Myself and two buddies were hoping to find a good bear and enjoy some spring snowmachining last weekend. The hunt surpassed all of our expectations and was one we won't soon forget!
One of my buds had never ridden a snowmachine before and had yet to harvest a grizzly. We came close to getting him a spring grizzly in the previous two years, but it wasn't to be. This was our third attempt and he was the designated shooter. Learning to ride a snowmachine while following a couple of veteran riders in Alaska's backcountry was no easy feat in itself. We logged about 270 miles in three days of hunting and it wasn't until about mile 250 that he replied "hey, this is kind of fun". His thoughts during the first 250 miles were mostly of what it would be like to attend his own funeral! He tends think I'm trying to kill him on our hunting adventures, but I just remind him that, " A mans got to know his limitations" . He did great and believe it or not the windshield on the snowmachine lives for another day.
On day one we had a great ride, but found no bears. On day two we found a fresh wolf killed caribou that half a dozen eagles had claimed. We followed the wolf tracks around the mountain. While glassing from a high spot on the back side of that mountain, we found a sow grizzly with two new born cubs in tow. They were headed over the ridge towards moose country. A little more glassing from the same location turned up a single grizzly a few miles down the valley. With a little "ribbing", I asked if I was the only one glassing for bears! The guns came out of the boots and off we went.
While looking for the grizzly I spotted a black wolf directly ahead of us. I got the wolf. While loading the wolf on the machine I heard two shots up the valley. My bud got his first grizzly! We started the skinning chores and heard a wolf howl. My other buddy got that wolf. Two wolves and a BIG grizzly down in about 5 minutes! We were in awe of what had just transpired. Day three was another great ride, but no bears or wolves this time.
Although we haven't taped the bear or measured the skull yet, it's front pad was better than 7 1/2" inches across suggesting it will square well over 8 feet and may approach 9. The bear was huge. One of it's claws was much longer than the others and I think my bud said it measured 7 inches in length - a freak claw. I think it will make the B&C book. I haven't told him yet, but the rules now change to, "he who spots it gets first crack at the critter" - ha! He couldn't be happier and we all had a great time.
Yeah o.k., the location was south of the Yukon and north of the Wrangells . Best of luck to all you spring bear hunters.