Category Archives: Alaska

“The NFL’s Most Horrific Crimes; From Serial Killers to Cult Members; The Dark Secrets of Football”

Randall woodfield

There are many other players that didn’t make the list but these are stories that I found to be quite disturbing. Some of you will remember these names, but some stories I’ve never heard of.   Let’s get into the sad darkness of these individuals.

Jovan Belcher, Kasandra Perkins, baby Zoey
Kasandra Perkins, Jovan Belcher & baby Zoey

#7 Jovan Belcher: (Kansas City 2009-12)

Jovan Belcher at best was a long shot to make the NFL. He was not drafted and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs. In time he made the team and even started. His acts of kindness were of legend and he was adored by fans and players alike.  He met and began living with his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins. She was only 20 and eventually she got pregnant by him

As time went on Jovan eventually lost his starting job as the Chiefs middle linebacker. After several concussions and threats by the Chiefs coaching staff that his days were numbered if his play didn’t improve, Jovan changed and the pressure was getting to him. He drank heavily, and popped pain pills due to the injuries he had sustained because he didn’t want to miss any playing time. Many friends said he was forgetful, moody and very much unlike himself. After his death it was found that he had CTE due to the numerous concussions he suffered.   The Chiefs refused to comment on his health.

http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/vahe-gregorian/article4201525.html

Jovan had another girlfriend on the side as well. After their baby was born, the fighting increased between Kasandra and Jovan. One day after a huge fight, Jovan took a .40 caliber hand gun and shot Kasandra 9 times, killing her. He kissed her forehead and said he was sorry. His baby was in the house and his mother who was staying with them called 911.

jovan belcher field

He then drove to the Chiefs practice facility and was seen by head coach Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli & other staff members. Even after talking with them, Belcher got on his knees, made the sign of the cross on his chest and said he had to go. He then shot himself in front of everyone. Friends to this day are shocked that he did this.

darren sharper
Darren Sharper during his trial

#6 Darren Sharper: (Packers 1997-2004; Vikings 2005-08; Saints 2009-10)

NFL players and sexual assault allegations are far from strangers, but Darren Sharper took it to a new level. The 5 time pro-bowler and Super Bowl winner with the Saints, was enjoying success as an analyst on the NFL Network. On the party trail he was known as a smooth talker who definitely liked to play at night.

What people didn’t know is that Sharper and 2 of his friends were serial rapists. They would use various drugs including GHB (the date rape drug that scrambles your memory) to drug and sexually assault over 16 people in 4 states. In one binge, they sexually assaulted 4 women in 24 hours.

Another time Sharper admitted to meeting a man and 2 women at a club and when they went back to his hotel, he drugged all 3 and sexually assaulted the 2 women. Thankfully many went to the hospital immediately and through the use of rape kits and interviews, Sharper and his friends were arrested. Even with the first couple of allegations, Sharper got off the charges. When he was finally convicted, he did a plea bargain to only do 9 years in jail.   The judge was so outraged at the sentence she changed it to 20 years in Federal prison. The judge and the DA also scolded the police departments and the justice system for it’s protection of Sharper citing his celebrity and fame as being the reason.

jim dunaway
Jim Dunaway

#5 Jim Dunaway: (Bills 1963-71; Dolphins 1972)

“Big” Jim Dunaway is one of the great Buffalo Bills players of all time. Dunaway played between 1963-1971 for Buffalo and ended his career in 1972 getting a Super Bowl ring with the perfect Miami Dolphins team. He was ranked as the 28th best Bill of all time by a local Buffalo publication. He was a 4 time AFL all-star, 2 time AFL Champion, and many for a time thought he should be in the pro football hall of fame. Alas his story reads somewhat like another Buffalo great, OJ Simpson.

With a nasty divorce after a long legal battle in 1995, his ex-wife Nonnie got ½ of his NFL pension, 800 acres of land on their dairy farm, and $1800/month spousal support. Jim was outraged and felt he was screwed. In time it was found out that Jim had a woman on the side that he spent several thousands of dollars to keep happy. In 3 years he spent over $81k on her, and the judge wasn’t pleased. Dunaway tried to hide his money and also filed bankruptcy while appealing the decision.   It dragged out and it got ugly.   One day Dunaway said that he went to his old house to get some clothes. He stated that he and his ex-wife were cordial and supportive. Later that day, Nonnie Dunaway was found in their half filled pool dead. After an autopsy it was found out that she did drown, but only after someone had crushed her skull before throwing her into the pool. The grand jury for some insane reason didn’t think there was enough circumstantial evidence to get a conviction so they did not even pursue going after Dunaway. The police had no other suspects.

His distraught kids were outraged. They stated publicly their father had killed their mom and filed a civil lawsuit against Jim. In 2002 the Jury found in favor of the kids and he was ordered to pay over $579k in damages. Jim was upset at his children for not believing him but they relented profusely. Most that were close to the case stated that they felt Jim got away with murder. He is now 76 years old.

cherica adams and rae carruth
Cherica Adams & Rae Carruth

#4 Rae Carruth: (Carolina Panthers 1997-99)

Rae Carruth grew up fast and made many mistakes in life. Even as a young adult his pension for selfish behavior was the norm.  He was a star at Colorado and during his sophomore season his Sacramento girlfriend had his son. Carruth had nothing to do with the son until his girlfriend filed for child support.   After talking with Carruth, she agreed to take ½ of the child support due to her as long as Carruth be a more responsible father. He agreed but failed to do it.

Carruth, like many athletes was no stranger to the dating world. He casually dated Cherica Adams and eventually she became pregnant.   That was unacceptable to the narcissistic Carruth who demanded she get an abortion. He told others that he didn’t want to pay any more child support.   She refused to end the pregnancy.

