Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 30

Thread: My Brown Bear Hunt

  1. #1
    Member tboehm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Soldotna AK
    Posts
    2,407

    Default My Brown Bear Hunt

    Well things have finally settled down and I thought that I would share some of the details of my first brown bear hunt. I would like to thank everyone on the forum for their help and advice over the last year and a half. I would also like to publicly thank Mike Strahan of Lost Creek for the guidance, help and camaraderie on a hunt that was challenging, tough and full of excitement.
    Day 1 – We drove to Willow and flew out with Denali Flying Service with the owner Barry as our pilot. Mike flew in first in the Maule to start setting up camp and then I followed with the rest of our gear which consisted of 2 FULL loads. We got camp set up and got the 14’ Otter raft and frame put together. We were camping on an island and tucked into a patch of alders. Across the river we spotted a 71/2’ Brown bear at about 200 yrds. I got very excited to say the least!! Mike fixed dinner of steak, bake potato, salad and fruit. Man what a meal, I’ve never eaten so well on a hunt! During dinner another bear decided to show his face and crossed the river coming to our side and disappeared in the alders. Made us a little nervous for a minute but we kept a watchful eye that he didn’t show up to share our STEAK!! Then just before dark another showed up. I’m thinking that this is going to be the easiest hunt I had ever been on. The temp was about 50 degrees with a slight wind and the scenery was stunning to include watching an eagle fly up the valley and land right across the river from us.

    Day 2 – It had rained 3 or 4 times throughout the night and I didn’t get much sleep but it was nice listening to the river. We got up early and had some HC. It had rained on and off all morning so after breakfast we had built a little lean-to for shelter. We had also spotted a small bear at about 400 yrds. We sat there and continued to glass and spotted a brown and black bear up on the side of the mountain that was about 2 ½ miles away. We figured them to be a little too small and not in good position to make a stalk. The temp had cooled off to the low 40’s and the sun started to shine about 12:30. We had a snack and then P&J for lunch. The bugs were pretty bad requiring the nets so we decide to explore just a little not wanting to spread out scent too much. The river was full of salmon which was very encouraging. We spotted another black bear on our side of the river at about 3:30 and debated long and hard about going after him but decided that he was too close to the tree line. Things were looking really good so we made the decision to spend some time hunting this location. Hind sight is 20/20 because that bear later showed up after dinner feeding up high and another blackie was a few hundred yrds over from him as well. Dinner consisted of ribs, beans and salad. The trees were starting to turn and the colors were stunning.


  2. #2
    Member tboehm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Soldotna AK
    Posts
    2,407

    Default

    Day 3 – Rain again through the night and on and off most of the day. We got a little later start in the morning. Breakfast was eggs, hash browns and bacon. (Mike said no baitingJ) During breakfast we saw a moose about 800 yrds up the river, we both tried calling to him but he showed no interest, still a little too early for the rut. Mike had estimated him in the 55” range. We moved down the river a little ways and set up in a blind in some trees that had washed down the river and were sitting on the bank. While sitting there we saw a pair of swans fly up the river and some ducks as well. Lunch was tuna sandwiches and cup-a-soup. Late in the afternoon we spotted another blackie about 3 miles up the mountain. After sitting and glassing for the rest of the day we went back to camp and had dinner that consisted of spaghetti with Texas toast and then hit the rack at 10pm just as it was starting to rain some more.

    Day 4 – It rained all night and I didn’t get much sleep. Breakfast was oatmeal and sausage. I had to fight Mike for the Dino apples and cinnamon. While eating we saw another moose up the river about 600 yrds that was a good size shooter. We hunted till about 10:30 and then started to tear down camp. We were finally loaded and ready to get on the river at 1:30, it always takes longer the first time. We floated about 3 river miles and pulled over to take a look at things. Saw a set of tracks that belong to about an 8 ½ footer and found a few beaver ponds. We walked through some extremely thick woods and got soaked not only from the vegetation but the continual light rain. When we got back to the raft we floated down a few hundred more yards and found a good camp spot on river left. We set up camp and got organized. I took the chance to try to dry off a little and put on some clean clothes. Mike fixed salad and Thai for dinner. We put up our lean-to. The rain let up and the sun showed for a little bit. Mike spotted a porcupine across a little creek and another eagle flew by at about 8:30. The rain started picking back up. This place is so peaceful and beautiful that it’s hard for words to describe.


