Just a quick hunt report.
I've been here in this glorious state for about 5 1/2 years now, stationed at Ft. Richardson. On our last deployment to AFG I decided I wanted to take up hunting. I've never killed anything bigger than a squirrel until then. (and yes I ate it)
I got back from AFG this spring and got serious. Picked out a rifle, spent as much time on this board as I could, learned the regulations, got license and tags and said....I'm going to be a hunter now.
I started looking for a spring black bear. I started waaaaay too early, but was out in the late spring snow hunting away. No success.
Then I was distracted slightly by fishing season, not that I'm complaining.
So August rolls around and I'm back on the range checking the rifle and scope out. It's good. Check my backpack of gear again, good. Sat down with my buddy and a calendar and planned every weekend of moose season down to the last hour. Nothing goes as planned.
The first weekend my buddy gets a terrible infection in some cuts he had from his house remodel. So instead of our planned fly into 16B we spend the weekend combing the Seward Highway in unit 7. Didn't see anything bigger than a porcupine.
The next weekend we go up to 16A (weather was too bad to fly) and it rained all weekend. We play the cold hungry hunters from sunrise to sunset only to find out that apparently there was a large bear population there, but not many moose.
The next two weekends get consumed with wives birthdays and family visits (what is the luck that both our wives have birthdays in September?)
Last weekend we are going to try to fly again. Remember the fog? Well the pilot lives near Big Lake and decides to give it a try, 10 minutes into the flight the sky is blue and sunny. We land on a lake in 16B where the pilot (hunting buddies father in law) has property and get down to business. Scout out some areas, pick one and do some calling that night (knew we couldn't shoot). The weather was great, but a little warm.
The next morning we get into the area before daylight and do some light calling. The fog is sitting right on the lake and visibility is about 50yrds. We pull up around 10:00 that morning and call it a wash.
We spend the day on the lake banging on some northern pike and chose a few keepers for dinner. The pilot decides he's worried about being fogged in on Sunday and would like to head home since the weather is clear. He's not going to charge us for the fuel if we agree, we did as I'm sure not a pilot nor do I have my own plane. We can hunt Sunday in unit 14 then.
We motor around the lake for a final sightseeing/fishing run, and check out the creek that feeds it. Lots of salmon pooled up at the mouth, most of them are BRIGHT red, some carcasses in the water, some dead ones at the shoreline. As we head back to the plane my buddy shouts "BEAR". I don't know if it's normal to take a rifle on a fishing trip, but I did. The pilot was running the little outboard and asked "what do I do?" I told him to kill the motor and we float to a stop. I have my rifle out and am trying to figure out a rest for it, the bear was 100 to 125yrds away. I end up in some Yoga position in the bottom of the boat with my rifle on the side........as he walked away into the tall grass. My buddy was a genius and let out a cow call and he came back to see what's up. My buddy told his father in law to "watch your ears" and I took my shot. I used my Tikka T3 in .30-06 with the 180gr Accubonds I had for moose hunting. The bear dropped, no movement, but started to bawl. I could tell it was bothering the pilot, who is not a hunter (but a very avid fisherman and super great guy). I didn't want to put another hole in the hide, but didn't want to hear it laying there screaming (or at least my host didn't), it seemed ethical to finish it sooner rather than later so I took a second shot and it was done.
I was hyperventilating with excitement, I think that's called "buck fever" elsewhere. Anyway, he had beautiful fur, nice and shiny from the fish he had been eating. We harvested the meat, but it was just inedible. He must have been eating alot of those old salmon. Both rounds hit right at the back edge of his front shoulder, one hit a rib and shattered it. The lungs and heart were like jello and unfortunately it had 4 holes in it, both rounds passed through.
I used Foxy Beaver Taxidermy in Big Lake and I got a good feel for them. She tended to us at almost 9:00 that night, very friendly, helpful to a new hunter, and had some quality work to display. He ended up being 4'10". Not a record setter, but bigger than a squirrel.
Some things I learned: a good hunting buddy is worth their weight in gold, when you hunt an area make sure you have harvest tickets for anything that's legal there, shoot your rifle often and be comfortable with a variety of shooting postions(know your ammo too), take your rifle fishing, refresh on the regs every now and then (I had just re-read the shooting from a boat part otherwise I may have been in violation) and finally, I think I like this stuff. One more 1/2 weekend to go, good luck everyone.
By the way, we did hunt in unit 14 on Sunday with no luck, and in a novice move from the excitement we didn't get any good pictures. Still got some learnin' to do.