I recently watched “Win the Wilderness” on Netflix, not knowing what it was about, but seeing it was set in neighbouring Alaska, I figured I’d give it a try.
We have limited bandwidth here in Dawson City, Yukon, so I downloaded all the episodes via hotel wifi when I was in Whitehorse so I could watch it later.
What a gem this show gifted me, the gift of Duane Ose.
Here, take a couple of minutes and watch the show intro:
So the premise is a couple, Duane and Rena, are ready for their next chapter in life and are looking for a couple to carry on their legacy of their home in remote Alaska.
It seems a little hokey, right? And maybe it is. Six British couples are flown into Alaska and need to carry out a series of challenges to see who is best suited. All are quite new to a backwoods kind of life, and need to persevere in order to get a chance to meet Duane and Rena and be considered as a potential finalist.
The show is gentle, kind, maybe a bit slow. It is a bit reminiscent of The Last Alaskans show – a nice reality type show without the forced drama or scripting. It also reminded me a bit of Bear Grylls The Island series, in that the British couples were genuinely kind and beautiful people. So many American reality shows are vicious and full of scheming and attacks. These couples were competing against each other, but were still so enjoyable and pleasant with each other. Maybe the producers just cut out the ugly stuff, I don’t know, but the result is a beautiful thing.
Now I mentioned the gem this show gifted me. After watching the show, I kept thinking about Duane and Rena, and one night while Jeff was asleep, I was still awake and Googled them while I lay in bed.
I learned more about them, and looked up where their cabin was. They are north of Mount Denali, west of the highway up to Fairbanks. Duane staked claim to the remote piece of land after flying into a lake and walking 15 days into the wilderness with his son. He is one of the last people to use the American Homestead Act to lay claim to the land.
I also learned Duane was an author.
I found his books on Amazon, and was about to place my order, but knowing they would take weeks to get way up here, I bought the electronic version and started reading.
His books are exactly the type of book I love. His original tale, his stories, in his own words. After seeing the show, you can read his books in his steady, matter of fact, voice. So many personal experiences, advice, his original photos and drawings from his notebooks. His books are a treasure trove. As he writes, he records his legacy of not only what happened, how and when, but also his tips from his experience. This includes tips for fishing, picking a plot of land, where to stop when travelling on the Alaska (AlCan) highway, packing your gear, breaking trail, just about everything as he goes.
I’m already deep into his second book, which details his first fall on his homestead, building his first shelter. I’m hoping by the third I’ll read more about how he met and quickly married his second wife Rena and built their 3 level big cabin, not to mention his greenhouse, and his own personal runway he cleared where he receives supplies!
I was very sad to read that Rena just passed away. I’m so glad that the world gets to meet her through this little TV show they were apart of, and through Duane’s writings and videos. What a brave woman to head out into the remote back country with a new husband!
I won’t spoil the end of the TV series for you, but the couple I was rooting for won 🙂
I found on older clip about Duane and Rena, about 7 minutes long, that shares more of their history. I encourage you to watch:
Also, be sure to check out Duane’s books on Amazon. Start here:
I’m eager to read his book about dousing, which I’ve done, and another of an encounter with space travelers too! Thanks Duane!