Discovery Channel Alaskan Bush People recap: Breaking Free

Alaskan Bush People Ryan Berenz

Do the Alaskan Bush People get paid? We asked! Read our interview with the Brown family.

In the Season 2 premiere of Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People, “Breaking Free” (Jan. 2), a series of emergencies keep the Brown family stuck in Ketchikan.

Read Alaskan Bush People Season 1 episode recaps and more here!

Alaskan Bush People recap

The town of Ketchikan, Alaska, is hell on Earth. It reeks of concrete. There are stairs that move up and down by themselves through some kind of sorcery. There is a box that makes a humming noise and fries food within its unholy bowels. If the Brown family does not leave this place, they will die from exposure to comfort and convenience.

Living in this godforsaken land for nine months in an 800 square foot apartment, the Browns have done odd jobs to collect enough money to purchase a seafaring vessel. And then, sweet, sweet FREEDOM! All the trees you could ever want to climb! More fish than you can punch in five lifetimes!

“My role in the family is just to be as extreme and awesome as possible,” Bear says. “Be as extreme and awesome as possible” sounds like the life goals of your average 10-year-old boy in 1991.

Alaskan Bush People Season 1 Recaps: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | The Wild Life

Season 2 Recaps: Episode 1 | Episode 2Episode 3 | Episode 4Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7 | Episode 8  | Wild Times | Episode 9 | Episode 10 | Episode 11 | Episode 12 | Episode 13 | Episode 14 | SHARK WEEK! | Episode 15 | Episode 16 | Lost Footage | The Wild Year

Billy scouts for a cheap boat that will carry the family far from the cesspool that is Ketchikan. But instead of one boat that can transport the whole family, he ends up with three boats: two fishing boats and one little skiff that Used Boat Guy throws in to sweeten the deal. He doesn’t care. Used Boat Guy just wants to get his nagging harpy of a wife off of his back.

Seriously, if you’re the Greater Ketchikan Convention and Visitors Bureau, you’ve got to be pissed about the Browns ragging on your town on national cable TV. If this boat thing doesn’t work out, Billy says, “We’re going to be stuck in Ketchikan for another year, and that’s going to kill us.” The Browns would rather live on 29 acres of land with Earth’s highest concentration of grizzly bears than to spend another day in Ketchikan … more like Ketchican’t, amiright?

Noah and Matt rummage through a junkyard for supplies to take along. Noah is very good with technology. He can judge the quality of a clock radio simply by smelling it. He once made an “arm radio” using a plastic soda bottle, and made headphones from Christmas ornaments. He also discovered that wearing multiple pairs of eyeglasses allows for increased magnification and protection. Noah will be blind in less than a year.

The Browns have added a new member to the clan this season. Meet Cousin Oliver Mr. Cupcake, a sweet pooch that probably has no idea what he’s getting into with this family.

Billy must decide which of his male offspring will command the second vessel, The Osprey. Serious and responsible Bam gets the commission, because Billy knows the rest of his sons are all hopeless screwups.

They’re all thrilled to be leaving Stinktown, and they pack up their stuff. Bear demonstrates his space-saving “punch-packing” technique, because this kid’s solution to every problem he encounters is to punch it. Can’t open that jar of pickles? PUNCH IT! Can’t find a parking spot? PUNCH IT! The computer network of your major multinational media conglomerate got hacked? Oh, you’d better believe you should PUNCH IT!

BUT WAIT! The Browns encounter yet another dental emergency that threatens to derail their plans! Ami’s got some swelling in her mouth. A visit to the dentist reveals that a half-dozen of her “remaining teeth” are infected and need to be yanked. Surgery would be expensive and would postpone their escape to the safety of Grizzly Bear Island, but Ami insists that they leave. She chooses the temporary relief of antibiotics. She’d rather take her chances with infected teeth than stay one more day in wretched, abysmal Ketchikan.

So finally, the Browns cast off for journey northward through dangerous narrow straits to the island of … Chichagof? There is no way in hell I can type Chichagof on a regular basis, so I hereby decree, in accordance with the Treaty of Autocorrect, that the Island of Chichagof shall henceforth be known as the Island of Chicago.

