Read Being Caribou: Seven Months on Foot with an Arctic Herd by Karsten Heuer Online


What began as a wildlife research project became much more as the author and his wife learn to hear the earth, pay attention to their dreams and slowly change, beyond their expectations, into being caribou.Both gripping adventure and stark portrayal of an Arctic cosystem threatened by oil development. In April 2003, wildlife biologist Karsten Heuer and filmmaker Leanne AllWhat began as a wildlife research project became much more as the author and his wife learn to hear the earth, pay attention to their dreams and slowly change, beyond their expectations, into being caribou.Both gripping adventure and stark portrayal of an Arctic cosystem threatened by oil development. In April 2003, wildlife biologist Karsten Heuer and filmmaker Leanne Allison embarked on a five-month research journey to follow the 2,000-mile migration of a herd of 120,000 Porcupine Caribou, from their winter range to their calving grounds in Alaska, and back again. From Old Crow, Yukon, the Heuers followed ancient paths and the primordial rhythms of the herd through Canada and over the border to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the United States. The couple travelled on foot and by ski through unforgiving landscapes; fording swift, deadly cold rivers, as well as encountering ravenous grizzlies who tracked them as prey. Having began the expedition as seasoned outdoor adventurers, Karsten and Leanne soon learned they would only be able to find and discern the intent of the herd by adopting the ancient ways of the area's indigenous people. Advised by a Gwich'in native in Old Crow at the start of their trip to "listen to dreams", Karsten and Leanne find they must shed the many insulating layers of pragmatism that distance them from the natural world. They discover a transformational truth in listening to the music of the earth, paying attention to the urgings within dreams, and in truly, beyond their expectations, being caribou....

Title : Being Caribou: Seven Months on Foot with an Arctic Herd
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781594850103
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 237 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Being Caribou: Seven Months on Foot with an Arctic Herd Reviews

  • Jeanette
    2020-01-19 15:54

    What a beautiful story! And what an extraordinary pair of human beings. Karsten is a wildlife biologist and Leanne is a filmmaker. These newlyweds spent five months north of the Arctic Circle, on skis and on foot, following the Porcupine Caribou Herd. One thousand miles round trip!! They endured grizzly bear attacks, near-starvation (six days without a meal to speak of), borderline hypothermia, monster mosquitoes from hell, and just pure exhaustion. With only each other for company, frustration and frayed nerves were inevitable, but they stayed the course. They were rewarded with the chance to witness caribou cows giving birth, a special connection with the herd, and encounters with wolves, musk oxen, foxes, grizzlies, bighorn sheep, and countless bird species. Not to mention trekking through stunning, nearly untouched wilderness. If you've ever spent time connecting with wilderness and dreaded returning to civilization, you'll understand the tears streaming off my face and down into my cleavage at the end! :0 I felt like I'd been on the journey with them, and I didn't want it to be over.Unfortunately, the caribou calving grounds sit directly within the "1002 area" of ANWR. This area has long been targeted for oil development by the Bush crime family. A short-sighted solution fueled purely by greed, since U.S. Geological Survey estimates project only 6 to 12 months worth of oil supply after ten years of development prior to extraction.This book is very well written and superbly edited. They don't bore you with every plodding step of every day, just the most important ones. There's a children's version, about 60-70 pages, mostly photos, so be sure you get the adult one.There's also a 72-minute Being Caribou DVD of their trip, filmed by Leanne. It doesn't come with the book, but my library had it. It was awarded Best Environmental Film at the 2005 Telluride Mountain Film Festival. I watched the DVD before reading the book, which I recommend. I liked having the images in my mind and a feel for the people when I was reading. If you watch the DVD, don't turn it off when it gets to the credits. There's a funny voice-over right at the end. :)

  • Pam
    2020-01-01 17:42

    In April of 2003, wildlife biologist Karsten Heuer & his new wife, Leanne Allison, set off on an epic journey to follow the Porcupine Caribou herd as it migrated from its Yukon winter range to its endangered calving grounds in the Arctic Nat'l Wildlife Refuge - and back! After over 1,000 miles on foot and skis, physically & mentally exhausted, they walk into a dimension of conciousness neither had experienced before. Being Caribou is more than a story of grand adventure - it's about the roots of human instinct that are still alive in all of us, and how the power of wild landscapes and wild animals can release them from the layers of technology and industrialization that bury them in the modern world.A Personal Favorite of mine

