Do the Alaskan Bush People get paid? We asked! Read our interview with the Brown family.
On Season 2, Episode 4 of Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People, “Birdy Get Your Gun” (Jan. 23), the Brown family searches for food in the woods and faces stiff competition with bears for resources. With the family low on food, Birdy and Gabe go out to hunt deer.
Greetings Bush People peeps. My tour of duty in the Television Critics Association conference in Los Angeles is over, and I’m back in the bush of Wisconsin, where it is cold and gray, our cars are caked in road salt, and football fans are sad and/or angry. Now, back to the bush of Alaska, where the Brown family saga continues.
Season 2 Recaps: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 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
The Browns are hungry. Their supply of canned goods with the brand-name labels torn off is dwindling. The Browns could be feasting on crab right now, if any of them knew how to drop a crab pot without losing it and getting swept out to sea with the tide.
Billy and Gabe go out to do some crab fishing, but somebody beat them to the pot. A bear mangled the metal cage, and then took a crap on it. Yes, the bears on this island will not only wreck your stuff, but they will poop on it as well. Insulting!
Hey, but there’s plenty of other stuff to eat on this island, such as kelp, sea lettuce and seaweed. Catch a fish and they could set up a nice sushi bar! “Even in hard times, if you can find a beaver, they’re very good to eat,” Ami says.
The trapper shack is complete and the Brown family frat house is pretty swanky. It’s got a nice plastic lining for the walls and ceiling, an electric light and even a small wood-burning stove with a metal vent pipe chimney. All it’s missing is a Taxi Driver movie poster. Ami, Rainy and Birdy (and Billy!) get to sleep in the tent.
But you recall that Matt will sleep wherever he damn well pleases, and makes no apologies. He is going to build his his own “Yoda hut” under some fallen tree trunks. “Besides spiders, what else lives underneath a tree stump? Not a whole heck of a lot. And unless it’s a girl, I’m trying to keep it that way!” Oh, Matt! You did not creep me out AT ALL!
Since they have no crab meat [Sad Trombone], Ami and the girls go out to look for any calories they can. They come across a case of Coke in the woods,* and they rejoice until they discover it’s … COKE ZERO! OH, DAMN YOU COKE ZERO AND YOUR ZERO-CALORIE REFRESHMENT! They decide to pick berries instead, but the bears have already been there and eaten their fill. Birdy’s not much for berry-picking; she’d rather blast stuff with her brothers.
The food situation is getting dire. It’s time for Billy to call in SEAL Team Six. Billy wants Bear gets to go out and scout for deer. “I’ll go, uh, stealth mode,” Bear says, awesomely and extremely, eager to put his animal tracking instincts to use. “As far as I’m concerned, I practically am a wolf.” Stalked in the forest too close to hide. I’ll be upon you by the moonlight side.
Bear’s goal is to someday sneak up on a deer and touch it. Dude, come drive in Wisconsin in October and I guarantee you’ll touch at least two or three deer with your car on southbound I-43. Bear goes shirtless and rubs mud all over himself, like he’s hiding from the Predator. “No one rubs mud on my back but me, unless it was like a cute bush girl or something,” he says, pitching woo to all you ladies out there who’ve always dreamed of slathering mud on a weirdo hillbilly’s bare skin. At least it’s mud and not doe piss. Now, Bear’s Stealth Mode is awesome and extreme and all, but I’m pretty sure the guys following him with the HD steadicam and boom mic are going to blow his cover.
But before Bear can bag a buck, he sees a bear and runs back to alert the family. Oh, coincidentally, Rainy and Birdy are missing, because we’ve not had any unnecessary drama staged in this episode yet. They were fine. They were fetching water or something. It doesn’t matter.
“We knew there were a lot of bears here, OK? We never expected this many bear,” Billy says. You come to Chicago Bears Island knowing it’s overrun with ursine creatures, and are surprised when you run into a bunch of them? MAJOR BUSH FAIL!
Bam decides to teach Rainy how to use a gun, and there’s no better gun for a preteen girl to learn with than the very “honest” 12-gauge shotgun. While Bam explains “chambering” and all that junk, Rainy would rather yawn and pick at her fingernails. Rainy’s not afraid of bears. “Bears don’t really freak me out at all,” she says, in something possibly resembling English. “You know, they are dangerous and they could hurt you, but I think that adds more to the cute factor.”
“I want you to protect me,” Bam instructs. Rainy just laughs. And you wonder why no one respected Capt. Bam’s authority on the boat.
Our narrator tells us that Birdy will turn 20 in a matter of days, which I find odd because the Browns claimed that they don’t have a calendar and don’t know exact dates, going instead by the seasons and when it “smells” like their birthdays.
