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Thread: My Spring 2010 Kodiak Brown Bear hunt

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    Member aces-n-eights's Avatar
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    Default My Spring 2010 Kodiak Brown Bear hunt

    The big boar we’ve been watching on a steep hillside for the past 5 hours suddenly appeared in a small opening in the trees at the base of the hill. He slid down the opening to the tidal flat, about ¾ mile away from us.
    Don looked at me and said “Let’s go get him”. The wind was our friend and we hustled across the tidal flat staying low and wading in the numerous stream beds that crisscrossed the flat. We lost sight of the bear and decided to go the last place we saw him – base of the hill, near a small opening in the trees. We knew we were close. There was a berm with a log across the top and we stopped there and peeked over. There he was! Two hundred yards away, calm as ever, eating grass, no clue we were there. I got him in my sights – nice looking bear, no rubs that I could see and looked big – they all look big to me, but this guy was definitely a mature brown bear. Don suggested we catch our breath, the bear doesn’t know we’re here and let our heart rate slow down. Good idea. We take a minute, peek back over, the bear is still there, I settle into a good shooting position…

    I’m a fairly new Alaskan, my wife and I moved here three years ago after we both finished careers in the Army. I’m mid-50s now and growing up, my dad took me fishing a lot but he was not a hunter so I never learned about hunting. Later, after I retired and living in South Dakota, I was fortunate to get in with a group of guys to do some pheasant hunting, but as far as big game, I’m a rookie. After purchasing a home in Soldotna, we became good friends with our neighbor, Don, a 28+ year resident of Alaska. What a great resource! After about a year Don invited me to go moose hunting with him and his hunting buddy, Chad. I was absolutely honored that they would include me in their group. They knew what they were getting – a guy with no hunting experience, but I think they saw that what I lacked in experience, I made up for with the willingness to learn, a good attitude and hard work.

    Don also suggested I put in for draw permits. I said “Cool! What’s a draw permit?” He explained the process and said you put in for moose and caribou but you also put in for bison and Kodiak brown bear. He said you never get those but you always put in for them on a long shot. On my second try I pull a Kodiak brown bear tag! Don’s been trying unsuccessfully for 28 years, and after momentarily rolling his eyes, he assured me he was totally excited to hunt the big bears on Kodiak with me.

    My hunting area on Kodiak is Sheratin Bay, across Kizhuyak Bay from Port Lions. The reason for selecting that area is because Don has some good friends in Port Lions and they could provide a jumping off point for our hunt. We recruited Chad to join us and the three of us loaded my pickup full of everything we possibly might need, put it on the ferry in Homer and after a rolling 10 hour ride arrived in Port Lions. We sorted our gear, deciding what to take and Don’s friend loaded us in his boat and took us across the bay to the area we wanted to set camp. No cell service there – we could see a new tower and there may be service soon – but my handheld VHF radio talked to Port Lions loud and clear. Sure was nice to check in every day…

    We set up camp on the edge of a stand of trees. A Cabelas Alaska Guide tent for sleeping and gear, and a tarp to provide shelter for our cooking stuff and a sheltered place to glass.


    Day 1. Glassing a hillside about a mile away and the surrounding area. Improved camp. The weather was rainy, sleety, snowy, windy. But mostly rainy and windy…


    Day 2. Continued to glass. Noticed a lot of bear tracks in the snow on the hillside across and began to memorize those so we could see if there was any recent activity. Meet a guide with two clients in a camp up the bay. He said that several days earlier they had stalked a bear on the hillside, but passed on the 8 ½ footer – the client wanted a bigger bear. Hiked a bit to get the lay of the land.

    Day 3. Continued to glass. The sun broke out for a few minutes, then back to the usual. The guide stopped by again and said the client that passed on the 8 ½ footer was done and had to leave empty-handed. His other client was ill and may need to go to town to see a doc. We had the bay to ourselves.

    Day 4. Glassing. About 11 am, Chad said “Wayne! Look at that!” Our first bear sighting! Part way up the hillside, in a snowy area, was a bear! He appeared to be right out of the den, because he was rolling around on the snow. He would scoop out a ledge in the snow and roll on it and the ledge would collapse and he would slide down, scoop out another ledge and continue to roll. Very cool to watch. He was acting lethargic and eventually slid down into some trees and we lost sight. About an hour and a half later he popped out into another snowy opening – must have taken a nap. He continued to roll in the snow and just look around. He again disappeared from view in the trees. We caught glimpses of him as he generally moved downhill. Suddenly Chad saw him slid down a small opening in the trees at the base of the hill. He was only visible for a moment and to catch sight was very fortunate. It was 5 pm…
    English is an odd language. It can understood through tough thorough thought, though.