  • Mme LionHead
    2020-01-26 17:06

    I enjoyed most of this book. It drew me in right off the bet with its very beautiful writings. I liked that the author would intermittently insert passages from his original journal. They make the content that much more telling. I could feel his passion for the caribou and nature through his words. The migratory journey the author and his wife embarked on, was gruesome, courageous, and wondrous. Reading about it makes me want to do something as daring and primitive, though I doubt I will ever be privileged enough to take on such a task. I understood their mission and desire to portray the importance of habitat protection from the perspective of the animals, but it was at times difficult for me to take them seriously. Their naïveté and disconnect with the capitalistic world portrayed in the book was unnerving. As well, the way he talked about becoming caribou themselves, becoming part of the herd, and his wife and his spiritual transformation, to me, casted a shadow on the validity of everything else he wrote about. (I'm not sure why I feel as such thoug.)I was also quite displeased with their irresponsible choice to travel with any weapons for self-protection. while I do not know if it was due to legal and/or technical challenges that they did not bring a gun with them, but it would have provided them with security (against grizzly bears) and food. It reminded me of Christopher McCandless, who went into the Alaskan wilderness with maps/a compass, from Into The Wild. Yes, that kind of stupidity.I watched the first bit of the complimentary documentary produced by the author's wife. I'm sorry to say that her voice and the narration just didn't quite work for me. If I were to finish the film, which I might for the footage of caribou itself, I might have to watch it mute. I would recommend this book to any animal lover or naturalist. Just focus on their actual journey and less on... the rest of the stuff.

  • Mary-Beth
    2020-01-16 15:50

    Look, I won't deny it. I am the wrong audience for this sort of thing. It was interesting, but for me it was really all beyond the pale. I think that nature is a wonderful and marvelous thing and I really respect what the author of the book did to try to help out a bunch of living creatures that deserve to live. Still and all whenever someone is so intensely into something that they physically harm themselves I can't help but cringe. Maybe that just proves that I am weak and not dedicated enough to anything in my life, but I don't believe that people should live like caribou or that bringing oneself to the brink of death deliberately is something to aspire to or that human beings are best when they are barely living off the land. It's a mere difference of opinion, but anyone who brings skepticism to what the author experienced likely won't get as much out of the book as she was meant to.

  • Simone
    2020-01-19 15:53

    Good if you're looking for an adventure story, but don't expect to learn much about caribou

  • Melissa
    2020-01-25 18:39

    I wish I liked the cold. I would love to do something like Karsten and his wife did in this book. But alas, the Alaskan and Yukon wilderness is not for me.Karsten and his wife decide to follow a caribou migration.....on foot and skis. The total trip lasts about five months and they go hundreds of miles. They sleep in a tent and just try to keep up with the herd, I'll while carrying only what they can on their backs and avoiding predators like grizzly bears and wolves. Supplies are dropped along the way for them, but its still a very tough journey, but one that is ultimately rewarding as they learn quite a bit about the caribou. With the calving grounds at risk for being exploited for oil, they feel that the trip is necessary to help preserve the land for the caribou.Karsten as a narrator was pretty good. There are times where I think he's a bit unfair at describing his wife, but ultimately he admires her, and I'm sure she'd probably be snarky too when writing the book because of the sheer amount of time they spent with only each other. The main focus is the caribou and traveling though, so there really isn't a lot of description of people they encounter with the exception of a few airplane pilots who pick them up or drop off their food for them.If you think the main focus of this book is going to be the caribou, it isn't. This book is more about the total journey itself. Sure they mention spotting the caribou and some of the migration and some other facts, but just as much time is given to their camping supplies and relationship with each other, and the wilderness in general. Its more of a trip book. I'm sure their documentary probably focuses more on the caribou themselves. Which is just fine, but I would have loved to have them go even further in depth about caribou than they did. But hey, they included some great pictures of the animals and some scenery shots as well, so it was nice to put visuals to the book. As a warning, this book does take a stance against drilling for oil in the arctic, so if you're for it, this may not be a read for you.Very interesting and informative, and just a good read in all. I would definitely look to see if this author or his wife have more books out.Being CaribouCopyright 2005233 pagesReview by M. Reynard 2012More of my reviews can be found at

