Introducing Roland Welker
Roland grew up in Central Pennsylvania - Appalachian Hills, logging, coal mining country. Everyone was hunting, trapping, and fishing all the time and he caught that bug too.
His peers were his father, his father's friends, uncles, and other family members, who were raised with a hunting heritage as well. It was a way of life for everyone.
Back then, there wasn't the internet, so Roland grew fond of reading. He would find books, magazines, and anything else he could find to learn about history and other skills that would later sculpt who he became. One of the magazines that he remembers quite well was Country's Fur Buyer magazine during the peak of the Fur Boom in the 80s. This led to the start of Roland's fur handling career, which led to him honing his knife work skills - an essential skill for hunters.
Fast forward to his teenage years, and he remembers his uncle and father talking about going up to take part in the last of the homesteading push in Alaska. They never actually pulled the trigger on that adventure, but it did give Roland that bug. At age 24, he threw his traps and guns in a 1981 Ford F150 and headed north.
Today, Roland lives a lifestyle that a lot of hunters can only dream about. He lives in the wilderness of Red Devil, Alaska where he guides hunters. The preparation and ability to live in those kinds of conditions is a huge advantage to hunters. Roland is most famously known for being the winner of the History Channels 'Alone - Season 7'.
Do you recall some of the things that you read and studied that were most impressionable on you?
"I remember each and every one. My dad was an avid reader. He didn't teach me how to read, but he taught me the love of reading and where it could take you."
"To get my good reading list, you gotta come to my Woodsy Survival Camp to get my personal reading list - I don't just hand that out. But one of the very first books that was laid into my hand, the 80's reprint of the Big Sky by Ab Gury Jr. I was in sixth grade and I would read it under the desk while everybody else was studying their grammar books. I was reading these early American History novels of my heroes and my peers that settled this country and turned it into the greatest civilization on earth. And I molded myself after these icons of American History."
So the books were more history books or were there some hunting books?
"Anything I could get a hold of. Any literature. Any books on early American History from the settling of the Ohio Valley or even, the Eastern Front, clear on out to the west."
"The mountain man era was very prevalent. That's what the Big Sky's about - the beaver trade in the Rocky Mountains. But I wasn't turning down any Life or Field and Streams. I was sucking them up for sure. And Alaska Last Frontier Magazine, now it's just called the Alaska Magazine. But there are all kinds of stuff in there..."
"But when I was growing up, the Alaska Magazine was all about homesteading, hunting, and the type of stuff that settled and built this country and the greatest civilization on earth."
"History and practicality. By 10 or 11 I started running into survival books, old woodsman books, and was starting to skin some better fur for my uncle, figuring out how to sharpen my knife and reading, reading, reading, reading."
Was there any specific book or any specific event in your life that kind of drew you into the Alaska frontier?
"Well, somewhat it just the adventure of it. The freshness of the frontier. But it was also my desire... I wanted to hunt North America big game. You gotta go north to do that."
"I didn't really become a really good hunter until later in life because I wanted to explore too much. As a young boy and a young man, I couldn't sit there and wait for deer to come to the stand. I wanted to see what was over the next ridge. And I had a lot of country, even back in Pennsylvania in front of me. So the exploring mentality led me to Alaska."
"The mountain man days were long gone. That was way in past, but the Alaska frontier was more recent and when I went there, you could still experience a little bit of it. And even now, Alaska's the last state to settle down, because the frontier's closer here."
"All this history resonated with me. History's pretty consistent. It's logged down and there it is. It generally doesn't lie or mislead. It's very significant... So my reading evolved to Alaska reading, which was way more recent compared to Rocky Mountain or the settling of the Ohio valley."
"I said this on "Alone - Season 7", I'm here to represent the old timers, the old technology, the ax, the saw, chop down the wilderness, build your cabin, and put in a corn patch type of people. And I'd like to just point out I've been featured in a few historical magazines lately. I was featured in American Essence a few months ago by author Jill Dutton. And I just appeared in the Pennsylvania magazine, same author."
"The history of this stuff is just as important as the cutting-edge hunting techniques that we all love."
Have you called Alaska home since you were 24? Or have you moved anywhere else?
"I've pretty much been in Alaska, but I am also very fluid. I can jump on a plane and go score some high-dollar work in another state any time I want with my operating experience from my coal mining days. But I'm an Alaska resident, Alaska registered big game guide - 1240. Got my own outfit here, knocking out some of the most desirable trophies in the world for the last 25 years. And I'm living the dream."