He paid $50,000 for a friend of his to kill Adams on a dark road. While she followed Carruth after going to the movies, Adams noticed he stopped. A car came up beside her and shot at her multiple times. Carruth coldly drove off with the deed done. The problem was Adams was not dead. Below is the actual 911 call of her harrowing experience after being shot.  She soon would lapse into a coma and die a month later giving birth to her son.

Shockingly Carruth was given bail and told if the baby or Cherica died, he had to turn himself in.   When Cherica died a month later, a manhunt ensued. He was found hiding in a trunk of a car with $3900, chocolate, and urine in bottles.

rae carruth on field

Their son, Chancellor Adams, was born with cerebral palsy due to the lack of oxygen. Thinking that Carruth would come off bad in his trial, he never took the stand. He arrogantly said he did nothing wrong even though his assailants turned against him and exposed their plot. Carruth was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and other chargers but was not convicted of first degree murder which would have probably given him the death penalty. Carruth is scheduled to leave prison on October 22, 2018.

#3 OJ Simpson:

This one is too well known to get too deep into. OJ lived a secret life while being loved by all. He was an abusive tyrant that most of the country felt got away with murder.   He and Rae Carruth have some serious issues. Simpson was released from prison earlier this year after serving a 9 year sentence in Nevada for unrelated crimes. I’m sure he will look for Nicole and Ronald’s killer on some golf course somewhere.

robert rozier field

#2 Robert Rozier: (St. Louis Cardinals 1979; Hamilton Tiger-Cats 1980; Saskatchewan Roughriders 1980; Oakland Raiders 1980 for 2 wks)

 Robert Rozier was born in Alaska, and moved to California. He played High School ball during the glory days of the Rancho Cordova dynasty in Sacramento California where they were considered a national power.

Rozier was drafted in the 9th round and showed potential after a quality career at California Berkeley playing defensive end. The promise was wasted when it was found out he was also a heavy drug user. After several run in’s with the law, the Cardinals dumped Rozier after 6 games. Rozier played in Canada and had a cup of coffee with the Raiders before being released, never being able to conquer his demons.

Robert rozier 2

Feeling lost, he began doing petty crimes and joined an African American cult based in Miami called the Temple of Love.  After befriending the leader Yahweh ben Yahweh.   He changed his name to Neariah Israel.

yahweh ben yahweh
Yahweh Ben Yahweh

There was one problem in joining this group. To join the “brotherhood” you had to kill a “white devil” and bring back a body part to prove you did it. Rozier admitted to killing 7 people to please his leader. After being arrested on Halloween of 1986, he agreed to turn on his leader and became a witness for the government. Even being a witness, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his murderous spree.

After serving 10 years, Rozier was placed in the witness protection program. Due to the third strike law, he was sentenced to 25 years to life after writing 29 bad checks. He’s now serving his time in a California prison.

Randall woodfield
Randall Woodfield mug shot, & photo while he was with Green Bay

 #1 Randall Woodfield: (Green Bay Packers 1974);

The I-5 killer.   Randall had severe problems even at an early age. He was a good high school and college football player but he often would get into trouble for petty crimes including flashing and indecent exposure. The Packer’s felt he had potential and they drafted him, but he continued to have questionable behavior. With more trouble with the law due to his crimes, Woodfield was cut and placed on the practice squad. He played for the semi-pro team Manitowoc Chiefs where borderline players trying to make the Packers team often played.

Randall woodfield 1

The Packers put up with a lot but eventually they could not handle his many issues. After more arrests with flashing women, he was sent home by the Packers who refused to have anything more to do with him after this.

Woodfield went back home in Portland, Oregon and he started doing severe crimes. He made women perform sex acts by knife point and also robbed them. He eventually was caught and was given a 10 year prison sentence, but his crime spree was just starting. After he got out of jail, a classmate of his was brutally murdered and even though the police felt he did it, Woodfield was never charged due to a lack of physical evidence.

woodfield-card
Woodfield sends a postcard to a writer who he is not pleased with

In the beginning he was dubbed the “I-5 Bandit” and his reign of terror was felt in California, Oregon and Washington along the I-5 corridor. The crimes worsened. When he was finally caught, he was linked to over 44 murders, and 60 sexual assaults from 1979-81. He is now doing life in prison and even today he is one of the first people they look to in many unsolved cold cases in California, Washington and Oregon.

The stories are very disturbing and scary and shows many hidden secrets in the darker side of pro football players.

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“Part 2 of My Interview With Yukon Men’s Courtney Agnes; Girl Power the Tanana, Alaska Way”

courtney cuppy archie and carrie
Courtney, Cuppy, Archie & Carrie

Here is Part 1:

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2017/08/21/part-1-of-my-interview-with-yukon-mens-courtney-agnes-girl-power-the-tanana-alaska-way/

 

We all have a story.  It doesn’t matter if we think we are exciting or not; all of us have a story.  Courtney Agnes is no different.  People probably see Courtney as a tomboy who is just like one of the guys, but she is much more than that.

Courtney is a self proclaimed “girly girl”.  “I just don’t have any fashion sense” she admits.  Courtney is a good athlete as is displayed by her talents in sports.  She is also a highly skilled artist in bead work and crafting, creating amazing clothing and jewelry.  This skill was encouraged by her grandmother Carrie who always seemed to supply her with amazing material to work with.  How about Courtney’s Native Craft’s for an online store name?  Her love for her culture and the Athabascan way of life is embedded in her heart through generations of tradition and respect for the land and what it provides.  She works at keeping that way of life alive in the future generations to come.