The waters are treacherous and full of dangers. The Browns encounter their old nemeses: Floating logs called “deadheads,” which have just been drifting aimlessly since Jerry Garcia died.

Matt has an awkward sleep pattern. He admits it and he won’t apologize for it, so screw you, SOCIETY! He’s going to sleep on the roof of the boat.

It’s revealed that Noah left behind a very fetching, very blue-eyed lass back in Ketchikan. “I’m more of the old-fashioned, 15th-century style of person when it comes to like, dating and things,” Noah says. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It wouldn’t be an episode of Alaskan Bush People without some Poseidon Adventure-style high jinks on the high seas, so the Brown family’s flagship, The Lorcan, blows its main engine and takes on a little trickle of water. Bam, Captain of The Osprey, wants to try to repair the engine at sea. Billy wants to get to a port as soon as possible. So, it’s mutiny, then? No. Bam relents, and Billy brings The Lorcan to dock in a town of 12 permanent residents who will want to boot the Browns out as soon as possible.


  1. Come on people. NOTHING about TV is real! Hell our own government can’t tell the truth, so why should anybody under it tell the truth? TV is entertainment pure and simple. It’s like trying to say “What, WCW isn’t real”????? COME ON PEOPLE, you have to be smarter than that????

    • Destiny …… I want to say I think the only thing they have ever seen BLACK ….. is a bear. But they were stranded in Ketchikan – and I’m sure they got to see, and hopefully met some of the black people who live and work there.

  2. That trapper’s shack which they put together with trees and duct tape, has a serious lean. Probably the Saran Wrap house is going to last longer and leak way less rain and snow. If he doubled up on the fossil fuel product for a roof, snow should just slide right off its roof. The shower could have been designed and built by a third grader, and a ten year old can successfully lay crab pots with buoys above the waterline. A good thing for an outhouse would be a door not a curtain. You would not have to squat down until you got in it–you’d be able to stand up. Another good thing for an outhouse you built, well, taped trees to other trees, “to keep the girls happy,” would be a seat not full of splinters; besides don’t they know that all outhouses in Alaska are supposed to have styrofoam seats? Even the bear who walked all around their outdoor debris trail couldn’t find a thing he wanted, or wanted to tear up. He probably presumed another bear got there before him and had already torn it up. Which, in a way, is true, when you remember the names of those gifted and talented kids’ names and at what each family member is supposedly gifted and talented. (Isn’t one of those spawn named “Bear”?)

    • Grub …. The show really has become a “Bush Comedy”. They built an outhouse with a two & half foot hole …LOL it will last for a week with 9 people (maybe). The crab pot incident (for people who live in the bush stupid. But the best one of all – (that they actually aired) ….. was when Gabe was shooting at the deer – with the “lens cap STILL ON THE SCOPE” ….. LOL and he said – he didn’t have a shot, well I guess NOT. When he was practicing with his sister – he did alot better when the caps were up. On the show – their dream home is 24×28 cabin. But in REAL LIFE – they have a big house (mansion) I understand – all the kids have their own bedrooms. This is information from Billy’s writings himself. Birdy has a regular teens room, and Rainy’s is full of barbies. The boys have skiffs instead of cars and have their snowmobiles. My take is …. the show is being filmed on the other side of their island. Camping Brown style. They do not want anyone to see their real home, boat in the lagoon, and the skiffs. But if you go back and look at some of Bams posted photos …. you can see the boat, and part of the mansion. After 7 years Billy has got his family into showbis. The sad part is – they show you just how naive they all are. It is not informative at all, and has developed to be what it is …… a comedy show that shows how “inept” the adults really are to face the real world. If Billy is not barking out what to do next …. then they’re lost. YES – its cold as XXXX up here, so we catch up on TV watching, to see just what the TV networks are producing about Alaska for its audience …… WOW! Read a good book!

      • When they were showing the first episodes last year I googled them and I saw some pictures that was posted by one of them. The house looked real nice and the view from the nice balcony was real pretty too. I knew then then there was a deception goings on.

