Niles man takes road less traveled
Published 10:15 am Thursday, March 27, 2014
Passion, personal trials lead to successful business book
NILES — Born in Niles, not far from the St. Joseph River, Kent Kaiser had always been drawn to the outdoors. Hunting and fishing were activities he dreamed about, but there were no adults in his family who shared his passions.
Fortunately for young Kent, Kenny Bowers, a family friend, would take him fishing on the banks of the St. Joseph River.
“He’d come pick me up and take me bass fishing all the time. He didn’t have to do that. He just wanted a fishing partner, and here I was, just a little kid, but I became pretty good at it,” Kent said. “I had a knack for this stuff. He instilled that in me, but I also think it’s just born in you.”
Kent’s imagination was also captivated by the idea of living the outdoor life in Alaska. So, when Kent’s mother remarried and moved the family to that state, it was a dream come true for him.
“Here in Niles, as a very young man, I remember going to Ring Lardner Junior High School, and I would go through all of the fur, fish and game magazines in the library. I read them, and I’d read the articles on Alaska and the outdoors,” Kent said.
“When my mother came home and said we were moving to Alaska, it was like a dream,” Kent said. “I never thought in a million years that I could go to Alaska.”
Since then, Kent has made the most of that opportunity, learning the land, hunting big game in that state and building a customized tour business.
“I got the chance to live the dream, and I excelled. I was the adventurous type, pretty much a gypsy,” Kent said. “If you can make a living doing what you love, you’re part of a very small percentage in the world. I know I’m a blessed man because I love what I do.”
While Kent has fully enjoyed these activities, it has not been all fun and games. In fact, Kent found himself in one of the most difficult predicaments of his life, facing jail time and millions of dollars in fines, due to his pursuit of the activities that he loves.
“From start to finish, the whole ordeal lasted from about 2005 to 2009,” Kent said. “It all boiled down to, basically, was it a resident or a non-resident tag. You’re dealing with the government. They can do whatever they want, and they do.”
Due to a dispute over the type of hunting license he should be using in Alaska, Kent found himself embroiled in court cases in both the United States and New Zealand. The fight cost him thousands of dollars as well as his marriage.
In order to put the situation behind him, Kent spent two years writing “Hard Way Back,” which he published himself.
His website describes it as “One man’s true story of political corruption in Alaska and New Zealand, revealing why he was chased across the globe by a U.S. Special Agent and jailed in a foreign country.”
“It’s a story of hope in the end. The message is, when you’re at the end of you’re rope, that’s not the end,” Kent explained.
“It took me years to get over that experience, to calm down and to forgive everybody. That’s why I waited awhile before I wrote it,” Kent said. “It was just a story I had to tell. By no means am I an author, but I had to get it out. It was like therapy for me. I’m pretty proud of it.”
Now that the troubles and travails detailed in the book are behind him, Kent continues to guide tours to both Alaska and New Zealand, under the aegises of Alaskan Quest and New Zealand Quest.
“My life is 100-fold better than it was before,” Kent said. “I had to go through that to get where I am now.”
Now, Kent finds purpose in his life by sharing the natural wonders of those locations with others through the customized tours that he operates in the summer months. Kent’s clients can choose from a wide variety of tours, from whale and polar bear watching, to guided hunting trips for moose and other big game, to glacier tours.
“The biggest things for me now are my outdoor businesses, especially Alaska. That’s my love,” Kent said. “And with that, I’ve been blessed ten-fold. I have more tours set up for this coming year than I’ve ever had in my life.”
Kent now spends his winters on the lecture circuit, speaking to various groups about his experiences, his travels and his relationship with God. Most recently, Kent was invited to speak at a Wild Game Dinner at Howardsville Gospel Chapel.
“His story of adventure and the outdoors connected with outdoorsmen in attendance,” said Pastor Sheldon Combs. “His sharing of the adversity in his life connected with others on the level of general trials in life, marriage, and the strong hand God uses to bring us back to Him.”
Copies of Kent’s book are available at www.hardwayback.com as well as at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and many Martin’s Supermarkets, just to name a few locations. People interested in booking a tour with Kent can learn more about his services on the internet at www.alaskanquest.com and www.nzquest.com.