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  • 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.

  • [MUSIC PLAYS ON RADIO]

  • VOICE ON RADIO: Four.

  • Visibility one, zero.

  • Patchy fog.

  • Few clouds.

  • at 5,000.

  • 6,000, scattered.

  • Temperature minus 2.

  • Dew point minus 2.

  • Anaktuvuk.

  • 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.

  • THOMAS MORTON: Oh, yeah.

  • 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.

  • [DOG BARKING]

  • 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.

  • HEIMO KORTH: OK.

  • 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?

  • EDNA KORTH: No.

  • Just moss.

  • THOMAS MORTON: Just moss and log?

  • Wow.

  • 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.

  • THOMAS MORTON: Yeah.

  • 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.

  • HEIMO KORTH: It is.

  • It's very good eating.

  • THOMAS MORTON: What's in the bag?

  • HEIMO KORTH: Oh, a bear skin.

  • THOMAS MORTON: Oh.

  • 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.

  • HEIMO KORTH: Yeah.

  • 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.

  • [DOG BARKS]

  • 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.

  • [MIMICS ASIAN LANGUAGE]

  • You know, China somewhere, I don't know.

  • They all come in.

  • THOMAS MORTON: Are these all your traps?

  • HEIMO KORTH: All?

  • 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.

  • [SAWING]

  • 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?