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Thread: Bushrat Selected as Member of the Year for 2008

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 1997
    Anchorage, Alaska

    Thumbs up Bushrat Selected as Member of the Year for 2008

    After reviewing nominations, the member of the year team made the following report:

    First of all, we would like to thank those that made this project possible. To all the contributors: Alaska Airlines, Blue Moose Rafting, Alaska Kayak and Raft, and to the Alaska Outdoors Directory online bookstore for their generous contributions for awards for our Forum Member of the Year!

    Now to our nominees...

    Each one of these individuals who have been nominated has contributed in some fashion to the Alaska Outdoors Directory Forums community. There were many nominees that received wonderful reviews from other forum members that took the time to not only vote, but to talk and speak openly about their nomination and why exactly they voted for certain forum members.

    These are the nominees:
    • alaskabowhunter
    • AlaskaChuck
    • AlaskaCub
    • Akres
    • BrownBear
    • Brian M (exempt but still received votes)
    • BRWNBR
    • Danattherock
    • Daveinthebush
    • Jim Strutz
    • Kingfisherktn
    • Mark
    • Michael Strahan
    • Murphy
    • Snyd
    • TrapperBob
    • Wetland Retrievers
    • Wildog

    Now to the Forum Member of the Year 2008

    This person exemplifies attributes that: Provides a welcome environment for new guests, abides by forum rules, treats other members with respect, and provides reliable, well-presented information on the Alaska Outdoors Directory Forums.

    Here are some things that were said about our Member of the Year:

    • He always has great stories, and he always does his research. His pictures from the trap lines make me want to leave my job today to live at my lodge. Hopefully I can do just that next winter!
    • He is very thoughtful of other on the forum and seems to take the time to research events and topics. Then presents the information in a straight forward manor, allowing everybody to make up there own mind. When he offers his opinion on things he backs it with reason. I may not agree with everything he says but one has to respect his opinion.
    • For his great stories of the true Alaskan life in the bush and for being so level headed not ever being disrespectful to others even when he disagrees with their views.
    • He provides the most thoughtful responses of anyone using the forum (IMO).

    Your Alaska Outdoors Directory Forums Member of the Year 2008 is: Mark Richards, known here as Bushrat

    Mark Richards and his high-school sweetheart, Lori, married and made the big jump from the lower-48 to Alaska in the spring of 1980. They arrived by canoe, descending the mighty Yukon River. They moved to the remote bush of the eastern interior the next summer, lining their laden canoe scores of miles up a Yukon River tributary and building their log cabin from dead-standing spruce with only an axe and bowsaw. The rugged bush life must have agreed with them, for they've been there ever since, more than one hundred miles from the nearest faraway village, living a subsistence lifestyle and raising a family of three children and several generations of beloved sled dogs. The "kids" have since departed for college and lives of their own, all honors students from the remote bush, home schooled by mom and dad.

    Mark is by necessity a hunter and gatherer, fisherman, and also a trapper. He has been dependent upon Alaskan game meat and fish, wild plants and berries, and fur for nearly thirty years, and this dependence has taught him a profound respect for the natural world and for all fish and wildlife. He tans and sews his own fur hats and mitts and mukluks for his family's winter travels, and still uses only snowshoes and dog team to access the backcountry in winter. His wilderness skills match his knowledge of interior-Alaska flora and fauna.

    Mark is also a freelance writer, a crafter of traditional Athapaskan birch-bark baskets, and dabbles in the technological side of what he calls his "techno-primitive" lifestyle. While he and his wife still haul buckets of water from the river and heat and cook only with wood, their cabin roof sprouts solar panels that power a ham-radio station and satellite-internet system for education and communications.

    Mark's love of the Alaska outdoors, and particularly hunting and fishing and trapping, led him to become involved in co-founding the Alaska chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (AK BHA). This volunteer and advocacy work means Mark spends a lot of his time reading fish and game management reports and research, writing letters and editorials, and talking with biologists and managers and other hunters about the current and future state of fishing and hunting in Alaska. You will often find him on the Alaska Outdoors site posting in the game management forum.

    Thank you, Bushrat, and to all the nominees for their contributions to the Alaska Outdoors Directory Supersite (tm).


    Member of the Year Team
    Alaska Outdoors Directory Forums

    Here are some more Bushrat pix:

    -----End Report-----

    For myself, I will say that there are a many forum members who have poured out their knowledge and insight on these pages, and provided guidance and wisdom at several levels. Some were nominated but many more were not. These men and women have brought value to our community and in some cases, great value.

