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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.
347 comments
Linda Sivieri
Linda Sivieri

How are you?  Any filming going on at this time?  How much does it cost to stay at your camp?  I don't think I would be able to withstand the weather or the bugs, but it's sure something to think about.

Arnold Rusch
Arnold Rusch

Hello Sue,

I am trying to bring alternative fuel sources to cold weather regions throughout Canada and Alaska. Can you send me information about the guys (air delivery) you use to deliver your diesel and gasoline to your remote location. Thank you in advance Sue...love the show! Warm regards-Arnie 

lisa haukos
lisa haukos

Okay I have to say to those of you that don't think there should be so much swearing.. umm if I woke up to a bear breaking down the wall of my house 2 inches from my head I can promise you I wouldn't jump up and say.. ."well golly gee a bear is here shucks I better move my bottom and grab a gun" It would be more like a string of words I have heard.. some sh_t I make up on the way and a few words that would make the bears stop and say wtf did she just say?? Because gosh darn will not be the first words out of my mouth lol..

lisa haukos
lisa haukos

Omg I just found this show on hulu and I cant wait to keep watching the episodes Sue I am sorry but you are the coolest person I know.. I crack up laughing at your sense of humor, You are so tough and I am sure that you never get bored up there but if you ever do I would LOVE to keep in touch with you and just say hey and how cold it is and what you did.. you ROCK

McIntosh McIntosh
McIntosh McIntosh

I really like everyone on the show.  They all add something different.  I would like to know if you get to meet any of the other characters.  If you do, tell Erik we miss him.....not sure if he is still on the show but the last six episodes that aired in our area  have Glenn Villeneuve as his replacement.  We would feel just as sad if you were gone.

Catherine G
Catherine G

I just started watching the show today and Sue, you are so inspiring and you say the funniest things!

I also really like your quote - "The minute you stop learning, you start dying."


Sue Kronwall
Sue Kronwall

Hello Sue!  I love watching you on Life Below Zero.  I would love to live in Alaska, since I love winter. But I don't thin I would survive out in the vast wilderness alone. I am living out my dreams watching you on TV. Be safe and hang strong!  

Marian Tabb
Marian Tabb

Hello Sue,  I love to watch this show and mostly it is due to you.  I see you and I always say that you are the woman I always wanted to be.  However at 5 feet tall, that would be very difficult.   I am however a registered nurse and for that reason I wish I could accompany you on your journey.  Good luck out there and stay the course.

Linda Sivieri
Linda Sivieri

Sue, I think you are terrific and look forward to the show when you are on.  You're my favorite character.  I would like to have the courage to spend time in that environment. When will you be opening the camp for hunters and will there be any filming of that time in your life?   God Bless you and I hope you are enjoying the summer.  I guess what looks worse then the snow are the black flies!

Thank you for allowing us to correspond with you.

Linda

Matthew OBrian
Matthew OBrian

Sue, When you harvested that bear was it with a 30.06, or a 338, and of the two which do you prefer for bear.


Thanks, Matt.

john lallemano
john lallemano

No offense but you cant shoot a rifle worth a tinker's damn...you try shooting off hand and the barrel waves around and if you hit anything,it usually is in the gut,back,leg,etc-----you need a Bipod that extends to at least 36 inches or more. Then shoot a few shots using it and you will see the improvement instantly

Kelly Glanville
Kelly Glanville

Ive just discovered this show and you rock.I love your attitude bravery and stamina.Your kids must be so proud.Would love to spend time there and challenge myself.

H. Tate
H. Tate

Hi Sue I have watched this series and I must say learned a lot about "never" taking anything for granted although I don't..you are an inspiration of the power of a woman's tenacity and survival. I don't know if you are able to respond to me but if  you can I'd enjoy it. Take care and god bless.

Zippy Miller
Zippy Miller

We love watching the segments with Sue. Ever since we saw her on Sarah Palin's show and another which I cannot recall, we knew she would be a hit. Sue got a sweetheart deal on Kavik camp but I cannot see how she can keep it operating without LBZ money. Too expensive to operate as it ages. And too remote to be profitable without the celebrity appeal. Sue, you do work so hard and your values seem to be in line with living in the wildness. while you do treasure living alone, every time so say farewell to a visitor, you become quite sad. And the third person talk belies a bit of loneliness. I suspect you are clinically dysthymic. Maybe some meds would be appropriate. We will make a reservation to visit Kavik and will definitely bring a Cuban or three and a single malt or two unless you are in a local option area, in which case we will bring it anyway!! You are a hoot and provide a lot of joy!

