About Me

Bruce 'Buck' Nelson My name is Bruce “Buck” Nelson. This website is primarily about the outdoor adventures that I’ve enjoyed. I’m not a world class athlete, and I’m not rich, so I hope this site might inspire others to experience similar or greater adventures of their own.
Alaska Cabin I have lived for many years in this 16′ X 20′ cabin northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska. With its half loft, the cabin is actually much roomier than it appears. I have a good oil-burning stove and all the normal comforts except for running water. Hot showers and laundry are easily available on the short trip into Fairbanks and of course I can easily heat up water on my propane stove at home.
Nelson Farm I grew up on a dairy farm in East-Central Minnesota. My parents and grandparents owned about a square mile of land with plenty of woodland. Squirrels were the big game for my brother and me in those days. The map shows most of the family farm. My parent’s farmstead is just to the right of center.
Smokejumper Under Parachute In March, 2008 I retired from fighting wildfires as an Alaska smokejumper. Here’s a photo from way back in 1982, with a smokejumper using an FS-10 parachute to jump to a fire in Alaska’s Brooks Range. For me, and most other smokejumpers, this was the “Greatest Job in the World.” Click here to visit my smokejumper page.
Alaska survival food In the summer of 2014 I spent 70 days on Admiralty Island, home of 1,600 brown bears. The biggest challenge: I brought no food! My story is now a new book Alone in the Fortress of the Bears: 70 Days Surviving Wilderness Alaska: Foraging, Fishing, Hunting. Please check it out!
Wolf, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge In the summer of 2006 I walked and paddled over 1,000 miles across Alaska. It was one of the great adventures of my life. You can see some photos and read the story here.
Bull Caribou My loaded raft against the colorful September mountains. I took this photo on a six-week, 700 mile solo hunt in the Alaska wilderness in August and September of 2000. I filmed this trip and it’s now a popular video. Click here to see more photos of this trip.
Making Maple Syrup We have revived the family tradition of making maple syrup. In Minnesota, tapping of maple trees usually starts in March and ends in late March or early April. Sap is often boiled all day long in a huge pan. 39 gallons of sap must be boiled away to get 1 gallon of pure maple syrup.
Alaska survival food In the summer of 2014 I spent 70 days on Admiralty Island, home of 1,600 brown bears. The biggest challenge: I brought no food! My story is now a new book Alone in the Fortress of the Bears: 70 Days Surviving Wilderness Alaska: Foraging, Fishing, Hunting. Please check it out!
Paratroops For 7 years I was in the National Guard, including 3 in Alaska where I was in an Airborne Recon unit. Here are TT Cole and I just before making a parachute jump on our way from Juneau to Anchorage.
Katahdin The summit of Mt. Katahdin in August, 2001, at the end of my 2,168 mile backpacking trip along the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. To see more, click here.
The Sea The Gulf of Mexico, October, 2001, at the end of my solo 2,300 mile canoeing trip down the length of the Mississippi River. I canoed the Mississippi immediately after my hike of the Appalachian Trail. For the full story, click here.
Green River Lakes, Wyoming In 2008 I spent a summer hiking the Continental Divide Trail from Mexico to Canada. Read about my adventure and see many photos of the spectacular scenery, here.
PCT Shield During the summer of 2010 I thru-hiked the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT roughly follows the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountains from Mexico to Canada. Click the link to the left to follow along on my hike.
Click here
to visit my Pacific Crest Trail page.
Mojave Sunrise In the spring and summer of 2012 I hiked the Desert Trail from the border of Mexico, and kept on going all the way up to Canada. It was a great adventure requiring careful preparation. For my journal, video highlights and more, go here.
Bicycle Trip Tom Boatner and I made a coast-to-coast bicycle across the southern U.S. during the winter of 92/93. I guess Al Biller was there, too. He took this photo of Tom and me hamming it up on the Atlantic coast at the end of our 43 day, 2,636 mile trip.
Mt McKinley Lisa Armstrong, Tom Boatner and I climbed Mt. McKinley (also known as Denali) in 1991. Believe it or not, it was Tom and Lisa’s honeymoon! See also “Mountain Climbs” in the menu bar at top for information about climbing Aconcagua and Kilimanjaro.
Alaska Salmon My brother Tom with a nice silver salmon he caught along the Goodnews River of southwestern Alaska. This was an awesome trip, with our dad and “Howie” Hughes. We had great fishing and wildlife viewing. Click here to see more photos of our float.
Cape Buffalo I’ve been lucky to have lots of time to travel, and spend some time on-the-road each winter. On one of these trips I saw this huge Cape Buffalo bull in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.
King Salmon I enjoy fishing and have had some fun times fishing in Alaska. Roderic Orr took this photo of me with a nice king salmon.
Oregon Coast Here’s Ken Coe hiking down the Oregon Coast. We spent about a month making this trip, and no, it DIDN’T rain every day!
Alaska Brown Bear This is a huge old brown bear we encountered while fishing the Alagnak River. When it finally appeared as if he was going to end up in our laps, we yelled to spook him away. Click here see more.
Minnesota Deer This buck weighed 250 lbs, dressed, the largest buck I’ve ever taken. My first book Hunting Big Whitetails is about whitetail hunting, now in it’s third printing.Check it out!
Alaska Caribou A nice caribou I took out of the Mulchatna herd way back in 1988. My dad and brother each took bulls that were as big, or bigger. On this hunt we spent the worst night any of us have ever spent camping out. There was a FIERCE windstorm, where the wind screamed for hours out on the open tundra and it rained about 4 inches! One of our two tents was destroyed and we got thoroughly soaked. Because there was no firewood around, it took days to get dried out completely. Make sure you have a good tent, and set it up out of the wind in a spot with good drainage. We were prepared, but not prepared enough for that storm.
Dall Sheep A Dall Sheep from the Alaska Range. Tom and Lisa helped me pack out this big ram. Wild sheep might be the finest wild game meat.
Idaho Elk A fine bull elk from Idaho. This resulted in the most brutal pack-out of my life, one heavy load each day for five days. Each load was 15 miles and a 6,000 vertical-foot round trip!
Alaska Moose A nice Alaskan moose. A 12-mile round trip packout. This was my second worse packout because my smokejumper buddies and Lisa helped me pack it out, in 100 lb. pack loads, all in one trip. They won’t let me forget that!
Montana Mule Deer A mule deer buck taken during the height of the rut in Montana. For the first time hunting muleys, I saw several nice bucks in one day.


