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Thread: Nushagak Area Brown Bear Float Hunt (Report and Photos)

  1. #1
    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Default Nushagak Area Brown Bear Float Hunt (Report and Photos)

    Preparations: I have dreamed of hunting brown b ear in Alaska since I was in elementary school in the 1970s. In early 2009, I finally hired guide Dennis of Alaska True Adventures (http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/member.php/2998-AlaskaTrueAdventure) to guide me on a brown bear hunt. We originally planned to go in September 2009, but we had to move it too this September. It was to be an eleven-day hunt from September 6-17.

    I spent many hours talking with Dennis, who was very helpful in answering my nearly-infinite questions. I worked out almost daily to stay/get in shape.

    I decided to use my Weatherby DGR in .375 Wby and spent many hours from April to August shooting it and getting comfortable with it.


    P8060030.jpg
    I shot about 240 rounds through it during six or seven range sessions. I had it sighted in perfectly, and surprisingly managed to get to where I did not flinch with it. I know this because in late August I once forgot that I had not yet chambered a round and fired on an empty chamber and stayed on the bullseye. I spent hours refining my list of gear and, then finally, sorting, packing, and shipping it (about 82 lbs of stuff).

    AK02.jpg

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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    The Trip to Alaska and the Bush

    Weather delayed the trip from Anchorage to Dillingham by a half day and the trip into the bush by about a day and a half. Nature says eleven day hunt is now a ten-day hunt. No problem, right?

    Finally, the Beaver arrives.

    AK04.jpg

    And we’re airborne.

    AK08.jpg

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    Getting Situated

    Last sight of the plane and any other human life (other than Dennis) for ten days.

    AK10-1.jpg

    Lots of good signs everywhere.
    AK10-2.jpg

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    The First Day Hunting

    Crossing the river to the spotting ridge just on the other side.
    AK11-1.jpg

    Ready to Hunt.
    AK12.jpg

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    The weather was fine. We got up and started spotting at around 7:30am.


    AK13.jpg

    Dennis was better at this then me, but I was having a good time trying to see anything move off in the distance.
    AK13.jpg

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    Default

    pretty pretty country
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
    Master guide 212

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    At about 12:20pm, Dennis saw a bear about two miles away on the ridge that appears in the distance just to the left of his head in this picture (taken about an hour earlier).
    AK15.jpg

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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Default The Chase

    Dennis said “bear, bear” and made the muscle-flex bear signal.

    We looked at it carefully through the binos and spotting scope to identify whatever we could. Initially, it seemed to waddle like a mature bear, likely a boar, but it seemed to have a fairly large head, perhaps indicating as smallish bear.

    Sadly, the wind was travelling in the general direction of that bear. The more we looked at the bear, the more we concluded that it was worth pursuing. Although the wind was not our friend, Dennis thought we might be able to cut him off near the evergreen tree in the far right of the last pic in the previous post. It was about 700 yards away. That was the only real option at that point. We didn’t know what the bear might do, but he seemed to be intent on heading in that direction. Once we made the decision to pursue the bear, we moved fairly rapidly with the gear we needed. We had to wade through several rivers/streams and navigated the roughish tundra and swamps, but we didn’t have too far to go.

    As we departed, the bear was moving at a decent pace. As we started to move toward the attempted interception point, we were in no position to see the bear, as we had to travel through to low ground. As we kept moving, Dennis spotted the bear at 300 yards out and to the left, and he let me know. We kept moving. A minute later, I spotted him at about 200 yards. My heart jumped. Dennis was navigating some of the nastier brush. I said somewhat hushed: “Dennis! Did you see the bear?!” He said somewhat aptly: “Did you!?” I said yes, and pointed him out. Within seconds, Dennis led me to a perfect spot to try to take a shot.

    We quietly talked as the bear continued to close in from the left. I asked if it was a good-enough bear. Dennis said that it did not appear to be the biggest of bear, but it was mature, and a “good bear.” Because of the largish head, I figured, with my untrained eye, it was only about 7-1/2 foot or so, and was thinking that I wish he was a little bigger, but I knew I wanted to take him if Dennis thought he was acceptable. I asked Dennis, “how big?” He said, “probably eight or eight and a half.” I said “Really, then I want him. I don’t want to be looking for bear nine days from now wishing I had taken this guy.” Dennis suggested a good shooting position. There was no real chance for a rest as the bear was still moving in and out of alder brush, it it was everywhere. I had to shoot offhand. (Dennis later told me that I am the first client he had ever allowed to shoot at a bear offhand).

