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Thread: Afognak Success!

  1. #1

    Default Afognak Success!

    Ucohokie and Pmac's Afognak adventure. Long post - but good stories should be !

    Eastern Afognak Island 4/21. I'd hunted the same location two years ago, and went back despite having been warned by the biologists that it was difficult place to hunt (regardless of the fact that there are definitely bears there - most people just never see them or get a chance at them). Weather broke the day we arrived in Kodiak, so flight out to the lake with Seahawk Air was like clockwork. Unpacked and set up our gear, then took a stroll to the ocean beach for a look around. Spotted a bear, way up high on south facing western ridge, after about 20 minutes of glassing. It was working a steep grass slope, intermixed with scree lines. Watched for an hour. Went back to camp and set up our rented zodiac and gave it test run on the lake. Went back to beach and spotted bear again, still on same grass slope - working the ground for bugs and such I suspect. Watch for three hours, then see bear den down on a knoll under a tree. Decide that is the bear if still there the next day - no idea how long weather will hold, but the series of lows moving in from the west had been bringing miserable weather, so I knew another one was a few days out at most. Go to bed early after some warm chow. Wind & sleet/rain mix during the night.

    4/22. Awake to cold but clear morning. Out on beach by 7am, light snow cover on ridge. No sign of bear. Decide to wait it out - figured it didn't go anywhere last night, but bedded down up there to wait out the weather. Spot lots of deer on both beach and ridges - all look fat and healthy - good for them. Get repeated visits by local red foxes including this big, ugly red one I'd seen two years earlier. Wind picks up coming off the ocean. Move down the beach, and find wind break. Sun is warm and comfy. So comfy we alternate taking naps and glassing. Around 4pm, see bear in same grass/scree patch working about between 800 and 900 ft up the ridge. No time to lose.

    The stalk. The grassy slope had two avenues of approaches - it was bounded on either side by ridge finders that extended all the way down to beach and were covered with grass and clumps of spruces. That's the up side. The down side was that it was 60-80 degree terrain, but it was workable. It was about a mile walk around the beach to base of the ridge finger and the angles obscured seeing the bear, but it couldn't see us either. Threw on the 10 point crampons, rifle scabbard and small pack with the "bear" essentials, and started up. First 300 ft were the slowest, as it was the steepest, like climbing a wall in spots. After that, eased to about 60 degree pitch, with flat spots to pause and assess. The ridge finger we selected was actually three thin ridge fingers,rather than one big wide one, about 15-25 feet in "height"/depth/whatever separated by thin scree lines. We had started on the tallest one. I transition to the middle one about 600 feet, (Pmac decides to continue on the initial ridge finger) and hid under a spruce tree to look at the wide grass/scree slope we'd seen the bear. No bear. Notice three things. 1) There are now deer feeding on the bottom of the grassy slope about 150 yds away, parallel to me. I suspect they don't see a bear either. 2) I can't see the upper half of grass slope because of this third ridge finger, it's only 15 feet high, but that's enough. 3) 5 feet to my left, the ground has been dug away from behind another spruce and its full of bear scat. Another bedding area. It's going to know I was here. So only one thing to do - go up. I stick to the ridge finger I'm on and go up to 900 feet - I can't go any further, it drops off about 15 feet into a little ravine. Still can't see the upper half of the grassy slope. Notice a good depression, in the third and final ridge finger, parallel to me. It's only 35 yds away, just across a scree line with a snow fed stream. From the depression, I should have a full view of the whole slope. I take about three steps...

    ...and see a claw slowly rise into the air from the depression. Holy S**t! It is bedded down right there, but that wind in my face is keeping me invisible. I step back to my previous position and get a shooting rest as I as possible without falling into the ravine. I can make out an ear, and that claw that keeps getting raised in the air. That's it. I pull out my bear call, and blow a soft squeal - the ear flicks. I blow again - a little louder - a slight raise of the head, and then down again. I let loose with four loud screams. Bear sits up, rolls on belly and faces me. See the full head, and left shoulder. Put a shot in between neck and shoulder. Bear rolls to back. Put two more into center of back to be sure. After third shot, bear rolls off ridge finger and into scree and somersaults end over end to beach below (very convenient actually). Time is 6:15pm.

    I'd gotten ahead of Pmac (due to crampons), so after some miscommunication and losing sight of each other, we finally reunite on beach below at 8pm for pictures and to begin the long chore of getting bear home. Get back to camp about 1am.