What's your favorite big game animal to hunt at this point in your life?
"I get to ask that question a lot. That is a very, very, very popular question. I do more guiding than hunting. On a yearly basis, I might skin seven bears this spring. And I'm looking at August sheep hunts already."
"Oh, sheep... That's probably borderline still my favorite animal to hunt. The Dall Sheep; it's a white animal, which sets it off from everything else, they're only in select spots, and it's a very demanding hunt. You gotta have the right gear, the right pack, the right guide, the right attitude. The shots are generally long."
"But lately the early spring bear hunt has been captivating me for the last four or five years. I mean, the early one, where they're popping out of the hole. You're on a Super Cub with skis, landing on these eight and nine-foot brown bears in five feet of snow pack. It's a snowshoe hunt with some heavy hiking. And then after you harvest, some heavy packing. I like the physical. I really like the physical."
"I like the trophy handling. I like taking a client out - some of these hunts, you gotta have a guide. And taking that hunter and bringing him through the wilderness experience, whatever it takes to get that shot. Many hours on snowshoes. And then the two or three-hour photo shoot and videoing. And then the two or three-hour skinning job. And then the two or three-hour pack back to camp. I've had nine-foot bear hides on my back, my client has all my gear because I can't take the bear hide and the gear. These big bear hides are heavy and we're struggling. We're struggling to get back to our nylon spike camp. And it's pure adventure."
How heavy are those bear hides?
"Yeah, leaving the skull, hands, and feet in is dependent on how far I am away from shelter and how late in the day it is. If I think I can't get this thing up out of the hole we're in or down off the mountain we're in and back to camp, I'll go ahead and take the head out too, which involves more time skinning. And you're looking at your watch and we've got lots of daylight that time of year though - it's spring."
"If it's a nine-foot bear unless I'm reasonably close to camp, I'll take the head and hands out 'cause it's too heavy... These things can weigh 150 to 180. And you know, I ain't really carrying no scales out there, but I had a couple on that were approaching 10 feet with the head and the hands in that I thought might have been 200-pound packs. This takes a heavy-duty mentality, physical body strength, and gear. You can't have the wrong gear."
There was a quote from your season of "Alone" that really resonated with us. You said, "I've worked myself to every victory I've ever had in my life." What does that mean to you?
"That's everything. Persistence, stubborn, bullheaded bulldog, don't give up. I travel around and do some talks across the nation now, after the "Alone" win, public speaking. I've spoken to a lot of boy scout groups and young men that are up-and-comers. And I remember being that young man that wanted to be who I am today. And it just seems like the trail is so long. The trail's long and hard, and you can't even see the end when you're 12 or 18. You just get on the trail and you push yourself through. That's the hard work that brought me through everything, always. So I said this at the end of the show, as I'm getting on the chopper and getting out."
"Life is a long game. You have time to accomplish that. Don't let little setbacks ever stop you. Life is a long game. Go fulfill your passion. Don't give up. Swallow your setbacks and regroup and keep charging."
"You gotta stay in some physical shape too. There are three aspects: heart, body, and mind. Well, I added another one: your soul. You've got to have the correct connection with God Almighty in Jesus Christ's name, amen. And you can pray your way through some thoughts too. And I always got that ace in the hole."
Playing off of that, where is your trail leading now?
"You never know exactly where the trail ends. It's always evolving."
"I hold the record. Nobody stayed out there for a hundred days, and that was more important to me than the money. Of course, I wanted the money too, but that is the record. A hundred days is a long, long time, and everybody thinks they're gonna beat it. Ain't happening. So if they bring us all back together, the trail's gonna end with the Hundred Day King showing the whole world he's the big bull of the north woods one more time. And then we're gonna put it to sleep."
With "Alone", it was the first series that they offered up a million-dollar purse. Is that correct?
"That is correct. First and only time they did it."
Was it offered to any contestant that made it to 100 days or was it a Last Man Standing deal?
"I don't like to reveal too much of inside "Alone" things. It's a very tight-knit group. They don't really like us going out and blabbing about everything. But it was the first time that was offered. And if we made it through to a hundred days, that was the chop-off. There was no last man standing. It was just a hundred days, and then it was over. If there was somebody else with you, you had to split the pot."