  • Christina
    2020-01-17 19:41

    This book documents an adventure I’m glad someone else wrote about so I can read and experience their trip from the comfort of my home. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to visit the ANWR (it sounds breathtakingly beautiful), but this trip is riddled with requirements that are far outside this hiker’s comfort zone – relying on food drops, multiple encounters with starving bears, crossing frozen rivers barefoot, sleeping outdoors during 24-hour sunlight, dealing with mother cows protecting their newborn babies, and Alaska’s notorious mosquitoes and bugs. No, thank you.Despite the discomforts, it is easy to get swept away by the beauty and heartache of such an awe-inspiring journey. The descriptions of the animals herd mentality – pausing and then pushing the pack leaders into treacherous river crossings – are not easily captured in still photographs, and the slow death of a cow still nursing her calf moved me to tears. I started to get an appreciation for the ANWR and the Porcupine caribou herd that all the documentary films, congressional hearings, and propaganda posters could not impart upon me. And then there is the disconnect Heuer and his wife experience as they follow the caribou:“There’s still pressure, but it’s different, surging through instead of gathering within us. No schedules, no timetables, no flashing lights and signs saying which way to go next. It is wolves that tell us when to stop and caribou that urge us forward, pushing and pulling us across the landscape from behind and ahead.” (pg. 57)Their time may have been about being caribou, but something about this description really spoke to me. This idea that I can step outside of this fast-paced life, go into the woods, and experience a different kind of urging that doesn’t involve a buzzing phone or a chirp of an email notification. And isn’t that what wild places like the ANWR are also about? The protection of species and their habitat, but also the preservation of wild areas that speak to our souls and keep us human?

  • Socraticgadfly
    2020-01-24 16:05

    Why ANWR must be preservedHusband and wife team of Karsten Heuer and Leanne Allison decide to spend their honeymoon in just about the most off-the-beaten-track way possible: they're going to migrate with caribou.Not just any caribou, but the Porcupine herd of northern Canada and Alaska, the herd whose calving ground is the 1002 Section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the place where Exxon wants to drill to get what will likely be less than six months, maybe one year's worth of U.S. needs of oil supply.So, skiing and hiking, the duo spend April-September 2003 covering hundreds of miles in the wake of thousands of caribou, starting from Canada's Yukon, going into Alaska, then coming back. On the way, they cross and recross multiple mountain ranges and rivers, the latter frozen on the way up and roiling currents on the way back, battle swarms of summer mosquitoes and other bugs, cut their food budget tight between plane drops, and make psychological connections with both the herd instinct of the caribou and with each other as newlyweds.Portraying the caribou instinct as a more jazzy, free-form version of the salmon's drive to spawn, their trek sheds valuable new light on caribou activities. It also underscores the fragility and the absolute importance of ANWR's 1002 Section.To see just what is at stake on the side of the aisle opposite Exxon, and to fall in love with the Arctic North, read this book. Sixteen pages of full-color plates provide a wonderful photographic sidebar.

  • Stephen
    2020-01-21 22:41

    A great adventure: a husband and wife: biologist Karsten Heuer and filmmaker Leanne Allison follow the famed Porcupine herd of caribou from its Yukon winter range to its calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and back, thousands of miles. Even more mosquitoes. Grizzly bears. Blizzards. Months of walking.Ultimately they tapped into the herd’s “infrasonic resonance on the edge of human hearing.” A sort of oscillating song the collective caribou hummed to stay in touch, a group song the Heuer’s called “thrumming.” It was communicative. Mystic. Beyond human. At times the Heuers were unable to keep pace with the fast moving herd and would lose and have to find them. An excerpt: “Leanne looked pleased as she settled in beside me. It had taken months of effort to get here, weeks of frustration, and in the end it wasn’t satellite collars, scientific reports, maps, or even tracks that had guided us in. It was thrumming. Even now, sitting on the rocky slope as the caribou amassed a thousand feet below, we could feel it—a potential that throbbed all around: in the animals pouring past our camp, the throng of life below us, in the rocks, flowers, birds, even the tussocks, rising in goose bumps that crawled over our skin.”

