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Sue Aikens

Sue Aikens searches the horizon for the wolf she believes is hunting her.

Sue Aikens (View larger version)

Photograph by 2012 BBC Worldwide Ltd.

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Sue Aikens is as tough as the grizzly bear that attacked her and left her for dead six years ago. “I had to sew my own head together, my arm, and before my hips popped out, I went across the river, found the bear, shot him, called the trooper, and there I lay for 10 days.” At that time, Sue did not know if the bears would come through the wall of her house and she knew she could not defend herself if they did.

Sue lives 500 miles from the nearest city and 80 miles from the closest road. She is the warden of Kavik River Camp, a base for hunting groups, that she also calls home. She has lived there for seven years, but has been in Alaska for 30 years. She loves to share the unique experience of her camp with people during hunting season, and it can house up to 83 hunters at a time. 

While some women collect shoes, Sue collects bullets, beer, blood and guts. Sue recognizes that she lives in bear country, not the other way around. The ground is frozen all year round, so there's no way to dig a well for water. Instead, Sue must treat the river water herself. And when the electricity generator goes down, as it often does in the extreme conditions, it is Sue who has to fix it.

During hunting season, she hosts the hunters with hot showers and food; but from October to May, she faces the freezing temperatures, penetrating winds, and savage bears all alone, holding fort. Time has no meaning to Sue. She is not lonely; she simply lives alone. However, Sue entertains herself and often cracks herself up. Although she considers animals her friends, she is aware that if something bad were to happen, there is no one to help her. Her motto: "If it hurts, don’t think about it."


Dive Deeper:

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

Sue's Life Below Zero Demands Perseverance

Explore what it really takes to live off-grid in this interactive companion.
460 comments
Elena Cass
Elena Cass

Hi Sue,  you are an inspiration to all women!!  Hope you are doing well.  

Bob Gleadall
Bob Gleadall

Hi Sue:

I’m a senior that has lost the use of my legs because of arthritis in my ankles, knees, hips and spine. I have had two knee replacements but even they hurt all of the time because of the wait I have put on. Needless to say I spend most of my life in a wheel chair.I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your show and all of the participants so much.I have watched your show over and over so many times and it is always fresh each time.

There used to be a time when I could hunt for deer and moose and spend at least two or three weeks in the bush at a time in the middle of winter and I miss it a lot.It means a great deal that I can at least see these things through your eyes even though I can’t be there.Thanks a lot and not all people are mean to each other as I have been successfully married now to the same beautiful woman for thirty-nine years now, but I do appreciate your expression.

Bob Gleadall

Bob Gleadall
Bob Gleadall


Hi Sue:


I’m a senior that has lost the use of my legs because of arthritis in my ankles, knees, hips and spine. I have had two knee replacements but even they hurt all of the time because of the wait I have put on. Needless to say I spend most of my life in a wheel chair.I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your show and all of the participants so much.I have watched your show over and over so many times and it is always fresh each time.


There used to be a time when I could hunt for deer and moose and spend at least two or three weeks in the bush at a time in the middle of winter and I miss it a lot.It means a great deal that I can at least see these things through your eyes even though I can’t be there.Thanks a lot and not all people are mean to each other as I have been successfully married now to the same beautiful woman for thirty-nine years now, but I do appreciate your expression.



Bob Gleadall


Pat Wright
Pat Wright

Hi  Sue,

Just shot my first deer a few days ago. I used a Mossberg 12 guage my husband had, iron sites, and a slug. He never got a chance to show me any hunting skills as he got very sick before I lost him, but you sure have. I think I have a few years on you as I am now 60 but as long as we keep moving, we keep moving. I did some study on how to butcher a deer. Man, it is allot of work. I can only imagine how strong your body must be to take on the big game to fill your freezers. Stay strong.

Deborah Killeffer
Deborah Killeffer

I'm addicted to watching Life Below Zero, and especially because of Sue....thanks for sharing your life and causing us wimpy ones to have more courage.  I have a question....are you truly a vegan and how does that work for you when you hunt caribou, bear, etc.  Is this food given to guests?  What is your diet like?

David Snyder
David Snyder

Love the show! You are one strong willed and determined woman.

barry campbell
barry campbell

I admire sue she is a strong willed woman, and smart she survives the smart way in alaska. Keep on trucking sue love watching the show.