  3. #3
    Member tboehm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Soldotna AK
    Posts
    2,407

    Default

    Day 5 – Rain again for the night and it was so hard that I put plugs in my ears to try to get some sleep. The morning was pretty foggy and we couldn’t see much so breakfast was the order of the day. It was one of those premade mixes of potatoes, sausage, spices etc. which was good. It rained for most of the day. It would rain for 30 to 40 minutes and then it would stop for 10 min. and then start up again so we spent most of it sitting under our little tarp. One of the times that it stopped I spotted some salmon in the slew coming back into the main channel. I decided to grab the rod and give it a try. After a few casts I caught my first Alaskan salmon. It was a Chum that I had snagged by the dorsal but it was still fun!! Obviously they were spawning and no good to eat so I released it to finish its journey and purpose. During that time the sun peaked its’ head out for a moment and a rainbow formed across the mountain right next to us. I think that god was smiling upon us and the beauty of Alaska was truly shining. About 6:30 we had burgers and mac and cheese and spent the rest of the evening glassing and enjoying the solitude and company at the same time. Mike is a good story teller to say the least.

    Day 6 – 10 minutes after we went to bed I heard the salmon in the slew right behind us and then at 4am. At least that’s what I thought it was. Turns out where the sound came from was just puddles with no fish so something of the 4 legged kind was walking by. We walked up river a few hundred yrds and climbed up a tall cut bank to get some elevation and watch some other portions of the river. Didn’t see any shootable bears but a sow with a couple of cubs way up the mountain and a very large moose decided to cross the river right in front of where our camp was. About 10:30 we headed back to camp and had some cereal and broke camp. We floated down the river a couple of miles and stopped to do some exploring. In all reality there was plenty of sign everywhere. Right after we got back on the river we spooked large caribou. We continued down about another 4 or 5 river miles and found a spot to make camp. Had an early dinner of steak, bake potato, and salad. We headed up river and found a slew going into the left and followed it in a little and set up for the evening. The rain stopped and I saw another rainbow. Up the mountain way off we spotted another black bear w/ a couple of cubs. While sitting there we spotted a Brown bear with a single cub sneak out of the alders and snatch a salmon from the slew and run back into the woods. About 45 min. later we saw her come out again and repeat her performance of fishing for dinner in short order. The excitement of seeing this live is hard to describe. I can say that it was much better than the discovery channel. The area looked very promising.
    Day 7 – Guess what………yeah, it rained again most of the night. We got up to plenty of fog and haze but decided to skip breakfast and get going. Right off the bat we spotted a good looking brown bear that Mike guessed to be between 7 ½ to 8 foot. He was about 150 yrds away and coming around the bend of the slew that we were on. We formulated a plan and got set up. The bear had covered a lot of ground fast and we had a little trouble setting up a good shooting lane through the brush. I found a good field of view and set up. The bear was in the middle of the slew fishing. The depth of it only allowed the top of the bears back to be visible, not quit enough for a good killing shot. I had the safety off, and finger on the trigger. I needed him to come up one side of the bank or the other about 6 inches. He got perfectly parallel to us, 60 yrds away, and winded us. He looked our way and then it was elbows to ***** hole heading directly away from us. I know I could have hit him but that is not the kind of shot that would guarantee a quick clean kill so I let him go. Mike was glad that I had showed restraint, as most guides, tracking a wounded bear in the thick alders was not his idea of fun!!! Man, what an adrenaline rush and disappointment at the same time. We went and measured the track and it showed an 8’ bear. We continued walking up the slew, slow hunting. There was sign all over the place and plenty of fish in the clear water. We followed the slew until it came back out the river, 2 miles as the crow flies back to camp, probably 3 mi. traveled. We sat down to have a snack and rest. The river had cut a new channel so we were going to have to go back the way we came. The wind was going to be at our backs so there wasn’t going to be any hunting. We were putting on our packs and making a fair amount of noise when we looked up and there was a sow w/ 2 cubs 60 yrds away headed right at us. In shock and disbelief Mike raised his rifle and started making noise and threw a rock (he can’t through worth a darn) and she still didn’t notice us. I stepped up raise my rifle and wanted Mike to get the video camera out the back of my pack. I had us covered, but I guess that he was just scared, just kidding. It wasn’t until that I joined Mike and we were both raising our voices that she stopped and looked up. She stood up on her hind end, looked us over for a second, wolfed at her cubs and turned tail and split. Man what excitement, it could have turned into something serious but I was pretty sure that I could out run Mike!! We walked back with the rain on and off. We got back to camp and had some roast beef sandwiches and discussed the days’ events. Mike took the time to share with me his admiration and appreciation for my handling of myself and the situations that we faced. He commented that very few people will ever see or face a brown bear at 60 yrds and many hunters would have forced a bad shot. His comments made me feel a little better about it, but man what a disappointment. I never had any fear but boy did I feel ALIVE!! I had no trophy that day but a memory, a gift, which will last a life time. The wind had really started swirling so we made the decision to let the area rest for the evening and give it a go in the morning. I enjoyed the evening looking at the new small amount of snow on the mountain tops. I starred for a long time at 2 salmon in a crystal clear eddy 30’ behind our kitchen living out their final moments and reason for life. They exist to create and then in the blink of an eye fulfill the life circle. There is no uncertainty in their life and it makes you wonder why we complicate our lives. I have my mate and my love, I have reproduced. I have taught my young as the mother bear taught her young today. I feel the change, as the trees are changing before me showing a brilliance of colors.