Courtney and Carrie at the Tanana Chiefs Conference

Jim Jax: Describe your relationship with your dad Pat and how has it changed since you were a kid?

Courtney Agnes:

I was always my dad’s baby. I even told mom and dad that they couldn’t have anymore kids because I had to be the baby forever.  From the first moment I had him wrapped around my finger.  He was the one to get up with me in the middle of the night when I cried and he would spoil me rotten.  I am now getting paybacks with my two girls and my husband, Archie.  I find that Cuppy and Carrie pull the same tricks that I used to do when I was their age with their dad and I feel like my mom did back then. Nowadays, I get really upset when my dad leaves town without telling me.  He also really relies on me to help him around the dog yard, or to even ground him in his busy life. We really enjoy doing things together, like planting his huge garden that’s almost as big as the bottom section of my house.

courtney pat 7 braedon
Courtney, Braedon & Pat

Jim Jax: What type of amenities do you have at your house.  I.E.  Television, cable, wifi/internet, running water, electricity, etc…..

Courtney Agnes:

I lived my entire life without running water until I moved out of Tanana.  About half of the homes in Tanana finally got hooked up to the water system in 2006-07. My home has cable, wifi, and electricity; all of the comfortable amenities. The only thing I miss about city life are the readily available fresh groceries. We have to plan for shopping excursions and freeze, dry, or blanch veggies and fruits to make them last.

courtney little
Courtney Practicing her Guilty Look

Jim Jax: I always think about the normal every day things.  As a teen and a young woman, how hard was it to date with so few men around, and what activities as a young person did you have to do to meet people? 

Courtney Agnes:

When I was a teenager, I was kind of awkward and geeky.  I always had straight A’s and had my nose in a book (I have bad eyesight from it).  I wasn’t really interested in boys; nothing serious anyways; and I wasn’t really that popular.  That really didn’t bother me though. Living in a remote village, it’s kind of common to play sports or travel, or to date someone if you already hadn’t found someone to hang out with in your own village.  Most people are related to each other in our small rural populations, so it’s easier to date outside of your hometown. I always played basketball just to get out of work and chores, so I met new and interesting people that way.

Courtney is all smiles at a dog mushing race.JPG
Courtney is all smiles at a dog mushing race

Jim Jax: What is your favorite food to eat that you can only get in Alaska?

Courtney Agnes:

My family and I just got back from a vacation in Hawaii, and I have to admit the girls asked for moose meat as soon as we got home.  Luckily my best friend had moose roast in her fridge in Anchorage while we hung out there for allergy appointments to appease the girl’s cravings.  I’m pretty sure I couldn’t ever live without moose soup either.  The only other food that I couldn’t live without is Yukon King Salmon.  I’m sure it’s because I grew up eating it, but no other salmon compares. All of the people that I grew up with here in Tanana are pretty picky about the salmon that we eat, and pretty much don’t really like any other kind.

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(Above: Some of Courtney’s Jewelry)

Jim Jax: What was your scariest moment while filming Yukon men.

Courtney Agnes:

The scene when I shot the black bear was the absolute scariest moment while filming.  It was slightly raining when I was stalking the bear, and I kept hearing him but I couldn’t identify where the sound was coming from.  We were walking through a small stream, so I had to also focus on being quiet when I moved. It is pretty hard to do with rain gear and rubber boots on. Ryan (camera man) had seen him first and he was headed straight for him, although the bear had never seen us. The instant that I saw the bear, I pulled my gun up to shoot, but he walked behind a huge clump of willows so I had to wait for the shot.  I got him with one shot to the neck and he was only 20 feet from Ryan. So in short, the bear almost ate Ryan.  Although he was packing, it still could have gone way wrong if I hadn’t waited for a good shot.

(Above: Alaskan wild blueberries and kippered fish)

Jim Jax: Your husband doesn’t get to be on camera much; explain what kind of person he is. 

Courtney Agnes:

Archie is a really quiet guy and he’s often gone for his job.  He works on an oil rig up north in Alaska.  He usually works 2 weeks on and then has 2 weeks off, but he has to add 2 travel days to the days he’s gone so we basically get him 12 days per 28 days. He sacrifices so much to provide for us to live here in Tanana.  It’s a really tough work environment that he has to leave us for and we really appreciate him.  He’s an avid outdoorsman like I am, but way shyer than me. He also lives for speed.  He used to race boats in the Yukon 800 race, and now races snow machines in the Iron Dog across Alaska. Both are physically brutal races, but he races them for the physical and mental aspects of it. He’s an amazing dad to our girls, he’s very patient and kind, but he’s also a pushover when it comes to them.

courtney the scarecrow
Courtney’s Scarecrow look

Jim Jax: What is the thing you like most about filming Yukon Men and what is the worst thing about filming it.

Courtney Agnes:

The thing that I love most about filming Yukon Men is that I am paid for doing things that I normally do anyway on a daily basis.  I mean, we always have to get food, wood, fuel, and get ready for winter, so it’s kind of easy to just do both at the same time.  It’s kind of like killing two birds with one stone.  The hardest thing about filming is being away from the girls. I’m a pretty hands on mama.  They really have a hard time going to sitters and not being in their own familiar environment, although we do have an amazing support system here in Tanana.

cuppy courtney and carrie
Cuppy, Courtney & Carrie

Jim Jax: With the new road comes a whole new group of people coming to the area.  Do you ever worry that things will never be the same and it may get harder to survive? 

Courtney Agnes:

I really worry about what kind of people the new road will bring in.  There was a straggler in Manley Hot Springs 20 years or so ago, (which is now 50 miles away from us on the road) who shot and killed 9 people and threw them in the Tanana River.

