I will post pics next.
"Romcho" and I just got back from a tough but eventually sucessfull brown bear hunt on the AK Penn. We arrived in King Salmon to bad news of horrible weather and no bears out. Many out of state hunters had struck out and there were reports of very little bear activity. We flew out with Branch River anyway.
Our first huntable day we endured howling winds and then a big rain storm that kept us in our tents reading books and wondering what the hell we had signed up for. Then the weather lightened up a bit and we got to get out and explore the country. There was ice still around the lake we were on and it was hard to navigate around it. The snow packs were just soft enough to fall right through and the tundra was swampy and sucked your boots about off. We covered a lot of ground.
On the 3rd day of the hunt we were lucky enough to have awesome weather. Warm weather. We got out and hiked a long ways looking for activity. We spotted a sow across a valley running along the snowline. She kept stopping and looking behind her. Turning our binos to where she was looking we spotted a bigger boar sniffing away at the ground and carefully following her trail. Miles away - we decided to pursue the amorous couple anyway. It took hours to get across the valley, crossed a few rivers and got our boots totally soaked. But we were now in the area that these bears were headed to earlier and hoped that we would reconnect with them.
Hours passed and the sun blazed away. It was so nice on the hill where we glassed that we just took a nap and waited. About 6:00 pm nothing had moved so I decided to just climb up on one last hill just for the heck of it because we had already hiked so far. We got to the top of this large hill very winded and sat down. I glassed the area below and after 10 minutes spotted what looked like a big dark jelly bean in the grass. It moved. Then I watched as the same boar stood up out of the grass, yawned and slowly started moving back along the valley that we had just come though. It appears as if he had caught the sow, conducted his business and had a nice afternoon nap in the sun. And now he was just poking around the country. Even though we were tired - we decided that this was our chance. He was moving upwind and we quickly descended the hill and made our chase.
We chased him for about 2 miles - back through the rivers, through the alder patches, over the hills, and along the tree lines. It was intense. We would not enter the alder jungles until we could spot him on the other side and knew that we would not have a surprise close encounter. We were gaining ground - even though there were multiple times we lost him completely.
We rounded a small hill and there he was. I ranged him at 167 yards and was about to crest another hill. Now was the time. Romcho and I had decided that we were just going to shoot at the same time. We had no interest in chasing wounded bears about the hills or doing night time tracking. It was 9:00 pm. 1, 2,...3...boom boom. .375 followed by the biggest bullet a .300 win mag can thrown. The boar spun and gave a roar. More shots. Bear down.
The sun was setting. Our feet were wet from stream crossings and yet we felt great to have been so lucky to get this bear. After spending too much time taking pics and skinning him out we realized we had miles to go back to camp and that we needed to hustle. We had to leave the hide for the next day transport so GPSed the spot, tagged him and took off. We hiked through the dark to get back to camp at 1:45 am and hiking through that part of the state in the dark is not what I would call a good idea or a good time. We got him back to camp the next day after a half day hard hike and got him all situated.
He is a 8 - 8.5 ft bear with a skull of 25 and 1/4. We were just happy to have a bear! We spent 6 more days looking for another bear but to NO AVAIL! Nothing but a sow and cub like 20 miles away cresting a mountain. It was dead. Nothing even touched the carcass! But we did have some shots at 2 wolves. Yes, I said shots - I did not say we killed them.
The first wolf came trotting past our camp at almost midnight. She was a white wolfe and I got into position along the lakeside waiting for her to trot along the opposite side of the lake. As I was watching her I noticed she had a radio collar on. It kind of threw mew for a loop. Was I supposed to shoot if it had a radio coller? What do I do with the collar? Anyway - I was supper excited, pretty cold, dark shooting conditions and I just choked. I pulled a buck fever first time hunter rookie mistake and just pulled the trigger way to hard. I missed the 170 yard shot cleanly. And she was gone in a white flash.
The second wolf was just as exciting if not more. While we were sitting around camp eating our mountain house slop - I heard the faint howl of a wolf. We listened more closely - and heard it again, but far off. I just sat silently and waited - and heard the howl, this time closer. I went out on a limb and gave my best wolf howl impression into cupped hands. Nothing. Then like 10 minutes later - HOWL - right above our camp, and I look with the binos up on the hill and just like a movie this big black wolfe is skylighted on the hill giving us a howl. And he comes down the hill along the same path as the white one and heads for the same path along the same lake. I think we should set up the same way as before and just hope my shooting skills have increased - but we decide in the adrenaline rush to try to get closer to where he would cross the lake. Bad choice. As we crept along the noisy grass trying to get into position - he spots us. And just turns around and takes off. I felt dejected. I already had visions of the pictures we would have holding this guy up - and to get a brownie and wolf in one trip would have been a chance of a lifetime for me. But it was not meant to be.
Our last day we awoke to sleet and snow! We said screw it and asked for a 1 day early take out. Overall we saw wolves, brown bears, moose, carribou, fox, ptarmigan and many nice ducks. Really - hard to complain about that part country even though we had hoped to see many more bears, put the stalk on many and come home with 2 bears. Upon getting back we heard from many that this was a rough spring and that many hunters had not been as lucky as us. So we really feel good about having such a great trip.
Thanks for listening to my long winded story and thanks to those who helped prepare for this hunt of a lifetime - well until we go next time!