Succesful Brown Bear hunt in SE Alaska
Guys, I just wanted to come back and say thanks for all the help Dad and I recieved for this hunt. Here is a Blow by Blow acount of what happened.
Ok, now I have some wind back in my sails and my clothes are being washed (Then Re packed) I thought I would share this journal with you. I am going to share it almost word for word, so you might get a bit more feel for the hunt.
A quick note to say I didnt start writeing this Journal till approx 1/2 though the hunt. Thats why you will see a few different styles and some dates will not match up
Here are the characters in this story
Jim Boyce, ½ owner of Baranof expeditions. Rough and tuff x navy seal, did a few tours in Vietnam (Gunsmoke is his boat)
Bob, assistant guide, head chef, and not a bad crib player
Burt, ½ owner of Barnof expeditions, great social skills, and a all round good guy (Shiras is his boat)
Lots of flying, 3 Airports, Jim meets us at the Sitka Airport, Huge Brown Bear in lobby, Massive Salmon on the wall. I guy has to look at coming fishing up here. Do some shopping at Burt’ store in Sitka, he seems like a nice fellow.
Jim takes us out to the range to try out our guns. First time shooting a 375 for me.. Nice gun. Looks all beat up, but works like a charm. I wonder if all his other equipment is as rusty and beat up as these guns. Also shot 2 different Handguns and a HUGE 458. By Far the biggest gun I have ever shot. Check into a stupid NO SMOKING hotel, what’s up with Alaska and no Smoking. Weather says we cant fly out today, a bit of a bummer, but better than crashing.
Take float plane 65 miles south to the Southern tip of Baranof Island, great flight, low enough to see everything, Pilot was a good guy. No hunting today due to rules in Alaska. Jim is trying to get the boat down from Sitka, but high seas are making him stay in port. No matter, we all will head out later this afternoon on the "SHIRAS" Its the twin of Jims boat, he will meet up with us when he can. Nice lodge Jim has here, very comfortable. Not sure about the no paper down the toilet. (Waste basket in front) UGHH.. Oh well welcome to Alaska. Nice boats and good equpment, my worries were unfounded
Our first real day of hunting. Spent the night overlooking a grass flat, very comfortable. No bears, but plenty of action from the geese and birds as the tide came in. We managed to see 2 Geese beat each up right in front of us. What a racket. That was at less than 10 feet. Also these cool sea ducks with a Mohawk were diving down in the clear water and lifting up rocks, this was interesting to watch, because we had the ability to see under the water.
Dad is sure excited about this whole thing, I am concerned that he will wound a bear then his hunt will be over. Perhaps if that happens I can just throw away my tag and give him another shot at it. A few games of crib so far. We spend most of the day looking for tracks in the snow slides. They are tough to spot. No Bears
Jim shows up today, he yells out “Who is going to be my Victim” I volunteer as Dad seems very comfortable with Burt and Bob. We head off after the goat killer. Apparently this is a large Bear that Jim has been chasing for 4 years now, the only chances he gets are in the early season. We find some tracks, and lots of live goats, but no Bear. This bear has developed the knack of sneaking up on goats and pushing them off of cliffs. Jims story’s are very interesting. He tells of one time seeing the GOAT KILLER kill another Brown Bear in a meadow way up above. Now that would be cool to see.
No bears, one set of new tracks, tried some fishing.. No fish..
Jim does have some good story’s. I wonder how Dad is doing. Its bothering me I am not hunting with Dad. Hell I came up here to hunt with him, not sit in some boat playing solitaire. Still no Bears. Just before dark I spot a Black spot on the beach, we unload the skiff and make our way to the beach in a driving rain storm. Turns out just to be a deer. Back to the boat, watch movies eat dinner and head to bed.
I mention to Jim in the morning we should go find the other boat, due to high mountains we have no communication, so we head over to a inlet where they should be, notice they left behind the Shrimp pots.. BTW these are very very good shrimp. And fun to fish for.