    I heartily agree with the choice of the majority who voted for Bushrat. Mark has consistently been a source of inspiration, guidance, and wisdom on these forums. Mark is gracious and thoughtful, and respectful of those that he is communicating with, even when he disagrees with their ideas.

    Congratulations, Mark, and thanks for your tremendous contributions year in and year out.

    Last edited by Webmaster; 01-01-2009 at 22:56.

  2. #2
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Anchorage, Alaska, United States


    Congrats Rat. Very well deserving.

    I would like to thank whoever nominated me. It was quite a shock and an honor. As i stated in a post that the award for alot of us is the stories and pictures that are shared with us from a member that has used our knowledge and advice. Even better is the chance to meet and fish with alot of the members who are looking for help. Putting someone on that first fish is a great feeling. Im sure the hunters, sledders, mushers, miners all of us know that feeling when they have helped someone out. so Congrats to the Rats and here is to a great 2009
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Hartford Michigan


    Member of the year is fine, but what an amazing story. Canoed up a river, made their own home, raised a family there a website, pictures, a book, would really be interesting to see how it was done.

    Congrats on the member thing, but honestly, congrats on living, for what is to most of us, only a dream.

  4. #4

    Default BRWNBR 1st Runner Up

    BRWNBR was also nominated and received many great reviews. Here is some of what was written:

    • BRWNBR embodies all 4 aspects as listed. Jake provides answers to questions with no BS. I don't think I've ever seen Jake post a rude or belittling comment.
    • Jake is always positive, upbeat and informative. Quick with helpful info if he has it and his honest opinion. I get the impression he is a straight shooter (pun intended).

    I moved to AK in 1979 from MI. Over the next 29 years I've lived in 29 different houses, Soldotna, Glennallen, Victory Bible camps, Palmer, Wasilla, Anchorage and McGrath where I graduated high school. While in McGrath, I was fortunate enough to work with area Biologist, Jack Whitman on the beginnings of the bear relocation project, as a 16 year old highschooler I was able to trap, collar and release black bears as part of my high school curriculum.

    When I was 19, I began guiding hunters on Kodiak and the Talkeetna Mountains and found my niche. Married my wife amber and have two young boys, Hunter 5, and Talon 3. We run our own guiding business now and love it! I've enjoyed meeting some of the forum members and love the resource that ODD provides and hope that in some small way I've haven't been a waste of gigabytes on here! The license plate on my Ford F150 is BRWNBR, stop me and say hi!!

    Thanks for the nomination, that's really nice of whoever did that, thanks again and have a Merry Christmas!

    Thank you, BRWNBR, for your contribution to the Alaska Outdoors Directory!!

    Last edited by Webmaster; 01-01-2009 at 17:59.

  5. #5
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Anchorage, Alaska, United States

    Default agreed

    2paws is spot on. what a story and a life. Im surprised we have not seena story about him on film somewhere. It was a great read and to be able to read it in a book would be amazing. (HINT HINT Rat)

    Jake is a pretty amazing story too. I have seen enough pics of the fuzzy critters he has guided and taken and man. One of the best in the world for sure.

    Congrats Jake
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

  6. #6

    Default AlaskaChuck

    Here is what someone that nominated had to say about AlaskaChuck:
    Chuck is always welcoming of new members and has good information weather it be Red fishing on the KP, fishing Bows and Dollys on the Kenai, fishing the Parks hwy for Grayling or just good info on tackle or accomodations. He doesn't stop there however, he is more than happy to show newcomers and experienced forum members a good time. He is a great ambassador for Alaska and this board!!!!!

    Born July 15 1965 in Buffalo New York. Dad was USAF so I got to see the world growing up as a kid. Then we got the orders from the USAF in 1978. Arrived in Anchorage on June 26th 1978. June 27th as a 12 year old boy with his dad caught my first even Salmon and caught it at the Russian River. I was ruined after that. Went through High School here and graduated in 1983 from Chugiak High School. I then ran off to college and did a tour in the Air Force. The one thing I remember is how much I missed Alaska. Seperated from the Air Force in March of 1989. Bought a one way ticket home. Arrived back in anchorage with 2 suitcases, no job and a few hundred bucks. I had not been that happy in a long time. I grew up here fishing the Russian, Quartz, Kenai and Denali highway as well as hunting throughout the state. They are still my stomping grounds. I met my wife in august of 2001. 3 weeks later we had our first camping date on the Denali highway in september. Caught grayling, slept in the tent, cooked over the fire, got wet and feel in love that weekend. I married her one year later on the deck of Tangle Lakes Lodge. WE fished all over the road system for a few years and then as most of you know I bought the Cat. So June and I have fished in our Cat from the Tangle river to the kasilof and just about anywhere and everywhere inbetween. We are avid chasers of the Trophy rainbow and monster graylings. We both do live in anchorage and work in anchorage and our daughter resides and works there as well. Just is 30 year resident herself.