        You are correct. They dont know nothing about living the way they claim. I aint no Alaskan though I grew up living in the sticks, growing and raising our own food, fishing and using outhouses. Times we didnt have anywhere to take a bath except in the creek. Laundry was done on a wash board in a tub of water. When you are living the way they claim you are busy busy busy!

        These are city folk whose home just might be a piece down the road.

  3. Give them a break. Why should discovery keep all the money for the show. They deserve to get the land and boats for others to profit from the show. As far as their interactions with the town and Alaska goes, what do you expect? They really have been living in the woods without the normal kind of social interactions most of us have had. They’re partially ferrel. Yeah, they don’t always make great decisions but that’s why we watch, isn’t it? Live and let live. They are doing it their way and don’t have to apologize to other homesteaders probably doing it a better way. I met an Alaskan homesteader once and I asked him what he does up there. “Any thing I want”, he replied. This is what they want.

    • 1. 23 fraud indictments against the father alone. Each adult member of the family–everyone but the girls–has numerous fraud indictments and the IRS is coming at them for not filing forms and paying taxes on their barter or cash wages.
      2. All or most of the children do not have birth certificates or social security numbers. This may help them with their State of Alaska fraud troubles and IRS failures to file and pay. They can just say, “Prove that’s who I am. I’m Scottish, man, and that one with the sideburns, he’s Challenged! We don’t know who he is, we found him in the forest. This one? He eats fish eyes and scorpions, and he’s not even from Thailand, we don’t think…”
      3. Can you afford 29 acres in an Alaskan parkland? I only know about 3 people who could.

      • Here there Grub ….. I’ve wondered about the land that they “have bought” Hoonah is in the Tongass. But maybe the ANCSA which is now incorporated allows them (the natives) to sell some of the reservation land. Maybe Discovery or other investors bought the land, to use for films and a portion was given to the Browns. (?) I doubt Billy could afford the purchase. I did learn that each fellony count has a penalty of $50,000 -each. and that Discover is paying the family $50,000 per episode ….. so they may be around for a long time. They’ve got to get those boys married…LOL

  4. Hey all of you people out there who are none belivers, just sit back and enjoy them. If you don’t like the show, then watch some thing else. So I say, you Browns just keep on doing what you love, I know your having a full life, I’m with you all no matter what. Your friend Apollonia The show is great,!!!!

    I think that the show should help them get things right

  5. AlaskaJimJames, I have an issue taking a person seriously who, in the first sentence of their post, can’t even spell a simple word like offended (affended) correctly. I had no idea that having a clean record was a prerequisite for living in the bush. I personally am quite tired of all these “real Alaskans” like you who think it’s their duty to judge whether a person or family is living a real Alaskan lifestyle or not. Who made you the judge of that?

      • Cats …… You don’t get it …. there’s an honor system, a code, that true bushmen strive to live by. You hunt certain animals during a certain time of year, same with your fishing. You live with nature, you honor the times when reproduction is going on, and don’t hamper it. You don’t kill the babies, you take the old stag.
        You honor each other, your land, your state. He’s passed “half that” to his children. You can’t just take what you want when you want it when the season is wrong! Some people in the bush are
        Gypsys-tramps & thieves!

  6. More 24/7 “Oww, my Balls” programming from the network that brought us (Not) Eaten Alive. The stupidification of America continues apace.

  7. It seems the locals really do hate this family, which if what was written a by cleaning guy is true, understandable. But you know when I call people out I don’t hide behind my keyboard with an alias, just saying makes what is said sound like bs. I love the show, love the family, but again I only see what is on tv. But I will say that for me I would rather see a family that really needs money getting paid and all rather than the Keitchers on last frontier who are millionaires and obvious liars. I mean seriously if the don’t hunt enough meat they will starve, big fact lie! So yeah all these Alaskans who keep posting negative crap, you really just come off as jealous ugly people. Now if what was said about the state they left their apartment is true and they posted them, then you all would be more successful in your smear campaign. But without any kind of proof you sound stupid. Also the whole PDF thing should like bs because no one has said why the state thinks they committed fraud. And one thing the lower 48 knows is that the gov hoes after people even when they don’t deserve it, what do you think all those people who are protesting are pissed about. Its more than one or two young men’s death. And to conclude why is it some many people are thrashing this family who hate the show? I don’t watch shows I don’t like and I don’t post on the internet how it should be taken off the air. That is really strange illogical behavior.

