What most students aren’t aware of each day as they attend class is that they are walking the halls with a big game safari hunter. She has had the opportunity of hunting a variety of game all over the world from the exotic game in South Africa, such as gazelle, kudu, and wildebeest, to what we are more familiar with in Alaska, such as moose, big horn sheep, and mountain goats. Professor and Head of Collection Development, Jodee Kawasaki is not only a faculty member here at UAA, but also a world-traveler, a big game hunter, and is now an Alaska resident.
Kawasaki moved to Alaska from Montana, where she worked at Montana State University and where the variety of game is similar to that of our state. In Montana, drawing tags is compared to the lottery. Between the choices of moose, big horn sheep, and mountain goat, Kawasaki drew a mountain goat tag in September of 1996 and embarked on her hunt. For three months, she spent every Saturday night scouting and camping out in the mountains of Montana, searching for mountain goats and preparing for the hunt. Thinking back on it, Kawasaki remarked, “That set in a motion for me, a love of hunting. It was such a special one.”
Kawasaki was raised in the outdoors, focusing on fishing. However, over the years and after spending time with other big game hunters, her love for hunting has grown. Although Alaska has a large crowd of women who hunt, it is less common in the Lower 48. “It’s kind of unique; I am a woman. And I’m proud that I’m one of the crowd,” Kawaski said.
After hunting in Montana, her hunger for hunting big game was only fed from there on. Kawasaki traveled to South Africa, where she and her husband met up with an outfitter and set out on a safari to track and hunt the exotic game the region has to offer. She described the safari hunt as “just like in old movies” and lavishly put together, where she was “treated like royalty”. On safaris such as this, outfitters supply the hunters with food, lodging, and the land that they lease where hunters can prowl and hunt their game.
When most of us think of safaris and African hunting, instantly we think of the dangerous game, like lions and tigers. However, Kawasaki emphasized that hunting dangerous game in Africa is not only hazardous, but also quite expensive. This category of game includes water buffalo, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, leopards, and lions. Hunting game in Africa is based on price, and hunters get what they pay for.
Kawasaki also traveled to British Columbia, Canada, where she hunted Canadian moose on two separate trips, in which only one of those trips ended with a reward. Kawasaki is eager to begin hunting in Alaska, and she described it as one of the reasons she chose Alaska as her new destination. Ironically, however, her next scheduled trip is to hunt black bear in Montana this fall.
Most of you are probably wondering what a big game safari hunter like Kawasaki is doing here at UAA. “I oversee and manage the purchasing of the books, journals, electronic resources, and databases.and it’s never dull in the ever-changing electronic world,” said Kawasaki. She emphasized on her love for the job and the challenges she faces each day.
Though it is only her first year working at UAA and inhabiting Alaska, she has already found UAA to be her new niche. “It’s a very positive and friendly atmosphere on campus. People are friendly and helpful,” Kawasaki remarked. She recognized one of her strengths as being that she is conscious of both the students and courses we teach. Students and staff at UAA are glad to have her as part of the team and we are eager to see what she will bring to campus.