"So I was putting no good vibes out there at all. I wanted the whole thing. I wanted the title. I didn't wanna share it with nobody. I didn't want the prestige going to anybody else. I damn sure didn't want money going to anybody else. And praised God, it swung my way."
"And I even have a little saying that's kind of harsh and people don't like, but, Callie Russell was chasing me hard. She'd have been right there without frostbite. So I thank God for Frostbite."
Are you close with any of the contestants?
"No. I have no communication with any of them guys whatsoever. I pretty much do my own thing. It's called "Alone" and I've brought myself to where I'm at by my own power in the last 50 years, besides my spiritual connection. I don't need to hang out with these guys. It's no part of my medicine."
One thing that you are most known for on "Alone" is killing a muskox. Talk to us about that whole experience.
"Yeah. The muskox thing ain't happening again. Sorry to all of you people that want to get on there and try to do that again. There were just too many things that brought that into play."
"For one thing I had my cameras on with full batteries - very important. And the tracking situation and the hit got that animal down in front of me. I was out of arrows and I was like, 'I have to camp out with this thing all night. Wait for it to die.' And you know how a wounded animal is... they're pretty tough... It might lay there all night and I had no gear. Or I go clear back to Rock House, which was the ultimate phenomenal mega structure of all "Alone" ever."
"I see that guy this year named his Moss house. I guess he can have Moss House - that's pretty weak. I'll stick with Rock House."
"Anyway, I could go back to Rock House and go back in the morning and risk my muskox all eaten by wolves or gone. So a belt knife was one of my 10 items. Pull out my straight sticker... thinking it over. And the wind was right from him to me. I got in close and I made the jump and made the stab. Made a few more stabs, and the musk ox went down."
"Then found out I had it all on film. And I knew I had it from there on, Praise God in Jesus' name. "Alone -Season 7" was going down in history. I'm the Hundred Day Man. I ain't going no place!"
A hundred days is a long time. And that musk ox is a lot of meat. They dropped you off mid-September and you killed it about 30 days in?
"Late September drop. The latest drop in 'Alone' history... And I believe the musk ox was killed a little beyond three weeks in. So I did damn near 30 days on fish and berries."
"I'll just inject this while I got the floor. Everybody's watching this and, and critiquing everybody's moves. And that's fine. That's just the hallmarks of good reality tv. But, you watch it and you're like, 'Oh, this guy only went 30 days or 40 days.' That's a long time. Take a handful of gear and no food and go exist. And don't sneak out for a hamburger. Go exist for 40 days with nothing. I mean, even these people that's only making it 30 or 40 days, it's rough out there fellas."
There was an approved list of gear and you were allowed to bring 10 items. What were your 10 items, why did you pick them, and, in hindsight, would you have changed up any of those items?
"I believe you can still go to historychannel.com or something like that and pull up the 10-item interviews. They interviewed every participant with our gear and we spoke about it and showed it."
"That's the winning team, as I said after the interview. I'll put my 10-item list up against anyones. Check the Hundred Day King out before he even goes in, showing off his gear, still telling everybody he's gonna win."
At what point did you set your sights on that musk ox and realize that if you could accomplish that it would be a huge advantage? Was that something you went into thinking about or was it something that you came upon during those first 30 or 40 days?
"Well, everybody's got big game in their sight. That's the jackpot. But you don't know if you're gonna get that or not. We're out there stick bows: recurves and longbows. Last year was in deer country and was a mule deer or black tail of some sort killed. There's a little more deer per square acre than big game. So when you get up into musk ox and moose, you might not even see one. There are participants that never even saw one."
"So yes, it was part of my plan, but at the same time, you didn't know if that was gonna happen. And then you gotta make the shot or get close enough to even pull off a shot. You guys are archery hunters and we got all the compound bow advantages and stuff like that. Well now reduce yourself to a stick bow and see if you can make it happen. When you've got primitive weaponry - and our stick bows are way beyond anything early man had - it's just another whole facet of everything. As is every big game kill. Damn, they're a miracle."
Did you have previous experience shooting a long bow?
"That's a good question. I've had that question pop to me, too. As a young man in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania was one of the original muzzle-loading states and they still have a flintlock season. So we grew up hunting flintlock, which is pretty difficult. But we embraced it along with the bow hunting. But we embraced it because you want to extend your season. It's why we still do it. We love being out there so much, we embrace these primitive weapon seasons."
