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Thread: Talkeetna Mountains Grizzly

  1. #1
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    Default Talkeetna Mountains Grizzly

    Jake has already posted a couple of photos from this trip but as i have spent considerable time reading the forum over the last 18 months or so i thought i had better post my own version of events for you all to enjoy. The forum is great and i will definately be hanging round

    My father and I booked the hunt in August last year with Jake & Amber Jefferson at Black River Hunting Camps (BRWNBR on the forum). Every week for then to when we left Dad and I were organising something for the trip - rifle, scope, ammunition, flights, permits, licenses, insurance, firearm security, rental car, accommodation, tourist activities, suitable luggage, cold weather gear... there was quite a list of stuff to organise. Some of it was easy, some of it was not.

    So i'll skip all the in between and go straight to the hunt. We flew into the Talkeetna Mountains from outside the Talkeetna township on the 21st of September. The weather was nice but beginning to turn for the worse.
    Float plane base we flew in from:


    It took two flights to get three of us in with all the gear. Jake and the gear went first with Dad and I in the second flight. We have a photo of Jake with a big grin on his face when we ask if we can hold the keys to his truck as he is flying away with ALL of our gear...

    Jake runs a very comfortable camp (no smoking or alcohol) and as you would expect looks after his clients very well.
    As we flew in in the afternoon we checked the zero on my rifle, had a small dinner then just soaked up the atmosphere until we went to bed.
    Camp:


    We woke up to a brilliant sunrise:


    Hunting caribou in Alaska must be real easy. We hadn't been walking from camp 20 minutes when this guy basically ran right up to us:


    Soon after we spotting some grizzly food:


    And then these guys ran up to us as well:


    We spent the day sitting on a high feature glassing the surrounding countryside for animals. We spotted two moose, two black bears, a wolverine (well jake said he saw it... ) and quite a few caribou. We also spotted two grizzly bears, the first one about 4km away and the second one much closer. We attempted a stalk on the closer one but never managed to catch up to it. After that we followed a caribou back to camp.
    Jake and I glassing from the high feature:


    We got up the next morning and decided to head back to a area we could watch the area we had seen the second grizzly the day before. We had just reached a high point overlooking a basin when Jake spotted the grizzly about 400 yards right in front of us. Jake and I left Dad with the day packs and ran straight down the slope towards the bear. The wind was coming across from the left and so was not an issue. The bear was busy searching for food and had not noticed us. The hunt was on!

    Jake and I managed to get to a slight rise over a small creek about 100 yards from where the bear was. It was here Jake and I decided to wait for a bit to see where the bear was going to go. I was pretty excited at this stage with a bear so close and Jake and I discussed a shooting position and he used the discussion to attempt to calm me down a bit before I had to shoot... i can't say i calmed down much at all.

    The bear was walking/feeding its way right up the rise across the small creek from us. Jake and I were in position watching it get closer and closer. The bear stepped over to our side of the rise and looked up to scan the face in front of it. We were now in full view of it and at about 55 yards. It was facing directly towards us when Jake said to shoot before it spotted us and worked out what we were.
    This photo is taken just as the bear raised it head, only a second or two before my first shot:


    I was shooting a .375H&H shooting 260gr Accubonds. The bear was basically unaware of us at the time of the first shot… and did not go down. The bear slapped at the entry would and then went into a spin as it tried to “slap” the pain away. Jake called to shoot again as I was already throwing the bolt. At the second shot the bear took off in a spinning run off to our right. In the time it took me to reload after the second shot it had disappeared. It took me a “oh crap!!!” second to get it back in the scope and fire my third shot. The bear ended up stopping in the small creek and my last shot in my 4 shot magazine put it down for good. Jake and I cautiously approached it and made sure it was down. It was and we struggled to get it out of the water together. It was big grins and handshakes as I really became aware of the adrenalin pumping through me. What a rush! I went back up to the shoot location and collected some brass and then helped Dad carry the day packs down to the bear.
    From left to right – bear, Malcolm, Jake and I:


    At this point hunting in Alaska seems really easy. Everything you might want to take basically walks up to you!

    The bear was about a 7 foot female. She was about 3 years old and had a beautiful skin with no rubs. Her claws were worn down by digging for ground squirrels. We took a few photos and Jake skinned her. We packed up our gear and made our way back to camp.
    Jake and I overlooking the area we got the bear in. He and I have swapped packs so I can carry the bear skin and skull back to camp:


    Due to a couple of factors, one being the worsening weather condition the decision was made to fly out of the hills and back to Talkeetna. We took the skin and skull to be tagged by the local Fish and Wildlife department and then dropped them off with a tannery to be turned into a rug before being sent home to NZ. Dad and I spent a few days around anchorage taking in the sights and doing a few touristy things before flying home. We have a couple of thousand photos from the trip mostly from activities before and after the hunt.

    We had a great trip overall, looking back we learnt a few things and would have done a few things differently. Only really two disappointments – I didn’t know the terrain and so didn’t take my Canon 100-400L lens on day one, this was really stupid of me but I didn’t want the extra kilogram or two of the lens on terrain I didn’t know. The other disappointment was coming out of the hills early. It was absolutely the right decision to come out but it was still disappointing.