Other boat is not here, head back to the GOAT KILLER. AT this point I am ready to shoot a **** cub. I want to hunt with dad.
We catch the goat killer crossing a slide at approx 7 pm. He looks like a gig black submarine crossing that slide. Make our way over to him, get set up on a super high angle shot.. and he just will not stop. I am not going to take that shot. I want a standing shot or nothing. I will not waste off this tag. Jim is disappointed I didn’t take that shot. I just explained to him I wasn’t comfortable with it. I think he is very disappointed due to all the time he has invested in this bear and for one reason or another all his client chances have been blown.
I spent last night wondering if I have made a huge mistake. I decide that no.. I was right in not taking that shot. But I did notice more than a few things I could have done in order to be better prepared.
#1 realize I had a 1.5-6 scope, that did not need to be turned down so low. that bear was at 120 yards against a white background, the scope should have been turned up.
#2 What the hell where my scope caps doing on, I should have taken them off in the skiff, but I was really intent on listening to my guide. He said don’t take them off till I tell you to. So I didn’t, and he didn’t tell me to. I took them off as I was pulling up my gun.
#3 quit waiting for direction from Jim.. Just be the hunter that I am, I have to use the tools I have learned over the past 25 years.
Though I am satisfied that I didn’t take the shot, I am not satisfied with myself. I will do better if I get another chance.
We motored over to dad later in the Morning, Imagine my surprise to see a Brown bear hanging over the back of the boat. HOLY ****!!! Big hug for Dad, High fives and I wanted the story told over and over.
That night we are back to the Goat Killer, as we are pulling up (I am in the Shiras with Dad) we hear Jim say he needs a hunter. (They spotted the GK on the high slope) The skiff races over and plucks me out of the boat, we head over to the slide he was spotted on.. Only to see him disappear into the trees heading for another slide a few hundred yards away. We make the run over and get set up in the exact same spot I had my chance from the other night. I was on my knees in the hard rocks for over one hour, the rain was coming down in buckets, I was keeping my gloves over the scope, but the rain was coming down so hard it was splashing off the rock into my face. No Bear.
I had a rant on the beach about how great this all was and the next boat that left this bay was going to get dynamited. **** it we were going to kill this bear. I was going on about how I was due, over 27 days being guided and I have ½ of a wolverine to show for it. Guided Salmon fishing with nothing over 29 pounds in the boat. Nothing comes easy for me, but we will make this happen.. I SWEAR TO GOD!!We were going to tough this out and get this bear. I had the guides just ****ing themselves laughing.
Skiff ride back was very rough, We had waves cresting into the boat from all sides.
I was laughing giggling, hooting and chuckling. I look back at Bob and tell him Timothy Treadwell was a *****. Tim didn’t have the guts to come up here at the end of winter, that ***** would only come up during the nice summer.. Both guides are rolling with laughter.
Massive grin on my face, Salt in my mouth, Binos are soaked.. WOW What a adventure.
Reminder to self.. get out the water proof bag, this back pack sucks. Its nice to have good equipment, if you use it!!
Bear spotted really low on slide we all bail into boat, get over there and find bear is way to small, he got as close as 10 yards. If I would have had a bow.. I would have taken him. The small male posed for pics, despite my past encounters with a grizzly in Alberta, I was not threatened by him at all. After playing in front of us for 10 minutes he stuck his nose in the air, stretched his neck to the heavens turned his satellite dish head up hill, all the while soaking up gallons of oxygen, pointed his snout at exactly the place the next bear would come out and melted back into the dark jungle of cedars, moss and devils club. As we were getting into the skiff, Bob spotted another black Brown bear high up on the slope. We make for another beach and try to wait him out. Unfortunately the tide was rising and we were standing behind a 5 foot hunk of slide snow. The tide kept coming and coming and we kept digging into this massive block of melting snow. I actually had to dig hand holds so I didn’t fall off my rock into the ocean. Finally the skiff returned as the ocean was approx ½ way up our calf’s and we were standing on the highest rocks. What a experience.