    Thank you, AlaskaChuck, for your contribution to the Alaska Outdoors Directory board!

    My 42.9 lb king caught July 5th Talkeetna

    My beautiful 'bow on the Kenai September '08

    My wife June enjoying a sunny day on the Kenai

    My wife June standing in front of our raft we call the June Bug

  7. #7

    Default danattherock

    Here is what someone that nominated danattherock had to say about him:
    As a newcomer doing research, his post always provides valuable info. Seems to always have the right info and answers questions without being a wiseguy.


    I am honored to have been nominated for forum member of the year. I have gained a lot from other members on the forum over the years and as my experience level increases, I have tried to share it with the newer guys. I remember how hard it was to obtain information when I first started doing float trips in Alaska. The best information I got was from generous forum members on ODD. Now, there is nothing I enjoy more than seeing a new forum member asking a question about taking a float trip or fishing in Alaska. It reminds me of myself just a few short years ago. I enjoy sharing with others the knowledge I have obtained in hopes that it will make their trips easier to plan, and ultimately more enjoyable and safe. Below I will include the info you requested. If I can add anything to it, please let me know. Thanks for your time and any consideration generated on my behalf.

    I was born and raised in Rockingham, North Carolina. I am 35 years old and had a mispent youth. Nine ball, fishing, camping, and Harley Davidsons. I worked as a prison guard for five years before going into my chosen profession as a Registered Nurse. Quite a change in careers that was. I have now been a travel nurse for over four years. I work in Emergency Rooms in different parts of the country. Typically 13-26 week contracts at hospitals that find themselves short staffed. This type of work gives me about three months a year off to pursue my real passion in life. Namely visiting Alaska and taking yearly float trips in the arctic. I first came to Alaska in spring of 2004 when I accepted a travel nurse position at the hospital in Kotzebue. While there, I was introduced to the concept of float trips while playing poker with the guys from the fire department. From the start, I was fascinated with the idea of a remote bush plane drop off and being left to my own devices for a week or two. When I learned of the wildlife, scenery, solitude, and world class fishing, I was hooked. Within a few weeks I had my first float trip planned. I flew my younger brother and best friend up from NC and we floated the Kelly River. It is a tributary of the lower Noatak about 80 miles north of Kotzebue. After that trip, I was hooked. Now we float a different river each year. The high point of my year without question. While in Kotzebue, I flew my wife (then girlfriend) up for a week and we went to Chena Hot Springs. It was November and I met her down in Anchorage and we took the train through Denali to Fairbanks. It was a whole new world for the both of us. She had brought a bottle of muscadine wine from North Carolina up with her. A favorite in the south as it is made from the native wild growing grapes. We were floating around in the hot springs late one night with the wine (in a plastic bottle) and it was at that moment I decided to marry her. Within a few months we tied the knot and one week after our honeymoon in a cabin in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, we were headed back to Alaska. Nome this time, for a travel nursing contract that would keep us there for the year. My wife is a nurse also, working med/surg, and I work the emergency room. We got to Nome and bought a Grizzly 660. Some of the most fond memories I have are on that green machine. We traveled all over the place enjoying the wildlife, fishing, and most importantly the solitude that we were not used to having in the lower 48. Currently working on Cape Cod, Mass, we get back to Alaska a few times each year. We try to see a new place with each visit. Our yearly float trips are fly fishing oriented and most of them have been in arctic NW Alaska. The saying, "The silence is deafening" actually holds meaning there. We have also done the Goodnews in SW, and this June will be floating the Kongakut in ANWR. Alaska holds a special place in our hearts. Visiting two or three times a year is all we can afford for now. I am just lucky to have married someone that supports my ventures.

    Thank you, danattherock, for your contribution to the Alaska Outdoors Directory board!

  8. #8
    Member GrassLakeRon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Grass Lake Michigan


    Congrats to Mark....All those on the lists I have learned a lot from. They are a great bunch of folks. Hats off to you all.