  1. Is it possible to use a pontoon boat to travel the entire length of the river? I thought of using electric motors with the batteries being recharged by solar panels… is this possible, or totally insane?

    Thanks, I appreciate any assistance you can offer.

    • The Mississippi River, of course? You could use a pontoon boat all the way from Minneapolis (just below Coon Rapids) to the ocean without taking it out of the water.

      I see no reason why electric motors with batteries and solar panels wouldn’t work if you knew what you were doing, took your time, took advantage of the current and avoided fighting unfavorable winds when possible. If you do it, please report back!

  2. Tony B. de Bellis

    March 26, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    You have done great things with your life in the great outdoors; but putting up this website is among them. I have section hiked the PCT and the CDT, and enormous amounts of information are available about them. But getting information about the Desert Trail is difficult and comes from very different sources. You put it all together on one site. Thanks for the diligence and the awe that your life and actions have created. Also, the route that you have pioneered is straighter than the Desert Trail Association’s route, is shorter and covers. Salutations!! Tony

  3. I really enjoyed your video of your Brooks Range traverse. I have backpacked several times in the Brooks Range and plan to hike this summer from the Dalton Highway to Anaktuvuk Pass with a hiking buddy of mine. I was thinking about taking the route up the upper west fork Itkillik to cross over to Graylime Creek. I believe this is the route you took? My hike would be in early July. Can you offer any advice and what your thoughts were of that part of the route and, any difficulties you had in crossing over to Graylime creek? I believe that Peregrine Pass might be easier, although a little longer in distance. Thanks!