(Courtney is talking about the famous 1984 mass murders by drifter Michael Allen Silka in Manley Hot Springs.  He was a military marksman and he shot and killed 9 people.  One was a trooper who was flying overhead in a helicopter.  After murdering a neighbor he befriended people in Tanana saying he was a mountain man.  He often camped near the one of the docks.  People were impressed with his skills and he said he wanted to make roots in Tanana.  His victims included a trooper, a pregnant woman and a 2 year old child).

My husband’s family also has land not even one mile away from the road, and we worry about encroachment from trespassers. What people don’t really understand is how resilient Tanana people are, and we will fight for our way of life.

courtneyafdfadf

Jim Jax: What hobby or personality trait do you have that would surprise viewers of the show. 

Courtney Agnes:

I really hate being idle, so I’m always doing one thing or another.  I really love to play basketball, I grew up playing with 6’ or taller guys who had the mentality that you had to be tough to even try to play with them.  I remember getting elbowed or punched in the face and getting told not to cry when I was like in the 10th grade.  Being pretty short (5’5”) enabled them to practically jam the ball down my throat so I had to figure out ways to shoot and score around them. When playing in tournaments in Fairbanks in later years, teammates would tell me, “I don’t know how you get in there and shoot like that”.  Sometimes a ref asked me why I hadn’t ever played college ball (I was too shy).  The only other thing I can think of is that I really am quite girly.  I love make up but I have zero fashion sense.

courtney asdfasdfsdf

Jim Jax: What message do you hope to communicate about your way of life to those that enjoy the show. 

Courtney Agnes: 

When I was in high school, my late Grandmother Carrie used to always tell me to learn to live off the land.  At the time I really did not understand what she was trying to tell me, so I basically disregarded her advice.  It wasn’t until I moved back home and started to hunt, fish, and trap on my own that I learned what she meant.  She was trying to explain a simpler but rewarding lifestyle where she learned intrinsic life values from living off of the land.  This would allow me to be able to care for my family while living off the land.  It is an inherent value in keeping our traditions and culture alive that I will always appreciate.

Jim’s Jamz:

I’d like to humbly thank all of those in the Discovery Yukon Men family for the kindness and trust they have shown me in telling their stories.  Thank you to the fans of the show for their support.  I so enjoy their passion and dedication to the show.  Thousands of people have read these articles and I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I liked writing them.

Even with all of the amazing positive feedback though, I’ve also received negative responses too.  I’ve been contacted by various publications and websites speaking out against me for writing about Yukon Men.  I’m small potatoes I’m sure but there have even been petitions started to stop the show.

First off I’m not naïve.  Most reality shows are extremely faked and staged.  People always say they know that yet they act like it’s real.  Out of all of the shows though, Yukon Men is right up there with being as real as it gets.  Are some of the scenes enhanced?  Of course they are.  Ask hunters how exciting it is walking in the freezing cold for hours looking to hunt something.  Then you must ask yourself how real was it for George Roberts to lose his life in a snow mobile accident?  Ask if it was real when a young pilot Seth Fairbanks died after his plane went down?  A while earlier he helped find a stranded Joey Zuray who was slowly being surrounded by water and ice.  While the most popular network shows lie to no end; (yes I’ve talked to some of the actors and behind the scenes people and you have no idea), Yukon Men tries to keep an integrity that is rarely seen anymore on television.

The struggles are real.  And while many crews on other shows stay for short times and move on, the film crews for Yukon Men have spent significant time in the area and have tried hard to win the respect of the communities.

Like I said, I’ve seen petitions to try and cancel the show in the past due to the hunting and trapping scenes.  In reality these are not trophy hunters cutting off heads or antlers of animals and leaving the meat.  These aren’t people laughing and partying after killing an animal for show so they can take selfies so strangers will increase their likes on Instagram or Twitter.  These are people who for generations have respected their surroundings and gratefully used the land to survive in one of the most difficult places in the world to live.

As long as I write about Yukon Men I will continue to send the message that the Athabascan lifestyle tries to teach.  Respect and love for your family, with an appreciation and love for what the land provides and gives you through a subsistence lifestyle.  And lastly the constant reminder to never forget the great skills and pride that have been taught through previous generations.  Like I said, we all have a tale to tell so let’s always respect and appreciate where we come from.  And may we always respect each other’s story.

 

“Part 1 of My Interview with Yukon Men’s Courtney Agnes; Girl Power the Tanana, Alaska Way”

 

courtney agnes1
Courtney Agnes

Please follow Courtney @:

https://twitter.com/SetlonoyegheeLn?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

https://www.facebook.com/CourtneyAgnesTal/

Follow Me @:

https://twitter.com/jimjaxmedia?lang=en

https://www.instagram.com/jimjaxmedia/

My love for Alaska first started when I watched the amazing PBS special “Alone in the Wilderness”.  It was the story of the famous Naturalist Dick Proenneke who went to Twin Lakes and lived mostly alone for 30 years.  He made his own cabin, cache, tools, and anything else you could imagine.  He also filmed his adventures in a 2 part series called “Alone in the Wilderness” and I was hooked.  His cabin and building area is now on the National Register of Historic Places.  He was the king of sustenance living.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYJKd0rkKss&t=400s

http://www.aloneinthewilderness.com/

I don’t watch much network television anymore but when I first watched Yukon Men, I was hooked.  I approached Stan and Kate Zuray for interviews and they graciously agreed. Here are my interviews with them below.  Please support them!