Matt’s Yoda hut is coming along. He has big plans for the place. He wants to get a gravel floor. He’s going to use a glass bottle for a skylight. He’s getting the granite countertops and custom cabinetry installed next Tuesday. And now it’s time for Bush Eatin’ With Matt Brown. “I eat what they call the gross food. Ants, fish eyes…” Matt shares his recipe for dried and seasoned grasshoppers, which includes some oil, flour, salt and pepper.
Billy organizes a deer hunt, because Matt won’t share his bountiful grasshopper harvest with the rest of the family. Gabe spots a deer, and according to Bush Law, whoever sees the deer first gets to take the shot at it. But Gabe acts like he’s never shot at anything in his life. The rest of the hunters urge Gabe to go for the kill, but he keeps stalling. It’s time someone overturned this Bush Law. Bam says, “Man, I could take the shot from here!” And I’m thinking Top Gun thoughts here.
Gabe looks like a deer in headlights (YES! NAILED THAT ONE!) and hesitates. And then he shoots.
Gabe misses badly, and the deer run off. Looks like the Browns will be eating Mr. Cupcake tonight.
Birdy says she’s the best shot in the family, and she has an adorable rifle with a pink and purple paint job she calls “The Butcher.” Birdy takes Gabe out for some target practice, shooting at logs. I remember Billy saying that they shouldn’t just shoot guns indiscriminately on the island so that Bears don’t get used to the sound, but whatever. Gabe finally hits something and is deemed a good enough shot to be a stand-in on American Sniper.
And then, ominous onscreen titles:
“Hunting is essential for survival in remote Alaska. Viewer discretion advised.”
The hunt failed, and the family has no meat. Billy’s getting desperate, but he’ll be damned if he’s eating whatever weird stuff Matt is cooking up over in his Hole of Solitude. Billy calls Birdy and Gabe over to impress upon them just how important this hunt is. Very important, kids. We need a deer, so it’s, you know, important. In terms of importance, this hunt is of the utmost. Muy importante, if you comprende. I guess what Billy’s getting at here is that this deer hunt is important. Then Birdy says what every father wants to hear from his daughter: “If I have to chew his throat out, I’ll get it.”
Matt emerges from his bunker to set up a tripwire bear alarm system with some string and a couple of empty cans. Hope they’re not relying on it too much. Bears are pretty freakin’ smart.
Long story short, Birdy shoots a buck, and then Gabe field dresses it quickly before the fresh kill attracts bears. He then turns the buck carcass into a backpack. I had something similar in the third grade.
During the interstitial, Noah has a cassette player and a bag of old music tapes. “Whitney Houston. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of her,” he says. I’m sure Noah will listen to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” fall in love with Whitney, then learn the bad news when it reaches the Alaskan bush about 15 years from now. He builds an armband (Noah’s specialty!) for the cassette player out of PVC pipe and gives it to Birdy.
Gabe and Birdy bring the deer back to the campsite and Billy is pleased that the important hunt has been a success. They hang the deer up and get to work skinning it. I watched the episode with the captions on, and it read:
[FLESH PEELING] Billy: “That sounded cool.”
Ami gets to frying up slices of meat, and for the first time ever, I feel like I want to be there with these people. Deer hunting is big in my native land, and while I don’t hunt, I have family members who do. I love venison, but have never had it fried up fresh like the Browns are doing it. Has anyone ever hung up a deer carcass at a football tailgate party and sliced off some backstraps and grilled them right there? This is something they need to start doing at Lambeau. The Browns get to feasting on the meat, and it’s a lovely scene. Matt likes the liver, because he likes weird foods and likes to sleep in weird places. I imagine myself sitting there with the smelly Brown family, chowing down on tender, juicy venison and drinking cold beer and … What? No beer? OH DEAR LORD THIS PLACE IS WORSE THAN KETCHIKAN!!
Billy is pleased with the work of his eldest female child, and since it smells like her birthday is approaching, he decides he’ll be nice to her and pass down his family heirloom, a deer call whistle, to her. It’s a nice moment between father and daughter, and Billy says that he was getting emotional about it. Billy says you people in the Lower 48 might not understand that kind of stuff. Loving your wife and children is something you can only understand if you’ve spent 30 years in the Alaskan wilderness. The joy of handing down customs and precious heirlooms to your children will always elude you people in the Lower 48. You may have conveniences and technology and indoor plumbing and tens of thousands of dollars
in fraudulent Alaskan PFD claims and grocery stores and computers and mobile phones and your own reality TV show, but you people in the Lower 48 will never experience love.
You people in the Lower 48 are heartless, soulless bastards.
*Scene was edited out of final broadcast version. May be included as a special feature on the Alaskan Bush People blu-ray collectors’ box set.