    • Sandy …. If this family were truly legit – no one in Alaska would be affended at all. BUT – if you just research the facts – State of Alaska posted (for all to see) anyone who has criminal records or arrests up here. Key in Billy Bryan Brown – Ketchikan … and you will see all the information, all the newspaper articles & reports on this family. If you want – you can pay the state and get a copy off all the arrests. Billy and his family have gone to court once already in Juneau, he could actually go to jail for 24 years from his actions. Its not a joke or made up by “haters” – its the facts. His land (if you’ve noticed) is a quick plane ride from Juneau. He still has to face his sentence. The only thing that “rubs” us wrong is … this man who says he’s BUSH, but he really is isn’t. And the fact that he’s fraudulently “scammed” the Permanent fund out of $ 13,000 and “involved” his family in it (who now – forever – will have a criminal record) is not the way men raise their families up here in Alaska. That’s what has real bush people upset about the issue. Real bush people – love the wilderness and isolation and freedom so much – they would never consider loosing it to a TV show. So this should show people that Billy’s true nature is the money (money talks) . People are so gullible that when they watch Billy and his clan running through the woods they perceive that – that’s how you survive on the land, when only part of it is true. The Kilcher’s are millionaires because of the land they own. It still takes money to live out in the wilderness, you still have to buy bullets.

  8. People are to quick to judge other people if you don’t like the show don’t watch it.

  9. I just think people are to quick to judge other people if you don’t like the show then don’t watch it.

  10. How did the Brown’s acquire the 29 acres of land that they are living on?
    How did they find the land? What are the rules to homesteading, if that is what they did?

    • I think discovery’s game plan (or the $$ exec’s of the network) have decided that they have another “duck dynasty” with the browns. I’m sure they have told Billy they will pay off his PDF problems, including the attorneys. Buy him his land … and in return his family will give the viewers what they want to see…
      so here comes “Browntown”. Think about it – Billy says she can’t live unless he’s in the wilderness. Well then “why” Billy for the past 7-8 years have you been trying to get your family into show business? Strange for a man who says he “would die if he didn’t live in the bush”. If you go to the youtube sements he gives about making fire, shelter, hunting, etc. You can see he’s not experienced at all. I hate it when people are deceiving. So maybe it was the only way Billy could get his land, and get out of jail – free. He and his family have lucked out and are truly blessed that Discovery came along to save them. Good luck folks – there’s lots of bears in the woods.

      • They have not gone to court yet. If they have other felonies against them there is high probability they will get jail time!

  11. I think we all wish the story was real. Billy, however, comes across as an over the top phony. His children have either bought into it or know where the money is coming from. His wife is probably so quiet because all the lying is an assault on her morals.

  12. WOW I don’t even know what to say after watching that fiasco getting away from Ketchikan. They lived like a wolf pack of animals in the house that the discovery channel rented for them,I ought to know I helped clean it up. There were rotted chicken carcasses and other rotted food laying around. They broke all the furniture and trashed the place worse than a wolf pack. I was on the cleaning crew that had to muck it out and it was disgusting like a crack junkie house . Billy the ring leader has all of them under mind control like a modern day Fagin to his minions. The game Plan is to get little Merry Christmas a Modeling job or be a future Miley Cirus some day as soon as CPS takes her out of this abusive situation. And hopes of Hollywood to come knocking with some offers of real stardom, after they attend some acting school. The writer has it right on. Ketchikan was very very good to those people and they dissed the town and left wreckage in their wake like they have done to all the towns they have lived in. The only place they can live in is the wilderness so they don’t have to clean up after themselves. Matt was arrested for hanging around a meth house ,no wonder his sleeping habits are so crazy. Ill probably have the discovery mafia after me for posting this ,bring it on I could kick all four of the brown kids asses at the same time as theyre only 5 ft 2. The whole show is phoney and Karma will come a knockin like it already is for their PFD fraud trials. maybe in 2016 the cameras will follow them to prison.