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/my-interview-with-discovery-channels-macguyver-yukon-mens-stan-zuray/

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/discovery-channels-yukon-mens-hidden-gem-an-interview-with-kate-zuray/

Ironically the first person I asked to interview was Courtney Agnes. She had some things come up at the time, but she agreed to do it at a later date.  I enjoyed her personality and her ability to do whatever it took to get the job done.  I also liked her dad Pat a lot (Go Raiders Pat!) and the story of her mom Lorraine was a touching one.  Battling a dangerous aneurysm and arthritis, her mom was now a living miracle surviving a terrible ordeal.  Once the rock of the family, she now has to be the emotional inspiration due to her health issues that have been difficult for all.  The family takes care of her with a dedication and love that can be very challenging at times.  It’s obvious she is a huge part of the foundation for Courtney and her family, and the struggle is a daily one. Courtney’s mom’s amazingly kind and giving spirit has touched many people over the years.

Courtney and her dad Pat with another succesful fish run
Courtney and her dad Pat with a big fish haul

Courtney is the epitome of an Alaskan “girl”.  She is at home in the wilderness and can do whatever a man can do, but she also can show the maturity of a woman, mother and daughter which is needed in such an environment.  She’s done construction, dog mushing and can hunt.  When the family desperately needed a moose, she got it.  When Pat needed help with the dogs, she did it.

I also enjoyed her mischievous and fun nature. Courtney; and Alaskan women in general; show a huge strength and work ethic and passion for their families that is inspiring.  I live in California and though we have a lot of beautiful women on the outside, for some there is something major lacking on the inside. Courtney and many other women in Alaska may not be glamour girls, but their kind and vital spirit and passion for life and family creates an outer and inner beauty that makes the world a more beautiful place because they are in it.  I hope you enjoy learning about Courtney as much as I have.  Here is Part 1.

courtney agnes traditional
Courtney showing off some amazing traditional clothing

Jim Jax:  What were your first memories growing up in Alaska as a little girl. 

Courtney Agnes:  The most prevalent memories that I have of growing up in Alaska as a little girl had taken place at fish camp. I think I started climbing trees at the age of three, and by age 5 I had excelled at climbing.  I would often climb 20-30 foot tall trees.  One time I climbed a smaller willow tree to the top and after it bent over from my weight, I had to scream for my dad and he had to catch me from about 20 feet as I feel out of the tree.  I also have amazing memories of dog mushing with my dad.  He stayed home with me while mom worked and I would ride a snow racer behind a team of dogs that pulled both my dad’s dog sled and I.  We were always outside doing something together; mostly working; but he always made work fun.

courtney cuppy archie and carrie
The fam; Courtney, Cuppy, Archie & Carrie

Jim Jax:  Growing up as a kid, what fun activities did you do outside of working?  Who influenced you?

Courtney Agnes:  Growing up with the parents that I had, we didn’t have much time at all for play, because we were always working.  I mean, my girls don’t even know the meaning of chores compared to my brother and I back in the day.  From the time that I turned 8 years old, I never had a real fancy, huge birthday because we were always cutting fish from 7 am to 12 am in the summers.  We survived from making a living off of selling the fish that we cut.  The fish could be jarred, and put away for the winter so the entire family’s help was vital.

We were super lucky to grow up with thousands of cousins to play with.  We even played baseball games on the airport runway, which was located next to mom and dad’s camp.  I did have a tight knit group of friends who all took turns helping each other do their chores in order to play. We mostly raced our four wheeler ATV’s around town at break neck speeds, jumping them anywhere we wouldn’t get caught. There wasn’t much else to do, other than invent games of our own because we didn’t have the luxuries that the city provided.

courtneys confirmation
Courtney and her dad Pat at her Confirmation

Jim Jax:  Every family has stories; what is a good story while you were a kid

Courtney Agnes:  Here is my absolute FAVORITE story of the adventures of my oldest brother Thomas and I.  When I was about 8 and he was 12, (I was all knees and elbows then) during the summer he and I were left home at camp together.  We always had chores to take care of, like watering the dogs, watering the garden, and many other things.  Mom and dad always went to work and we were left alone to be savages.  Dad found a parachute at the dump that was discarded, and Thomas pulled it out and decided to play with it.

It was a windy day so we strapped him in and he tried to launch himself on the airport runway.  I really do not know what he was thinking, but it didn’t take off, so he said we needed to go down to the beach.  (I was at the age where I had to do whatever he said because he would have killed me if I didn’t).  I stood back and held the parachute end up and FREAKING A if he did not take off like a rocket!  He didn’t take off in the air, but the parachute did and it started dragging his limp butt about a 1/4 mile up the river on the beach over rocks, mud and sticks.  He was moving faster than this skinny ass girl can run after him slipping in the mud the whole way.

As I’m watching him being drug like a limp noodle, he was screaming at me saying, “Siiiiiiiiiiiiis, heeeeeelp meeeeeeeeee.”  He was terrified and I was running so hard that I slipped in the mud too.  At one point I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t even get up out of the mud.  Finally the parachute strings caught on a log and it stopped him. He had bruises and scratches all over his body and was sore for days.  This is just one of the amazing stories I have of my brother.

being silly carrie courtney and cuppy
Funny Face time with Carrie, Courtney and Cuppy

Jim Jax:  Was there ever a time as a teenager where you wanted to leave Alaska and go somewhere for college and leave the lifestyle behind?

