Oral History Interviews:
Darrell Farmen moved to Alaska as an 18-year-old lad, fresh out of high school. He came to the state to work for bear guides Bill Pinnell and Morris Talifson on Kodiak Island. The guiding operation of Pinnell and Talifson was based at an abandoned salmon cannery on Olga Bay. Farmen describes the facility and surrounding area in great detail. Farmen continued to work with the famous pair for many years. His tales of people and bears share an interesting insight into the behavior of both species.
Alaska's wilderness is not always a comfortable place. Darrell describes the heavy packs, long hikes and insect scourges that are everyday occurrences for hunting guides. If that weren't enough to discourage most people, Farmen includes harrowing tales of charging bears and one memorable mauling.
Farmen expresses disdain for tour operators who bring people to Alaska for the sole purpose of viewing bears. In his opinion, these folks are not interested in seeing normal behavior from typical bears in their natural habitat. Rather, they prefer "domesticated bears" which will perform for the tourists on a convenient schedule. Perhaps Darrell's attitude is tainted by the criticism he has absorbed over the years for hunting these magnificent animals.
Darrell served on the Game Board during the latter half of the 1970's. He remembers his tenure as a rewarding time, working together with other dedicated individuals. Farmen describes some of the controversial issues which confronted the Board. He also shares a humorous tale of an overly zealous lawyer who was assigned to assist the Board on legal questions.
The great bears of Kodiak Island brought Darrell Farmen to the Great Land. That attraction has not faded with time. If anything, Darrell feels a greater affinity for the bears than he did when he first arrived.