Cinco de mayo brown bear tag punched. I never get tired of Kodiak, but for those considering future Kodiak tag apps, focus on the south end of the island for bear. I've hunted up and down the AK Peninsula, PWS and SEAK for brown bear and I've never seen such few bears as I did on this Spiridon tag. Some of it could be attributed to the weather, but after talking with the bios, they concur...the numbers just are not there as they are further south.
Saw a nice bear flying in on Day 1 (outside my unit).
Day 1-3, did not see any bears in my hunting grounds.
Day 4 & 5, I saw one bear, same place, same time about 1.5 miles away. Couldn't judge him/her at all through the vegetation. Elected not to investigate to keep my scent down in the valley.
Evening of Day 5, climbed off the spotting knob early and made it back to camp at 7pm. You could say I was discouraged with the quantity of bears and bear sign. No scat and only two sets of tracks up high in the snow.
Buddy tooled around in camp boiling hot water for coffee and tea as I sat above the tent on a berm glassing the "distant" mountains and flats. As I lay there in the grass with noculars glued to my eyes, my buddy climbs up on the berm, bends over to set my tea on the ground beside me and as he is straightens his body he whispers two faint words..."Jim...BEAR!"
I look up to see where his eyes were fixated and sure as heck, 100 yards away from camp a nice boar lumbered along the water's edge headed right into camp. I jumped up, scrambled into camp for my rifle, my budro in tow, and advanced forward.
I realized at 40 yards I was taking a chance on this bear. I knew he was a mature male judging from his nugget and his swagger, but the quality of the coat was in question. Considering his proximity to camp, the low numbers of bears and I wasn't going to get a bear any closer to our pickup point, it seemed a no brainer.
For the bear, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had nothing going for him...he couldn't smell us (the wind was blowing straight at us), he couldn't hear us (the slosh of the water hitting the beach made it quite noisy) and he couldn't see us (he had his head buried in the ground and we were 12' above him on the berm). The last thing I wanted was for him to taste us or anything in camp.
After a brief pause, the bear finally gave me a profile shot and I pulled the trigger. The first shot launched him into the lake...six additional shots followed. Three more from my gun and three total from my partner's.
For my buddy and I, we were merely in the right place at the right time. Truer words could not be spoken when you say, "It's better to be lucky than good." A lot of "what if's" come to mind had we not made it back to camp early, or had we simply not noticed an intruder in camp. It could have escalated into something you read about in the ADN. I consider myself fortunate.
Lesson learned...never get complacent in bear country.
The cape turned out to have no rubs with exception to the typical burn mark on the crease of his head. Good full hair all over, but the back lacks length. Nice white claws. Squares 9'4" and skull measured 25 6/16". A very good bear for such short decision making time.
For those who like to know calibers and loads. I was shooting my Tikka .300 WSM. I made the decision to leave my .375 H&H home after experiencing a malfunction with it the week prior to leaving. I was shooting 180 gr Accubonds. My buddy had his pre '64 300 H&H. He loaded it up with 250 gr Barnes tsx's.