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Near-death adventures the name of the game for McElveen

Rocklin resident guides presidents, dignitaries and many more into Alaskan wild, finding adventure, danger
By: Joshua Rossman, Special to The Placer Herald
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“Alaska can thrill you. Alaska can chill you … and Alaska can kill you.” These are the words of Rocklin resident Rocky McElveen. Reclining comfortably in his armchair in the living room of his Rocklin home, the Alaskan-raised hunter, fisher, author and storyteller said those words with dead seriousness, and yet a calmness, fitting a man who knows better than most the serenely beautiful and treacherous wilderness of the U.S.’s 49th state. “You know,” he said, “Alaska is the most dangerous and lonely place in the world, but it’s really a place of great comfort.” McElveen, though a native of Mississippi, moved to Alaska with his brothers, sisters and mother by his father, who went to become an Alaskan missionary in 1957. “We didn’t know if it was the call of the Lord or the “Call of the Wild,’ which brought them to Alaska,” he said. Had it not been for that call, McElveen most likely would have never founded his guided hunting and fishing company, Alaskan Adventures, along with his wife, Sharon. Now, for more than 20 years Rocky has led men and boys of all walks of life on guided tours into the wild. Some of the more famous names include former President George Bush Sr., Major League baseball player Dave Dravecky and General Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager, as well as many others. “Your typical tour-goer is a busy, harried CEO of some sort, and it takes about a day or two for them to realize they are not in control,” said Rocky, who has squared off against blizzards, plane crashes and grizzly bear attacks. “Every time I face death, (there) isn’t fear or sorrow. You are totally resigned to events completely beyond your control.” Rocky said his love for Alaska gives him a greater sense of security than living here in California. “I’m more at home seeing bears feeding on salmon or wolves slinking by camp than a strange car driving down the street,” he said. As a hunter and an adventurer, Rocky acknowledges the risks involved and more importantly the role he plays as a part of Alaska’s ecological growth. Even though he said he is hammered with e-mails rebuking him for pursuing and killing the Alaskan wildlife, Rocky takes a more positive outlook. “Every part of Alaska has a biologist assigned to it that we collaborate with on every trip,” he said. “We are the stewards of the land ...we protect and encourage growth and discourage predators.” Despite the obvious risk and danger that goes along with braving the Alaskan landscape, Rocky said there is an allure to Alaska which calls out and says, “Come here.” And as much as he has been through and experienced, he admits it is the connection he has made not just with Alaska, but with the countless friends over the years, which holds the greatest significance. “Dave Dravecky is a hoot,” Rocky said about the former Giants pitcher. “He loves the outdoors and the fact that he can participate in an activity without using his left arm and be good at it.” A young boy, who Rocky said was either 12 or 13 from Chandler, Ariz. stuck out among the rest. “I am honored to be his guide,” Rocky said. “He sits at the front of the boat and the kid’s a machine. He has the skill of a pro fisherman and the patience of a 90-year-old man in a nursing home.” Gord Kemper, a man from Michigan who had been on Rocky’s tour said in a message to Rocky, “It is no wonder to us that many very famous people have chosen to hunt and fish with you ... after looking back, Coby and I recalled that most of the week was solid rain, but we felt like the sun shown very bright, and in many ways.” For more information on Rocky or Alaskan Adventures visit rockmcelveen.com or call (800) 392-6210 or pick up Rocky’s book, “Wild Men, Wild Alaska.”