Oral History Interview:
Duke Short's family moved to the cannery at Tyee, Alaska, in 1946 when Duke was just a boy. His lifetime of hunting, fishing and trapping in the surrounding area has provided many fond memories. The family ate local wild foods including deer, crab, halibut, and salmon. One year, Duke and his brothers caught 350 mink. He can now laugh about the shady furbuyer who paid the boys a fraction of the value for those pelts, but it didn't seem so funny at the time.
Deer hunting was a favorite activity. In fact, the Short brothers often hunted for other people in the community, simply for the love of the hunt. Duke explains how his mother always wanted the boys to take along emergency food, just in case they were unsuccessful in bagging a deer. He laughs when he remembers the few times when they actually needed the extra chow.
Brown bears were abundant in the area. Those bears caused several close encounters. However, Duke holds no malice toward the big bruins. He respects their place in the ecosystem.
Duke spent most of his life on boats. He recounts the numerous jobs he held--operating the mail boat, buying fish, driving pilings, and running cannery tenders. Like every maritime pilot, Short had his favorite boat, which he describes for the listener.
Short grew up at a time when governmental agencies exerted limited enforcement power in the remote reaches of Southeast Alaska. He has little patience for some of the seemingly trivial restrictions imposed today. Duke shares his experiences with the best and worst of the agency personnel.
The outdoor lifestyle did not stop with Duke. He has shared his love of hunting, fishing and trapping with his children and grandchildren. The passing of this legacy brings him great pride and satisfaction.