"And so yes. I did have mostly early compound models, but I had slung some recurve arrows. I never even had a long bow, but I always desired one. I never could fit it in."
"And then I went from that and became a guiding professional in Alaska. Well, once you enter the guiding world, you don't have time. By the time I get everybody else an animal, skin everything, and get it out of the woods, my own hunting is the last thing on my agenda. So I hadn't bow hunted since a very young man. But as soon as I was selected for 'Alone -Season 7', I went and bought me a handful of bows and shot them every day and got myself right back to where I needed to be."
I'm assuming when you're in that situation, your focus is more kind of evolved to kind of taking... I hate to use the word convenient because obviously there's nothing convenient about what you were doing, but are you spending your days taking the low-hanging fruit, so to speak?
"Oh my God, you're the only second guy I know that uses that term low-hanging fruit. I'm the first guy. I love it. God bless you. You've gotta be gathering up the low-hanging fruit, of course, but at the same time you've gotta be ready for that one shot that's gonna bring you through."
Would porcupine be considered a little hanging fruit?
"If you got 'em? If you ain't got one, it's pretty elusive. The porcupine is like the survivalist deluxe. You can run 'em down. Some of them are faster than others. They'll surprise you once in a while. If they're way up a tree, I'll just chop 'em out. If they're on the ground, I club 'em. I grew up in Pennsylvania where there are lots of porcupines. Me and my dad harvested a number of them and he kind of got me on the porcupine thing as a very young man. And we never shoot 'em. You don't waste bullets and arrows on porcupines. And so that's why they're the ultimate survival animal to this day. I mean, all the manuals will tell you that. And they are fat."
"It's like everything in life, it just ain't as easy to get a porcupine as you think. But yeah, they are probably in the low-hanging fruit category. Very fat, very nutritious. They're unlike rabbits and squirrels - the porcupines just rolling in fat. It's like beaver and bear - very, very, very high in calories. Great animal. Porcupines are a great survival animal."
What other items did you use to survive other than the musk ox, porcupine, fish, and berries?
"I had a whole storehouse full of wild resources that they didn't use because I had so much other great material. Some people only had fish, so a lot of my material got skipped."
"I had a bunch of fish put up. I had a lot of berries picked - they did feature berry log. Mushrooms. Squirrel mushroom. I'm an expert in Northern Survival. Yes, I have all kinds of secondary resources put away. That's why when the musk ox come along I was super fat. Hell, I was gonna win it on sticks and roots and a couple of fish if I had to."
Was there anything in this specific area that you were in that was new to you? Was anything unexpectedly challenging?
"I almost have to say no. I mean, I'm a Northman. I live in the north. It was good country for me. I was familiar with damn near everything"
Do you feel like that was in some ways an advantage for you as opposed to others that hadn't had that experience?
"Yeah. Huge advantage. The Lord's led me down this trail from a very young age. If you go from the eastern arm of Great Slave Lake and you start following it westward, guess where you pop out? Red Devil."
Locke: " I'm looking at a list of other contestants from your season and there are a few from the Midwest and southeast US. I can imagine that those people were probably seriously culture-shocked in this regard.
Roland: "I feel that the Season 7 lineup was the strongest lineup 'Alone' has put together yet. It's gonna be hard to duplicate that season."
"But yes. They just didn't have my experience. I've lived this. I mean right out of the chute I started making my living as a young boy in the fur industry. It was a horrible living. And then in the coal mining and logging industries. My family has always taken a natural resource and made our money on it. We're not park rangers, we're not federal workers, we're not state workers. My family are entrepreneurs -making our living off of some kind of natural resource. That has a lot to do with this. Long hours, your work ethic."
"And then you throw in my northern experience where I became a guide. I trapped up here for a living. Spent winters in wall tents harvesting marten, wolf, and wolverine and sending them into Canadian auctions for part of my yearly income. I mean, this is my way of life."
"I will say that Season 7, in my opinion, was their strongest lineup ever. But a lot of them are going out for three-day weekend quests, one-week quests possibly. I've been living the lifestyle for 25 years. Living it! Not going out for a little bit of training, living it."
"And I'm gonna take this same mentality, the same knowledge, and apply it again if they put us all in the ring. It's swinging my way folks. I want everybody to go in and try to beat me. I gotta have some competition. But when you're on day 60 or 70 and life sucks, I'm still out there. You might as well just go home."
