National Wildlife Federation Outdoors
“Artic Dreams” with Thor Tingey co-founder and owner of Alpacka Rafts.

“Artic Dreams” with Thor Tingey co-founder and owner of Alpacka Rafts.

July 23, 2021

Aaron sits down with Thor Tingey co-founder and owner of Alpacka Rafts. Thor has traveled extensively in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in Alaska using his company’s specialized rafts that he developed to do traverses across Alaska. We cover the uniqueness of the refuge and why it should be protected, how he got into these big traverses, his experiences in Alaska including his recent trip through the refuge, and how he and his mother developed Alpacka Rafts. We also talk about camping and outdoor travel with children, a caribou hunt, and fishing for Arctic char.

Show notes:

1:32 – Some background on Thor, the cofounder and owner of Alpacka Rafts in Colorado.

3:09 – What Thor has been doing outside recently, including a trip within the Arctic Refuge with his toddler.

4:25 – What trip lead to start Alpacka Rafts in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

5:40 – Insight into having kids and taking them outside to explore at a young age. You don’t need to stop exploring, just adjust!

8:10 – Thor talks about the Arctic and why it is so special… starting with the light.

10:50 – We all use energy resources, the important distinction is that some places are too special and too wild. These places need to remain undisturbed.

11:40 – The origin story and core idea behind pack rafting and Alpacka Rafts as a company.

13:05 –The life changing trip: The Brooks Range over 39 days and 700 miles utilizing paper maps. Linking landscapes together via pack rafts.

15:12 – The anatomy of the Alpacka Raft. It’s a family affair regarding how they are designed to take on new frontiers. Where they have come to since the first design in 2001.

16:53 – The core of pack rafting is exploring and linking intact landscapes. Alaska is ground zero for intact landscapes which brings us back to the Arctic.

19:00 – Message from our partner podcast, Artemis Sportswoman.

19:42 - Thor takes us there and walks us through a typical day pack rafting in the Arctic. 24 hour light, toddler bedtime, weather systems, migratory animals and wide open views of jagged limestone mountains.

23:00 – What wildlife Thor saw during his last trip to Alaska including musk ox, Dall sheep and golden eagles.

24:24 – What fish Thor saw during this trip including resident grayling, arctic char and what happened when rain made the river rise seven feet.

27:00 – How do you fish for arctic char?

27:40 – Unique wildlife encounters including howling with the wolves.

29:25 – Where are the caribou migrating?

30:30 – Hunting caribou in Alaska in 2018… walking into the refuge and floating the harvest out. The caribou season aligns nicely with the arctic char season!

33:30 – Growing up in Alaska, protecting the Arctic and why Thor thinks the Arctic should not be developed.

34:30 – Understanding oil pipelines, natural resource development and what has paid for Alaska for 40 years.

36:20 – Flying over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and realizing how small it is in comparison. It is likely going to be the last place in Alaska that can be utilized for natural resources… what’s the plan moving forward?

38:34 - The idea that there are some places worth keeping wild. Can we ask ourselves, “is it worth these last few places?”

40:40 - What does Thor think permanent protection would look like? What does protection look like? Take a look at landscapes.

42:27 – Change happens and we need to think about that but we do need to keep industrialized development out.

45:00 – The reality of the wild king salmon status and runs over the past decade. The experience that Thor had as a kid does not exist anymore.

46:55 – We have a lot of oil development in the world. How can we get on the same page that there are simply some places are need to stay wild? 

49:30 – Alpacka Raft’s core values and commitment to engagement in conservation as a company. Core pack rafting pursuits is enact landscapes!

52:41 - It’s exciting that places still exist where you can get away from it all.

54:23 – Closing statements… a soft approach to activism as an individual – contact your local legislator.


The History of Sporting Journalism, current issues & the “Conservation Obligation” featuring Andrew McKean of Outdoor Life magazine.

The History of Sporting Journalism, current issues & the “Conservation Obligation” featuring Andrew McKean of Outdoor Life magazine.

July 9, 2021

After a break to refresh, Aaron sits down with Andrew McKean, one of the most respected outdoors journalists and the current hunting and conservation editor of Outdoor Life magazine. We talk the history of Outdoor Life and sporting journalism, the latest sporting issues and how they can either connect or divide our community, and the “conservation obligation”. We also discuss the public lands owner movement and how it could be more inclusive for all conservationists and overall trends in the sporting conservation arena.

Check out Outdoor Life here:

Check out Andrew’s podcast, “On Gravel”:

Show notes:

1:35 - Heat wave across the west.

2:36 - Meet Andrew McKean, learn about his background in hunter and angler information and education.  

3:30 - What has Andrew been doing outside recently... conservation and his recent involvement with nocturnal posse of Texas hog hunters. 

7:08 - How Andrew got to Montana as a journalist, the public value of conservation and growing up on a farm as a squirrel hunter with "The Missouri Promise".

10:07 - The infrastructure built around conservation is intact and thorough in Missouri but the care and maintenance required. 

11:23 - The current infrastructure projects and policy that NWF Outdoors is working on.

12:43 - Message from our partner podcast, Artemis! Listen to the Artemis podcast wherever you gather podcasts.

14:07 - The history and structure of outdoor journalism with a deeper look at Outdoor Life magazine. Why Andrew thinks it is a happy time for outdoor journalism. 