Courtney Agnes:   When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to leave Tanana.  I hated it.  I hated being so confined to one place without many outlets which is typical teenage stuff. I always dreamed of going out of state to college, but I didn’t know what kind of career path that I wanted to pursue so I played it safe and went to college in Anchorage.  Before I moved away my dad called it. He said that I’d miss Tanana and I would be back. It took 1 year in Anchorage and 4 years living in Fairbanks for me to decide to come back home. I disliked the monotonous everyday driving place to place, fighting crowds and paying for any kind of small activity that was to get me out of the house. Everything cost money, and here in Tanana all we have to do is buy gas and we’re gone for the weekend camping on a sandbar or crashing through the forests chasing a moose for dinner.  I still love to travel though and Europe is on my bucket list of places to visit.

courtney alaskan traill sunset
Peace; A girl, her dogs and an Alaskan Sunset

Jim Jax:  You have a close relationship with your mom and dad.  We’ve learned about your dad Pat, but please tell people what type of person your mom is?

Courtney Agnes:  My mom worked my entire youth to support our family and was always taking care of something or someone, no matter how tired or exhausted she was. We always had different kids staying with us for extended periods of time, whether they were cousins or kids that wanted to go to school in Tanana (the school used to be pretty big in my youth).  In college, if I ever needed money, $500 would show up in my bank account.  She was always a giver. Before her aneurysm she had a really close relationship with our oldest daughter, Cuppy. Cup would run over to Gramma’s because she would spoil the crap out of her.  The aneurysm really changed mom.  She became fully disabled and unable to do a lot of things, but she constantly still worries about all of us in everything that we do.  She also lives vicariously through me in wishing that she can race dogs still.  She always cries before any of my races. She’s so tough physically when she wants to be though. I really don’t know anyone else who might have survived the scale of aneurysm that she survived.

Please come back tomorrow for Part 2 of my interview with Yukon Men’s Courtney Agnes. 

 

“Part 2 of My Interview with Discovery Channel’s Yukon Men’s Kate Zuray”

fam kate
Ariella, Joey, Kathleen, Stan & Kate Zuray

Part 2 of my Interview with Kate Zuray of YukonMen.

You can follow Kate @:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katezuray/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/katezuray

Below is part 1 of my interview with Kate Zuray:

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/discovery-channels-yukon-mens-hidden-gem-an-interview-with-kate-zuray/

I’d like to thank all of the families associated with YukonMen who have shown me nothing but patience and kindness in our interactions.  I hope that all who read this will support them in all of their projects and passions, including Stan’s amazing book above!

I hope that everyone that has enjoyed the show and read my articles will feel the great sense of family that these fine people show us week after week.  I hope that it also teaches us that even though we all have different backgrounds, races and beliefs, what truly makes us a great nation is the respect and sense of kindness that we show one another.  We all count, and our importance in our families and social circles are most felt when we are giving of ourselves unconditionally with a pure heart and an open mind.

kate tanana traditional dancers
Kate in the Tanana Traditional Dancers

Jim Jax: What is the coldest temperature you’ve been in and what did it physically feel like?

Kate Zuray:

The coldest temperature recorded in Tanana was -76 F on January 27, 1989. From my memory I have experienced -60 F in the month of January. I was getting ready to drive somewhere in my car and it would not start even though it was plugged in. I didn’t want to push the car’s limit so I just let it sit until it warmed up and then the car started. My friend didn’t turn his car off, and just let it run for a whole week. Yes, even during the night, because he knew it wouldn’t start again if he turned it off.

I walked outside to take an iPhone picture of the frozen frosted trees and my phone immediately shut off and froze. It physically starts to cause pain and your skin starts to hurt and you run back inside. I basically wear ski pants for the entire month of January even when I’m inside because I like to dress up and keep myself warm. During this time you don’t go outside often unless you really have to, like to go get water from the Laundromat. You spend a lot of time inside with friends and family when it’s this cold.

Joey Kate
Joey & Kate in Traditional Clothes

Jim Jax: How difficult was it to go from living in Alaska and then all of a sudden being in the public eye?

Kate Zuray:

I don’t consider myself being in the public eye; now Joey and Stan; my brother and dad are more in the public eye. When my dad leaves Tanana and goes to any city, he constantly has people coming up to him wanting a picture or just to meet the Yukon Man. If someone knows who I am, I’ll say “wow you must be a very big fan”. My name Zuray is more recognizable than my face, which is completely okay with me though. For example, if I go to the post office and they see my name on the mail they know who I am and usually ask “how’s your dad doing?” or “I love Joey”.  I kind of got scared during season 1 of YukonMen. I remember going on my Facebook and I had 500 friend requests in just a couple days. It kind of scared me and I ended up deleting my Facebook for 3 years or more. But I love when people come up to me and talk to me about my family or the show. I’m always friendly and open to conversation.

Jim Jax: What part of your life living in Alaska isn’t shown on the show?

Kate Zuray:

So much isn’t on the show, we do a lot of cool fun things as a family and with friends. However it shouldn’t be on TV, because it wouldn’t be entertaining or shocking enough. I’m presently a student. I have been a water treatment operator for the past three years. I am an activist for subsistence hunting & fishing and attend meetings about the health of the salmon run on the Yukon River, I’ll be going to Canada soon to learn about the salmon communities on the upper Yukon River. I am a member of the Tanana Traditional Dance group where we wear our native regalia and sing traditional Athabascan songs.   It was filmed a couple times but never went on the episodes, which is fine. I totally get that the viewers want to see guns and wild game.

traditional dance
Traditional Dancers

Jim Jax: I’ve enjoyed watching  your brother mature on the show; what type of relationship do you have with him?

Kate Zuray:

Joey and I are very close. We are two years and two days apart in age, so we spent a lot of time growing up side by side together. I sometimes say when he is happy I’m happy and when he is sad I’m sad. We always text and keep up with happenings in each other’s lives. We have similar personalities, beliefs and political views so sometimes I’ll just speak to him about frustrating things and we back each other up because we think the same.

