Well the season is in full swing this year but we have noticed a few changes compared to previous years. I will give what info I have collected and I would love to hear input from others as well.
Unit 14 was unsuccessful we had bait sit dry for well over a month and just decided to pull it as it was not productive and was only 2 miles away from last years station that had a fair amount of bears hitting it (both black and brown). Was the the Sockeye fire to blame for changes and patterns? Who knows but I do know that I felt the station I had was just unproductive and not cost effected so it was pulled.
Unit 16 (primary station) This year the bears were hitting a bit early and we had activity within the 1st week of placing bat (mid May). The season started off slow like usual then proceeded to pick up with activity. By week 3 I was actively hunting this station and managed to connect on a mid 7ft grizz pulling into the station. The sound of the machine did not seem to phase it I shut the machine off and the bear just turned around and continued to feed. Easiest hunt ever but was glad to get a moose eater out of the area. 5 hours later a good buddy of mine who joined me for the weekend ended up also connecting on a monster brown (9' range bear rough squared with skull in). We also passed on 2 smaller blackies 20 minutes prior to the brown coming in. Week 2 of hunting we were plagued with hard rain and just nasty weather. We saw one blackie but could not get a shot on it due to its location to the station. Week 3 I took out a friend from Fairbanks as he helps lots of other vets get on bears and had not had a chance to hunt himself this year. He managed to connect on a mid 5' black bear. During this time we had plenty of bears in and out following up to the day we sat in the stand. Our 2nd station became overrun with big browns and the blackies pushed on to other areas. We let that station run dry for 2 weeks to try and encourage the browns to move on (which apparently they did). Last weekend we headed back in bumped another grizz off the barrel walking in but couldnt see it. I reviewed the trail camera and saw it was another mid 7 bear. We climbed into the stand and sat for about 3 hours and had a blackie show up. He was a smaller bear so we just watched him eat for nearly 3 hours at 35 yards. We were hoping that a larger black that we have been keeping tabs on would show his face but no dice. Got back to camp and watched a massive grizz cross the clearing about 300 yards away but it was 3 am and he was in a hurry to get to cover.
We have been seeing a LOT more brown bear activity but we anticipate that to slow once the browns move towards the rivers and streams chasing Salmon. Moose numbers this year look fantastic was we see on average of 7-12 moose per trip out (usually a day or 2 ) and several solid bulls. Lots of Calves this year as well (watched a wobbly legged newborn walking with mom 2 weeks ago). Originally when the calves started dropping we would see their tracks with browns right on the trail following them. The brown bears though on the stations seem a bit more eased to feed even with humans in the area (this is new for the area we hunt as we would rarely catch a brown on the barrel in the past). We finally had our first Sow with cubs (black bear) show up to feed. She had 3 very healthy looking cubs with her but no other sows with cubs on any of the cameras (this also is new as usually we see several sows with cubs). This year I am baiting a few miles from my older station and this is a "New" unestablished station.
I hope everyone's season was successful in one way or another and would love to hear input on how other GMU's are doing this year.