Well I was fortunate enough to be drawn for a brown bear tag for Kodiak. Planning and preparation started months ago with gear and logistics. Between good friends, great hunting partners and helpful folks from here on the forum I got everything set.
I’ll take a moment here to highly encourage folks to reach out to the membership as well as local guides when you are making a plan. I got hooked up w/ two forum members – one had hunted 3 Saints a few years back and a second that was going to be hunting the same hunt as me (DB 235). We spent better than a month emailing one another. On a hunt like this there really aren’t any secrets. The more eyes and ears there are out there coupled with some good communication and it benefits EVERYONE.
I also contacted the area guide. Again – Highly recommended… What’s the worst thing that can happen? He could lie to you, he could tell you to buzz off? Ya well - he may also be helpful. I was very impressed, quite relieved. Thanks Joe…
In the mean time, my brother and I decided it was time for him and me to take my dad on one last adventure. We spent several weeks/months discussing the plans and finally decided this was indeed the trip. He’s only 61 but hey... He’s 61… We realize our opportunities for having him “out and about” are not growing. Anyway – we all agreed this was the trip for a family adventure.
So here is the run down…
Dad and I take a veh w/ all gear on the Ferry to Kodiak.
My Brother meets us in Kodiak from the lower 48.
Sea Hawk flies us out to Three Saints. (Another AWESOME experience w/ them). Rolan and Joe are fantastic! NO other way to describe their operation.
Basic gear – 12’ boat w/ 18HP motor, TNF Himalayan 47 tent, Mr. Heater (Lil Buddy), tarps, Mega Light glassing shelter.
We flew in on April 23 to find 2 other parties in the bay. One of the parties was the contact I had made here on the forum. Though we talked a lot we had never met.
The weather was unbelievably beautiful. A great way to start! We got camp set up and the boat inflated before dark and settled in for some shut eye. Just prior to bed we decided to run the boat out just for a quick look-see… Well we got 100 yds from camp when what do I see? Our first bear! It was a fainting glimpse at a bear on the beach – BUT OH man what a way to start!
The next morning we got up early. After breakfast we loaded up in the boat and headed out. When we rounded the corner guess who walking on the beach… Yep – our first night bear. We beached and started judging. He was a good bear, defiantly a boar (could see his BOYZ swinging) and had no rubs. But I had a real hard time thinking my hunt was about to end. He was maybe (I SAY MAYBE) 8’. We opted for a closer look so we stalked above the bear on the bluff. What we knew – was that he was oblivious to our presence and continued feeding along the beach. What we DID not know – was that he was about to meet us on top. He popped up about 25 yds in front of us, head down just walking along like he had not a care in the world. He was heading straight for us. We stood up, rifles ready and I began talking to him. I’m not exactly sure of the words or even the language that I spoke but I remember looking at him and realizing he was not the bear I wanted. NOW I just had to convince him to leave without a fight. Luckily for us he did just that. Once he looked up he slowly turned and walked away… MAN-0-Man what a way to start day 2.
On day 3 we did more of the same. We motored out to find a large boat out near our glassing spot. Turns out it was the local guide. He had come in the bay with a hunter and they took the bear I had passed on the day before. I cautiously approached and once I confirmed their hunt was over I walked over and introduced myself. We spent a few minutes getting acquainted and shared some information back and forth. Again – Thanks for being a professional and a nice guy Joe… (You too Rocky…)
Over the next 2-3 days we suffered lots of wind as well as variable rain and snow. We saw two other bears but only one of them was worth a second look.
On day 5 we sat glassing the mountain tops. I had seen new tracks in the snow above camp. Funny – seems to me Joe highly recommended I keep my eyes up there… (Wise words, JOE) Over the next hour I scoured the mountain tops w/ the spotter looking for the culprit. At about 1030 I finally got a glimpse of what looked like a bull dozer pushing snow… BINGO! That was what I had been looking for. We watched for about 2 hours and when he finally settled into a snow patch it was obvious he was in no hurry to go anywhere.
He looked like a good bear. Too hard to judge from the distance but w/ out a doubt a better bear than anything we had seen thus far. There were a couple of certainties. He was a lone bear, he was beautifully filled out and he was in a place that was “stalkable”.
We crammed down some food and water as well as laid out a plan. Dad was going to stay w/ the boat and spotter on the beach. My brother and I would climb up for a stalk. Before setting out we came up w/ hand signals that would confirm the bear had not moved so we did not spend hours hiking to an empty bed. It worked like a charm.
After two hours of climbing… And I mean mountaineering, hand over fist, holding on for dear life climbing, we found ourselves 100 yds from a sleeping bear. The shot was tough because the bear’s was lying slightly behind a boulder. We decided not to shoot but rather re-locate above the bear for a clear, unobstructed shot. We post-holed through deep snow for the final 40 yds to put us smack-dab above the bear w/ a clear shot. We used our trekking poles as bipods and settled in.
I know many of you know this but I want to be very clear about something… **** those bears are tough! This bear was dead after the first shot but it took a lot of shooting to convince it to submit. All I can say is – shoot true and keep shooting until it stops moving!
When the shooting was done the bear had crawled and clawed to the very edge of the cliff. It seemed to take an eternity but Dad says it was only a few seconds after the last shot the bear rolled forward and off the cliff. The free fall was not that far but the rolling and sliding did not stop for nearly 800 feet.
We spotted the dead bear below and decided a trip back to camp for food/water and dry clothes were in order. After a camp re-supply we headed back up. We found the bear wedged in an alder in a steep incline. We decided it would be worth one last push vs. skinning on such a steep slope. By the time it was done the bear was sitting on the beach.
The rest… Well the rest is history. History full of great memories shared w/ the best dad and brother a guy could wish for...
For those of you who were helpful... Thanks a million.
For those of you I met along the way... Best of luck. Drop me a line and let's keep in touch.
For those still in the field... Hang in there and keep glass'n...
The bear: 8 foot sow; est 10-12 yrs old; 23 ¼ skull.