Tim Mowry / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner / May 10, 2010
FAIRBANKS — Gov. Sean Parnell appointed Nate Turner, a big game guide and trapper who lives on the Kantishna River, to the state Board of Game on Monday.
Turner, 36, owns Turner’s Alaskan Adventures, a small family hunting business he operates with his father, Mike, and other family members.
Turner replaces Fairbanks trapper and fur tannery owner Al Barrette of Fairbanks, whose appointment to the seven-person board that regulates hunting and trapping in Alaska was rejected by the Legislature last month.
Turner is a member of the Alaska Trappers Association and sits on the Board of Directors for the Alaska Professional Hunters Association. He regularly attends Interior Board of Game meetings as a participant, but had not entered the political arena.
He is guiding bear hunters in Cold Bay on the Alaska Peninsula and could not be reached for comment, according to his wife, Cathy.
In a news release issued late Monday, Parnell said he was confident Turner “will make a balanced contribution to the Board of Game.”
“Nate Turner has experience with game management issues in many areas of Alaska from his time spent living and working in the Kantishna and Nowitna valleys, the Brooks Range, the Alaska Peninsula and Fairbanks,” Parnell said. “He has worked with organizations and state and federal wildlife managers to improve game management practices in Alaska.”
Alaska Trappers Association President Randy Zarnke of Fairbanks, who recently flew out to the Turners’ homestead to interview Mike Turner for an oral history project, called Nate Turner “an outstanding choice.”
“He’s salt of the earth,” Zarnke said. “He’s going to do everything he tells you he’s going to do to the best of his ability.”
Turner is dedicated to managing his hunt areas and traplines responsibly, Zarnke said.
“He told me how committed they are to doing things the right way,” he said.
Mike Tinker of the Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory Committee also applauded Nate Turner’s selection. Tinker said Turner knows the issues, is an independent thinker who will ask questions others won’t, and — most importantly, in Tinker’s view — is not part of any establishment.
“He’s a great choice,” said Tinker. “New blood is good.”
On his website, Turner explained the philosophy he and his father have adhered to since settling on the Kantishna River more than 20 years ago.
“We feel a close connection to the land,” Turner wrote. “We live directly from what the land provides and feel a strong sense of responsibility to manage these resources wisely. We have learned that if you respect the land and its resources, the land will provide for your needs, as well as needs of the generations who will follow.”
According to Zarnke, Turner moved to Alaska with his father from upstate New York in 1989 and they settled on the Kantishna River. His father still lives on the Kantishna full-time, while Nate Turner splits his time between the homestead and Fairbanks.
Turner leads a mostly subsistence lifestyle that he documents on his website.
“We use dog teams, guide big game hunters, run fish-wheels, build log homes, pilot our own aircraft and grow or harvest most of our needs from the wilderness around us,” he wrote. “In winter, we operate remote traplines to catch fur-bearing animals for sale, including wolf, beaver, lynx, marten, fox, wolverine and otter. This is the main focus of our lives in Alaska.
“We operate our hunts and trapline activities with a strong fair-chase and conservation ethic,” Turner wrote. “We view our guiding as a part of our subsistence lifestyle. All meat that remains after the guiding season is used both by our family, fellow guides, and other bush residents for their winter's supply of meat. As a result, these trophy animals fulfill a hunting dream, provide income for remote Alaskans as well as our supply of meat for the winter months. We believe that the animals that are harvested in our activities could not be more fully utilized and appreciated in any other manner.”
Turner’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Legislature, which is not scheduled to meet again until January. He will begin serving as a voting member of the board immediately.