Charley Dunn, a Soldotna resident for 42 years, has experienced a lot since first coming north as a wide-eyed young man in 1966, and if a person could earn a college degree for storytelling, he would hold a Ph.D. for his gift of gab.
"I have been truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work, hunt, fish and explore in Alaska," he said.
He said he has always enjoyed sharing tales of these experiences with others, but recently decided to take his storytelling a step further.
"I'd tell a story and people would say, 'You should write this down,' so I finally just did it," he said.
Charley Dunn, author,
Dunn put together 25 to 30 of his more interesting, exciting and dangerous stories and sent the manuscript to two publishers, and immediately got offers from both. He decided to work with PublishAmercia a traditional publishing company whose primary goal is promoting the works of new, previously undiscovered writers and on Oct. 25, his 125-page book, "Walk With Me Through Alaska," was released.
"People aren't going to believe some of the stories in the book, but they're all true," Dunn said.
They take place all over the state, and Dunn said he did his best to make readers feel transported to the scene of these stories.
"The areas where they occurred will be explained in detail so that you feel like you are with me in a walk across Alaska. I have included pictures so that you will be able to see the things I have seen. It is my sincerest hope that you will have the same sense of awe and inspiration that I have had about Alaska," he said.
He begins the book by detailing how he came to Alaska to work as an oil field service laborer, and what was in town when he arrived.
"There were no malls, fast food restaurants or large grocery stores. It was mostly dirt roads and just a few service stations without convenience stores," he said.
After a few stories about working for Shell Oil Company, Sante Fe Drilling Company and Coastal Drilling Company, Dunn moves into detailing what he did in his off-time.
Most of the stories are "pretty serious stories of adventure," Dunn said. There are tales of moose hunts up on Tustumena Lake, sheep hunts through the rugged mountains near Seward, and bear hunts on Kodiak where Dunn almost became the hunted instead of the hunter.
There are also fishing accounts describing the heyday of king salmon fishing on the Kenai River and a story about guided halibut fishing out of Seward that is almost too good to believe, according to Dunn.
"We had taken out two elderly women and an elderly man from Seattle, and their nephews from Anchorage. Between them they had caught eight halibut that when we got back weighed in at 1,068 pounds for the eight of them," he said.
This meant the average weight of each fish was 133.5 pounds.
"They got about 855 pounds of fillets," Dunn said, and explains in the book that at that time, halibut was selling for around $11 a pound back in Seattle, which meant the tourists had roughly $9,400 worth of delicious flatfish meat.
Dunn said while there are numerous adventures stories in the book, there are also a handful of humorous tales and a few accounts that are just plain extraordinary, such as when Dunn and a friend saw an unidentified flying object up on the Little Killey River, and another time when he found an original copy of the "Call of the Wild" that was signed "To Hattie from Jack London" in a cabin on Tustumena Lake.
"It would be worth a million dollars now, but we left it because it didn't belong to us," he said.
As to who might enjoy reading Dunn's new book, he said there's something in it for everyone from the cheechako to the sourdough.
"I think it would appeal to anybody who's interested in Alaska and the goings-on up here," he said.
Asked if he thinks he will write another book now that he knows the process, he said you can count on it.
"This book is by no means everything. I've lived a life some will only dream about, and I've lived to tell about it, and I'm planning on having more adventures in Alaska," he said.
To learn more about Dunn's book, or to learn how to order a copy, visit his Web site at www.walkwithmethroughalaska.com.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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