Stuff McBudley
Stuff McBudley

 The show portrays you as one extremely paranoid person Sue. Like you are trying to talk yourself through everything as if you are constantly having an anxiety attack. It's like everything you keep saying is how everything is out to eat you and you live alone and have to fix it all or die. It's like you are still trying to convince yourself that you enjoy the life you live... 


Makes me wonder if you are living life or simply surviving it. Perhaps you are guarded and it is the only thing you feel comfortable talking about to the camera crew that is on you 24/7. The Sue that makes it to the TV does't seem happy and seems like she is stressed and working hard at surviving and not actually living. I would like to see you having more fun.

Dean Pizzarelli
Dean Pizzarelli

Hi Sue.. Watch the show a lot. How  can someone contact you to plan a hunt up there?

andrea ciccone
andrea ciccone

i would like to come and help out sue i am orginally from new york and i would llike to come up there and be like an apprentice if at all possible. i would like to help her out. and learn things a long the way. so i hope sue see's this and considers me to be your helper.

andrea ciccone
andrea ciccone

i am 26 years old and would like to be sue's apprentice and help her out, and learn some survival skills in the mean time. i am a very fast learner and quick to catch on to things.  i can shoot a gun quite well and i have a variety of skills that would help. i just simply want to learn things from her in exchange for helping out around and doing things this young body can do that she may not be able to do quite as efficient due to age. i am not trying to get on tv or anything i just mutually want to learn these skills and i would love to help her out..

Mikki W.
Mikki W.

i love LIfe Below Zero, and i have alot of respect for Sue......In fact, Sue has grown on me, as i've  watched  each week......if i were there, i would keep the snow cleaned up and some food on the table for Sue....she works way too hard, so i'd give her a  well deserved break...:) 

CECILIA CASWELL
CECILIA CASWELL

So Sue runs a hunting camp?  Is there a reason we never see any of her customers around the camp?  (I couldn't figure out how she made her living until I visited the website...)

troy bryant
troy bryant

sue shut t fk up u live there 24/7 and u don't have the intelligence to clear snow before a major storm.Then u deservrve what u get


Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@McIntosh McIntosh I have met some of them! Erik and Glenn kind of bounce between the spot as they both take personal time during the year

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Linda Sivieri The filmies come and go in small crews when there are things going on, and camp is always open to peeps, but in winter I dont see many

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Matthew OBrian it was the AR-10 308. Each weapon is good in different circumstances so I cannot say I refer one over the other as the situations change. overall the 45/70 would be my first grab around camp

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@john lallemano  all the animals you have seen on the show have been clean kills, but true as with anyone sometimes a shot doesnt get as well placed as you would like. I have never lost an animal though, but thanks for the info on the sticks!

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@H. Tate Thank you so much! I sometimes get so busy that I forget to check here but I try to respond when I can :)

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Zippy Miller hahaha! The third person is because people are asking me about me so I have to go third person to reply. The camp holds it's own for the most part financially, as it must to be compliant with the leases from the State that allow me to be here. Woo hoo... it would be awesome to share a stogie and swap stories, thank you! No meds for me, not a good option to clutter your mind with things that are only designed to make you more palatable to the majority in society. I prefer to be ok with being outside the box

McIntosh McIntosh
McIntosh McIntosh

@Stuff McBudley  We are the authors of our own reality.  The fact you see Sue as paranoid says much about your own personality.  Read through some of the other comments to center yourself.  As for Sue.....you are amazingly brave.  If something took a bite out of me I would be walking around in a shark cage, lol. The fact that you chose such an isolated, harsh lifestyle also attests to your fortitude. I am sure there have been days where you wished you were someplace else but I don't think you would have bought the Camp if you didn't enjoy your life.


Stuffy Budley, most people in the world do what they do to survive.....very few truly love what they are doing....and I think Sue is one of them.