  9. #9
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Anchorage, Alaska, United States


    To be included on the same page as these guys is a shock to me. I am flattered and speechless.
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

  10. #10

    Default Akdsldog

    I was born in Limestone Maine at Loring A.F.B. At the age of 6mnths my father was transferred to Elmendorf A.F.B. in Anchorage Alaska. We arrived January 3rd 1973 and that is when I started my life as an Alaskan. We lived here and there in Anchorage until 1978 when we moved to Wasilla, AK and this is where I found my love for hunting, fishing and the great outdoors. Fast forwarding to 1992 I found myself becoming a father and the summer of 1993 a daughter was born. In 1996 I started working for the Municipality Of Anchorage as a maintenance man and from then to present I have held every position possible except management, that’s where I draw the line. I am currently a Welder/Fabricator and hope to retire in this position. My all time goal is to move out to my cabin in trapper creek to live the rest of my life in the woods I love so much. Surprisingly enough, the wife has actually agreed to this! Got to love that, the best of both worlds! Well, not great at writing these things so I will leave the rest to imagination.

    Curt (AKDSLDOG)

    Thank you, AKDSLDOG, for all that you contribute to the Alaska Outdoors Directory!

    Brooks Range Grizz 2005

    1998 Honeymoon, 42ft charter for just us out of Homer, AK for 2 days. 123#, 98#, 78#, 80#

    My secret hideaway. Looking forword to living out here full time. Hopefully be finished soon.

    Part of the view from my cabin, peaceful, that is why I love it

  11. #11

    Default Mark

    Mark has lived in Southcentral Alaska since 1974, having arrived as a U.S. Army soldier. He was born and raised in the Los Angeles/Orange County area in Southern California.

    He worked for the Alaska Railroad from 1975 to 1978, went back to California to attend college, and returned to work as an Army civilian on Ft. Richardson for 27 years.

    He has been married for 32 years, has three adult children, two standard poodles, a sheep, a goat, poultry, and lots of chores to do (his beloved wife also has a cat, but Mark doesn’t count that).

    He loves Alaska hunting and fishing of all kinds, but mostly for the freezer. He doesn’t fall in love with just any adventure. He likes to try everything, and kayak fishing in Hawaii might just become his next deep winter passion.

    Thanks for the great forum, folks!


    Thank you, Mark, for the contribution that you make to make Alaska Outdoors Directory successful!

    May 16 Knight Bear Island Hunt

    31 Mar 08 Tazlina Lake Fishing

    2005 Moose Hunts

    Big Lake Char

  12. #12

    Default Quotes

    Because those were the only biographies that we received from the nominees, we would like to share with you some additional comments from the various members of the board that had wonderful things to say about the other nominees:

    About Alaskabowhunter:
    Alaskabowhunter isn't likely to throw an AODD BBQ, or become your most prolific or outgoing personality on the board. But he's doing more for me than anyone I've heard of that have done anything for any other member here. And Alaskabowhunter and I got together because he responded to my post on AODD (link above).

    I think I'd hunt with him, and I don't say that of many.

    About Murphy:
    He always has interesting and thoughtful answers while never becoming rude..

    Murphy is a first class guy. He gives generously of his exceptional knowledge and experience, and he doesn’t make you feel stupid for asking. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him, and he is certainly a good person as well. The Shooting Forum is a much better place because of Murphy.

    About Michael Strahan:
    Michael is very helpful, always courteous and pm's when needed. He is a top notch moderator and member.

    Always provides good information, althought most of it comes from his books, Mike spends countless hours responding to questions and following up with folks about inquiries.

    About kingfisherktn:
    Ever since I joined the AODD kingfisherktn has been an advocate and kind friend. He always offers sound advice and is full of good humor. I’m a better person for knowing him.

    About Brian M:
    Voted for Brian M because he consistently excels at numbers 1, 2, and 3 of the list of qualifications. And even though he is a moderator on the site and may have to excel at those things more than others, his integrity and respectful discussion and dialogue exceeds that of any others.

    About Wetland Retrievers:
    Could there be any other? He is thoughtful, knowledgeable, and respectful online and in person.
    There are few pros that will take the time to offer help asking little in return. He does not couch his answers so the poster has to pay him to learn the “Secret”. He offers clear and complete suggestions.
    My only criticism is that he doesn’t use the hyperlink option to his website to get more traffic on his site.

    About Snyd:
    First I am voting for a moderator. These are the guys who are here most every day and (Most) keep their composure even when the new members ask the question....Is a 270 good enough for Moose and all those other questions that get asked over and over again.
    My vote goes for Snyd. His answers are informative and seems to have patience. I have not seen all of his posting but the ones I have just seem a touch better than the rest.
    I don't visit all the forums on this site and come in contact with all moderators, but out of the ones I do this gentleman is the one I find the best.

    About Jim Strutz:
    I'm voting for Jim Strutz because he consistently shows respect to members, while providing excellent information in the rafting forum. I've never heard him talk down to anyone, and he always makes folks feel welcome.