  4. Martha Farrand

    April 12, 2013 at 9:40 am

    I was told about this awesome site by LG back when you were hiking the continental divide, however, I never did check it out. I am currently doing a wildfire unit with my 5th grade students. LG told me you had been a smokejumper, so I just checked out that section. I’ll be letting my students read about your smokejumping adventures. Too bad you’re not in Montana–we’d invite you in as a guest speaker. Maybe someday.

    • Hi Martha,

      I hope your students enjoy the jumper stories and photos. Jim G. was a smokejumper, too. That’s how we became friends. Maybe he’d be interested in talking to your class?

      Have a great day, and greetings to your class!


  5. Hi Buck-

    You are a legend.
    My husband and I, are planning our first trip to the Brooks Range next summer, a belated honeymoon.

    Can we have you over for dinner in exchange for some intelligence when you’re in Boise next?

    Rock, Water, and Ice On.

  6. Bruce, great to see you in Brainerd on the 23rd. A great time was had by all. Like we all have been together for years. Can not wait for next reunion. Enjoy reading about all your adventures. Your friend Mike

  7. Hello!

    Random email here! I am a development TV producer at Crybaby Media in NYC always on the hunt for new shows and larger than life characters!

    Currently I am developing a show on thru hiking! We want to hear your story. Looking for the most intense thru hikers who wouldn’t mind breaking records or some sort of milestone this up coming season. However you are hiking…. you are doing it in a very unique way. The hikers we are looking for – hike alone, know how to survive in the woods, travel light, and are determined to finish in a certain amount of time. So whether it’s the Appalachian Trail your hiking, the Great Divide or the 100 other long distance hikes in the U.S. – we want to hear your story and approach! 

    If this is you OR you know would would be perfect – please call or email anytime! Look forward to telling your more about the project! 

  8. Hey was just wondering what camera’s you used to shoot your videos especially the videos

  9. This is an awesome website. You are a fascinating creature. I kind of want your life. Hiking adventures, travelling the globe, enjoying the general merriment of nature…seriously epic life. Thanks for being an inspiration.

  10. Hi Buck– Just wondered if and when you will be in MN next. i would love to have you come to our library and give a presentation on hunting whitetail. We are in NW Minnesota.

    • Hi Jennifer
      I’ll be back in November. Thanks for the kind offer. It’s something I should do but I’m the type of person who is uncomfortable giving presentations. :) Sorry about that! Enjoy your day.

  11. Hi Buck-Are you familiar with the artwork of Davis Perkins? He was a smokejumper and has made some amazing paintings on smokejumping-thought you would enjoy them, or perhaps you know him! You have done some incredible trips-Im hoping to plan a caribou archery hunt soon and came across your amazing short film of your float trip-Incredible and inspiring! thanks

    • Hi Aaron,

      I jumped with Davis for years and still see him from time to time. He is paintings are great, and getting better.

      Thanks for the comment. Good luck with your caribou trip!


  12. Dominic "Moose" Mussatti

    November 30, 2014 at 11:23 am

    It’s great to see all of the things you have done since you retired. I was born in North Pole, AK (should be right down the road) and now live in Durham, NC. (On a side note. I REALLY miss Alaska and all it offers) However, I came across this site as I am working on a thru-hike of the AT with a friend from the Marines. I still have a ton of planning to do, but your site and experiences have really helped me narrow down a bunch of things. I look forward to the updates and maybe i’ll see you on the trails soon.


    • Hi Moose,
      It’s a small world. We probably know some of the same people.
      If you keep an online journal, let me know. Good luck with your planning, and I hope you guys have a fun, successful hike!

  13. I look forward to watching your dvd and reading up on all your trips. You have a very impressive adventure background. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  14. Mr. nelson, greetings. My name is Lee Bitsilly, A&P mechanic, and I wanted to thank you for your website. It contains the info I’ve been looking for in one package concerning Bush Alaska fishing and hunting companies. I worked for Renfo’s Alaskan Adventures for several months maintaining aircraft in Bethel and it was a great experience for me, as I am from New Mexico. Keep up your excellent work. G’day, sir.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


© 2016 Outdoor Adventures

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