'Alaskan Bush People' Recap: Bush Heart

Credit: Discovery

Perhaps the coolest part about this season of Alaskan Bush People was getting to explore the small villages that line the pristine waterways of southeast Alaska, and realizing that the Brown family's way of life, albeit a bit more wild, isn't all that unique to this part of America. "Bush living" extends far beyond the borders of Browntown, to places like Hoonah, and Gustavus, and Tenakee Springs — a tiny community of only 60 people that's explored on this season finale, as the location of the eldest Brown brothers' newest hauling job.

It's only the second time that Bam, Bear, Gabe, and Matt have delivered cargo without their father, and seeing how the first trip didn't go over smoothly, they're ecstatic when they make it through rough waters and dock the Integrity without issue. This time their cargo consists of glass windows; a 550-pound "cooler" (really just a full-sized fridge), and supplies for a local bakery, such as flour and sugar. Since ferry service to and from Tenakee Springs has been cut in recent years, the small town is even more reliant on these freight deliveries.


While Bam and Gabe split off to drop off the windows, Matt explores the tiny cluster of homes that makes up the town, and discovers a "freecycle shed" — a small hut where locals and travelers can swap items they no longer want or need. "It's kind of an unspoken rule that when you enter, you bring something with you that you can leave behind," Matt explains as he peruses the tiny room neatly lined with stacks of books, clothes, and household items. According to Matt, these swap sheds exist in every town in this part of Alaska.

After trying on a pair of boots, a coat, and gloves, Matt apparently hits the bush jackpot when he discovers an ice-cube tray: "Do you know how hard it is to find one of these?!" He also makes off with some other junk, like marbles and spoons. Oddly, the Alaskan treasure he offers up to the Tenakee freecycle shed in return is a pair of socks.

The brothers reconvene on the dock and head toward home, when partway through the return journey they discover the skiff roped to the Integrity is taking on water and quickly sinking. They act fast and manage to hoist it onto the roof of the boat. At this point, they're feeling good — they've managed to successfully deliver all the cargo, navigate the open waters, and save the skiff. They might actually have a future in this cargo-hauling business after all.

A surprise call over the radio shatters the moment — it's Noah, and they're confused to hear his voice. He breaks the news: Billy had another seizure, and finally gave in to Ami's wishes to be checked out at the hospital in Juneau. The rest of the family is on a boat heading back toward Browntown, and both parties agree to meet at the dock in Hoonah.

Billy wants to wait until they're all settled in at the cabin before he breaks the grim news about his health, but upon returning to Browntown, tragedy strikes again. In their short stead, the bear has returned — but this time, it's serious. Some of the chickens have been slaughtered, and the bear absolutely ravaged the inside of the home beyond repair, even making it upstairs to the bedrooms. All the Brown's worldly possessions are completely trashed — pictures and drawings from childhood days, letters, clothing, pieces of the wall are ripped down, and mattresses are torn apart. The few family keepsakes that the Browns have managed to hold onto through years of living in the bush are gone forever.


It's a jarring thing to return to, and so it is with a heavy heart that after discovering everything they own has been trashed, Billy must tell his brood that his seizures have affected his brain so much that he needs to leave the Bush to go "down south" for an undetermined amount of time, to be studied by specialists.

It's not the Brown style to split up, so when Billy tells them that he must leave the wild to seek medical attention, what he's really saying is that we are leaving the bush. It's unthinkable for the children, who have never known life in a normal town or city, the next best thing being small fishing villages with populations of under a hundred people. Wherever they're going, there's no doubt there won't be any freecycle sheds, and there probably won't be much work hauling windows and refrigerators (thanks, Amazon). It might not be bush-worthy, but whatever is in store for the Brown family is sure to be another adventure.