    The bear, now, was about 100 yards away. At some point, the bear looked over at us like “who the hell are you?” I was pretty excited about what was going on, and wondered if he might bolt away. I was preparing myself mentally to make an appropriate shot if that happened. But the bear continued to move left to right.
    I got a decent sight picture behind his shoulder as he moved between some brush. But, just as I was about to squeeze, he started to slip through some more alders. I pulled up. I know it sounds like bragging, but I honestly get calmer under this kind of pressure. I always have been that way. I wasn’t going to take the shot through any brush or take any shot I didn’t think was perfect. Once Dennis had earlier given me the go-ahead to shoot, he spoke to me a little about shot placement and the like. I later recalled those words. But honestly at that point I could hear nothing but the sound of my own thoughts.

    The bear quickly again stepped between some alders. I looked through my Bushnell
    Elite 6500 1.25-8x scope (set on about 3x). And prepared to squeeze again. The bear was in a perfect profile position moving continuously to the right. I put the crosshairs just behind the right shoulder about midway vertically on his torso.

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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Default The Shot

    After the shot, I used my Geovids to check the distance on the alders the bear was going through. It was 97 yards away. I pulled the trigger, and the bear almost immediately bolted forward (later measured at about 25 feet). He violently spun to his right (Dennis said it appeared that he was trying to bite whatever was biting him), and went down into the ground (again about 25 feet from the place where he was shot). It took only about 1-1/2 seconds from shot to face-plant. We could no longer see the bear or hear any movement.

    Dennis said he thought it was very dead, but decided we should wait about five minutes. We did. He told me to watch and be ready with my rifle, as went the 97 yards to check things out. He called me up. This is what we found:

    P9070091.jpg

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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Here he is posing with the Weatherby:


    AK16.jpg


    AK17.jpg
    The bullet entered behind the right shoulder, went through both lungs, hit some bone along the way somewhere, and exited at about the same place on the left side.

    Dennis told me that, in the 23 years he has been hunting brown bear and guiding brown bear hunters, this was the fastest he had ever seen a brown bear die when not head shot. About 1.5 seconds.

    Based on my chronographing and other data, the 300gr Nosler Partition would have left the muzzle at about 2,830 fps and hit the bear at slightly-more than 2,600 fps. Without overly complementing the .375 Wby too much, it clearly blew up his lungs and likely some big arteries to keep that bear from even getting a first down after it was shot. Even with the good shot placement, I’m pretty happy with what the bullet did to that bear.

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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Default Big Paws


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    More pics:

    AK18.jpg

    AK22.jpg

  13. #13
    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Default Skull and Hide

    Later, after removing the meat on the side of the skull, Dennis measured it, and then asked me independently to measure it without him telling me his numbers. We came up with the same numbers: slightly more than 10 inches wide and 17-1/2” long. A 27-1/2-inch skull.

    AK24-2.jpg

    The hide squared 9-2-inches (9’-8” paw-to-paw, and 8’-8” tail to nose).
    AK24-1.jpg

    For visual reference, note that the tarp in the pic is a 16’x12’ tarp folded not perfectly longways. Thus, it is more than 8” wide in that pic.

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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Default Moving On

    I was, and am still excited as can be. The only disappointing thing was that, I have dreamed of hunting brown bear since at least when I was ten years old, and I only got to hunt brown bear for about five hours. Only kidding. We skinned the bear and got the hide back to camp that night. After and somewhat while Dennis was working on the pelt for most of the next two days, we continued to hunt black bear, wolf, and wolverine a bit and fish a little. But mostly, I just smoked, smiled, drank at night, and asked Dennis a million questions that he patiently answered as he worked on the pelt.

    Then, we started making our way down river:
    AK30.jpg

    Below tree line now, it was time for FIRE!:
    AK42.jpg

  15. #15
    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Default More Hunting

    I’m not a volume hunter, so I mostly settled in for some relaxing attempted downwind spotting of black bear, wolves, and wolverine.
    AK45.jpg

    I essentially was just quietly nature-watching the beautiful scenes with a rifle in case anything shootable popped up or decided to walk upwind of me in or near the river.

    Interestingly, we essentially never had any rain during the daytime during the entire ten-day hunt. After, the third day, we barely saw any clouds, and it never rained even at night. It got up to 85 degrees one day. And I got pleasantly mildly sunburned. I fear that, if I had not taken the bear on the first few days, I might not have gotten one. It seems like, after the sun came out for good, most of the mammals along the way were napping or otherwise scarce during the day. In any event, none of that mattered, and I enjoyed the rest of the post-brown bear float hunt.

  16. #16
    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Default Dinner

    Extra tasty:

    AK28-3.jpg

  18. #18
    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Default More Fishing

    Dennis caught some salmon and a nice Rainbow.


    AK25.jpg

    AK28-2.jpg

  19. #19
    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    Default Beautiful River


  20. #20
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    Default Eagle

    He was admiring the bear hide.

    AK46.jpg

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