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Chip and Agnes Hailstone

Chip and Agnes Hailstone outside their home in Noorvik, Alaska.

Agnes and Chip Hailstone (View larger version)

Photograph by 2012 BBC Worldwide Ltd.

Published

Chip Hailstone and his native Inupiaq wife Agnes live with their seven children on the Kobuk River in the North West of Alaska. Chip came to visit Alaska 25 years ago from Kalispell, Montana and he never left. He did not plan to stay, but the opportunity to hunt appealed to Chip.

Chip could easily relate to this lifestyle because he grew up hunting and fishing. Chip is a skilled hunter and uses his antique rifle, a 12-gauge, .22, bow and arrow, and even rocks or his bare hands to make a kill. Chip calls guns his tools and hunting his way of life. The material he needs to make a living is in his surrounding environment.

For the past 20 years Chip has been hunting, fishing, and gathering raw material. Chip’s motto is, live for the day but plan for tomorrow. He goes into each day with his eyes wide open. Death is a large part of his life, but Chip says he is not afraid. Worrying is the first step to protecting himself. Everyday Chip takes a calculated risk. Part of living off the land is being ready, going with nature’s flow, weather, and available materials.

Chip’s family moves seasonally to track down the best hunt, setting up tents in the snow or on the ice, and each of them plays an active role in keeping the family alive: hunting, fishing, skinning, tanning, and crafting the animal remains to trade and barter. They hunt bear, caribou, bison, wolf, fox, wolverine, walrus, fish, waterfowl, even whale and seal. They use the entire animal that they harvest including skin, teeth and bones to make arts and crafts to sell. Chip is happy to have stumbled his way into this world. He first came as an outsider. Now, this is Chip’s home.

Dive Deeper:

Explore what it really takes to live off-grid in this interactive companion. 

Chip and Agnes Hailstone's Life Demands Resourcefulness

Explore what it really takes to live off-grid in this interactive companion. 
138 comments
Jill Morton
Jill Morton

I wonder if it is hard for Chip because his wife is so awesome.  It must play on his manhood.  Maybe that's why he seems dismissive of her at times.  From watching them, it seems like they're a good couple.  I don't really know.  I'm not them, and I don't live their kind of life.  I must admit I'm kinda jealous of Anges' awesome skills.  These people really know what it means to be alive, and are really living life!  I work a 9-5.  That's all I need to say about that.  More Agnes!!

Jill Morton
Jill Morton

I would like to read more about Agnes.  She is amazing!  The real Wonderwoman!

Ronald French
Ronald French

I'am a Native American from the Yurok tribe, I love eating salmon eggs, I love setting net I work but it worth it!!

Ella Preuninger
Ella Preuninger

From what I have read on the net, Chip was convicted to 15 months in prison for  lying to the court, perjury and filing false statements. Perhaps this is why he never has a gun and his wife has to pretty much do everything. She is one amazing woman and is making sure that her children are the same. It is a huge undertaking that she faces daily with a wonderful smile and attitude. I cannot understand why NatGeo has focused so much on Chip in their description above. Fact is he is a very fortunate man to have Agnes by his side. She is a real treasure and he should praise her for everything that she does to provide for him and their family. YAY AGNES!!!

Brian Wright
Brian Wright

In my opinion, the Hailstone's make this show. I only wish they would show more of them. When I first started watching the show, I thought Chip pretty much did nothing. Then I found out about the laws there. Chip may not be able to legally do the things that Agnes does but he contributes just the same by doing things that he is allowed to do by law. I love the fact that Agnes teaches the kids the ways of her heritage. AWESOME SHOW !!

ZT Armstrong
ZT Armstrong

As I understand it, Chip, being non Eskimo, would have to spend a fortune for out of state hunting license in order to shoot.to kill.

Richard Wendel
Richard Wendel

I think Agnos is a good shot but misses a lot because of the piece of junk rifle Chip gave her. Chip,get her a decent rifle.

Melvin Parker
Melvin Parker

I just started watching over the weekend, and I've observed that Chip doesn't catch/do anything! His wife is the shooter, fisherman, skinner, and everything else that requires physical labor. I love them as a couple, but he has to do more.

Gary Reynolds
Gary Reynolds

Favorite couple on LBZ. ,Erik Salitan is also a close second. I like the way they explain things so well. The fact that the Hailstones are such a close knit family also impresses me. Kate and Andy are good addition but I take exception to the way Andy treats Kate. Always blaming her when things go wrong. Kate takes it we'll but you can feel her heart sink. Sue whines too much.

leslie corless
leslie corless

Agnes,I just want to tell you that you are a beautiful woman,inside & out.You are REAL. you just SHINE.