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Stuff McBudley Great observation! The show in the background is always asking me to point out the dangers, and I am obligated contractually to answer what they ask. I am not paranoid, but I am hyper aware. You dont get to see the snow-surfing we do behind the scenes and the cards against humanity games we play and fun.. but it is there. I am one happy smiling girl all of the time, but when someone asks me something I do focus pretty hard to describe the answer

john lallemano
john lallemano

what a completely ignorant comment---The Suester lives the way she wants to---liberasl whack jobs like you are the reason America is in the terrible obummer shape it's in now

H. Tate
H. Tate

@Stuff McBudley you are very critical of Sue and the way she is...makes me wonder how you would survive out there under those circumstances  McBudley !

Candace Noel
Candace Noel

@Stuff McBudley  I ran a 110 acre working farm in the boonies by myself for one year. The house was 100 years old. Yikes... looking back .... a large part of the work is in your mind is that no one is there to talk with... like a partner to understand and share. Being alone makes daily chores and upkeep  so much harder. I think most people would have a very hard time of it.

Terry Brown
Terry Brown

Looks to me like she loves what she does.

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Dean Pizzarelli on the kavikrivercamp.com website there is my email. I will be working this week to add a reservation email as well as the general to try and separate the two so I can not miss the stay related ones.

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@andrea ciccone Ooo thank you! I am not in a position to have helpers at this time, but what a great offer thank you!

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@CECILIA CASWELL Hi! It is not a hunting camp but a twisted sort of bed ad breakfast. Hunters do stay here but anyone is welcome and the majority of people are ologists and birdwatchers or eco-tourists

Terry Brown
Terry Brown

Perhaps the hunters are there to hunt and not be on TV. Certainly Sue would be pretty busy at that time.

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@troy bryant settle down there Tex... you cant clear snow until it falls so removing snow before the storm is a but silly

Candace Noel
Candace Noel

@Susan Aikens @Marian Tabb  I miss the show. i do hope you guys come back on. i think i could give it a go ~  you have shown us a lot of what to focus on and thinking ahead for different tasks. love the peace and power. Miss you guys.

Zippy Miller
Zippy Miller

Good on ya ! I will recant my meds comments. You are right! We are watching the reruns of LBZ and enjoy it even more. We will connect at some time. Friends have a camp at Lake Clark we will visit in the Fall. Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to your fans shows character. Have you always been an Alaska resident?

Stuff McBudley
Stuff McBudley

@H. Tate Grow a friggin brain H. Taint... And while you are at it, work on your reading comprehension. How exactly was I critical? I gave my opinion about what I was seeing that made it to the TV and said I would like to see Sue have more fun. (kinda hoping NatGeo picks up on that as well).


And Yes, I actually have lived out there under those circumstances. When not working, I did a lot of fishing and a lot of soaking in nature and enjoyed the heck out of it (I did hunt, but hunting was more of a necessary chore for food, the fishing was what I really enjoyed)... Yes, I was on guard 24/7, but I was still able to relax and enjoy life. I suspect that may be different if I had been attacked by a bear and I suspect I might not enjoy it all that much after a bear attack. Glenn looks like he is out enjoying nature, tasting spruce trees, making trails, etc. Sue looks like she is hyper alert, understandably paranoid, and talking herself through everything in a way that doesn't look enjoyable. But again, that could be editing on NatGeo's part.

Stuff McBudley
Stuff McBudley

@Candace Noel I did it for 4 years in a row Candace and I loved it. I agree, most people couldn't cope, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. I had a wood stove that I used for all my heat, cooking, bathing water, etc.  (I actually lived more like Glenn, but in a cabin I built). I only had 5 conversations for that entire 4 years. I did a lot of reading and writing, enjoying nature, a little gardening, fishing, hunting, And cut a few tons of firewood. I think I might have lost the love for it had I been attacked by a bear though. 

McIntosh McIntosh
McIntosh McIntosh

@Susan Aikens @andrea ciccone  Not only are you brave  Sue, you are also gracious. You know what might be hilarious....if some noted actor/actress came to be your apprentices, lol.  Maybe the producers will consider it if the shows ratings every drop.

McIntosh McIntosh
McIntosh McIntosh

@Susan Aikens @troy bryant She's got you there Troy  .... now I have to add "diplomatic and  "funny" to my list of Sue attributes because I would have called you a &U@!ng  idiot myself.   .....

What a girl, ....Brave, gracious, diplomatic  and funny.......am I a butt kisser or what, lol 

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Linda Sivieri @Susan Aikens I brought a satellite dish up when I first got here because I wanted to maintain contact with my kids/grandkids and have a way for potential clients to call. The signal gets bounced off the bedrock nearby