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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.
330 comments
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


Kay Schwartz
Kay Schwartz

Does Sue have to cuss all the time, I know she is in the wilds of Alaska, but I do have grand children (10 -16) that watch the show. Just wish she would tone it down, not all women cuss.

Candace Noel
Candace Noel

i like the monkey hat ~ i have a My Melody hat. great show ~ happy for you.

Carole Resler
Carole Resler

Sue, I have so much respect for you. I spent time at Ft. Greeley, AK, in 1975-1976 when my husband was stationed there. We would watch the weather report (on the one TV station we were able to pick up) and would notice that if it was 20 below at Ft. Greeley it would be 40 below up north by the bay where you are located. Despite the cold I, like you, fell in love with the emotional feelings the landscape and the climate provoked in me. When I watched you walk out Prudhoe Bay Motel, with the sunrise behind you, I was able to go back in time and experience the feeling of literally being on top of the world, Thank you, Sue.

Pam Sieber
Pam Sieber

You are my hero! I love to watch the show. Time to get your Argo on!

bettie benson
bettie benson

hi sue,  you are such an insperation to me.  i think about you every day and you help me do things that i just dont want to do or i find it a challenge to get done in my life.  i admire you and would love to be a pen pal to you.  i live on a ranch in oregon and im some what disabled due to my back and neck.  i dont have many friends  because i choose that.  i think alot of my friends and would do anything for them.  i would like to be your friend.  i am 55 and im married.  i use to be a go getter and a adventurest.  life has slowed me down.  i look forward to seeing your part of the show.  i also pray for you .  i would love to meet you someday.  if you ever want to come to oregon you can stay at our house.  lol  you probly think i am one of thoes kooks.  im not i am senceir and harmless.  i just love you and  would love to be a penpal.  i find what you are doing up ther in alaska very interesting.  well i will let you go for now.  have a wonderful day stay warm and safe.  my email address is bettiebenson@yahoo.com  if i can help you or send you something you need or want let me know.  i look forward to hearing from you.  hugs  bettie

Patricia Dawes
Patricia Dawes

Dear Sue...


Now that you have the Argo, please consider tying a rope to yourself and then to the Argo, to use as a safety line when you walk onto the ice to get the water you need.   I worry about you during jobs like that...you are used to being able to pull yourself out of risky situations... but per your own words, you are getting a bit older and things aren't always as easy as they once were.  Might as well use that Arctic Land Rover in every way you can to better your life...and in the case of this river ice, perhaps even to save it.

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

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

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Kay Schwartz nope not all of them do, but the show focuses on me, and I do. I am sorry that it offends you.

Terry Brown
Terry Brown

If your so worried that your kiddies hear cursing, don't let them watch. Do they go to school? Lord knows they've never heard any of their friends cuss. Smh!

Stuff McBudley
Stuff McBudley

I like the cussing, it adds flavor, much like a persons accent or manerisms. I don't see why so many people get their panties in a bunch when someone cusses. Words are just words and some people add the cussing because they feel it helps them express themselves better (and that can be important, especially if you are venting and trying to let off some steam or frustration).


Grow up and get over it Kay, reality is never G rated.

Ryan N
Ryan N

@Kay Schwartz You should know by now, that your "grand children" are already exposed to these none hurtful words. Stop with your politically correctness, it is truly sickening. Everyone cusses. It's life. Speech Control Freak.

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Candace Noel I love my silly hats! It is a way to "visit" with the grandkids and others who send them to me, and always keeps me young and happy

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@Carole Resler you are most welcome! It is awesome when something simple can transport us to a memory and lace yay!

Susan Aikens
Susan Aikens

@bettie benson Thank you Bettie! I am in my busiest time at the moment but during winter I usually have more time to write, what an awesome offer!

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.