22:20 - Exploring multiple avenues as a journalist and covering important issues such as guns and wildlife conservation. The second amendment. 

25:35 - Wildlife is a public resource. "Just like our air and our water, it requires constant attention."

28:48 - Hunting and fishing access. Working with private land owners with a closer look at what has been unfolding in Montana. "We can't be single issue voters, no matter what the issue is."

35:30 - Public land owners & public land hunters. Andrew presents a different way of looking at this broad issue.

40:08 - States that may not have public land or accessible private land or waterways but have a strong cultural connection with conservation and their public trust doctrine. The flame of the blue collar conservationist is still being carried in upper midwest - otherwise known as the "Rust Belt".

42:24 - Looking forward instead of looking back when it comes to the outcome or consequences of some of the conservation issues we are dealing with at this time.

What is habitat for the hunting community and where is the funding coming from.

47:46 - Speaking in an authentic and respectful way and our obligation as hunters in general. 

55:20 - Andrew encourages every listener to become a hunter education instructor. 

59:48 - "The Conservation Obligation" and getting people more engaged in conservation. 

1:03:00 - Going back in time to go forward in time. Looking back at the history of the National Wildlife Federation and a big shout out to Aaron Kindle for his work and engagement on this podcast.

1:04:00 - A note on the creation of the NWF in 1936.


Dust Off Your Dreams with Mandela Van Eeden

Dust Off Your Dreams with Mandela Van Eeden

June 25, 2021

This week we are excited to feature a podcast from our partner, Artemis, and will head afield this week to talk with NWF Outdoor's newest member, storyteller and adventurer Mandela van Eeden. This episode was recorded on the edge of the forest near a meadow in Montana. Mandela's upbringing was split between South Africa, where her family harvested from the sea, and Montana - where they gratefully accepted the river's bounty. Mandela talks to us about connecting to place, pursuing your dreams, and how we can care for what sustains us. Plus, a black bear walks in on Marcia and Mandela mid-way through the episode. (No jokes, folks!)

4:00 All the 'boks' in Africa, which is Afrikaans for 'deer' (springbok, bontebok, gemsbok)

5:00 A childhood split between the African bush and Montana, leaving your heart in both

11:00 Three Gorges Dam & the Yangtze River

12:00 Storytelling with sound and music AND raft guiding both hemispheres

16:00 What's the core value that makes us do what we do?

18:00 The Oily River Rendezvous and seeing an oil spill from the river's view

19:00 "If you think you're too little to make a difference, you've obviously not spent the night with a mosquito."

22:00 "Grand Canyon pink" - a rattlesnake endemic to that space

24:00 Getting Primitive program gets kids into bushcrafting

27:00 Fish in one hand, shark in the other

30:00 Fly-fishing as a family affair

32:00 Podcast interrupted by a black bear... yep, bonafide bear strolling through!

37:00 The myriad of ways in which people gather from the sea

38:00 NWF Outdoors podcast, Vanishing Seasons

41:00 If you want to connect with a place... BE there. Fully present. Cease the wandering mind.

42:00 Yoga sutras written by Pantanjali

49:00 Connection to the outdoors through harvest + patience and mindfulness

50:00 The value of a mentor

54:00 Riverboarding the Grand Canyon for 15 days... the dream started with a flip.

56:00 Thalweg: the fastest current in the river

59:00 "Go into your dream closet and dust off some of those ones you've filed away."

1:03 Introducing family to game - antelope and bear... and recruiting a nephew into the ranks

1:06 Listen to what your body tells you to eat (plus, spearfishing)

A Conservation Life - 30 years as a biologist, conservationist & pioneering force in the outdoors, with Dr. Mamie Parker, retired Assistant Director of Fisheries & Habitat Conservation for the USFWS

A Conservation Life - 30 years as a biologist, conservationist & pioneering force in the outdoors, with Dr. Mamie Parker, retired Assistant Director of Fisheries & Habitat Conservation for the USFWS

June 11, 2021

It's been a long time coming but we finally had the opportunity to connect with Dr. Mamie Parker, an avid angler and former Assistant Director of Fisheries and Habitat Conservation for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Mamie is highly regarded as a pioneer in the field for women of color and has won numerous prestigious awards for her work in conservation including the highest award given to government employees for her leadership in the creation of the National Fish Habitat Action Partnership. Mamie was inspired by her mother who was an avid angler and outdoorswoman (before that was a coined term). Mamie continues to promote diversity in fisheries education and careers. She may be retired but she continues to work hard as an inspirational speaker and conservationist on the board of directors for numerous organizations including the National Wildlife Federation.

Vanishing Seasons, Episode 6 - A Florida Sporting Life with Travis Thompson

Vanishing Seasons, Episode 6 - A Florida Sporting Life with Travis Thompson

June 8, 2021

In the sixth episode of Vanishing Seasons we head to Florida to visit with Travis Thompson, a fifth generation Floridian and hunting and fishing guide. Travis takes us on a multigeneration journey through a life in Florida hunting and fishing hundreds of days a year. He speaks of changes in waterfowl seasons and the difference in what ducks he hunts now compared to a decade ago. He explains how he's had to adapt to different species and different behaviors in his guiding business, and also shares anecdotes of odd things he's seeing and how he thinks hunters and anglers should engage in conservation. 

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