/mold setter, qa/qc, cnc,lathe,steel worker,electronics,house wiring...well many things. so i thought with my job skills im sure i could pick up some work here and there..
    i also dont know the prices of things in alaska.. from what i read so far the only cheap things in alaska is cold air and trees!
    or is everything dirt cheap and you dont want to share?

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    Quote Originally Posted by flyboy View Post
    .. I would build with stick frame. ..
    i thought you was joking at first! but i found one example -
    not made for cold climate, but i see how it *could* be done!
    http://www.simondale.net/house/build.htm
    im sure i would have to wrap the whole thing in insulation, then cover that up.. and i wouldnt want that many windows too. (heat loss)
    and of course location...
    thanks for all of the info everyone!
    if there is any links i should see please post them!

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