Oral History Interview:
Jake Phillips grew up at the Chichagof Mine on the island of the same name. During his teens, Jake lived in Sitka. In both locations, he sought training from fishermen, trappers and loggers. That early 'education' served Phillips well. He made his living off the land and sea for most of his adult life.
Mink and otter were the two 'bread and butter' species for Jake and most of the other trappers in Southeast Alaska during the 1940s and '50s. Phillips marketed his furs primarily through Sears in Seattle. He emphasizes the importance of the income. His trapping was definitely not a hobby venture.
Phillips has hunted for deer throughout his life. He has occasionally taken a brown bear, mountain goat and seal. Jake admits that his respect for the big brown bears borders on fear. That fear began when a cousin was badly mauled when Jake was in his teens.
As with many men who live in Southeast, Phillips has spent much of his life on the ocean, in pursuit of several species of fish which are abundant in the area. He recalls the growing pains of learning the business. He fondly describes the boats that he has owned over the years. He talks of the many successful seasons, which he attributes to sound management of the fishery resources.
Jake has lived in the small community of Pelican for many years. In his retirement, he is content to wander the beaches, putter around on his boat, and advise his son regarding commercial fishing. The area surrounding Pelican is Phillips' personal version of paradise. He is a happy man.