Arctic Wisdom: Sue’s Tundra Survivalism

The thrill of the hunt. At times, that’s what keeps Life Below Zero‘s Alaskan survivalists going, even when Mother Nature seems to be conspiring against them. For Sue Aikens, she’s driven to the tundra to hunt caribou as the winter closes in.

This week on Life Below Zero, Sue is dismayed to see a forecast of sinking temperatures and snow. The winter is returning, and accompanying the subzero weather is 290 days of solitude, months where Sue won’t see another living soul.

To survive on the tundra, it’s essential to fearlessly seize every opportunity that comes along. Sue believes that the incoming storm may drive some caribou closer to nearby terrain, so she prepares her rifle and heads out into the wild to do some hunting in the waning daylight. Caribou can move around thirty miles per day, so Sue must take advantage of the short window of time where food wanders in range.


On the tundra, Sue knows she’s a predator, and must seek her pray out of their hiding spaces. “To me, anything God makes incredibly plentiful on the planet probably isn’t real high on the food chain,” she says. “Caribou tend to be really plentiful out here.”

However, hunting caribou takes skill and patience, and it’s crucial for Sue to correctly gauge how far away the caribou are before she shoots. When she takes her first shot at three caribou, her distance estimates are off, and her precious dinner begins to flee.

In the winter, Sue’s Kavik river Camp home becomes a desolate outpost where sherelies almost entirely on the fruits of her fall labors. With one shot down, she’s running out of time to restock her precious reserves of fresh meat.

With over a hundred pounds of meat on each caribou, Sue knows she must return to Kavik with some prey in tow.


Luckily, Sue knows better than to just let weeks’ worth of provisions escape. Her next shot lands, and with that, she’s secured another 100+ pounds of meat to help her last through the winter.

Hunting on the tundra is far from easy, but that doesn’t bother Sue. “It’s not a life for everybody, but I don’t get tired,” she says. “I got a 360-degree TV.”


Don’t miss an all-new episode of Life Below Zero this Thursday at 9P.


  1. Ellen
    April 22, 2014, 5:14 pm

    I think Sue is truly as real as people can get. She doesn’t pull any punches, has respect for all wild life and she is also pretty comical. I would love to sit down and have a few drinks with her. I know that I would learn an awful lot from her. Certainly more than any text book or National Geographic magazine could ever inform me of. She seems really down to earth. Another plus in this day and age of reality T.V, and random bullshit. Good luck this season Sue and best wishes,

  2. Glenn M Haynes Jr
    Phoenix, AZ
    April 23, 2014, 12:42 am

    Hi Susan,
    My wife, and I and I enjoy your show. Question, what caliber rifle are you using for the bear and caribou?
    I plan to take my wife to the North Slope where I worked. Be safe! Glenn Haynes

  3. Amy Johnson
    Hudson , michigan
    April 24, 2014, 9:30 pm

    My husband and I really look forward to seeing what you have to teach . Thanks for not being afraid to be yourself ,and for going after your dreams . You are truly an inspiration .
    Wishing you healt and good days ,
    Amy Johnson

  4. sandy jordan
    Eureka, california
    April 25, 2014, 2:37 am


    I have to say I really liked you and admired your proficiency in the wild. You are a self sufficient and strong woman who is obviously comfortable in your own skin. WAY TO GO!!!!! THE ONLY criticism I would have is that the content of your dialog consists of never ending metaphors. You are without a doubt a smart woman,soooooo—–what would you think about coming up with some original dialog? Your vocabulary is clearly ABOVE average, and in your spare time, perhaps you can surprise all of us by speaking from the heart with metaphors created by none other than you!

    I continue to be a huge fan of yours and sincerely hope I have not offended you. 🙂

    Keep up the great work you do on this show! My husband and I look forward to seeing you be successful for many years to come.

    Thanks, Sandy Jordan

  5. Mark
    Boston, Massachusetts
    April 25, 2014, 5:01 pm

    I enjoy watching Life Below Zero.
    You have a lot of guts.
    I am going to take a guess that you used a 308 caliber AR 15 to kill the bear that was nosing around your camp. Am I correct? How many grain bullet did you use?

  6. oliver arp
    albuquerque nm
    April 26, 2014, 5:39 am

    Was wondering what caliber they use for bear/moose and caribou hunting?

  7. reese martin
    farmersville ca
    April 26, 2014, 3:01 pm

    you are awesome me and my gf want to visit