Alaska big-game guide Joe Hendricks lived the life of legends. For four decades, he roamed the wilds of the 49th state like some sort of northern, real-life version of Robert Wilson, the professional hunter in one of Ernest Hemingway's most famous short stories -- "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber."
Hendricks' game was big bears and Dall sheep, not the lions and buffalo of Wilson, but his life was much the same. Over the years, he estimates his clients killed more than 100 grizzly bears, often known in Alaska simply as brown bears, and more than 300 sheep.
"We risked our lives," Hendricks told Alaska Dispatch News videographer Tara Young (www.adn.com/multimedia) in an interview earlier this year. "I risked my life, not just for the clients, on several occasions. I risked my life in order to recover the game."
By the time the interview was conducted, Hendricks was discredited and dying of cancer, though with his shock of long white hair and salt-and-pepper beard, he still looks debonair and significantly younger than his 78 years. Hendricks spent hours meeting with Young to talk about his fall from grace in one of the darker hours of Alaska big-game hunting.
Shortly before Christmas 2011, Hendricks found himself caught up in a federal sting and charged with 34 felonies related to illegal hunting in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Then one of Alaska's oldest and most respected big-game guides, Hendricks was a victim, in large part, of letting other guides use his exclusive hunting area in the Brooks Range, but as he admits in the video, he wasn't totally innocent either.