How many trips did it take back and forth to the Rock House to get all that musk ox meat?
"There were 9 or 10 trips. 50 to 80-pound trips there. We didn't use our pack. We packed it in on our shoulders or in our arms. It was brutal. It was a two-mile trip back to Rock House. That's a conservative estimate."
"Yeah, just that kind of work right there alone. And you gotta knock it out and get it done. Going back to work ethic... Back in my younger days when I had to go work for other people or cut my own logs. I used to buy standing timber, harvest it and take it to market. I've gone out and I've soaked a leather pair of work boots. Clear through socks, boots, jeans, and a belt. The only thing that ain't soaked through is your belt buckle. And you ain't got no shirt on. That's the kinda work ethic I'm talking about. If you can't do that, if you've not experienced that, if you've not pushed yourself through that kind of thing, I'm gonna beat you."
The Mental Aspect
Kielyn, another contestant from 'Alone - Season 7', says, 'Sometimes my mind is destructive to myself.'
And then another quote from Roland during the season, 'Being in the wilderness makes you more aware there is nobody backing you up.'
Roland: "There's no room for error. Everybody asks me for the secret to the whole thing and I say these things:
- You can't get hurt. You're not gonna make it a hundred days hurt.
- You can't get sick. I eat stuff out there that would make a bear puke. You see somebody throwing up, they're going out.
- And you can't lose your shit. You can't lose your gear. You can't burn your house down, and you can't lose your stuff.
- And you gotta be mentally tough. You gotta be a mental superman and a physical superman."
"[Mental resiliency]'s right up there with the big four. So, Texas A&M is creating a course around 'Alone'. And I think History has sanctioned it. I was talking to the professor a little bit and there are three things involved with survival:
- Your body. You've gotta have a strong body. You're only as strong as your weakest link. So you gotta have a strong body.
- You gotta have a strong heart to push through.
- And you gotta have the strong mind to shut that misery out. It sucks out there with nothing to eat. Nothing to read. There's no journal.
So this is then back to Christianity and my faith in God; This is my addition to the three aspects of survival. That's always my secret weapon and he'll bring me through again."
What brought you to the 'Alone' series?
"I'm an Alaska Big Game guide and I got high-dollar clients coming from all over the country. Some of 'em from other parts of the world showing up at my camp. And they're all over their phones. They're all over the TV. I love TV - every chance get I watch it, but I'm just not around it a lot. And these people would show up at my camp and "There's this great new reality show called 'Alone'". And they'd explain it to me. I had not seen it. Many of these men hunted with me time after time. They knew I was Ultimate Bush Survival Supreme and fans of mine way before 'Alone'."
"And they're like, "You should go do that." Well, I knew it would take somebody with a computer to get me in there, 'cause that's the way the world was headed. And I told 'em all the same thing... "Get me in there! Put my name in, fill it out, give me a phone call and we'll answer the questions together." And they all said the same thing. "Yeah, we're gonna go home and do that. We'll get you in there, brother." And then they shoot their moose, go home, and I never hear from him until next hunting season."
"And that's just how it went. And finally, my sister, God bless her, Megan Francis, had a little bit of time on her hands. And I was actually on a deer hunt in Baton Rouge... and so me and my sister did the application over the phone. I mean, it's a long application. People think you just go sign up for this thing, and there you go. There are thousands of people putting in for this, though. My sister went through the pain of helping me through the application process. Lo and behold, it was good enough that we got a phone call or two, and once they started talking to me, I took it from there. And bing, bang, boom, I was on History Channel's 'Alone - Season 7'."
Locke: "I am just north of Baton Rouge, so I'm curious where and what kind of hunting did you do down here?"
Roland: "I just go down there and shoot some deer with them boys. Mainly, I'm booking hunts when I go down there, but we go to deer camp, and we go to Mississippi a lot. A lot of them boys go to Mississippi for their bigger heads."
"I'm well traveled way before 'Alone' in Alaska. I worked all over the country before I was 20 and went to Alaska. I flew the coop at 17. I graduated from high school and I just started doing my thing. I can remember being in Tupelo, Mississippi on the Natchez Trace and some of 'em other highways and seeing big Mississippi bucks. And then now, as an Alaska guide, I go down there with my hunters and I'm hunting some of them bucks. So we're hunting big whitetail deer and booking Alaska big game hunts."
