A Family Affair

Bounty of Alaska game enriches family through the generations

Posted: Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fifth-generation Alaskan Dylan "Hawk" Kubley 14, downed his first deer at the age of six. When he was 8 years old, he got his first moose under extreme conditions. The following year he bagged his first bear.

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While still in middle school last season, the incoming Juneau-Douglas High School freshman bagged more than 100 ducks and got his limit of four deer.

Kubley has a firm understanding of his family's hunting heritage in the Last Frontier. Don Kubley, Dylan's father, said he has worked hard to instill in his son the importance of being an "ambassador of the Alaskan lifestyle."

Getting started

A few must know tips for family hunting

• The know-how: Take a hunter education class with your family before going into the field, even though it's not required by law.

• The firearm: Be familiar with firearms you and your family members will be using. Many manufacturers tailor make youth hunting rifles and shotguns, ask your local distributor. A family day at the firing range is not only fun but familiarizes everyone with their firearm.

• The animal: Be familiar with the animal you are hunting and the land you are hunting on, plan the hunt. Have respect for land ownership and use. Leave no trace behind.

• The gear: Outfit yourself properly. Water and a small first-aid kit are smart things to bring along. Dress properly and wear "hunter orange."

"I don't think there is anything more positive and beneficial than for a young man to be in the woods with his father or an adult he trusts and knows," Don Kubley said. "I think it's really one of the most important and beautiful things we have living in Alaska."

He said deer hunting with his son in the woods of Admiralty or Chichagof Islands in the presence of brown bears helps teach lessons that are applicable to daily life inside and out of Alaska.

"I am convinced that Alaskans like him that have experienced that kind of challenge of being responsible at a young age, when they go off to college or off to the work place, they are so grounded," Don Kubley said.

Dylan Kubley said hunting has enabled him to be quick on the draw and sharp-witted.

"If a bear's coming at you, you don't have time to think about what's going on," he said. "You have to make that decision quickly."

And "Hawk," who earned his nickname for his sharp eye in the field, has learned from experience. He's been charged by brown bears on several occasions.

"Be ready for anything," he said. "You've always got to be prepared for stuff."

Malin Babcock, a state-certified hunter education instructor, said passing on the hunting traditions from generation to generation plays a pivotal role in ensuring that ethical practices continue in the field.

"Hunting certainly is a part of our frontier culture," she said. "I think it's important for the adults to foster the proper attitudes and respect for the resources."

Eighty-five-year old Wally Kubley of Ketchikan, Dylan's grandfather, said there is one important lesson he made sure he passed down to his family to keep Alaska's hunting tradition and conditions vibrant.

"Don't waste any meat at all," he said. "And I think they've been that way all the way through ... I never killed anything that I didn't bring home and eat."

Don Kubley said his family has survived off the bounty of Alaska since his great-grandfather first came to Alaska in the beginning of the 20th century.

"You certainly didn't go down to Fred Meyer or Costco for fresh meat," he said.

The only meat he says he will purchase from a grocery store is chicken or pork.

"That's still how we feed our family up here, and there's not so many places you do that," Don Kubley said. "That's our tradition."

Wally Kubley said he is pleased to see his grandson become so involved with hunting, something he says has helped him become a well-rounded and grounded individual.

"I think that has a hell of a lot to do with outdoor life and I'm glad to see him doing that," he said.

Hunting also can help keep kids away from negative influences such as drugs and alcohol, Wally Kubley said.

"I think of all kids that like to duck hunt and go deer hunting, their minds are on that instead of smoking and doping and all that," he said.

Don Kubley said the hunting heritage of Alaska has enriched the lives of his entire family.

"I know it made a difference in my life," he said. "Some of the greatest memories I have as a child is spending time in the woods."

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