As children I was the boss, but as adults he has acted like an older brother to me and even corrected some mistakes I’ve made. Once he even heard I was dating a certain person and put a stop to it because he didn’t believe the person deserved me and I’m thanking him now. Joey is courageous and I learned this through hard times in our family. Sometimes I will keep my mouth shut and not tell people to be better because I don’t like confrontation, but if Joey loves you, he will tell you to be better and to stop bad habits, be a better parent, and to me that’s courage.

He will also stick up for himself or his family at any time. He has taught me to be stronger and not just hide in the dark when things get hard.
It seems like many people in the show have very deep relationships with their family.   It must feel good knowing what a familial bond you have especially in times of trouble and need.  I’m a very independent person and I like to spend time by myself, but I need my family and I appreciate their support & love.

My parents did a lot of things to keep us close. A simple thing was, we always ate dinner together sitting down at the table every night. It takes a lot of work to make any relationship or family unit work though. It’s not always perfect and we have disagreements but work through them.  Another way we stay close is communication. We are always contacting each other to see how everything is going and we tell each other I love you. I’m very grateful for my family and I have to remind myself to not take them for granted. In Tanana, everyone belongs to a family, and if you don’t have a family, someone will adopt you into their family.

kate zuray 070098
Kate, Mary Scannella, Ariella

Jim Jax: What would you like people to know about you that isn’t portrayed on the show?
Kate Zuray:

That I’m a happy fun outgoing person who loves to laugh with my family and make jokes. We are not constantly in turmoil and pain. Yes it’s a hard life, but it’s also healthy and a lifestyle we choose to live.  I’m really excited for summer because we all head up to camp and in the morning we make a huge pancake breakfast while talking about our ancestor’s oral history and traditions. We will work all day and then eat a big salad from our many gardens and a salmon dinner, usually grilled by Joey.

Jim Jax: What are some of your future aspirations? 

 Kate Zuray:

I haven’t filmed a lot because I’ve been going to school and working. I’ve been very focused on my goals. It didn’t happen over night and its been many years of staying motivated and I want to continue reaching my goals. I recently got a great job that will allow me to be in Tanana more so that’s really exciting. I want to repair our fish camp, because a lot of things are aging. I also want to build a huge kitchen shack, and eventually build my own house in Tanana.   I feel like it’s been so much hard work to get where I am today and now I just want to start enjoying life, doing things that make me happy. I want to do things like buying a four wheeler, boat & motor and spending time on the river and mountains. Some hobbies/aspirations I am interested in is film and continue concentration of the health of the salmon run in the rivers.

Kate Repping Tanana
Kate Representing Tanana Dog Mushers Association

Jim Jax: What are you most proud of in regards to your family being on Yukon Men.

Kate Zuray:

When this show first came out there was a lot of backlash and jealousy. I even told my dad that I didn’t want to associate myself with the name, but we learned to not let that bother us and just kept working & filming. When people come up to me and tell me “your dad is my hero” or “you’re brother is an amazing young man who takes care of his family”, it almost brings me to tears because everyone is seeing what I’ve seen all my life. I’m so proud to be their sister/daughter. So I’m most proud of the strong family values that people can see because it’s something we work hard on to have.

kate and mary scannell
Kate is all Smiles as a part of the Tanana Traditional Dancers

“Discovery Channel’s Yukon Men’s Hidden Gem; An Interview With Kate Zuray”

You can follow Kate @:

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/katezuray/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/katezuray

Part 2 will be released next Friday.  Thank you so much for reading!  Please like & Share & Subscribe to follow my articles here as well as my Twitter!

Kate Zuray
Kate Zuray
Kate & Stan Zuray
Stan & Kate Zuray

Last week during an interview I did on a Podcast, someone asked me what I thought of today’s television shows.  I told them I didn’t watch much television anymore due to the lack of quality, but that I did like a handful of shows.  Of course one of those was Yukon Men on the Discovery Channel.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/my-interview-with-discovery-channels-macguyver-yukon-mens-stan-zuray/

I wrote about Stan (above) and I so have enjoyed him showing his points of view and his talents.  The two people though that interested me was Stan’s wife Kathleen and his daughter Kate.  Most of us growing up know that the grunt work often is done by our fathers, but the glue to the families are usually the mom’s.  Kathleen is the glue of the Zuray’s plus being an Alaskan woman, she is a tireless worker as well.  She is not a big fan of all of the attention or fame and I respect that.  As most of us can attest, Kathleen is the classic mother who’s strength and heart solidify what a great family is all about. Another person has shown that same kind of familial spirit that solidifies and guides Alaskan families such as the Zuray’s and that person is Kathleen & Stan’s daughter Kate. In the few times that we get to see her, Kate has shown that same kind of passion for family. Her maturity and kind nature was easy to see.  I asked if Kate would do an interview with me and she graciously accepted.  Here is part 1.  I hope you enjoy her comments as much as I have.

 

Kathleen & Kate Zuray (2)
Kathleen & Kate Zuray

Jim Jax:  What are your first memories as a child growing up in Alaska?

Kate Zuray: 

One of my first memories was during winter time being bundled in a sleeping bag very early in the morning before daylight. My dad put a long cardboard box in his dog sled, where I would lay there for hours while we drove 40 miles to my dad’s trapping cabin.  I would sleep and then wake up and I could hear the dogs mushing while my dad whistled or hummed a song. I feel like I was a good passenger.

Kate with the puppies
Kate Zuray & Alaskan Puppymania
Kate & Joey & Kathleen Zuray in traditional
Kate, Joey & Kathleen in Beautiful Tradition Clothes

Jim Jax:  As a kid was there ever a chance that you thought what it would be like to live somewhere else?

