Peninsula Spring Brown bear a bust!
This is a very long story so I will try to tell it in short form to describe the adventure we kind of had. For starters we showed up in Homer AK after we drove 600 miles , to get on the Ferry which would take us to Kodiak,AK, and finally arrived 2 hours prior to loading time for the ferry in Homer, we were pumped to say the least. We went and got something to eat as the Ferry terminal wasn't open yet. We came back to the Terminal and they were still closed and we were the only ones there, thought this was all weird and it wasn't till 3 hours later when the Ferry was supposed to depart that we really realized something was up, Ferry terminal still not open. Buzzed over to the harbor masters office to see what he knew and low and behold the boat wasn't coming.He advised us that the ferry had broken down 3 days earlier and that the schedule was delayed by a day or so. Thats not good news for 3 hunters that were jumping out of there shorts to get on brown bear turf, so we got an overpriced hotel for the night and figured we would find out how screwed we were in the morning. Got into a hell of a fight with several different people who worked for the ferry outfit the next morning at 8am sharp, it was ugly! They never contacted us to let us know our boat wasn't going to be there. Anyway 30 hours later we are on the ferry and on our way to Kodiak. The next day(a day and a half behind schedule) we finally arrive at Kodiak. We run a couple quick errands and we are at Andrew Airways ready to fly in to the Peninsula. They weigh our gear and find out we are over regular Beaver weight and that the Turbine is down for a 100 hour service.No biggie we decided to go in with the bulk of our gear and the boat and some other stuff would be flown in later in the afternoon in a 206 on floats. Off to the Peninsual we go, by the way the Beaver flight out over Kodiak was awesome lots of bears spotted from the air, man our blood was boiling. We break off mainland Kodiak and head straight west over the Pacific and we can see the Peninsula mountains off in the distance. Un freaking believably beautiful place! The sky was blue , the sun was shining and the water was glass. Flew past the Katmai and down the coast as we broke past the edge of the Katmai border we started hunting for a good spot to land. We spotted one small to medium sized bear from the air as we flew over Bear Bay, then the circus showed itself. There were tents, boats, and planes in almost every good place a plane could land. We flew over and circled a half a dozen places and there were camps everywhere. After an hour in the air the pilot advised us we better pick a spot quick as fuel was becoming a concern. So he set us down on a small bay that was in the north edge of a small Peninsula, we had camps in visual sight of us on both sides of us. Man you could only imagine how sick to my stomach I felt. Here we are in this god forsaken place and theres hunters all around us. But it only gets better. We agree that we will be able to access a bay just a north of us with the Zodiac that should allow us some good hunting. We unload the gear , and haul it to the beach. The pilot takes off after telling us that he will be back in the afternoon with the rest of our gear. We set up camp in what looked to be a good protected area from the winds should they pick up and we start glassing. The pilot isn't gone an hour and the winds start to blow and they go from say 15-25 mph which is what they were when we landed to about 35-50 mph by dinner time. I knew they couldn't land in these winds so I called them on the sat phone and told them the winds were whipping pretty good and that they might want to wait till morning. In the next 48 hours the winds blew from about 35-55 mph sustained all the way to gusts pushing 70+ mph. At one point I could literally lean into the wind on a small hill above camp and the winds would hold me up and not let me fall forward. Our 6 man Cabelas guide tent and deluxe vestibule survived these winds although I am not quite sure how it did. The next morning I am supposed to call Andrews and let them know if the winds have died down and they actually have. I get out of the tent with the sat phone and walk up to a little knob to make the call and all I can think is man we need our zodiac bad we really cant hunt from camp unless a bear shows up in our little bay and as I glance across to the bay I wanted to hunt with the zodiac ( the only place we really have to hunt) all of a sudden I hear the sound of a plane coming in over head, I quickly identify what looks like a yellow supercub with tires and as I watch this fella circle over head he coasts in and lands on the beach (it was low tide in the morning) and sets her down right on the beach of the bay we have been waiting 2 days to be able to hunt and they proceed to make camp. That was the straw that broke the camels back, we called Andrews and told the to pick us up as soon as they could, we were all so pissed off, so sick to our stomachs it was unbelievable! Spent 6 months planning and funding this trip for the hunt of a lifetime and it turns into a complete disaster. The only bear we ever saw within a mile of camp was a sow with 2 two year olds (we saw them every day)and on the last night we had to put a round in the sand in front of them at about 80 yards as the 2 year olds would not listen to mom as she would try to lead them away and there curiosity kept them coming towards our camp that would have been the icing on the cake to and already ruined hunt if we would have had to kill them. Can assure you that we will not be doing this hunt again. From now on if I dont draw Kodiak I dont hunt brown bear. I did not mention that because of the late spring and the fact that a lot of guide camps that were normally on inland lakes had to relocate because the lakes were all still frozen so lots of them ended up on the coast.We also saw two different large trollers with hunters that would stroll through our bay twice a day glassing the beaches. It actually reminded me of hunting the Haul road for Caribou, with just a little more money invested. Heres a pic of the only bears we saw at close range.Moma nd her kids
heres a pic of camp
The Cabelas guide tent catches a lot of crap on this forum but this baby here deserves a little credit with 2 full days of winds over 50mph and gusts that would probably scare us to know what they actually were.Not one component damaged and the vestibule was awesome to have.
sorry to hear about the bust
Sorry to hear about the busted trip. A real bummer for sure, we could all tell how pumped up you were to go. I have had similar experiences with the guide tent and it held up. They are great in my opinion.