Kassandra Perry
Kassandra Perry

Sue - I am new to the show and it was your experience that facinates me the most.  I am probably your worst nightmare (scaredy cat - took me years to learn to properly swim --so I wouldn't be so worried about my 6-year-old in the water, finally took her camping and now have been twice...yet the thought of bears scare me to no end).  I imagine being sent to Sue Aikens Boot Camp to toughen up.  That cracks ME up (I can already hear your comments on camera if I was there :-)..  Love your grit and sense of humor - send some of your edge and strength my way!  By the way, what do you miss most (if anything) being on camp? Does the camera crew ever get scared out there - and if so, what do you say to them?

Richard Dockery
Richard Dockery

Love you on the show ! If more people where like you in America we would be better off! Hope all goes well with you owing the lodge. Take care!

Gary Arivett
Gary Arivett

Hi Sue   I have to state you'r an amazing person and I love your views and efforts.  It appears things are really demanding in your life and I wondered if you could help me out with some insight.  In this show, are you employed to work at this locatoin.  Reason I am asking is that the fuel cost etc... is totally crazy and I wondered how in the world  could you make it.  I iwsh you the best and you're in my prayers.   Sorry for Typo's... the letters on the screen are white lol .... at my age I can't read them so well lol

Christine Martucci
Christine Martucci

Dear Sue, I think you are awesome there is a friend of ours here in NJ she is very similar to you.  I am a fan and wanted to know what is your favorite book to read over and over, and never get tired of reading it? Also who is your favorite band, and do you like rock and roll?

PJ Nelson
PJ Nelson

Don't think she is poor shot, just needs good rest!!!!!  Anyone who doesn't use a good rest misses!! 

Heather Stegman
Heather Stegman

My 4 daughters and I are wondering what is the house you are living in? Looks like an insulated canvas covered hoophouse. Whenever I get tired of the cold and self sufficiency here ( we only had 75 consecutive days of -30F and colder last winter), I remember how you are handling it and buckle down again!

PJ Nelson
PJ Nelson

Sue you make me laugh, your are a great person and I love watching you. I outfitter for 20 yrs and still would if the old body would mind what my brain tells it to do, but seems they have had a parting of the ways!!  I wanted to let you know Primos trigger shooting sticks. They helped me, not only making you more stable for your shot but helps you walk in difficult terrain. You can adjust them for sitting flat on your bum or standing. They sure helped me and my hunters. You make us women proud, you show that not all of us are city girls. Look forward to conversing with you if possible and wish you all the luck in the world. TTYL  PJ

Lynda Albanese
Lynda Albanese

 Sue, you are terrific.  Do you have a Christmas wish list?  Can Santa bring you anything?  I live in the middle of nowhere also and my kids send care packages.  How about you?  The bears at my place aren't as big as yours, but they still stroll thru the property

Tina Postlethwaite
Tina Postlethwaite

Hello Ms Sue,  you are an amazing lady!  I love watching your segments on the show. Can't wait to see your new garden in full bloom and I hope it bears you lots of good eating!!!  My daughter asked if you would give the foxes a little petting for her and a hug for the dog.   Stay strong!!  Tina

Bruce Rudman
Bruce Rudman

I wish they would give Sue her own show, that way I would not have to switch channels every time the segment focuses on her. I find her irritating "Oh woe is me" attitude and infliction just too much to deal with.

carmen heath torres
carmen heath torres

You are awesome. I was wondering if you had any kids? if so what are their feelings about you living so far from anyone. thx

darrin coffee
darrin coffee

You are one tuff woman. Defiantly my favorite on the show but I cant imagine it being very fun to visit you there. You really don't seem like the type who likes company. It seems like it could even be dangerous depending on your mood. That's ok, I'm the same way just by nature but you wont see me running a bed and breakfast anytime soon.. Stay safe.

Shelia Benson
Shelia Benson

Love this Lady and the show. Stay safe and be careful. =)


tina erickson
tina erickson

I really admire the fact that you were not willing to leave a caribou calf motherless.  Even if it meant you may have to go without meat for yourself. It shows your respect for the land and the animals. You are a strong woman. I wish you the very best. You have made me a fan.

Mirnali Calderon
Mirnali Calderon

Hi Sue,

I  admire your courage and positivism.  Please, Stay Safe out there!

Al Havner
Al Havner

I think Sue could use some help up there, why don't you bring in people for a week at a time to see what sue go's through on a regular basis? I all ready have permission from my wife to go up and lend a hand for a week or so.

Matt Rustin
Matt Rustin

Hi Sue,

How come you don't keep the Ptarmigan gizzards? They are a good, just rip the lining out of them. Also, did you get your 22 zeroed in? I noticed you switched to a shotgun after missing a few of the first Ptarmigan you came across.

