To start this story, I'm going to quote Christopher Batins Hunting in Alaska Book, "....the brown bear has represented the ultimate in hunting challenge and excitement. No more convincing proof of this exists than a successful grizzly/brown bear hunter's return from the field. It's a compelling sight. Clothes are usually soiled and torn. Hands are scratched and reddened from numerous encounters with (alders and the skinning knife ) The hunters fiberfill vest reeks with musky smell of bear and human persperation....With quick and articulate hand gestures, and a voice an octave or two higher than normal, the hunter tells of the bear standing its ground, of the first shot, the second and third shots, and the (dads) back-up shot. The story may end in the wee hours, but the tension, the exuberance of the hunter doesn't die. It carries over into the night, the next day and-back home- to parties, conferences and the office."
So here goes my story, that will live on here and hopefully be re-read by those who share a common interest. Going back to October. After an extradonary hunt with stranger and akrst, it was time to plan another adventure to keep the winter from getting to me. I have always dreamt about hunting the Alaska Brown Bear, and now being a resident; it was time. Since my Dad is a non-resident, I could take him along with me for him to share in the dream. We started planning...
Emails were shot back and forth, hours of phone calls each week started. We were getting pumped and it was still 200 days away. To quote my oldest brother, "this is the best thing for Dad, he's getting in shape, eating healthy and STOKED to get there." So, it was on; we were going to try to get 2 nice bears.
Fast forward to last week, Tuesday May 8th. Dad flies in, and we get everything together. We fly to King Salmon, and I'm certain the weather will hold us there for the day. Opening season is the 10th, the day we end up flying in. So, we got camp set up and ready. We were teased with sunny skies, and beautiful weather. Of course; we needed to crack a couple of beers, good luck for bears!
To keep this shorter, the next 4 days went just about as is; 35 MPH winds, side ways snow, glassing, glassing, hiking, hiking, glassing, hiking. They say you're suppose to get high and glass, but when nothing is moving to glass, you have to move. So we hiked, a lot. After 4 days we saw 2 bears, 30 caribou, 200+ ptarmigan and 2 redfox. It was time to do something different.
We hiked to the top of a mountain in the valley and glassed. Dad spotted a bear about 7 miles away. Trying to show me where the bear was, I ended up seeing 2 others fighting (awesome sight!). As I am a very reactive-aggressive hunter, I didn't want to make a decision. But, as soon as Dad said "F it, lets go where the bears are" I was in. WE hiked the beach the 7 miles out, and went from seeing no bear tracks at all, to bear wolf and fox tracks EVERYWHERE. We knew we were in on it. We came around the corner and a wolf jumped up and took off. My hands were too slow to react in the 5 seconds to get a shot off .
We hiked to where the wolf was and saw a bear on the beach. After glassing him, we decided we would come back to him if we saw no more bears. We had a sow and 2 cubs run into us (about 50 yards away) and went to the top of a hill to glass. The weather turned into 40MPH winds, with blinding snow. We tried to glass but couldn't see anything. We decided to get onto the beach to check that bear out again. We took the alders, and ended up about 700 yards away. We thought it was less. Dads range finders wouldnt go out to range, so we had to stalk the bear. We stalked to within 500 yards (thinking it was about 250, and you can criticize me here, but I won't argue) and he saw us. He didnt run, just knew something was wrong. So I got set up on a log and squeezed a shot into the chest of the bear. I ended up shooting him 4 times. We got him skinned out and hiked him back the 7 miles to camp.
The next day was bright and sunny! So, we hiked back the 7 miles to where I harvested my bear. Long story short, we got BURNT, saw one wolf out of range, and no bears. We were down and OUT.
We decided it was time to move. We had hiked 7 miles west, 4 miles north, 3 miles east. We hunted HARD and decided we needed a different bay. We called Branch River Air on the Sat phone and requested a different bay. I have to thank BRA A LOT because he came out of his way to get us. I asked to move to ----- bay, because all the other bays I knew had people in them. So we packed camp and took off. We landed, got unpacked and re-set up. We slept in (a common occurance) until 10am. The weather was 180 out from where we were the first 4 days. Instead of 45MPH wind gusts, it was 10MPH wind gusts. Life was GREAT. We got up on the first knoll just above camp and were about to start glassing when Dad noticed a bear. He believed it to be a smaller bear, so we wanted a closer look. Ended up being the biggest bear we'd saw all week. We didn't even get our packs off. We dropped them and headed out! I grabbed the range finders and we stalked the bear. This time the range finders worked, 274 yards. The first shot hit the bear square in the shoulder and he stiffened up. One more reassuring shot and he was done for!
We got the bear all skinned out and called BRA for a pick up. We were back to town by 8pm.
All in all it was an OUTSTANDING hunt. My Dad and I became a lot closer, and bonded extremely well. We hardly fought (only when I was a --- ) and had great laughs and times. We had heart ache, cold, wind, rain, snow, sleet, sun. Everything I'd expect on a brown bear hunt.