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    Member aces-n-eights's Avatar
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    Continued:

    …Don looked at me and said “Let’s go get him”. The wind was our friend and we hustled across the tidal flat staying low and wading in the numerous stream beds that crisscrossed the flat. We lost sight of the bear and decided to go the last place we saw him – base of the hill, near a small opening in the trees. We knew we were close. There was a berm with a dead log across the top and we stopped there and peeked over. There he was! Two hundred yards away, calm as ever, eating grass, no clue we were there. I got him in my sights – nice looking bear, no rubs that I could see and looked big – they all look big to me, but this guy was definitely a mature brown bear. Don suggested we catch our breath, the bear doesn’t know we’re here and let our heart rate slow down. Good idea. We take a minute, peek back over, the bear is still there, I settle into a good shooting position…

    The bear turns toward me… I want to wait for a broadside shot…he turns broadside but there is a small bush in the way… I feel a breeze on the back of my neck… the bear bolts… three big strides and he’s gone in the trees… I can’t believe it! He’s gone! I’m totally deflated. The bear showed absolutely no sign he was suspicious, but he caught a whiff and bolted. We look at each other in disbelief.

    Chad, who stayed in camp, joined us - he could see what happened. We leave the area in an obvious fashion hoping the bear is watching and comes back out. We make a big circle and about an hour later are close to a new area to view where the bear was eating. Don goes back to camp. Chad and I move to a spot to view the base of the hill. It’s about 6:30 pm. At 7:00 I suggest to Chad that we give it 30 more minutes. About that time we hear Don hollering from the direction of camp. We can’t tell what he’s yelling so Chad moves from our spot to see what’s going on. He comes back and says “Wayne, come on!” We quickly move to a place where we can see camp and there is a bear coming right at us! This is a second bear that is coming from the other side of the bay toward the area where we were stalking the first bear.

    This bear looked fairly big, had the waddle of a big bear and squarish head. His direction would take him on a path that would bring him within 150 yards of us. We quickly set up and Chad whispers “Take him whenever you’re ready.” The next few moments goes by in slow motion and lightning speed at the same time. I have a good shot – boom! The bear goes down and is writhing on the ground trying to get up… chamber a new round – boom!... chamber a new round – boom! The bear is not moving. But suddenly he pops up and Chad says “Hit him again, Wayne!” I hadn’t chambered a new round! Quickly get a round in and boom! The bear doesn’t move. What a rush! My first big game animal is a Kodiak brown bear! Chad and I are high-fiving, fist bumping, and hooting! Wow! Best adrenaline dump I’ve had in a long time!

    I killed him with a 300 Weatherby Magnum using Weatherby 200 grain nosler partitions.

    We give him about 15 minutes and approach my bear. The terrain is wide open so we can see him all the way as we approach and he is not moving. It’s still pretty spooky to get up close and poke him to be sure. He’s not a big bear, but has a perfect hide. Nice black fur on his forearms, dark brown body and blond on his back and ears.


    Don joins us from camp and tells us his story. This bear had gotten into our camp while we were stalking the first bear. As Don was picking up, he heard a noise, looked up and there was this bear, not 15’ away. He unholstered his .44, and then dropped it to pick up the camp shotgun with slugs. He hollered at the bear and the bear decided to go. Of all the directions he could go, that bear came right to where Chad and I were set up on the first bear.

    We took a million pictures and just savored the moment.






    We skin the bear and take the hide back to camp. As we are working to get the skull out of the hide, I notice a shotgun pellet in his face next to the skull, and then another and another. It appears that this bear had been shot in the face, probably last year and probably to chase him out of a camp. This ticks me off that someone would shoot to maim. I guess he wasn’t big enough for them and they hit him with a face full of birdshot.

    The bear also didn’t learn his lesson to fear humans and got into our camp. We determined that we had left a bag of coffee out and that was enough. We were also confident that if I hadn’t taken him when I did, he would have come back to our camp and we would have to protect ourselves. In the end he was a good bear to take out of the population.

    Day 5. We broke camp and our friend came over and got us.

    What a great hunt. A lifetime memory with some lifetime friends. I owe Don and Chad so much because I certainly couldn’t have done it myself. They saved me a ton of money and we had such a good experience.