Kate Zuray: 

Being hidden from the world, I didn’t know we were a poor family living in a small village.  I was happy with my family and life as it was.  When I became 12 years old I began watching music videos and MTV and I learned quickly that we were very different from people in the lower 48 states. The fast busy lifestyle wasn’t very desirable to me as a child, but I think I was mostly attracted to the ocean and sea life, so living near the warm ocean was desirable to me.

Kate & Joey Zuray fish
Kate & Joey at Fish Camp

Jim Jax:  As you got older did you ever think of leaving Alaska?

Kate Zuray:

Yes! I was like, “I’m out of here!” I felt so ready to leave the village life behind and explore the world.  I wanted to move to NYC or LA; typical small town dreams; I would talk all the time about how I was going to leave.  I did live in Hawaii and Boise Idaho for a short time, but what I learned while living out of Alaska was that I’m actually a family person and it’s hard for me to leave them.  I didn’t know how much I needed my families support. Also, people in Alaska are very nice and genuine people who would help you out if you needed it.  It’s a great state to live in and I also missed the big green mountainside.

Kate Zuray Lounging
Kate Working & Lounging at the Same Time

Jim Jax:  As a teen how with a small population, how hard is it to socialize or date?

Kate Zuray:

In Tanana or any small village, you have the same classmates from preschool to 12th grade.  My classmates were more siblings to me and we would even argue like siblings. You didn’t want to date your classmate you’ve known since preschool. You almost have to be strategic and take advantage of your time when you traveled to other villages or cities.  There was no going to the mall and accidentally meeting the love of your life.  A good example was my cousin.  She had no romantic prospects in Tanana.  She is related to most everyone so she moved to Fairbanks in order to find a boyfriend which is really common for people here.  It was just like Charlie Wright who went to the next village to find a girlfriend. As far as socializing and dating for me, I was able to become more social and meet new people once I went to the University of Alaska.

 

Joey & Stan & Kate Zuray
Joey, Stan & Kate During The Early Years

Jim Jax:  What was the scariest event you experienced so far in Alaska?

Kate Zuray:

My brother Joey was a wild kid.  Once at fish camp, he built plane wings that attached to his back and jumped off a cliff to fly.  So there were those scary moments when someone would get hurt and were 40 miles away from the nearest clinic. Once at camp, I was maybe 10 years old when a spooked dog bit my dad’s wrist which tore off his skin and he started bleeding heavily. I remember thinking can I drive the boat? What if he dies and it’s just Joey and I with no help. If you get seriously injured out in rural Alaska it would take half a day to get to a doctor. Afterwards my dad Stan taught me what to do if he died suddenly and it was just us kids alone.  He taught me how to grab the rifle, and fire three shots at the bank of the river, and hopefully a nearby fish camp would hear the shots and then come help us. I remember he made me load the gun then unload the gun over and over until I got it right.

Kate Ariella Joey Kathleen
Kathleen, Kathleen’s Daughter Ariella, Kate & Joey

Jim Jax:  You help your dad out with some of his social media activities; what are some of the things that you do to help him?

Kate Zuray:

He handles his Facebook all by himself.  I’ve never helped with that.  I do help him with his twitter and Instagram pages though, and recently we have been making some YouTube videos.  He has been making YouTube videos for years all by himself.  All of the pictures we post from his social media, he actually took himself.  He reads every single tweet or message and comment that is sent to him.  With Twitter I’ll make sure the YukonMen promos are retweeted or sent out.  Instagram was iffy and I wasn’t sure if I should make him a page.  However what I learned is we get more likes and comments on IG than Twitter so I want to put more focus into that.  I assist him, give him tips, sometimes he’ll call me and we will just discuss social media, Twitter vs. Facebook and how the fans/followers differ.  It’s really fascinating to us and we have seen changes and tried to adapt to those demands.

We put a lot of effort and thought into what we post and we genuinely love the connections we make with people.  I still talk to people that followed me on Twitter from season one.  We remember people and even have become legitimate friends. One time I got a twitter message from a women asking to meet me for lunch.  I was really hesitant but just went for it and it was one of the most fun lunch dates I’ve ever had.  We talked and laughed the whole time!  She and her husband & kids moved to Alaska for a better job and life.  I would call her my friend today and I’m excited for them when they visit Tanana. This winter I made a few Youtube videos with my dad, and it was so much fun.  We filmed for hours one day and it was just a blast!  I really loved it and I hope to continue making videos.  Maybe I’ll even be in some!

kate zuray girl power
Alaskan Girl Power!  Kate, Joey’s Girlfriend Samantha, Kathleen, Auntie Faith & Ariella

Jim Jax:  You don’t see your mom much on Yukon Men; what type of a person is she?

Kate Zuray:

She’s the strongest women I know, and so beautiful.  She just wants her family to be happy and healthy.  She doesn’t want fame or attention, but I think she’s so funny and makes everyone feel welcomed.  If I introduced her to my friends she would hug them and welcome them to the family.  Filming can be so awkward especially when you don’t know what they want from you.  She doesn’t get that everyone wants to meet Stan’s wife and get to know her.  She’s like “I support you filming but I’ll stay behind the lens”. She is an excellent salmon cutter, and puts so much work into it.  At fish camp she’ll cut fish from morning till midnight, it will be dark and I’m getting cold watching her work, and we just have to force her to finish up for the day.  Filming isn’t for everyone and you just have to respect that.

kate Zurayadfdasfasdf
Even cold, Kate Showing Some Alaskan Love

Part 2 will be released next Friday.  Thank you so much for reading!  Please like & Share!