Carolyn Egan
Carolyn Egan

Does Chip have any native American ancestry?  (His surname suggests he might.)

Ella Preuninger
Ella Preuninger

I love the Hailstone family. Agnes is a real credit to all women and Chip is lucky to have such a great partner. I would love to watch a show just about all of the Hailstone clan. Agnes is teaching all of her children the traditional ways and that is so important. Thank you Chip and Agnes for sharing your life and family with us, we truly find your entire family a joy to watch.

manuel moi
manuel moi

i'm looking tv in france and i'm very  happy to see your fabulous family

thanks for my dreams

manuel

Chuck Norman
Chuck Norman

first met chip in 91 and agnes shortly after. they are perfect to rep thier village and way of life. we enjoy all the rest as well

Joseph Lincoln
Joseph Lincoln

Love this show. My wife and I watch it together We really enjoy watching the Hailstones work together and watching the others Sue,  and the rest of the cast 

Flann Richards
Flann Richards

how can we send email right to chip and agnes, they are one of the best on here would love to email and just talk and find out how to send them thing

fred schmidt
fred schmidt

I really enjoy this couple because of their teamwork.  No "one upsmanship".  Real cooperation.

Linda Brennan
Linda Brennan

I really enjoy this segment of the program.....it has shown a different type of family life that I really do not understand.  However, that is just another educational aspect of this series.  There have been comments below about Agnes and Chip, but as some have said Agnes is better and I think that's why she does most of the hunting, etc.  Chip admitted she is better, and Agnes stated because Chip is not native, he cannot participate in certain activities.  Every way of life is different, and until we have "lived in their shoes" maybe wen just need to sit back and watch and learn!  Personally I don't understand with such a low standard of living they have seven (7) children!  BUT, you don't hear them complaining or griping about the" system" the way you do in our "civilized" areas!  Go Agnes and Chip!

marla Star
marla Star

Really enjoyed the show on the bone hunting along the river!

very cool 

pat chamberlin
pat chamberlin

great show , was raised on a farm all my life,we hunted, fiish and trapped,woundering chip how can I get the fur trapper hat with the tail on it  like agness hat?  take care of the family

Elsie Allen
Elsie Allen

I love Life Below Zero, but Chip Hailstone is the biggest lump of coal in Alaska. He willingly says that Agnes and the children will use the furs and other items to make items, but then he talks about using HIS money on items that can't be bartered. Without Agnes he would be dead. But then he might realize that his lips only flap and do nothing to provide for his family. Agnes be careful your girls are learning to take care of a man and they may wind up marrying a slug/leech like Chip.

Lawrence Sowada
Lawrence Sowada

I want to ask Agnes how could I get one of knives that she uses to skin and cut fish into stripes,  its the one with the curved blade with wooden handle, l could really use one when I hunt and fish.Thank you


Marty White
Marty White

I would love to know how to get one of the knifes that Agnes use a lot on the show 

jeff dean
jeff dean

I say the hell with all these comment about Agnes being the bread winner ,etc. I guess they all don't realize that you two are one you two are family not separate entities coexisting  , but like is said one

jeff dean
jeff dean

love the show , you two are a very good team wish I was 30yrs younger , would give serious thought to coming and meeting you and yours and seeing if the lifestyle suited me as well , but alas I am old now dreams gone by but I get to live it surreal through the show   

Tonya Ryan
Tonya Ryan

I think Agnes is an awesome woman and mother. I am a mississippi river rat & love being next to the water. I think it is awesome how she can still teach her children how to survive off of the land. The small river town i grew up in is now a tourist town...nice for the economy...but not so nice for nature and her glory. Continue your legacy Agnes, you are an awesome woman, great mother & teacher!!!

Jay C. White Cloud
Jay C. White Cloud

I find this a wonderful snapshot (though limited in full scope) inside a family of modern Athabaskan peoples.  I am a little taken back by some of the obtuse and nescient comments some here have made, that obviously know nothing about subsistence living, or First Nations cultures-modern or past.

Jorge Di Salvo
Jorge Di Salvo

I have a question for Chip. Aren't you ashamed that in your family the bread winner or the one that wears the pants is your wife? Aside from freeloading on everything that your wife hunts, fishes, etc...what do you do? I have seen all the episodes of this show and I've never seen you do or contribute to the survival of your family in any meaningful way. If exploiting your wife is not enough you also do the same to your daughters. Man you have no shame!!!