  • Mallory
    2020-01-26 19:54

    Karsten Heuer and his wife Leanne travel to the Yukon/Alaska border to follow the caribou from their winter range, to their calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife refuge, and back. Throughout the five month trip, they face the challenges of an arctic spring- starvation, exposure to the elements, swarms of insects, and hungry grizzly bears. After the trip, Karsten and Leanne are left changed by the experiences had. The Canadian duo travels to DC to lobby against the oil companies intruding on the wildlife refuge. I thought this was an interesting time to read this book, as Obama just put heavy restrictions on drilling within ANWR (go Obama!)I loved this book. I never wanted to stop reading it, and I felt like Karsten was extremely honest with his audience at the emotions he felt and the events that took place. He writes in a relaxed, easy to read style that made this book pure joy to read. I recommend this to everyone, but especially to those interested in the ANWR drilling debate.

  • Rod Ruff
    2020-01-08 19:02

    An unforgettable look into the world of northern caribou and the delicate ecosystems they inhabit. Heuer does an amazing job of describing his (and his wife's) journey as they attempt to travel with the Porcupine caribou on their annual migration. The book will also resonate if you are an adventure or wilderness junkie. Fording half frozen rivers, scaling mountains, grizzly bear encounters, and eating ground squirrels when on the brink of starvation are just a few of the activities they endure during their five months in the wild. It is clear from the book that Heuer's experience was personally transformative. However, at times he struggles to communicate this change. Considering the nature of his journey, and his transformation, it might just be that this change is one of those things that is incredibly difficult to portray on paper, or even in words. I look forward to watching the documentary.

  • Kevin Dutton
    2020-01-16 22:39

    I really enjoyed "Being Caribou". The author writes about his 5 month journey following a herd of caribou during which time he becomes more and more aware of the natural presence and awareness found in the caribou and all that surrounds them. This allows him to see the glaring difference between that way of life and our technology and consumer driven lifestyle that is full of distractions and constant stimulation. Ultimately, he begins to make peace with the juxtaposition of these two existences and gives the reader room for thought on how those two worlds might coincide. Really a great book... reminds me of Ishmael, yet in a non-fiction/believable manner and possibly more adaptable to one's life.

  • Edward
    2020-01-09 21:39

    "We try to be caribou but are continually pulled back by our human needs" writes the author in one of his diary entries. What value does it have to follow the migration of a herd of caribou as they head toward calving grounds on the Arctic Ocean, something that the author and his wife do with great hardship and considerable personal danger? That is the question that this non-fiction book tries to answer, and it may be a kind of religious answer that is discovered. The caribou herd is completely unknown to most of humanity, but for those who study their amazing and instinctive behavior, what results is a kind of mindfulness and awareness. Humanity is not at the center of the universe; it is only one small part and all the other parts should be approached with awe and respect.

  • Alexis Thibeault
    2020-01-13 20:42

    A wonderful book, written in such descriptive prose, that gets to the heart of its subject with a simple grace not commonly seen in non-fiction. This couple was extraordinarily brave to undergo this project and with wonderful results, they seem to have had a truly transformative experience. I doubt that the reader could ever understand the caribou or the issues at hand the way that Karsten and Leanne can, however by reading this book you at least can get a tiny fragment of that wild, securely insecure life of migration and meandering. A definite read for any animal or environmental enthusiast.

  • Marty Essen
    2020-01-04 19:45

    I read Being Caribou in 2006. Since I prefer giving detailed reviews only when a book is fresh in my mind, I am going to skip a lengthy review here. I will say, however, that it was an excellent book. I also watched the movie version of the story twice. The book and movie are a nice combination, but read the book first. Marty Essen, author of Endangered Edens: Exploring the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica, the Everglades, and Puerto Rico

  • Shonna Froebel
    2020-01-01 18:06

    Karsten Heuer and his new wife, Leanne Allison, a filmmaker, spend months following and relating to caribou. They follow the Porcupine caribou herd in the spring from their wintering areas to the birthing grounds and back out. They encounter natives on both sides of the oil/environmental refuge question, grizzly bears, birds of all types, wolves, mosquitos and other life. They almost starve, have trouble keeping up sometimes and have moving experiences. An amazing and moving book.They have a website: http://www.beingcaribou.comand the film has won many awards.Definitely worthwhile.