I am so fortunate to experience this place, these animals and these people.
Later that night we spent 5 hours sitting high up over the ocean in the bottom of a avalanche chute. We were surrounded by 20 foot high snow drifts, but the angle was so steep I could shoot up hill. We FROZE!! that chute is now called the refrigerator. We had to get down onto the windy beach in order to warm up. But on a positive side, due to hypothermia I managed to get a ½ hour of sleep. LOL
The Avalanches around here are just amazing, I have seen close to 40 of them, some so big they spilled into the ocean. Oh and if you want to see a goat run, just watch for falling snow, they can move like the devil when those slides start. We saw goats we could have shot from the beach, thats how steap the sides of these bays were. The Avalanches all start off with a huge crack followed by the sound of fighter jets flying over top of you. Very interesting to watch from a distance.
I have spent approx 60 hours behind glasses over the past little while. The outside of my nose is rubbed raw where it supports the rubber cups. Its worsened by the salt accumulating on the rubber. Even now I write this paragraph and then put up my glasses.
The weather has been a real mix of Gale force winds, High waves, Bright white mountains framed by a sky so blue that it inspires me to be a better person. The constant rain was a disappointment as it really curtails bear movement. Unfortunately this has been a hunt filled with stalks gone bad. I sit here on day 8 of a 10 day hunt, no blood has been spilled due to my actions. But there is still hope, I still have time, weather looks good & I only need 10 minutes and some good luck.
My guides are down to 2 from 3 and both are trying their best. All out, all the time. I feel like I cant let them down. If I fail on this trip, it will not be because I screwed up. Just mark it up to the nature of the game.
Before this hunt, I was asked by a wise man if I wanted to go kill or go hunt. Obviously I chose the hunt. This has been difficult and oh so rewarding. I wouldn’t have it any other way
The time I have spent with dad can never be repeated or replaced. Its unfortunate that he hasn’t been able to join me on the different stalks. I wonder if that is just the way it is when hunting these dangerous and spooky animals. I wish it was different, he deserves to come along.
All this time to think and relax has made me think of at least 2 sure fire Business ideas. I know each one could be worth millions. These ideas used to come to me all the time. Now that life is so busy.. Not so much.
Boat based Brown Bear hunts can be a “Gentleman’s” hunt. This one has not been that way. Its been a long 9 days living in a cramped boat with 4 other guys. I haven’t had a shower in 9 days..
Jims hunches have been proved right so far. we have just 1.5 hours of light left in the day. We moved approx 20 minutes south of the Goat Killer. I know now that the GK will not be killed by my hands.
Great stalk on a large Brown (9’) perfect dream setup. I took seawater to the knees in order to climb a large rock out in the ocean. I had to use Jims leg as a support, so that I wouldn’t slide off the rock. Bear made it to 50 yards and took a hard right into the forest. (He was behind a large blown down tree). He made his way to approx 30 yards in the rain forest.. No shot. Wind changed and the bear left. Great hide a XL claws on this bad boy.
Back to the big boat.
Only 20 minutes left in the day and we run across yet another bear. This one was approx 8’ we tried to sneak up on him, but he caught us out in the open in the skiff... No bear on the beach when we made it up to him. As a side note, this last bear was at a place called “Port Conclusion” I am wondering if this hunt is at a conclusion. In fact we were joking about “Port Conclusion” when the cry came out.. “BEAR ON THE BEACH”!! Yet another Stalk gone south.
In the words of our friend Ken.
NO QUIT AND NO SURRENDER. I hope he got to experience something like this hunt before he passed on. Ken was good guy. Not sure why he just jumped into my head, but I notice that he does from time to time.
Finally make it back to the lodge at Port Alexander. AHHHHHH Shower and a huge meal with fresh caught sushi. No time for stories.. I have to go to bed.
