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The Courage of Agnes Hailstone

The BBC documentary series Life Below Zero is synonymous with the Hailstone modern-day adventurous family. The series, airing on the American TV channel, the National Geography, chronicles the activities of hunters in some of Alaska’s remotest areas. Some of the most visible characters in the show are members of the Hailstone family who live in Noorvik on the Kobuk River. Agnes Hailstone and her family live off the land, surviving in the cold by hunting and killing animals. The family, as well as others, engaged in trade-by-barter trading methods, while living a reality that could send down fears in even some of the most courageous of us living in a modern way.

When trying to describe Agnes, different attributes come to mind. To me, 'strong' and 'resilient’ are the words that sum her up.

Her entire life is a challenge to everyone who encounters her. She lives each day bracing herself up for danger. And this is what, amongst many things, tells us just how strong she is. I mean, let’s be honest, to be able to stand your ground in the face of the most daunting challenges takes sheer guts. It’s not the characteristic of a feathered-hearted weakling.

Many viewers of Life Below Zero often refer to her as the star of the show and why they stay glued to their screens whenever the program airs

Whenever I watch the program, it’s hard not to notice how, whenever she sees danger, Agnes goes directly at it and faces it. And the kind of life that she lives is one that is both intriguing and intimidating; it has been this way with her since childhood. It’s also the same kind of life that has propelled her to stardom today. Follow me closely as I take you on a ride through this incredible woman’s life.

Early Life And Education

Born on 14 June 1972 in the cold wilderness of Noorvik, Alaska, Agnes Hailstone was named after a Hurricane. The day she was born, Hurricane Agnes hit the United States and changed the lives of some people forever. As she grew up, Agnes lived up to her name, and even more. Her parents were hunters, as were her grandparents. Hers was a family built for generations through the skill of setting traps and hunting and perfecting the skills of survival in the Alaskan wilderness.

After being homeschooled for years, Agnes Hailstone received her high school diploma in 1990. It was the farthest she has gone in the pursuit of formal education.


Agnes Hailstone is Caucasian. She has medium-dark hair and blue eyes. Another of her prominent features is the tattoo on her chin, which interests her fans. It is easily the first thing to notice when one watches Life Below Zero and sees her, even if for the first time. According to Find Any Answer, Agnes's tattoo was given to her when she attained puberty. The tattoo is said to signify maturity and hard work. It is also said to mean that she is a serious woman, and as such, shouldn't spend much time laughing and fooling around. Agnes is 5ft 3ins tall and weighs around 121lbs (55kg).

Marriage And Children

Agnes has been married twice. She was 19 years of age when she married for the first time to Carter. Although the marriage didn’t last, it produced two sons: Douglas Doug Carter and Jon Hailstone. Reportedly, Carter's wish to move away from Alaska was what led to the end of their marriage. Douglas and Jon have both become hunters and are married.

In 1988, Chip (born Edward V Hailstone) Hailstone visited Noorvik for the first time and met Agnes. She was 19 then, and yet to be married to Carter. Chip settled in, decided to settle down in Alaska and, subsequently, married Agnes in 1992 shortly after her first marriage ended.

Apart from her two sons with Carter, Agnes has five more children with Chip Hailstone, all girls. The names of their daughters are Tinmiaq, Iriqtaq, Mary, Caroline, and Qutan. Despite living in harsh conditions, the couple didn’t neglect the education of all their children. In 2015, Iriqtaq enrolled in college. It is also reported that Iriqtaq and her sister, Mary, were both sports lovers while in high school, the latter even becoming the captain of the basketball team. In 2016, Iriqtaq gave birth to a son, Wade, making Agnes and Chip grandparents.

Life Below Zero

Life Below Zero is centered around life in the extremely cold Alaskan Wilderness. It shows the lives of a group of hunters who are neighbors to bears, wolves, and foxes. There is always the persistent battle for basic amenities. The series leads viewers on a journey through the lives of tough, resilient residents trying to beat storms and escape dangerous beasts for survival. When the closest neighbor is hundreds of miles away, they rely solely on what is hunted and foraged. They catch fish for currency in bartering for supplies or use their packs of sled dogs for transportation. It also shows the springtime of the year that viewers don't always see in Alaska, with residents facing new challenges before the deep cold returns.

The show in which Agnes and her husband star, alongside Glenn Villeneuve and his family, is aired on the National Geographic channel. Of all the cast of Life Before Zero, a larger percentage of fans and viewers of the show appears to be more interested in Agnes and her life, tagging her a strong woman. Some time ago, a fan tweeted about how she is the coolest woman for hunting, fishing, skinning animals, building homes, making clothes, and raising her five daughters. Raising a family while living a sustainable life in harsh conditions isn't something everyone can pull off. A viewer, Kira Davis, even went as far as tweeting about how “…We all agree that Agnes Hailstone is a certified badass, right?"

Agnes' exploits in Life Below Zero continues to impact the lives of many viewers of the show, especially the women.

Interests And Hobbies

Agnes enjoys living in the wilderness, in one of the coldest places in the USA. She has also stated that she likes the freedom she gets from her kind of life. The word around is that when Carter was leaving Alaska in the early 1990s, Agnes rejected the option of leaving with him. Instead, she chose to let him go.

Agnes is very much interested in guns, and even reads books about them when she wants to choose her own. She possesses a Mosin Nagant 3-line rifle MI819. Her knife, Ulu, is an all-purpose knife that helps her when hunting and working around her house.

She loves to read next to the fire at home during her spare time. History and crime detection are her favorite genres of literature. Although she loves animals, she kills them for their coat and meat, believing it's just the food chain. However, she usually apologizes to the animal after taking its life.

Agnes was a principal in her family's now-defunct company, Caribou Arts and Adventures. Having stopped moving from place to place, she is now the proud owner of the Kavik River Camp, an exploration camp that provides accommodation for all those who want to experience life in the wilderness during the summer.

She is also a philanthropist reserving a period in the summer for underprivileged children, and those who might not be able to afford to stay at her camp.

Net Worth

Agnes' net worth is reportedly around the region of $400,000, garnered majorly from her role in the Life Below Zero TV series.

About The Authors

Paolo Reyna

Paolo Reyna - Paolo is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in International Studies with a Latin American emphasis. During the fall semester of 2012, he had the opportunity to study abroad in Peru, which piqued his interest in international growth. He learned about the disparities that impact indigenous peoples, got a taste of Peruvian culture, and improved his Spanish skills. Mitchel interned with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, conducting research on food security in Latin America, after being inspired by his foreign experience. He wants to work in international development and for a government department, writing legislation. He loves playing intramural basketball and practicing for the Chicago marathon when he is not thinking about current events in Latin America.

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