    About TrapperBob:
    He shares his wealth of outdoors experience freely in multiple forum sections, Hunting, Trapping, Boating, Shooting to name a few. I especially like the way he stands for fair access and support for positive images for outdoorsmen in general. He stands firm in his beliefs (which I happen to share) yet he's respectful.

    About AlaskaCub:
    Hi, I wish to vote for Alaskacub. Alaskacub definitely deserves some votes. He's a regurlar on this forum. I believe he is a asset to this forum. He offers his assistance where he can and has a broad sense of knowledge.
    AlaskaCub, to my knowledge, is a respected member. AlaskaCub to my knowledge, has never insulted another member or even attacked. If anything, I've read where he has quietly bow out in a gentleman fashion when challenged or invitation to trouble.
    AlaskaCub might not be one of the top ten most popular members on this forum but all his post and threads are valuable and sincere.
    AlaskaCub is reserved. AlaskaCub doesn't speak out of context.
    Everyone stands correct time to time. AlaskaCub has exhibited and proven to stand corrected. Constructive critisism.
    AlaskaCub has a sense of humor as well.

    About Daveinthebush:
    After reading these forums daily, for many years, Daveinthebush fits the profile for member of the year.

    These are just a few tidbits and quotes from those that nominated other forum members.

  13. #13
    Member SoggyMountain's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Bait Station, Alaska 99801


    First off, way to go Bushrat. Everyone knows that you are totally deserving here even if you did destroy my candidate. Enjoy the ride - we enjoy your posts.

    I want to add here that I really like this BIO thing going on. And, to agree with 2paws. There might be some good TV there at the very least.

    Perhaps the Alaska Outdoor Network, in cooperation with Alaska Outdoors Directory could use Bushrat to cross-promote?
    "...just because we didn't agree with you doesn't mean we didn't have good discussion. It just means you missed it." -JMG-

  14. #14


    Quote Originally Posted by alaskachuck View Post
    To be included on the same page as these guys is a shock to me. I am flattered and speechless.
    You were nominated, AlaskaChuck. Someone thinks very highly of you.

  15. #15
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Anchorage, Alaska, United States


    Quote Originally Posted by SoggyMountain View Post
    First off, way to go Bushrat. Everyone knows that you are totally deserving here even if you did destroy my candidate. Enjoy the ride - we enjoy your posts.

    I want to add here that I really like this BIO thing going on. And, to agree with 2paws. There might be some good TV there at the very least.

    Perhaps the Alaska Outdoor Network, in cooperation with Alaska Outdoors Directory could use Bushrat to cross-promote?

    His story would make a great read. That is a sit around the fire book for me and just engross myself in his story. His story would make a great documentary for TV for sure.

    I was pretty shocked at the quote about me to nominate me. I looked at my wife and was like, WOW. I just like to fish and try to make life a little easier for a few folks. Some great members to be included with for sure. Now somebody turn up the thermostat.
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

  16. #16
    Member Roland on the River's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Just a big "THANK YOU"

    Happy New Year to all and thanks for the memories.

  17. #17
    Member COtoAK's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    North Pole, Alaska


    Quote Originally Posted by SoggyMountain View Post
    First off, way to go Bushrat. Everyone knows that you are totally deserving here even if you did destroy my candidate. Enjoy the ride - we enjoy your posts.

    I want to add here that I really like this BIO thing going on. And, to agree with 2paws. There might be some good TV there at the very least.

    Perhaps the Alaska Outdoor Network, in cooperation with Alaska Outdoors Directory could use Bushrat to cross-promote?
    I agree, Soggy. This really has been a fun read.

  18. #18
    New member AKDSLDOG's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Wasilla, Alaska/Las Vegas, Nevada


    Congrat's BR! I to would like you to write a book.

  19. #19
    Member Vince's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Fairbanks most the time, Ancorage some of the time,& on the road Kicking Anti's all the time


    First. MARK!!! congrats!!! i knew you would.. even though i voted for another i know you would be proud of my selection process....

    mark. you bring wonder and enlightenment to many here. Your respect for Alaska and her people shows in every thing you write. your helpful, and courteous even when faced with belligerence and intolerance.

    My hats off, Mark.... AODD BUSHRAT!
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

  20. #20


    Congradulations Mark, The Selection team has made a great choice. I enjoy reading your posts and I agree with others, that you should write a book. I sure hope you and your wife are keeping a journal. Infact I was thinking this before this thread. You have shared some fascinating stuff on this site such as the post on Andrews thread about the canoe crossing on Lake LeBarge. I think what would really be interesting is if you and your wife wrote parallel journals remembering the events and adventures from each of your perspectives and publish them in the same book. I think that would be really cool. And don't wait til your dead to get it published cause I'll probably be dead too by then.



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