Kent Kaiser has been attacked by a Kodiak bear in Alaska; he’s been dropped into the icy arctic wilderness via helicopter, he’s panned for gold in clear-water streams, and he’s hunted huge trophy moose and harvested their meat for food.
“Moose is fantastic, it’s a delicacy and it tastes like beef,” said Kaiser. “No part of the animal goes to waste.”
If this sounds like an episode of Discovery Channel’s “Man vs. Wild" show with Bear Grylls, that’s because it’s not too far off from it.
Kaiser, who lives in Destin for eight months out of the year and then moves to Alaska from June to October, wrote a book about his adventures called “Hard Way Back.”
In it, he details his passion for exploring Alaska, the “Last Frontier,” and the trials and tribulations he encountered while pursuing his dream job as an entrepreneurial outdoor and hunting guide.
Kaiser is a type of innovative disruptor in the hunting industry, much like an Uber or an AirBnB. He launched a self-guided moose hunting tour, virtually helping hunters coordinate their own trip by cutting out the personal guide part, which often costs tens of thousands of dollars.
“Everything in Alaska is about timing. You have to know where the animals will be and when to go and how to do it,” said Kaiser.
He provides people with specific knowledge of what to bring, where to go, and what to do for a fraction of the cost. The clients who hire him are allowed to kill one moose per person per year according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Kaiser was born in Niles, Michigan, and then moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, at age 12 after his mother remarried.
“Moving to Alaska was a life-changing experience for me and opened so many doors,” he said.
He spent the majority of his childhood exploring the Alaskan wilderness and reading as much as he could about the native wildlife.
Kaiser and his longtime girlfriend, Jill Tyler, landed in Destin after living in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Fort Pierce, Florida. They were drawn to the close-knit Christian community they found here as well as the beach town’s overall charm.
“We love everything about it here—the beach, the fishing, the cleanliness, the people; especially the locals,” said Kaiser.
The outdoorsman counts himself as lucky, and said his life has been strung together by a series of miracles. First, when he killed a large Kodiak bear in the middle-of-nowhere Alaska when it suddenly appeared out of nowhere. The bear charged his friend at full speed and Kaiser was able to shoot before it mauled them.
His friend escaped with only a ripped jacket from the bear’s claws.
“I let my guard down; I just didn’t see any sign of another bear around. Then I heard a roar,” said Kaiser. “It was the luckiest day of my life.”
Kaiser is in the process of planning an upcoming Alaskan whale watching tour, a gold panning tour, four salmon fishing trip, a black bear fly-in trip and more.
"The only reason I'm here or have anything in life is God-given to me," said Kaiser. "I tell people that to be happy in life, if you can make a living doing the things that you love, do it."
Kaiser's Alaskan adventures website is www.alaskanquest.com.