  4. #4
    Member tboehm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Soldotna AK
    Posts
    2,407

    Default

    Day 8 – Well it didn’t rain that much last night. We got an early start and headed to our slew to see if our tactics would pay off. We sat all morning with no luck. We still had plenty of river to get through, and time was starting to run out so we headed back to camp for some breakfast and made the decision that we would hit the river. Started floating and it wasn’t too long before we hit a jam that we had been told about. Previous hunters had to portage ½ mile around it. Mike had brought a small chainsaw but it was like David and Goliath. There were 2 cottonwood trees that were at least 2 foot thick blocking the whole river and a third large floater that had came down and jammed in as well. Well we decided to see if we couldn’t clear it. Shimmying out on logs over a rushing river can be very interesting. It took multiple cuts due to the size of the saw and the different pressures on them from the river. To add to the problems all we had to sharpen the chain was river rock!! and no tools to tighten the chain. I swear somebody was really looking out for us. Working together slowly we were able to clear it in 2 hours. Ahhh, the joys of float hunting. We continued down the river watching for sign and huntable areas. We walked a couple of slews but I wasn’t too keen on the area so we headed to a creek that Mike knew of. When we got there, we found fish resting in the creek and plenty of good track. We decide to camp hidden up on the high bank as we set up an ambush position from 200 yrds. The wind had been a little squirrely all day. We had ribs, spring rolls and potatoes for dinner and canned peaches for dessert. Spent the rest of evening glassing to no avail. It rained on and off most of the day. There was a beaver right behind our camp ground and as we went to bed he slapped his tail in disapproval of our sharing his little hide out. This was the first day that we saw no wildlife.

    Day 9 – Yep, you guessed it, RAIN on and off about 3 times last night. We had shredded wheat for breakfast and some hot cider. We headed down to the river to sit and glass. It continued to rain on and off for the rest of the morning. The area looked great. We headed back up to camp for soup and grilled cheese for lunch and then back down to sit for a few more hours. At 6pm we decided to head back up to our sniper spot and watch for the rest of the evening. At 8pm Mike decided to fix dinner consisting of corn, noodles and ham while I kept vigil over the river as a light rain continued. At 9:20 it was time to call it a night and then 220 yrds across the river out walks a cow and a 55 to 60” moose. While we were watching them I tried to get some video but it was too dark for the camera to focus. We see the cow put her nose to the air and turn to leave and tell her boyfriend who wasn’t paying attention to scram. Then we watch him do the same and then the alarms went off and they high tailed it out of there. We sat there in awe and then disbelief that with what we thought the wind was doing and being 220 yrds away on a very high cut bank that they winded us. Time for bed.