..Dad & I spot a bear at exactly the same time. I have been good on finding tracks high up on the mountain, but this is the first bear I spot. Yet another stalk goes sideways. And this time it is really a crying shame. The guide estimated this bear at 1200 pounds and might have topped out at 10 feet. He thought it was bigger than the legendary goat killer. Jim says perhaps the largest bear on the island, once in a lifetime kind of bear. PUKE!!!
This bear was so BIG when he made a small stream approx 10 inches lower than the grass he actually turned around and put his back legs in first. He didn’t walk across that grass flat.. He rumbled. WHAT A BEAR. Once he made the tree’s we thought he was to fat and lazy to climb straight up, so we ditched the skiff and made a mad scramble up the cliff (Approx 100 vertical feet on at least a 60 degree angle. This wasn’t climbing, it was like going up a ladder and when you finally hit a flat spot it was filled with that nasty devils club. We got above the only trail and laid out on some huge cedar logs. If this bear is coming, I will have to blast him at 30 feet.. Then Jim starts blowing on his deer call. SPOOKY doesn’t describe how I felt. Very vulnerable. But after 30 minutes.. No bear! AFter that climb I came to understand just why all of Jims guns have a beat up look to them.
Its 5:15 now on the final day, I have approx 4:15 left in my dream. But perhaps my dream has been fulfilled. I wanted a hunt and that’s what I got. I am not sad or disappointed. I am very proud of my effort and the effort of my guides. I find it very satisfying that no one gave up.
I wanted Dad to experience Alaska, and I wanted to do it with him. I wanted him to get his Brown Bear before his physical limitations’ made it a impossibility. Jim had plenty of stories of old guys who just couldn’t handle the rough beaches or getting out of the Skiff
This trip has been perfect, plenty of bears, insults, crib games and hanging out with Dad.
4 hours left.. Lets start taking this hunt serious and get me a bear!!
In the final hour I spotted yet another BB on the beach, we made a run at it. At least this one didn’t tease us like all the others. He left the beach when we were only 200 feet from the big boat.
At very last light we made our way back to the beach where the XXL bear was... He didn’t come back out. All 3 of us were on the back of the boat straining through binos trying to pick anything up through the darkness. No one is saying a **** word. Finally 10 minutes after we should have quit, Jim came over and said how he hated to see hunts end like this, we should have had a hide hanging from the rails. He said it was very strange that we got into the “ZONE” of 3 very large bears. He said most clients will not get a glimpse of more than one. the odd client will see 2 but to actually get great stalks on 3 big bears was unheard of. He said we just had a hunt of a lifetime but **** we should have gotten a bear.
I don’t know if I am very lucky to have had all these stalks or very unlucky in order not to have capitalized on them. I think I am lucky just to be here with Dad.
Well that’s he end of the hunting story. Sorry if its a bit disjointed as we didn’t have a crib board on the boat, and I had to keep writing in different parts of my coil note book.. After all, keeping score in crib games should come first.
BTW, I would highly recomend Baranof Expeditions for anyone thinking of going. These guys just dont quit!!
Very nice pics - thanks for sharing!
Good story and pictures. The little critter is a Pine Martin.
My friend....thats a Martin.
You have done a good job of putting in pictures why I call this island home. The experiences of chasing "Grandfather" can't be duplicated.
Getting a big coastal bear off this island takes some people many years and fills your daydreams.
You'll be back!
Last edited by Bighorse; 05-11-2008 at 16:29.
Your stories and pictures are wonderful. Thanks ever so much for taking the time to share them with us in such detail. I'm hoping that I will be able to do the same come september. Glad to hear that it was a hunt and that your dad got his. I'm sure that you'll get yours next.
Jamie: Great pics too bad you only got one bear. I'm leaving on Wed. Night still have room for 1 more and you have a BB tag to use up !!!
My hunt has been postpones twice now due to weather. Bears are finally out and snow gone. Remembert the memories that oer the REAL trophy. All the best and my offer stands, will be in Calgary Wed night then on the AK Thurs.
Great Story and some great picture. Thanks for sharing.
glad you had fun, and fun sounds about right for the trip. grats to your dad as well.
thanks for the story