I'm bored...so heres a write up of the only thing that went right on a really crappy hunt i guided a while back... also an account of one of many times a simple mouth blown predator call has helped me capitalize while hunting. from gruntin like a moose to stop a brown bear for the shot, makeing a herd of caribou stand up on a hillside with a low wolf howl (it was getting dark, couldnt wait any more) to cold calling a single wolf into shooting range (while getting the client missing him five times on film...what do you say to that...i was so excited i called the **** thing in, it was hard to get bummed for the client)
anyone else use/carry calls while big game hunting.
also wondering if anyone else has had similar experience calling to wolverine...
Diamond in the Rough
“Come on Tom, we’ve gotta hustle!” My client was in his early fifties and although in decent shape for his normal hunting endeavors, Alaska was proving a formidable test for him physically. A machinery operator from Indiana, he was an ok guy. Didn’t whine too much and would spend hours behind his glass with me looking for game. All in all he was a good enough guy to be in the mountains with, and after a full week of fog, rain, sleet, and generally horrible hunting conditions, I was eager to make something happen for him. We’d been completely weathered out for a few days, and I was trying to make the best of every second of hunting we could get.
Early that morning after we’d had a few cups of, strong, “cowboy” cofee, we hiked to the nearest spotting knob from our lakeside camp. Our prominent lookout watched over the large lake we were camped near, and miles upon miles of beautiful western Alaska. This is God’s country at it’s finest, home to brown bear, moose, wolf, caribou, black bear, and wolverine. Marten run in the spruce bottoms and hens cackle from their branches. There’s usually a “link” cat or two in the willows, and beavers, otters, and mink abound in the waterways…this is a hunters country, made for walking in, and scrutinizing with good binoculars.
Tom was on a combo hunt and it was early yet and the moose weren’t due to start for a few days. We were looking for brown bear, and at this point a particular brown bear. Two days prior, through the fog, I’d spotted a grand ol bear in the distance. Long and BIG he carried his bulk like a linebacker and didn’t seem to have a care in this world. I desperately wanted to find that big dark boar again, he’d gotten my blood going and I was aching for an honest shot at stalking him.
The morning started slow, but after watching beavers cut willow for an hour or so in a nearby cove, I spotted the first bear of the day. A black bear sow with three football sized cubs. It wasn’t long after that Tom spotted a lone, small yellow bear (proly a sow) across the lake, and it was only noon by the time I found a shooter. Not the bear I was after, he was a solid eight an a half footer and I couldn’t let him pass…not with a client that wasn’t nearly as into waiting for a monster as I was, and theyre was a beautiful trophy within stalkable range. After enduring the crappy weather during the first of the hunt, Tom wanted a bear, badly, and I didn’t blame him.
Rewind again to the aforementioned: “Come on Tom we‘ve gotta hustle“!…Ol Tom definitely had a max speed and he didn’t like exceeding it much. That was fine, at least he was steady. We stalked that bear in the lumpy tundra hills(common to that country), and after about a mile I flopped down and quickly found him disappearing into a dense though small clump of alders…He did not emerge. I figured him for taking his afternoon nap. Here comes the part I hate. He could be in there for thirty minutes or till well after dark, you just never know. Good time for lunch.
I told Tom what I thought of the whole situation, and got comfy in the tundra. Then I tossed a sandwhich to Tom with some beef jerky and started in on my own lunch. After a quick break I was back at it with the glasses.
At first I kinda thought it was a black bear again, but then I realized what I was looking at humping along the tundra about a mile distant. A wolverine. Now I’ve heard stories about old time guides and mountain men goin whole lives in the wilds of Alaska and only seein a few of these critters outside the bounds of a trap chain…I must be lucky, cause I seem to be able to find at least a couple a year while glassing for big game. With some years spotting many more. Theyre one of our most interesting furbearers and I am fascinated by them. It also just so happened that Tom had a tag, I had a predator call and the keen interest in seeing how a wolverine would respond to one.
My client was shooting quite the contraption. A big long Remington with a big sling with four or five rounds in it, a sims dampener thingie on the barrel, a HUGE bipod, and this ginormous tactical scope mounted on the whole works. All you needed was a little brigs and Stratton mottor on that thing, some tracks, and you’d have a little tank. It looked like it needed a couple guys to operate it, and it was brand spanking new. Just looking at the thing annoyed me. I was accustomed to the fast-shooting aggressive stalking sometimes calls for, and no nonsense quick pointing rifles that were so at home with such work…not setting up a sniper stand and calling the shots as theyre winged in from afar. But heck, that thing looked like it was MADE to do what I was about to ask it do do.
I set Tom up and told him to get situated into that big gun and wait. Grabbing my call from my jacket pocket, I got laid down, reared my head back and let rip the loneliest hurtin critter bawl I could manage for a good two or three minutes. Then I got the bino’s out and checked on Mr. Glutton. That little devil bear committed to that call faster than I’ve ever seen a predator respond. I’d guess his range from us at the time I started calling to be around half a mile. He never stopped bounding towards the sound of my calls till I ranged him at one hundred and sixty yards. After administering a couple lip squeaks for good measure I couldn’t seem to get him to come out of a little clump of high bush blueberries. All you could see was his head and chest when I gave Tom the go ahead, and dog gonit Tom smoked that little varmint clean, right under the chin.
After close inspection the barnes x bullet from his 300 ultra didn’t expand and zipped the little devil through and through with no pelt damage. What a neat end to a bear stalk. A great learning experience for me as well…a wolverine may not be something I will purposely go out and call for, but given a visual sighting or fresh tracks I will call to them every time from now on. That animals commitment to that call was amazing. Tom’s hunt was a long and eventfull one with definite highs and some big lows too. He ended up missing a sixty yard shot on that eight and a half footer later that same evening. We had to hustle again, and when busted at sixty yards with bruin looking at us I told Tom to shoot. Offhand shooting while breathing hard and that big **** gun didn’t mesh well and he shot clean over its back at baseball throwing distance…then worse yet…remember that big grand ol brown bear I saw in the fog…I finally got to stalk him. I also spent seven hours in alders so thick I was crawling, in the driving rain, with that big bear after my client wounded him at a little over 200 yrds…never did find him. My clients tag was punched and I would remain sick over the loss of that bear to this day. (and yeah he was an absolute toad…well over nine foot, proly closer to nine and a half) I just ran out of blood. That’s too far to shoot bears, that and another more recent incident has cured me of letting clients shoot bears at any distance. It was a waste and my fault and I’ll regret not being able to find him forever. Heck of a learning experience, that hunt. The whole deal. Sometimes they just fight ya at every turn, and no matter what you do, you cant make it happen right. That’s hunting I suppose. And boy with a hard hunt like that, a guy takes what little luck gets thrown his way. That little wolverine was definitely a diamond in the rough.