4 Videos of Yukon Man Stan Zuray’s Life in Alaska 25 Years Ago
Russ Chastain 11.21.17
It’s no secret I’m a fan of Stan Zuray, the Alaskan Bostonian who’s spent most of his life in remote Alaska, can build just about anything out of anything else, and who freely shares his knowledge with the rest of us. Many of us think we would like to live the way Stan does, but if we got a steady diet of the constant hard work that goes into it, we might change our minds.
On the other hand, if you are really into surviving in the boondocks, it never hurts to listen to the words of someone who’s been there and done it.
Anyhow, these are the first four installments or episodes in a series of ten videos made by filmmaker AJ Rosser years ago. Here’s what Stan says, which includes a language warning:
About 25 years ago a filmmaker named AJ Rosser flew into our Yukon River village to film our annual spring dog races. We met and he decided to make a movie of my life. We traveled 40 miles to my Tozitna River cabin to interview me there. Over a number of days we filmed and he made 10 hours of VCR movie camera video to get the stories down, skipping around but also moving forward through time.
AJ has kept in touch with me over the years but finally he sent me the tapes and said to do something with them – he was getting on in years – use them for a book or a movie. I have 9 more of these YouTube videos to do – it’s easy as they are already semi edited so hopefully I can keep them coming. Some of the VCR tapes had deteriorated some so occasional visual moments are cloudy but audio is good.
Finally to all the young kids, excuse my bad language and constantly smoking rolled cigarettes which I consider poison now. Please Share if possible, Thanks, Stan.
Video number one contains:
- My Gardens – Size, growing grain, yield of crops, fish fertilizer making, barrel metal plows using dogs, water pump in house.
- Why I left Boston – life in city, moved to commune, a boat, arrested.
- On the road to find something, all over the country – heading north, into Canada, Northern
- British Columbia, up a dirt road, into the wilds, everyone caught and arrested but me, decide to go to Alaska.
- Alaska – sold the car and flew in plane to the wilderness, picked a spot to live, building a cabin, burnt out, feeding hungry dogs, salmon run, fertilizing salmon eggs, starvation time, making sled, snowshoes, eating dogs, surviving.
- Other Tozitna River People before me – third eye, hippie couple almost starves, Eating dog food and anything that moved, landing on the Tozitna River, looking for a cabin site.
Contents of video two:
- Finding a cabin site, snowshoeing the mountains, overflow, sled traveling in water with dogs, emergencies.
- More people move to Tozitna River, having kids, power generating systems, CB radios, wind generator, trading for supplies, making sleds.
- Local dog racing, how I got into Iditarod dog race, Mike McCann and flying, people helping.
Contents of video three and a disclaimer from Stan:
- Living on a salmon spawning creek full of bears for 11 years.
- Hunting Grizzly bear, moose and caribou and everything else.
- The power and speed of grizzly bears.
- My best rifles for moose and big bear.
- Pistol power vs. rifle.
- Advantage of tracking moose on snow and in real cold temperatures.
- Problems with guns in real cold.
- Wolves on the Tozitna River and what they eat and where they go.
- Problem wolves.
- Note: This conversation here is graphic and in no way should that be taken as any disrespect to animals, as I have tried to convey in the video. This is simply the way it is the closer one lives to nature and less insulated one is from the same.
And finally, number 4, which was just uploaded today.
- Starving and problem wolves.
- Outside cabin construction.
- Some of the items I used living there.
- Running the Iditarod – preparing, feeding dogs special.
- Leaving Tanana for race in Anchorage – Story of the race.
- Building a 32′ wooden boat for moving from the Tozitna River to a new home in Tanana