  • Amy
    2019-12-30 18:46

    In response to Bush Administration threats to open the arctic to oil drilling, a married team of wildlife biologists follow the Porcupine caribou herd migration to the calving grounds on the coastal plain in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in order to make a documentary. It's a fantastic adventure story. However, since the purpose of the expedition was to take photos I wish there were a few more photos in the book. In order to see the pictures you have to watch the documentary:

  • Lorraine
    2020-01-01 15:43

    A true story written like fiction, very easy to read. Lots of information about caribou and their habitat, but not at all in a textbook or preachy way. The landscape descriptions are good, but obviously cannot do the story justice. I really enjoyed reading about their trek, finding and following and losing (rinse, repeat) caribou. There is an excellent sense of ecology and of a world that is bigger than humans. It reminds me of what is out there, what we have lost, what we could protect.

  • Sherry (sethurner)
    2020-01-04 16:56

    It's a good thing I read this nonfiction account of a husband/wife team who set out to migrate with a caribou herd in the summer, because the reading gave me goosebumps. The conditions they traveled under were often very harsh, wet and cold and dangerous. They weree determined to photograph and film the lives of the carbou in the Artic Wildlife Refuge, hoping to preserve the caribou's habitat, and so preserve the caribou. Maybe a whole lot more people need to read their account.

  • Tema Sarick
    2020-01-26 18:04

    This was extremely interesting as an account of a couple's 5 month migratory journey with caribou in the North. I was soooo envious of their proximity to such amazing critters including grizzlies, wolves, eagles and of course caribou. The writing is good enough but the story is great and the message about the potential devastation to all of these animals should Alaska be opened to further oil collection, is very, very important.

  • John Elbare
    2020-01-05 00:07

    Very interesting book, yet I did not finish it, as it started to get a little tedious midway through. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating true story of a couple who decide to follow the caribou herd on foot during its annual migration through the northern Yukon and Alaska. Well worth reading. There is a film they shot which can be viewed on their web site. The book also provide considerable insight into the presnet day like of Eskimo native Americans.

  • Doug Gordon
    2020-01-22 16:53

    Such a great book! This story is both amazing and mysterious. It gets to the core of nature's spiritual aspects - the concepts of flow and connection between beings and how it is possible to enter that flow if a person allows for the time required and cultivates a certain mental state. It is also an epic story in itself.

  • Joe Rodeck
    2019-12-30 16:05

    With a general leave the wilderness alone, anti-drilling theme, this is easy reading; but only as interesting as looking at a herd of caribou can possibly be. The "becoming caribou" is too much of a zen stretch. Not exciting. Reinforces this rule of thumb: be careful when a book has only a handful of reviews.

  • Amy
    2020-01-05 18:45

    I would rate this book 1.5 if I could. It took 130 pages before I really even cared about the story. The author doesn't write terribly but neither would I call him an excellent writer. I think the book would have rated 3 stars if he focused more on the environmental /political side of the caribou issue, so that his readers would have a reason to care about his 5 month trek.

  • Jean
    2020-01-28 18:47

    Wow. The documentary of this trip is amazing, but the book is even better. Karsten's prose will tug at your soul. I was very emotional while reading this book and it was a pleasure to read. Please do what you can to preserve the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Maddy
    2020-01-01 00:07

    I really liked this one, and the author gets points for the most gruelling honeymoon ever (though no need to talk about your sex life, Karsten). I found the description of the "de-culturing" of a human mind out in the wilderness super interesting.

  • Joy Marley
    2019-12-29 23:00

    An incredible insight into the Porcupine Herd, wild and free and working so hard to survive. A touching story of human transformation. For anyone not already convinced, this book succinctly makes the case against development in the ANWR.

  • David Kessler
    2020-01-09 15:40

    Enjoyed it; about a 4 star. Answered why we do not wish to drill for oil in the new territory to the eastern , northern part of the Alaska coastline. Two brave souls, newly married, travel with the Porcupine Herd.

  • Christine Mac
    2020-01-13 20:09

    Before I read the book, I saw Karsten present a slideshow of his experience which blew me away. An incredible endurance feat and a nature story that crosses over into the spiritual. The "Being Caribou" movie his wife made is also a "must see".

  • Zyr
    2020-01-25 19:03

    I loved it, honestly I'm not going to go in depth as I believe (cliche yes) that this book can stand on it's own, and the title says enough. So if you want to read about the caribou and how fundamentally 'human' we are then I would recommend this book. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did.