    Dad and I thought there was considerable risk in booking a guide without meeting them so far in advance. Jake has a really great reputation and lived up to it. He was great to deal with both before and during the hunt. He was fit, knew the country and the game, he was thinking two or three steps ahead all the time and nothing was ever a problem. He is easy going and had a great sense of humor. I wouldn’t hesitate to book another hunt with him and would recommend him to others as well. He is not the most expensive guide out there nor is he the cheapest. He doesn’t advertise the highest success rates either but he listened to exactly what Dad and I wanted out of the trip and lived up to his word. I wish him and his family all the best. We will be back in Alaska on holiday next year and hopefully we can catch up with them again.

  2. #2
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    I am still in awe of how beautiful your bear is. Simply stunning.

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    Thanks AK Ray. I had been convincing myself in the months coming up to the trip that the trip is about getting out there. About enjoying being out in the hills with my Dad, about the adventure of travelling all the way from NZ to Alaska. Dad and I were buzzing with excitment with those caribou running up to us. We were thrilled to see wild black bears and moose! It was hard not to jump out of my skin when we saw the first grizzly but i had to play it cool and calm for Jake, didn't want to embarress myself too much! I had thought we would have to sit and watch for days to maybe be lucky enough to even see one.

    Being lucky enough to actually get a grizzly was fantastic. We were over the moon about getting one as good as we did but Dad and my dreams had been forfilled the day before by just being out there and seeing the animals we did. I think any trophy hunter measuring their success solely on what they kill might as well shoot behind a wire. This is why we were disappointed about coming out early.

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    most excellent. the bear has great color. good story, thanks

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    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    Great pic's and story and nice bear! Jake is a heckuva guy! I hope he tipped you well for writing such nice things about him! heh heh!
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Man, a client who takes the guide's pack so that he can carry his own animal back to camp? I think Jake scored the dream hunter on this one. Congratulations on an excellent bear, sir!

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    Member HuntNBgame's Avatar
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    Great Write up, Beautiful pics' & Bear
    Congrat's

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    that is an Beauty of a bear and great scenery. Congrats on the good hunt! I dont think AK hunting is that easy, i think you just had the benifit of a quality guide in a quality area!

    Congrats again! Id love to take a bear like that

  9. #9
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    Great hunt I love the Blonde Grizz

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    Congrats to an awesome hunt..Yeah, Guides like Jake are few and far between. I also think you hauling your game back to camp says alot about you..not to many are willing to do that..let alone in shape to do it.

    Great hunt, pictures and story..thanks for sharing.
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    Great looking bear! Congrats on the hunt.

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    Member TWB's Avatar
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    Default Talkeetna Mountains Grizzly

    Did you find any Cokes in jakes pack?? I swear he packs them up the mountain.
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

  13. #13
    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    How about dog food in the pack?? I was out hunting with Jake one day, and opened up my lunch bag only to find that my sandwich and candy bars had turned into dogfood.... His face looked like the Grinch with a big smile on it!

    But great point on the client packing out his own head and hide! Great job!
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

  14. #14
    Member Roger's Avatar
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    The heck with the bear ...That second photo is a nice bull for the Talkeetnas , And congrads on the bear
    PEOPLE SAY I HAVE A.D.D I DON'T UNDERSTA.....OH LOOK A MOOSE !!!

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    Sorry guys, neither myself or my father had ever hired a guide before so we didn't really know what was expected. When Dad and I hunt together we basically run with you carry what you shoot... we just applied the same line of thinking. Jake kept cooking the meals for us, we were barely fast enough to put the coffee on in the morning before he charged in and took over!!

    Didn't find any cokes... the salmon fillets we had for dinner and the pancakes we had for breakfast were sufficient.

    Thanks for the comments everyone. You have a beautiful state (even when its raining!) and we can't wait to get back there next year.

  16. #16
    Member Milo's Avatar
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    Great report and photos. I'll second what Brian said about Jake having a great hunter - carrying it out is all part of the fun!
    Death is like an old whore in a bar--I'll buy her a drink but I won't go upstairs with her.

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    Awesome pictures and thanks for sharing your hunt! I especially like the one of you and Jake with the bear right in front of you just before you shoot! What a spectacular hunt to share with your dad!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillie View Post
    Sorry guys, neither myself or my father had ever hired a guide before so we didn't really know what was expected. When Dad and I hunt together we basically run with you carry what you shoot... we just applied the same line of thinking. Jake kept cooking the meals for us, we were barely fast enough to put the coffee on in the morning before he charged in and took over!!

    Didn't find any cokes... the salmon fillets we had for dinner and the pancakes we had for breakfast were sufficient.

    Thanks for the comments everyone. You have a beautiful state (even when its raining!) and we can't wait to get back there next year.

    Did I see pancakes for breakfast??? Beautiful pictures and great story. Good job on keeping it all together for the shot. It can be pretty overwhelming sometimes.

    Mark

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    yep bacon and pancakes for breakfast. You guys must have done it hard hunting your ram, Mark i could still taste my breakfast as we were running down to the bear!

    Milo, while over your way we caught up with forum member DucksandDogs. I dropped him some magazines to whet his appitite for hunting in NZ. If you ask him nicely he might let you borrow them once he has finished with them. We dropped some NZ hunting magazines with Jake as well but i think his boys were keen on reading them as well.

  20. #20
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Thank you for the write up and excellent pictures. My wife and I spent nearly two weeks in a similar area a couple years ago; she just said she could live there, except for a couple things... no firewood, winter and bears. Otherwise, perfect! I understand the angst at having to leave; its like being in heaven and being told you have to go back home! Weather in Alaska is nothing to mess with, though. Especially when it rained nearly every day in September, after starting the month with 3 back to back hurricane force windstorms! That's a beautiful bear you took; it will keep you yearning for a return trip as you look at it on your wall.

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