  5. #5
    Member tboehm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Soldotna AK
    Posts
    2,407

    Default

    Day 10 – No rain….., just kidding. We had oatmeal and hot chocolate for breakfast and glassed the morning. We determined that the area that we were in, the wind was swirling and doing squirrely things so we were wasting precious time and decided to break camp and look for a more favorable spot. Over the past couple of days the wind had really become unpredictable and it was making things harder. We put a few miles on the river and looked at a couple of different areas but didn’t see much in the way of bear sign or location so we continued on. The canyon started to narrow and we ran into some class 2 and 2+ water that was an enjoyable change of scenery and added a little excitement to the river. As we continued we spotted a sow w/ 2 second year cubs walking the right bank. The wind was in our favor and we got to 100 to 150 yrds before she spotted us and high tailed it. I kept trying to tell myself that it was a bachelor group of 3 but no luck!! As we continued to float, things continued to go downhill as far as terrain, tracks, etc. For the first time we saw the sun for about half a day and things warmed a little. We put on about 14 air miles and came to the spot in the river where Mike had a friend who had a cabin about 3 miles off the river. We had permission to use it if we wanted so we decided to spend a night warm and dry. Along the trail that had been hacked out of the complete wilderness we passed 3 different beaver ponds. When we got to the top, it opened up to a beautiful plateau w/ a small lake just capable of handling a beaver plane. It was a place right out of the story books. As we walked up to the main cabin we were greeted by a large group that we had not expected. They made room for us and had a cold beer and a steak to ease the pain. The owner was there and we shared an evening of laughs and conversation that was truly wonderful. Buck, the owner, had actually built a sauna on the side of one of the cabins that allowed us to have a warm shower in the middle of nowhere. In true Dick Proenneke fashion, buck had carved this place out of the middle of the wilderness and it is truly breathtaking. I went to bed with mixed feelings of having such a wonderful time and the despair of going home empty handed and facing my little girl who kissed me good bye and told me that she wanted me to bring her home a bear rug for her.


    Day 11 – We got off to a slow start, didn’t sleep last night with all the thoughts running through my head and we had trouble controlling the temp in the cabin that got too hot and we ended up leaving the door open most of the night. There were eggs, potatoes and bacon for breakfast. We loaded up and said goodbye to new friends and headed back down to the river to get to our takeout spot about another 4 miles downriver. It was a much easier walk due to going downhill and had given our friends much of our leftover food. I was leading the way and it took about 1 ¼ hour to get back to the river. When I climbed down the bank I spotted a small bear walking the opposite bank. I whispered to Mike and he told me the words every hunter loves to hear “TAKE EM” I used a big rock on the bank and wasted no time putting the crosshairs on him and pulling the trigger. The first shot was a solid hit and it knocked him off his feet. Mike told me to keep shooting until he wasn’t moving so I ended up putting 2 more into him. We wanted no chance of him getting back into the alders and didn’t want him suffering. The wave and flood of emotions continued for a long time. My first Alaskan brown bear!!! It had been a long hard hunt with its ups and downs. The current was very strong so we had to pull the raft up river some to try to get across to where he laid. The shot was 110 yrds and he never moved. I was using 270 grain Barnes TSX’s w/ 69grns of RL -15 moving at 2500 fps. You always hear people say that you should never give up; and to be honest, both of us had pretty much written this trip off, we just didn’t want to say it out loud or admit it. God truly blessed me with this gift and I just couldn’t believe it. He was a small bear but I’m not complaining, we were going home SUCCESSFUL and more moose will live to help re-populate the area, besides the look on those little blue eyes will be worth every minute. We took a bunch of pics and skinned him out. 3 hours later we were back on the river and headed to our takeout spot. We got there at about 4 pm and Mike called the air service to see if they could pick us up. They told us to call back at 5:30 pm and they would let us know. We had about ¼ mile to portage everything to the air strip. We called back and they said that Barry would be there in 30 minutes. We started hustling and it wasn’t 15 minutes when we heard the sound of Barry’s Cessna.