    Not a big bear, but it was trophy experience - hence the long post. Footnote: John, one of the ADFG biologists, said he'd only seen 3 bears in 13 years come out our particular location - so we took some pride in that fact.

    Couple of thanks to some forum members:

    Winmag - for turning me on to Seahawk air years ago. Rolan, Jo and company are a class act.

    Grizzlyeyes - for helping me a select a good .375 two years back. Finally got to use it.

    Brwnbr - for being willing to help people you've never met with bear advice, both on the forums and PM. It helped.

    Pmac - gets the biggest thanks - for tagging along/and being a great sport. Anyone who has had the pleasure of having him come along on a hunt while he conducts his research is the better for it.
    Last edited by ucohokie; 07-02-2010 at 08:48.

  2. #2
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Awesome. Absolutely awesome. Congratulations on a great hunt!

  3. #3
    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Default

    Congrats on a great hunt, sounds like a tough one! The bears got a very nice blonde coat, was it a sow?

  4. #4

    Default Yep

    It was sow. The wind was in my favor, the sun was not - it was directly in my face and scope so when I looked at bear even at the distance it was heavily shadowed. But it looked dark - I was little surprised at the coloring when I got to it. Based on the time of year, and observing the bear for several hours over two days - I had guessed it would be a boar.

  5. #5
    Member Hunt&FishAK's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    great post man! thank you for sharing and congratulations on a great hunt! I hope to be getting myself a bruin here very shortly....again thank you sir for sharing! we love good hunting stories on here



    Release Lake Trout

  6. #6

    Default

    Awesome, congrats! Thanks for the write up, sounds like a great trip.

  7. #7
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Congrats in a fine looking bear and a great write up!

  8. #8
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Excellent Story

    Wow, congrats

    and Thanks for the detailed write up, the long version, is great, I was hanging on every word,
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  9. #9
    Member MaxBaglimit's Avatar
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    Very nice! Always good to read a successful report complete with photo.

  10. #10
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    Default Very nice.

    Thanks for taking the time for the write up. What was your caliber and bullet combo?

  11. #11
    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Default Hill climbing

    That account of hill climbing got me excited. I love navigating the steep and nasties. It's a special eperience wandering where the wild things live.

    Good job on a nice bear.

    I've also done a hunt with a wildlife biologist from WA state here in Alaska. It's a good experience for sure.

    Thanks for contributing. There are plenty-o-hunters itchin to roam around here now.

  12. #12
    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Very cool! Great story and well told. Thanks for sharing!

    Congrats on a beautiful bear and an experience to remember always.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

  13. #13

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    Congrats, thanks for putting it up. Nice bear.

  14. #14
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    Good story. Very nice of the bear to haul itself to the beach for you! They are a real pain on the steep stuff.

  15. #15
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    nice work! always cool to see guys follow thru with all the planning!
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
    Master guide 212

  16. #16
    Supporting Member AFHunter's Avatar
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    Congrats on a great hunt. Thanks for the nice write up.

    I am supposed to be on Afognak right now with my wife on our bear hunt we both drew. Unfortunately, Uncle Sam decided I needed to leave for Iraq 4 days before our hunt was to start.


    Thanks again for the write up--at least I can go on the hunt through other's posts.

  17. #17

    Default Nice!

    Great write up and congrats on your successful hunt. Your story got me extremely excited for my Kodiak DB212 Frazer Lake fall hunt.... I just hope i can post with the same success!!!

  18. #18
    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default congrats

    Wonderful story and thanks for sharing! It was a really nice write up. You never mentioned what it square, how big did it go? Your story really shows how planning can pay off.

  19. #19
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    Default an awesome few days

    That's a fabulous account of a great hunt, ucohokie. I enjoyed reading it even though I was there for it all.......and some more you didn't mention!

    Such as the half moon light revealing the fresh bear prints coming our way along the beach as we made our way back laden, paths almost certainly crossing somewhere in the near-dark. Enough to keep our flagging feet moving, eyes and ears alert for the final half hour of the journey to base, that's for sure. And, man, I don't remember very much of that climb as anything other than relentlessly near vertical or pants-rippin' jagged! I'd do it all again real real quick, though.

    Thanks for your personal comments. It was a tremendous hunt to have been part of and incredible experiences to have shared. An awesome few days.

    Congratulations again on getting the bear you set out to bring home.

  20. #20

    Default

    Awesome!!!!!!!

    I know your hunt just ended, but when you get a chance some more pics would be way cool!!! Ken

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