      • Maybe all the controversy and “the haters” is what brought this “farse of alaska reality” show back. If what you say is true – Born. Than they need to just stay out in the bush. Wish you did take pictures. Maybe Discovery should rename the show – WHITE TRASH – ALASKA STYLE. But they are becoming a disgrace to the real folks who do live in the Alaska bush, work hard, build their homesteads and raise good, honorable adults. Billy has now given his children criminal records, before they even start off their lives. Its sad that the Discovery Channel feels this is good, wholesome TV for young people to watch.
        Well it looks like Gabe is reading the comments. So that means they “do” have internet access.
        This family is a far cry from the “real” alaskan family – the Kilcher’s on “the last frontier”. That’s a family who is working for their freedom and way of life. Amen!

        • There has been an enormous amount of negative opinions, and such, from people who actually say they don’t like the Browns and/or the show. Like many other people, I don’t get why someone who doesn’t like something would uwaste so much time writing about it. What I want to know is about all of the legal problems they are supposedly having with the Alaskan government. Has anyone actually seen any “real” documentation from the government which states they are in legal trouble, regardless of the severity? Or, like everything else, is this just I know someone, who knows someone, who’s related to someone who….?

        • How the heck can you call them white trash? That is ridiculous and inaccurate.
          They have been very kind with each other.. and very polite making any kind of comments about bunch of other Alaskans.. they really could have made comments about.

      • Gabe…
        Do not waste your time or energy on these people…
        You are all so BLESSED to have EACH OTHER and have made it through so much adversity with so much GRACE and STRENGTH.

        The FAITH that your family shows in our daily living and the UN-CONDITIONAL LOVE that BINDS You All TOGETHER is AMAZING and TRULY AWESOME!!!

        We LOVE watching your show and tune every Friday to see how you are all doing and what is going to happen next!!!

        We would LOVE to be able to see what you all see and do IN REAL LIFE. We talk about going off the grid and living like you all do ALOT!
        It would be a REAL ADVENTURE that is for sure!

        We are a very close family like you all and we CHERISH every moment that we have together and we can think of a better way to live than in GODS COUNTRY like you all do…WHAT A GIFT!

        If I was you I would not even tune into any of this …I would check out COMPLETLY and steer clear of all it…it is so NOT WORTH IT as you can clearly see.

        There will ALWAYS BE HATERS and people that are FULL of JEALOUSY…CONTEMPT…and People that want to EXPLOIT YOU and YOUR FAMILY!

        Money and Fame will never bring you Happiness and Peace…

        GOD BLESS YOU ALL and
        You will ALL be in OUR FAMILY’s PRAYERS

      • Simmer down people, it’s called poetic license. Besides, if so-called reality shows displayed what real life is like no one would watch them. “Real” life is insanely boring. Who wants to watch a show of me sitting at my desk working for 8 hours with the same emotionless expression? WAIT…I might go out to lunch today! It’ll be a SURPRISE!!

      • Gabe, I lived 8 miles south of Ketchikan for a few years and it felt like a huge concrete city full of tourist and jewelry stores. I made a number of good friends there but it was so congested until the cruise ships leave in October that it was a place I prefer not to live in again. Nothing against it, just can’t compare to living remote. I had moved to Ketchikan from a beautiful remote place with no roads, no stores, more bears then people, groceries and mail were flown out from Ketchikan, weather permitting. Heaven on earth! I understand the need to be in the wild and although I’m not able to return yet to remote living I enjoy seeing the beauty of Southeast Alaska again while watching your show. It reminds me of home and what I once enjoyed. Keep on trucking my friend, live the way you want. Many people didn’t understand why I lived that way either and can’t understand my desire to live remote again. Who cares what others say. They’ve never been blessed with a life based in nature so they can’t understand the way it grabs you by the heart. Live it to the fullest, maybe I’ll see ya out there again someday. 🙂

      • What is an “ass”? What’s a “computer”? What is an internet connection? Did you plug your computer into a current bush?

