My name is Jenn and I'm here in Haines with my dog, Quark. I'll be working as a field assistant on the project and Quark is employed as Rigby's suitor. First order of business - raft the Chilkat River.
I came to Haines last summer and fall to work with Alaska State Parks. I fell in love with it here and vowed to come back the next summer, and here I am. One of the many things I love here is the subsistence lifestyle Alaska, and Haines in particular, has to offer. I would like to talk a bit about it because it's such an important part of the culture here. Wildlife management officials work hard to strike a balance between the subsistence fishermen and the commercial fishermen, which, of course, are constantly at odds with one another. Right now, I am camping at a friend's fish camp where we put out set nets to catch Sockeye and Coho salmon. Drift netting is another method of catching salmon, and is much more efficient. The Humpies and Chum are usually thrown back into the river as they have less desirable meat. If you catch King, it is mandatory to throw them back in unless you have a separate stamp; a subsistence license won't cut it. Basically, they taste the best. There are far fewer King in the ocean than any of the other species, therefore they are more heavily regulated. Here is my friend, Mike, pulling in a set net.
Then into the smokehouse they go.
Sick of salmon? How about Dungeness crab or shrimp? With a boat, you can go out into Lutak Inlet, which drains the Chilkoot river, or Letnikov Cove, which drains the Chilkat river. I went out to Letnikov with some subsistence fishermen to check crab and shrimp pots. All the female crabs have to be thrown back, and the males have to measure 6.5" or more across the largest part of their shell. Slow day, we only caught 4 legal crabs, but who doesn't enjoy an evening out on the bay?
We'll go out this weekend and set Halibut skates. They haven't had too much luck yet this year, but a single Halibut should yield a good 50 lbs. or more of meat. Once the fishing and smoking ends, everyone packs up fish camp and heads out to moose camp. I'll be spending one week at Assignation Creek up the Chilkat River this year for moose camp. Of course, I won't be able to hunt a moose. This management area only allows 25 resident permits which people had to apply for in February. If you are one of the lucky 25 to get a moose, clear out the smokehouse and start hanging meat! This is tiny part of a moose we were given last year. We hang it in the smokehouse for a day or two to dry out, then into the freezer it goes.
Hanging out with the locals is a great way to learn about this ecosystem. Working with Rachel, I'm given a chance to explore deeper into hard to reach areas, either by boat or on foot. It's great having Rigby and Quark around. They are hyper-vigilant to the sounds and smells of the forest and also make our pack a little bigger. With all the bounty of the land, the threat of brown bears is considerable here. Stay tuned for some great pictures and videos of our work here!