It seemed like you shared a story about when you were in a survival situation where you had to eat one of your sled dogs. Or am I misguided on that?
"Oh, I've had sled dog. Yeah. They're good. They're quite delectable actually. <Laugh>. Well, I didn't get picked up. We were dropped deep, deep, deep, southwestern country..."
"Red Devil's a pretty non-descript community. But there is another famous man that came from here, and I studied under him and had [an influence] on who I became; Dick Wilmar. I flew around with him a lot and did a lot of trips with him. He was the first Iditarod Champion in 1973. They organized the first Iditarod race that everybody's in love with now and back in '73 when it was brand new, they were just gathering up bushmen and dumping 'em off and in Anchorage. They actually mushed from Anchorage to Nome. And Dick Wilmarth won the first one..."
"Well, he took me to a number of trap lines over the years with his Super Cub - fabulous pilot. But the one year he didn't take me, and I was relying on other pilots, we didn't get picked up. And long story short, Christmas and New Year's came along. No airplane. Too far to walk out. I was about ready to try to hike it."
"I was gonna keep one dog and shoot two and boil them up and put them in... one gallon Ziplock to try and make my own kind of Mountain House gig. And then finally the airplane did come. But I ate a dog entirely at camp before that. Yeah. I've dined on sled dog twice a day for seven days."
"I mean, there's nothing, nothing in the camp. Imagine going through your house without a scrap of food. Nothing. 40 - 50 below [zero], gutted the plastic peanut butter jar and wiped it out. I mean, there's nothing."
"I got those kinds of experiences to draw on and these other people... I support these other people. 'Alone - Season 7' was the strongest lineup I think they ever had. There were some good people there, but they just haven't thrown themselves out into the wilderness and actually lived it. I've lived it, guys. I've lived it. I've done it. And then the hundred-day challenge, and they happen to have me in the lineup. This is destiny."
What is your day like to just meet the minimum requirements of not freezing to death when it is 40 and 50 degrees below zero?
"Your whole day revolves around cold. Everything you do revolves around your shelter, your clothes, wet and dry - you don't wanna get wet - and staying warm. It all revolves around that. You're consumed with it. It penetrates every aspect of your daily life. Sleeping, what time you get up in the morning, how much firewood you need. It's there with you always. You have to learn to like that."
"I told the story about working in hot climates and sweating through my belt buckles. But if I can pick my climate, I'm a cold-weather guy. I kind of dig cold weather. I do good in cold weather. I have a great circulation system. My blood's always flowing. And I'm always uncomfortable. There's a difference between uncomfortable and freezing to death."
"You hear people... women are really bad for it; if you take your little lady out on stand with and she says, "Oh, I'm cold." Well, I wonder if they're cold or if they're just uncomfortable. Because I'm uncomfortable. But when you're living in the wilderness with minimal gear, you're uncomfortable. I don't care if it's too hot, too cold, whatever, you're always uncomfortable. Don't even think about getting comfortable. You're just trying not to stroke, heat, stroke out, or freeze to death."
Most contestants fashioned their shelter using timber, logs, brush, weeds, mud, and all that stuff. Had you originally planned to do a rock structure or was that just an opportunity?
"Here's a tip that I'll let go. I try not to let too many working points loose in these kinds of conversations. Because I either want you to come to Survival Camp or there might be people that I have to play against listening to my stuff. So I don't necessarily come out with the good stuff. You're not gonna get my great techniques from this podcast. I'm gonna keep it kind of vague. But you've gotta roll with what you got. Let's put it that way."
And you were confined to five square miles?
"That is correct. You do have a geographical area. But when you're talking about five square miles it's way bigger than you know. That is actually ample territory. And they got 10 of us with that kind of area, which adds up to a big giant area. And they have to get out and service all the people once in a while. Or if there's an emergency rescue 'em. So five square miles is actually very adequate. I have no issue with the five square mile thing."
Locke: "If I can imagine myself in your situation, being as efficient as I could as close to my shelter would kind of be my motto."
Roland: "Hand that man a cigar."
Locke: "Just don't drop me off in the Northwest Territory.
Mike: "If you do make sure there's a Rock House already there."
