A few years ago, I sat with a small group of other travelers by a flickering campfire in the hours of twilight that masquerades as darkness in the “Land of the Midnight Sun”. We were perched on logs and stones along a section of gravel-strewn beach on a spit of land near Cook Inlet in Alaska listening intently to the words of Robert W. Service through the lips of a man named Scotty Boyd.
Scotty Boyd ReadingScotty Boyd, who is known to his friends as the “Bushmaster”, is a relic from the past. He would have been right at home with mountain men like Jim Bridger.
Boyd was born in Portland, Oregon, and grew up there until the age of seventeen when he joined the U.S. Air Force. He was a TAC radar technician during his four-year tour, which was spent between Germany and Montana.
After being discharged from the service, Scotty bought a one-way ticket to Maui in the Hawaiian Islands. He arrived with two shirts, two pairs of pants and a dime. He started work as a bartender, but quickly rose to the Assistant Manager of a resort in the area. After a couple years, however, he left the resort to manage a French restaurant on the island for a few more years. During that time, Boyd spent most of his free time learning to dive and sail on charter sailing yachts.
Scotty finally fell in love, got married and moved to California. He became vice president of Courtney Foods, which managed several diverse restaurants. After several years of being an executive, his marriage fell apart, so he returned to Portland, Oregon to manage another restaurant. He soon got restless, however, and returned to Hawaii to work on charter fishing boats for a couple of years.
He again returned to Oregon to manage a cable TV company, but soon became bored with the daily routine. Therefore, when he was offered the opportunity to work on the Kenai River in Alaska, he accepted.
During most winters, Boyd still returns to Oregon and lives in a log cabin that was built more than one-hundred and eighty years ago. His girlfriend remains there with his two dogs and a cat while he is in Alaska each year.
Scotty Boyd’s main job in Alaska is to teach visitors about grizzly bears, and protect both the bears and people from having any close, personal contact. Boyd feels that his knowledge and understanding of the bears, like his knowledge of the outdoors, has come to him over years of being alone in the Alaskan wilderness. Nevertheless, he still reads as much as he can about bears, which he says is often misleading.
In between the Alaskan trips, Boyd has done more sailing for individuals like Dan Rowan, he’s been a diving instructor, taught college classes about the restaurant business, and instructed safari guides on wilderness survival. He believes that one should hunt when necessary, but don’t do any needless killing and always honor the animal. Boyd says that non-interactive observation is always best with wild animals, so he usually teaches people to stalk them slowly and quietly. He will, however, do whatever is necessary to keep the animals away from himself or his clients.
Though an experienced and skilled hunter and fisherman, Boyd is dead against over hunting or fishing. He firmly believes that the bureaucrats who make our hunting and fishing laws and issue licenses have no conception of how many is enough.
Though we all gained tremendous knowledge of grizzly bears and survival in the Alaskan wilderness during our several days with Scotty Boyd, it was the personal experience of being with this “man from another time” that was so special. Despite the ever-present guns that hung from straps and holsters, I will always remember the mental picture of Scotty standing in his homemade coonskin hat, the long gunfighter’s coat, the boots, and his bearded face as he eloquently read from the tattered book of Robert Service, “There are strange things done in the midnight sun by men who moil for gold; The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold; The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see was the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge I cremated Sam McGee.”