Kelly White
Kelly White

Chip WHO?  His wife Agnes does all of the hunting and a lot of the fishing. On the show he has never even picked up a gun. He said that his wife is a better shot, but that is contradicted by the the glowing description above of his hunting skills.  Makes me wonder if he is a convicted felon and not allowed to fire weapons.  On the show he talks about what a "good provider" he is and that's why the native community welcomes him.  Really?  It looks like his native wife provides everything.

Vicki Alberts
Vicki Alberts

I am so facinated with the way they raise their girls- so vastly different from US life!  The fact that they received traps etc for their Birthday says it all. Very cool family-

Richy Rich
Richy Rich

Watching Agnes take a caribou with a wartime Moison Nagant rifle at that distance was awesome. I know people who couldn't make that shot with a modern scoped rifle..good shooting girl..

Shirley Cabral
Shirley Cabral

Agnes you are such a strong role model for your girls. I love this program. One of the shows really bothered me, Agnes looked like she had been roughed up , cut on her nose bruises on her face, I hope everything is ok. She amazes me at how many things she is skilled at  but i wonder why her husband is ok with his wife doing alot of the work. I

Sarah Rushton
Sarah Rushton

Just curious about Agnes' son Jonathan:  He had a different last name.  Is he Chip's stepson?

Steven Stiles
Steven Stiles

Where can I see, and or purchase some of Agnes' carvings from mammoth bone?

Dan Finlay
Dan Finlay

Not to sound like a psychotic murder or harbinger of ill will ,but please kill off Sue. She is a paranoid person as well as a whiner! I`m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel fairly confident in saying that not everything a person encounters in the region depicted in Life Below Zero is going to kill or maim Sue. I may be alone in the feeling that she is obnoxious and that the Arctic region would be essentially the same without her presence.

Bob Booey
Bob Booey

I like these guys - where do the kids go to school? Do the kids go to school?  

tina garza
tina garza

What does the tattoo on Agnes chin stand for?

Will Elliott
Will Elliott

I see Chip maintaining the snow machine, chain saws, rifles, home & cabin. Cutting wood. Doing a lot of non-glorified grunt work. I also see a very happy wife, awesome children and a solid connection with his Alaskan Family and friends. He and all around him have inspiring, genuine smiles. Wish they were my neighbors! I believe that we all love Agnes. After all who really celebrates Fathers' Day?

Bill Allman
Bill Allman

@Jorge Di Salvo  Jorge, you need to realize that there are Alaskan laws and native customs that allow only Agnes to hunt and fish at certain times. Chip has to abide by the non-native laws.

Jami Vans
Jami Vans

Jorge Di Salvo I like Chip.. I think its refreshing to see the wife do the hunting,fishing and teaching...Let me guess Jorge, you prefer a woman to be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. By your name I know youre obviously Hispanic and culturally hispanics like their wife to cook clean and iron clothes. I live in Phoenix and see this all the time, even with the young generations, its sickening. Chips a Montana boy and I guarantee you he could feed and take care of his family ten times better than you.

David Howell
David Howell

@Jorge Di Salvo I don't think you have seen all the episodes; that or you have a bad or selective memory? I have watched him shoot, fish and hunt; he's not as good at it as his wife so i'm sure that's why she does most of the hunting. You need to remember he is not a native and can only assist his family with many of the activities they show on TV.

Sarah Rushton
Sarah Rushton

@Shirley Cabral They've said that they do everything according to Inupiaq tradition, and when it comes to butchering, everything done outside is the man's job and everything done inside is the woman's, so that's why she's always the one sitting on cardboard.  As for her getting cuts and bruises, she may have had a run-in with a tree branch, that kind of thing.  Hope so, anyway.

David Howell
David Howell

@Dan Finlay I have to agree but the wife and I always get a good laugh when she speaks her wise words of Life and Death; example: "That chipmunk and me know the odds of dying while playing under a glacier and as long as I don't eat the chipmunk and he don't eat me, we will take our chances; LOL.

Kecia Woods
Kecia Woods

@Dan Finlay I enjoy Sue and her determination.  I think her attitude about being eaten etc, is just her way of saying she is cautious when she goes out... she has to be.  But hey, we are all allowed our opinions right?  My best.

Sarah Rushton
Sarah Rushton

@Bob Booey Noorvik is a town of 700, certainly big enough to have a K-12 school.  They have mentioned that the kids do go to school.

Kecia Woods
Kecia Woods

I have wondered this as well.  I am amazed that the producers of the show have not addressed this.  Many of us are curious .