  6. #6
    Member tboehm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Soldotna AK
    Posts
    2,407

    Default

    It was a tough, long, wet hunt!! I’ve fallen in love with this land. It’s truly a place where you can feel the hand of god. I’ve seen and felt a place where very few have. Time passes and you forget all of your troubles out in the wilds of Alaska. We left nothing behind and left the land how we found it. I know that some of this all may sound a little cliché but I can’t help myself. Getting back to civilization felt good, and I missed my family. I can’t wait till my next adventure to Alaska’s wilderness. I will try to post a gear report later. Again, I can’t thank Mike Strahan enough for the help, understanding, lessons, friendship and memories that will last the rest of my life!!! The food was wonderful and his planning was exceptional. I truly hope that you have enjoyed my story. I know that it was long, but I thought that it was one small way that I could re-pay all the members for the help that they have shared. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


  7. #7
    Member spoiled one's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    3,230

    Default

    Great story and great pictures. Any brown bear is a trophy in my book. Glad you had a great trip.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

  8. #8

    Default Awesome

    Great story, thanks for sharing and glad you had a terrific hunt! Persistence does pay off, it's hard to keep a positive outlook after many days of rain in a row, but that's all part of it. Glad you had a great all around experience and saw many types of wildlife.

  9. #9

    Default NIce

    Great account, I enjoyed it and it sounds like you did too. A true adventure. Congrats on a nice bear. Patience and perseverence win out more often then not.

  10. #10
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    4,670

    Default

    Thanks for sharing your hunt with us, you did a great job! That is a nice looking brown bear as well.

  11. #11
    Member Irish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Eagle River
    Posts
    177

    Default Journal

    I really enjoyed rading your hunt from start to finish. As it the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it's nice to read stories like these to get us ready for next year.

  12. #12
    Member Queen of Kings's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    559

    Default Your story

    was great, and your love for Alaska, like ours was appreciated. congrat's.
    2003 220 Hewescraft Sea Runner 115 Yam'y, Soft Top "Schmidt Happens"

  13. #13

    Default

    Man, you guys ate good on that hunt!! Thanks for taking out another moose killer and i'm glad you had such a wonderful time.

  14. #14
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Ellwood City, Pa
    Posts
    39

    Default great story writing

    Congrats on the bear, and your story of the hunt was really fun to read. Sounds like Mike Strahan does a great job guiding. Sounds like he really put you in a great spot and I can't believe how well you guys ate every day. Thats awesome. I hope to experience Alaska next year and your story of your hunt makes me even more anxious. Great hunt.

  15. #15
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Fairbanks Area
    Posts
    7,274

    Default

    Congrats to you both. I too had a few wet days on the river with no moose so I know the feeling. Very nice bear and sounds like you had a great adventure. Very well written and photo documented.

    Steve
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
    Founding Member
    http://www.residenthuntersofalaska.org/

  16. #16
    Member RMiller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    1,736

    Default

    Congrats and thanks for sharing.
    "You have given out too much reputation in the last 24 hours, try again later".

  17. #17

    Default

    Congrats and great story. I felt like I was there w/ you! I'm really glad you didn't let your little girl down either

  18. #18
    Member tboehm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Soldotna AK
    Posts
    2,407

    Default youtube

    This is my first attempt to convert some video and add it to youtube and then post it here. If I can make this work I'll post a series of these to add for everyone wish me luck.

    P.S. Thanks for all of the nice comments.

    Last edited by tboehm; 09-24-2008 at 09:42. Reason: fix post

  19. #19
    Member Berto's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    336

    Default

    the youtube link worked for me, thanks

  20. #20
    New member
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Fairbanks
    Posts
    157

    Default Bear

    Congrats on the bear & Hunt!! Good story thanks!!

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •