Ketscher grew up in Bettles, Alaska, just south of Gates of the Arctic. His parents ran a bush flying, outfitting, and fur buying business. Ketscher graduated from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks with a B.A.
Born in Rochester, New York, Barb moved to Alaska when she was 23 years old to work as a cook for a high-end wilderness lodge.  Soon thereafter, she worked in the Bering Sea on a crab fishing vessel, and later as a cook on fishing tenders in herring and salmon fisheries.