        • Paul …..Go back to all the videos that Matt has posted during the past 5 years (that’s right) they all can use a computer. Bam is the one (according to Billy now) who set up the website for the family books sales.
          Its all a ruse – the whole family. Playing on the publics sympathy …. and I’m sure that after the “boat sank” last year – that many many viewers ordered his book(s). The kids have been pushing his book for over 5 years now. The plug was pulled – when he was investigated ….. then indicted. Billy’s not a dummy – he’s playing dumb to the law …. but really he’s a shyster. Its to bad his kids will have to pay the tab. Time will tell how all this evolves into the summer. They need the summer to get all the court problems behind them. You know this all started when the law realized that Billy and his boys were driving a vehicle with no license and no identification. The ball started rolling from there.

      • I think the browns are awesome I love the show….. and so whatI If they have made some mistakes we are all human and I think people forget that at times

      • GABE …… Let me tell you son, you’re not big enough to kick anyones ass. When a man who is “supposedly” raised in the wild, hunting and shooting deer. Takes a shot with the lens caps still ON his rifle’s scope … (of course you didn’t have a shot fool) then don’t ever come across that you are bad-ass. Instead of wolf pack – lets try wolf punk.
        I do believe Born …. I think you are all disrespectfull of the town that helped and “fed” you.

        • Okay Jim James! You all can give that a rest. Especially you who say you don’t like the show, but watch it! You obviously missed they part when the father stated he told Gabe he had to use the iron sites(?) because the scope was broke. I’m no gun expert but I’d say they would be no point in taking the lens cap off if it didn’t work, duh! Anyway, I think we can all agree it would have to have been a reinactment, as you wouldn’t really be shooting with cameras and crew all around. A lot of things have to be reinacted because of logic. You can’t get all the angles they take from the actual action. Some of the things just can’t be filmed in real-time. It’s reality TV not miracle TV. And so what if it’s not real to some. It’s as real to us viewers as we want it to be. Yes, money is being made. The towns and people of them are also making a lotta loot also. Otherwise, they would not be able to do any show. I think it’s funny how negative people have a need to explain why they hate it. Of course you don’t even realize your negative comment just added a couple more $$ to their bank account either!

      • Gabe, are you okay, I mean you seem to have quite a it of hostility. I noticed the family moved back onto a boat, because the lease ended on the land Dicovery Channel leased for you. What will happen with the cabin you worked so hard to build? I think it was very nice, and should not be left. I hope you all can find some stability somewhere. Life is too hard for it to be made even harder by not having the skills to make it in the bush.
        I hope the new boat works out for you, and you can find happiness in all you do.
        Remain safe, and find happiness,
        Furthermore, if any of you were able to go to school at no cost would you consider college? I would be very interested to know, as I may want to help in that area.



      • Gabe .. don’t listen to nasty people.
        Great show.. wish you all the best. Love the family.

  13. Well Billy is such a good “barterer” – looks like he’s got Discovery to pick up the tab for all the $ problems … and promises to give the “fans” another chuckle watching the wolf pack try to survive. Actually they seem to be good people – dirt poor – Billy never knew how (or wanted to) support them. The adult children are naive and think they have to live in the woods to be happy. The sad part is Billy & Ami (were a couple) when they chose the lifestyle. But their children have been denied that (essential bond) to be able to continue the lifestyle. If grandchildren come to this wolf pack, it will be from the girls – they are the bush women – they will be easily able to find a mate.
    Its the way Alaska is!

  14. They are anxious to get away from Ketchikan, but may be back in April for their trial on felony charges for PFD fraud.

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About Ryan Berenz 2103 Articles
Some things I like (in no particular order): Sports, Star Wars, LEGO, beer, 'The Simpsons' Seasons 1-13, my family and the few friends who are not embarrassed to be seen with me. Why yes, I am very interested in how much you like 'Alaskan Bush People.' #LynxForLife