Roland: "Rock House will not be reproduced. Ever. Maybe if they send me back in. But you've watched two [seasons] since Rock House and nobody's even come close to duplicating Rock House."
"And Rock House was built into the side of the mountain, so you really couldn't even tell how magnificent Rock House was. And the photo and the footage will never duplicate the real thing. We all know that from our photo ops in our hunting. Rock House was a megastructure. Nobody's doing Rock House again."
"Here's something about Rock House. You watch 'Alone' at the end, they make everybody's structure just disappear and timeframe it down to where it disappears. Watch 'Alone - Season 7' at the end, Rock House doesn't even disappear. They went in there and scattered it around a little bit, but it's all still right there. It was too much for their safety crew to dispose of."
Were there any other moments during the season from other contestants that impressed you?
"Season seven... the gentleman that didn't take a bow, that was Joe. He rocked a squirrel. I remember that scene. And he did mention he played some ball as a young man and so he could pitch rock and ball. That was a fabulous stone throw on a squirrel. I've stoned a handful of squirrels in my day. And yeah, each one is very memorable. And for him to do that on film."
"Another thing I'd like to point out on 'Alone - Season 7', my buddy Keith... shot that squirrel. He used his bow, but he shot a squirrel up on a tree. And he's got his cameras going too. I mean, this is all self-filmed. In all these other survival shows, you got a camera crew. 'Alone' is self-filmed! We could do a talk on all that, what's involved in getting this on camera when you're alone. But Keith, he shot that squirrel with his bow and it's coming down outta the tree and he reaches out and catches it in his left hand. He got that on camera."
"So even if they make wrong gear picks or made wrong moves or whatever, we're talking about phenomenally talented people here. I don't hang with these people and I don't know what their feelings are about me or anything. I'm just out to beat everybody. I ain't making friends with none of them. But I will say again, 'Alone - Season 7' had a great lineup. And those two things right there prove that."
What was it like eating the half-digested grassy content from the gut of the musk ox?
"I already said it once, but I'll reiterate it for everybody. I ate stuff out there that would make a grizzly bear puke. And it has to go back to your constitution, who you are... Praise God in Jesus Christ's name, I've been given a body that doesn't fail. I don't trip and hit my rib. I don't bend my knee. I don't have broken bones. I don't have injuries. I can eat anything. I got the mind, I got the heart, I got the body, I got the soul, and I got the next challenge well in hand."
Tell us a little bit about what you offer in terms of your survival camp and your outfitted hunts.
"I don't do all the internet stuff myself. I just don't. Half the time I don't have a signal. I'll run the phone a little bit. You go to my website rolandwelker.com... that goes to my sister - she's running my website. We got a survival course, which is nothing like you're gonna get no place else. You type in, 'I'm so and so from wherever and I wanna study under the Hundred Day King.'"
"And then my big game hunts, which is actually where my heart still lies, big game hunting in Alaska. I'm getting Dall sheep, caribou, moose, and giant grizzly bears on a consistent basis. Started when I was 25. Now I'm going on 51 this fall. I still advertise myself as one of the best big game guys in America, in Alaska for the simple fact that I've been doing it for 25 years. And you start getting smart when you get old. And I've retained my physical. A lot of registered and master guides in their late thirties or early forties, they're done. They're their paperwork guides or pilots, and they're sending you out there with their assistant guides. You're still hunting with me. My hand ain't withered just yet. Now, someday when my physical starts to fail, I guess I can't advertise myself as that no more. But I'm hanging pretty tough."
"If you got big Alaska game on your agenda or you just wanna hang out with the Hundred Day Man to get the low-down and some cool survival gigs, go to rolandwelker.com. And you can get my shirt and book on there too."
"Everybody that's hunting, whether you're shooting quail, whether you're shooting a deer or two, or whether you wanna come shoot some amazing northern game, our hunting and shooting heritage, harkens clear back to the embodiment of the American pioneer spirit. Absolutely. It's who we are and who we're always gonna be. We ain't going nowhere, brother."
As hunters, we all want to be successful. Roland's passion for 'Alone' was to win it. It took a lot of mental resiliency, heart, mind, soul, and support from God. One of the takeaways is to put our heart and soul into it. We may not be the best at everything, but if we stay mentally strong, we can do hard things. We can tackle tough challenges. And Roland Welker is living proof that that can happen.
Thank you all for tuning into this episode of the Skre Country Podcast.