Place. South of Yakutat Alaska
time: 9/11 through 9/21
Weather conditions, temp 40 to 50 degrees, rain to more rain
Hunt condition: River hunt over sockeye salmon run
Rifle: Browning A bolt 375 H&H
Ammo: Handloaded Swift A Frame 300 grain and 300 grain Failsafe
Guide: Gary Gray/Scott Gray...Yakutat Ak, Alsek River Guide service
This was my third Alaskan hunt and first Coastal brown bear hunt. Gary operates an off the grid hunting lodge inside the Glacier Bay National Preserve in addition to tent hunts in various locations. He specializes in Brown Bear, Glacier and Black Bear plus moose and Goat. This is an area where you wound an animal the hunt is over which makes marksmanship and "use enough Gun" sink in, after seeing a huge female at 40 yards I told another hunter in camp to get a bigger gun.
His lodge location hunts are first class with at home cooking and individual cabins. Hunts in that area are by Atv to various locations.
Here is a picture of one of the river locations we hunted and especially rare as it was not raining which it does almost constantly
The rivers where jammed with these sockeye salmons swimming up river to spawn. If you look at the shoreline you will see the grass flattened from bear activity. I am told that they maintain the normal white color in salt water and the color transformation occurs from being in fresh water and the adrenalin in their system from the exhaustive swim. According to the Guide the bears where not "on" the fish as they normally are since the berry crops where abundant and berries are sought after more so than salmon.
During my 10 day hunt which ended with me getting my bear on the 9th day I observed/stalked 16 or so bears at least 4 where boars one being 9.5 +. We had a 8.5 foot huge female walk out in front of us at 40 yards and just look at us and walked away.
The bear I finally got took, took four days. The first time we saw it on the river the guide was certain it was a sow since it looked "pretty" . We attempted a stalk on it the first sighting but it kept chasing fish downriver and we couldn't keep up with him and we ran out of good shooting light. On the second sighting we had it at 150 yards and the guide was certain that it was a boar. The bear had a habit of entering the river quickly grabbing a fish and running back into heavy cover and the at dusk coming back out again. On this occasion a large sow with 2 cubs came down the river and must have picked up his scent and started huffing and trotting down the river somewhat aggressively toward the boars location and ours. The guide stated we did not need this type of action so we backed out.
The next day the bear came out to the river and quickly grabbed a fish and disappeared, just when it came out again a low flying plane scared it off as it ran back into the alders not to be seen again.
The next day the tide came in and the river rose about 3 feet, the guide stated the bears would not be able to catch fish in deeper water and would not stick around. About 2 to 3 hours latter the river dropped 2 feet or so and the bear showed up about 300 yards up river from us. On this day the wind had change direction which permitted us to cross the river to the other side and cut the distance if he did what he normally did. As faith would have it he did just that so we set up about 50 yards down from him across the river wind in our face. About 45 minutes passed and all of a sudden he stepped out on the edge of the water at an estimated range of 110 yards. The bear went down on the shot and rolled into the water, I kept him covered until he completely submerged.P9200015a.jpg
He looks much darker than he is since it was raining all day plus he fell into the water at the place he was shot. The bear had white ears with a black line running on the perimeter plus his sides where light brown with yellow tips and dark brown stripe down his back and down his legs, a truly beautiful bear. The guide said he had a client shoot a similar colored bear about 21 years ago since most males are dark brown. I wish I could post more pictures but as faith would have it I went swimming with the Bears 4 times by falling in the swift current and didn't have an aquatic capable camera, if you learn from me make sure you can dunk your camera without damage.