    The bear squared 8’ and that may have taken some stretching! Fish and Game estimated him to be three years old. I am so excited to have this bear! My worst fear was to go to Kodiak, pass on a small bear and go home without seeing another bear. I’m having him rugged and he will be a fantastic trophy on my wall and a remembrance of a great hunt with great friends.

    And, that Karma thing, if you believe that, is that just before we went to Kodiak, Don found out that he had finally drawn a Kodiak brown bear tag so we’ll be back on the “Rock” to get his bear this fall!
    English is an odd language. It can understood through tough thorough thought, though.

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    [QUOTE=aces-n-eights;764273]Continued:

    Wow! Best adrenaline dump I’ve had in a long time!

    QUOTE]

    Hope you cleaned up aftwerward...that sounds messy! lol, just kidding- congrats on your trophy, great story- don't know about the pellets in the face, perhaps someone was shooting to protect- just using what they had. Sounds like you may have taken care of a problem bear, 3 year olds are sure curious. Nice work

  4. #4

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    Looks like a good time and a nice bear, thanks for taking the time to tell it.......

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    Default A good hunt.

    Thanks for writing about your hunt and posting the pics. Congrats on a nice bear.

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    Member Kotton's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Great write up and nice pics,nice colored bear sure is gona make a nice looking rug!

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    Supporting Member AFHunter's Avatar
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    I am not sure you convinced us how happy you are with your bear, your hunt , and your hunting partners. (sarcasm) Congrats on a great outing. You need to keep good friends/neighbors like you have, on your Christmas card list.

    My 2 cents on the birdshot in the face is: No big game hunter in there right mind uses birdshot for self defense against a bear. Now what is likely to have happened is: the bear that is soon to be a rug in your house decides one day that he wants to harass a couple waterfowl hunters--Bam a face full of bird shot sends him on his harassing little way. Maybe the bird shot is all the waterfowl hunters had. By chance are the pellets steel? I could be totally wrong also--anything is possible.

    Oh, and thanks for the write-up and pics. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Great Story Congrats

    Thanks for the write-up and great pics, sounds like a good hunt, Welcome to AK
    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

    Default Great hunt and write-up

    Great story and photos as well. Congrats on your 1st big-game animal--great way to start out.

    Hoping my wife does the same this fall on Kodiak...

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Very good story and pics.Is there anything you might change for your next Brown Bear hunt? Glad you pointed out the shot found in the bears face. Congrats and thanks for your service.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Member Searunner's Avatar
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    Great Story! Thanks for sharing it.

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    Good story,thanks....and welcome to alaska
    I ♥ Big Sheep

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    Holy smokes... a Kodiak Brownie for your first big game trophy? Priceless! Congrats!! Great pics and great story! Thanks for your service as well.

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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default congrats

    You were truely blessed with a nice trophy and I think that you are right about taking him out of the pool. Friends are the thing that makes alaska that much better and nicer.

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    Thanks for your comments, guys! It is good to have good friends and to be able to share events with them that make those lifetime memories.

    AFHunter, you brought up a great point. I never considered that my bear may have been shot by bird hunters - totally plausible - lots of good duck hunting on Kodiak... We'll probably never know, but your idea makes sense.

    Amigo Will, you asked if i would do anything differently. Not much, actually. The equipment and gear worked well, the tent was great, my rifle/ammo hit him hard. It was nice to be able to go in fairly heavy and have everything we needed. Next time I would take a sat phone - the VHF worked great, but it would be better to have a backup. I took some chest waders and i thought i would live in those the entire hunt due to the weather, but i found out they leaked after we got over there. They had worked here fine last fall, but maybe i was in deeper water and found a hole. So test your gear and take good rain gear. I had good binos and a spotting scope, but the scope was nearly useless because of the crappy tripod i took. I'm going to spend some money on a good tripod before i hunt again.
    English is an odd language. It can understood through tough thorough thought, though.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Never enough extra socks,wet feet turn into sore blistered feet quick.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  17. #17
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Thats a great story and a nice looking bear! Good job on your first big game hunt!!

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    Member bnkwnto's Avatar
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    Default Awesome story

    Beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing your hunt!

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    Awesome! dude congrats to you on an enjoyable and successful hunt. I loved the story and pictures. Thanks for taking the time for such a long post..............I LOVED IT!

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    Thumbs up good job...

    and nice write up....something to note, i've skinned three brownies to date with birdshot in there hides...some recent some old at the time of skinning. never in the face yet though...always interesting to see the stories hides tell when you start skinning....nice job, sounds like you had a quality experience hunting a game animal that in my opinion holds no rival on our continent.

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