B. Ray
B. Ray

Hi Sue! My daughter, husband and I love watching the show. We would LOVE to come spend a few weeks with you for some fishing! You do amazing work and you are an inspiration to all women! :)

Richard Littleton
Richard Littleton

Hey Sue, How do you doooooo?,  I watch your segments all the time, got a hell of a lot of respect for ya. I've thought about signing up so I could email for some time, glad I did, here I am. I'm amazed at the armory of seemingly stainless steel you have up there. How many people find there way up there in a hunting season? And what is the animal that is the most popular to hunt? I would presume the brown bear? Do you do the guiding for parties, or are they self sustaining (bring there own guides, etc.)? I'm getting close to retirement, and I would love to spend time on the ground in AK, I stopped in Anchorage in the dark, at the airport, in the 60's on the way oversees to Vietnam, but didn't see much in the dark. I'm still wondering what, or how your business operates.Do you have a pamphlet,or something explaining your operation, with prices etc.? Does your business have a name? Well Sue, I guess I'll leave ya with take care, and above all else BE SAFE UP THERE! 'll be watching the show. ENJOY! Rick

Dusty Lennon
Dusty Lennon

Hey Sue,  I've watched you a lot.  I have a suggestion for you on your guns.  I've been around guns since I was 4 years old.  I am now over 60.  I've watched you take your 22 or your single shot 410 when you go out.  Have you ever thought about getting a" savage" over/under 410/22.  Or you can get a different caliber besides a 22 with the 410.  Or maybe a" Springfield" M-6 SCOUT in 410/22lr or 41l/22 hornet.  With the 22 HORNET you can shoot coyotes, wolves or even small deer.  And one tip I can give you is to sight in your rifle better than you do, before you hunt.  If you need some help sighting in a rifle, I'll come up there and help you..  I hope you read this.  Dusty

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Christine Martucci Hmmm I tend to read all my books over and over lol! I like many many styles and generally read every night before bed. I also like many formats of music the late 60's and 70's rock quite a bit, but also I love Opera.

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Stuart Morley Sometimes I do great.. sometimes not. Sometimes having the camera crew running around me makes me nervous for sure

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Lynda Albanese Hi!! I dont really have a Christmas wish list as I wont get it until summer lol.. maybe if everyone just performed one random act of kindness for another . that would be GREAT! Lots of families and people (and pets) need a helping paw from time to time

brenton reynolds
brenton reynolds

@Bruce Rudman  Mr.Rudman did you take note of how elegantly Sue replied to your rude comment. I bet you could not hang with her for a week up there. Guys like you crack me up. I would love to see how you would deal with 50 below zero, and that's not wind chill !

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Bruce Rudman Why switch channels, use the time to grab a snack and get excited about what the other cast members are going to do.

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@carmen heath torres I do have 2 children and grandchildren. They tell me that they are happier seeing me be happy, but we all agree if they need me, I am there with them

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@darrin coffee People have a very nice time when here and we laugh and have alot of fun. Who I am in my alone time, is not nec who I am when I am busy being the Mayor of Kavik.

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@tina erickson Thank you so much Tina! I have to like and be proud of who I see in the mirror, and taking moms and babies doesnt add up to adequate morals for me

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Al Havner I prefer to have people come up as guests due to the fact that as helpers etc my liability insurance wise would be a nightmare.

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Matt Rustin I do keep the gizzards sometimes but not always. I zero'd the 22 in, but that doesnt help my skill level always. I try though and manage to keep pretty chunky. Having the crew nearby can make me a bit nervous sometimes

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Richard Littleton Hi Richard! There are several hundred people who come through Kavik, not all stay with me, some decide to tent it. Caribou would be the most avidly hunted. I do not guide I just run the B&B. The website is kavikrivercamp.com

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Richard May I dont. Rick who is a family member helps sometimes when he needs a break from his work on a cattle ranch

Christine Martucci
Christine Martucci

@Susan Aikens @Christine Martucci Thanks for the reply, I am sure you are well read. 60 and 70's are the best music! And I bet a great Alaskan sunset with some Opera playing in the background is GOD like. I hope you stay safe out there and maybe one day I will come and visit and bring my guitar. I am a vegan though. :)

PJ Nelson
PJ Nelson

@Susan Aikens @PJ Nelson 

awesome you will love them once you get use to them!!  ?? Since you are getting game for your survival, would the game rangers not give you a permit to get food out of season. You are really busy during spring and summer when you need to get your freezer filled, seems like you could get a special permit for that, no??yes?