You know what the worst
part is. I have killed everything in Alaska that I have wanted to and have never payed a single dime for a fly in , boat in , nothing its always been on my own terms. The one time I fork out the big bucks and plan an awesome adventure like this its completely F##### from the get go and none of it is in my control, that sucks worse than anything else. And I agree, the guide tent has always served me well, this was the first extreme test it has ever endured in 7 years and although I didn't get much sleep worrying about her, she did great.
I'm sorry to hear that your trip fell apart. I haven't paid for a fly out trip yet, but I have been thinking about it. I would be bummed if I ran into a s#it load of hunters when I flew out. I have always done my own thing too (without using commerical transportation services), maybe that's the best way to do it.
Good luck next time,
Sorry to hear about your terrible experience AlaskaCub. The peninsula is a big place and there's room for everyone, I'm not trying to bust on you or anything but maybe you should have had a plan B for that situation. If it were me and I saw all those tents, I would have told the pilot to ake me somewhere else or if fuel was an issue I would have had him drop me off and when he came back to bring the ret of the gear have him take me somewhere else. I know i don't know the whole situation but I am just going by what you posted here. Fly in's are a lot of fun and 90% of the time get you away from others but stuff like this will happen from time to time. Hopefully you can get out and maybe chase some black bears before it gets to warm.
sorry to hear that...
Roland. I've thought about you guys several times over the last week, tellin my wife "think they got their brownie yet? maybe two??". As so often is the case here in Alaska you hear all the stats about 'less hunters' every year, and our young people arent interested etc. really sounds like a bunch of crap when it comes to a situtation like you experienced. We hear this kind of story constantly.
Imagine the amount of money going on down there too. If even half of those tents were guided hunts, --Germans, nonresidents etc -- at $15-17 thousand each, imagine that!! The little guy cant even hope to compete.
If I didnt about kill myself every year hiking many miles for a sheep, it would be the same story as yours.
Overall, glad you saw some great sights and had a safe one, regardless of the circumstances..
You know the Peninsula is a very big place the only problem is theres a lot of distance between what is affordably doable and how deep your check book is.
I'll give you an example we are in the air heading south along the Peninsula and just entering Puale bay which is a very dangerous place to land a float plane, its massive and has heavy heavy winds so the next spot doable is down by wide bay, Becharof Lake is completely frozen over so the pilot says for another 500$ a piece each way we could go down to wide bay but just letting you know thats a heavy guide area so you might have even more company than in Alinchak, and Bear bay and with Becharof frozen over they will probably move their camps to the coastal bays. You are sitting there completely disgusted and wondering how much more money is this thing gonna cost and what will be the end result. Theres a lot of what if's, but I can tell you that plan A, B, C were all conforted by Andrews and they had no idea that many people were hunting the Peninsula , they couldn't believe how many camps were down there. Hey its over and its forgotten (kind of) I can now turn my attention to bear baiting and I can surely tell you it will be a long while before I fork out $2k on another fly in hunt of this type. Theres a strong lesson learned here. I have complained in the past that Alaska was getting more and more congested off the road system and the rivers but never imagined it would be this bad by plane too! Lesson learned.
Your right AlaskaCub, that is a tough lesson to learn and I hope i never have to learn it myself. I know of a few guys that go out every year for brown bear and usually always go to the same place and yes, they have to fly in to get there. They "might" see one other party and always seem to come out with some nice brownies. Thats what i meant by the peninsula being a big place, I'm hoping to someday go out there and bust a big brown myself in a year or 2. Man it's been a long winter!
Heres a cool pic
This is a picture of a bear den that has a sow and at least one small cub in it. This thing was so extreme we watched her through the spotting scope on the last couple days she only came out like twice a day. If you were a mountain goat you couldn't have gotten to her.She was on a mountain above the guys in the bay just on our south side.In this picture from afar there is a large V created coming down off the top of the mountain she is sitting dead center just a little left of center, I will reply with another pic from closer up.This was extreme.You can just barely see the brown smear coming off the rocks in the center its hard to resize it for the forum.
Sorry to hear that
I can't imagine your frustration! I hope that this will be just one story to balance all the future great ones that you'll have. Thnaks for sharing the story.
people and places
its tough to get away from it all now...affordable is a place alot of people can go...you'll never be alone if you can afford it...some one else can as well.
Airplanes and boats all have the same issue, they can only travel/land in certian places...those places are where the people will be. with the AK pen bear season so short and so popular, you've really got to push hard to get away from everything else. but at least you have the satisfaction of knowing every other tent there is probably saying the same thing about their hunt...no bears and to many people. I doubt your the only one unhappy about the experience. hang in there akcub, there'll be a next time.
That really sucks, coming from the east I know a thing or two about scouting out a good area to hunt only to get there opening day and find it filled with other hunters or fishermen.
But one consolation (if you can call it that) is that you paid $2k for your trip some of those others paid $10-17k and had the same experience. I have a friend that lives near Beantown (Boston) he has gone to Alaska twice now on brown bear hunts. First time he paid $15k for a seven day hunt in PWS the second time (this spring) he paid $10k for somewhere in Southeast AK. Neither time did he get a bear and those costs were only for the guide, that wasn't counting NR Tags, Airfare ect... The first time I went along as an observer and the guide really sucked. I think he new less about brown bears then I do and I never hunted one yet.
Oh and by the way, my friend is by no reasons rich to afford these hunts. It is something he always dreamed of doing and he saved the money for years. I doubt he will ever be able to afford the trip again.
So I guess it can happen to all of us.