Since first appearing on “Life Below Zero”, Sue Aikens has captivated audiences with her lifestyle. Was Aikens ever in the military?
Susan “Sue” Aikens has not served in the military. She moved to Alaska as a child and was abandoned by her mother, surviving alone in the wilderness. She lived in Oregon with her second husband but moved back to Alaska after being widowed for the second time.
For more on the background of Sue Aikens, read on.
Susan Aikens was born on July 1, 1963, in Mount Prospect, Illinois. She had an unsettled childhood, frequently moving from place to place.
She apparently spent more than a year living on a tropical island, though she can no longer remember its name.
Aikens’ mother left her father in 1975, when Sue was 12, leaving their home in the middle of the night with whatever they could fit in a paper bag.
They traveled together to Alaska and eventually settled in a small village about 80km north of Fairbanks. Aikens grew up alone in the Alaskan wilderness, hunting to survive.
She has said that she was born to be an explorer and adventurer and that she is more comfortable in the wilderness than cities. Aikens recalls an older Alaskan, who she believes was called Bill, gifting her a rifle and bullets as a means to survive.
Despite always feeling a close affinity for animals, Aikens came to understand that they were also an essential part of surviving in the wilderness. Learning to view animals as both her friends and as food was an important lesson in her youth.
She has been married twice; her two children live elsewhere in the United States. Her first husband died of brain cancer.
Aikens lived in Oregon with her second husband, who tried the wilderness life in Alaska but was unable to sustain the lifestyle. They were married for 17 years and had a daughter and son together before Sue’s husband passed away.
Twice widowed, she moved back to Alaska to resume her life in the wilderness. In 2007, Aikens survived an attack by a grizzly bear, suffering severe injuries to her limbs.
Life Below Zero
Aikens made several appearances in “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” in 2010 and “Flying Wild Alaska” in 2011.
In 2013, Aikens joined the cast of “Life Below Zero”, a documentary series following the lives of six subsistence hunters as they survive in remote regions of Alaska.
She owns and runs Kavik River Camp, an exploration camp that provides accommodation to other explorers in the summer. She bought the business after working for the previous owner as a caretaker.
Aikens believes people need to respect the Alaskan terrain and wildlife. In her words, “If you’re gonna act like a pork chop, you’ll be a pork chop.”
In 2017, she sued the “Life Below Zero” producers, claiming that the show forced her into dangerous situations with the goal of artificially creating drama for the show. These situations led to Aikens being injured, interfering with her business.
In 2019, she purchased an abandoned cabin, stating that she didn’t own the land in Kavik and could be evicted by the government at any time if they wished. She called the cabin a backup plan, in case Kavik Camp was ever closed down.
Despite her nomadic upbringing and wilderness lifestyle, Aikens is happy to use technology in order to communicate and run her business successfully.
In her private time, she enjoys more traditional pastimes such as reading and carving items out of materials she scavenges, such as bone.
She isn’t sure whether or not she will remain in Alaska, despite having spent more than four decades in the state. Despite Alaska being her longest chapter, she doesn’t believe it will be her final chapter.