My buddy and co-worker Chuck found out he was getting an early transfer out of Kodiak next year. He has gone hunting on and off before but had never taken any type of big game animal. Chuck had been eager to go out brown bear hunting since he has been here and with his transfer coming up we decided to get out there and try to get him a bear before he left.
Day 1 (opening day)
We hit the trail about 20 minutes before light and after a mile and a half hike we got into an area that was very thick and covered with bear tracks. There were a few grassy knolls around that went up about 30 feet so we picked what looked to be the best one and climbed to the top and got settled in. We had only been on top the knoll about 10 minutes when I looked down and saw a bear foraging in the alders 122 yards away. I glassed it for a minute as it fed away and told chuck that I didnt know whether it was a boar or sow but it looked mature so get your gun ready. As we were setting up the bear moved off into the thick stuff and out of sight. I pulled out my distress call and gave a few wails when chuck whispered with excitement "oh sh#t, here it comes". I reached down and grabbed my gun and chuck said "there's two of them, now three" I went from excitement to worry as I looked up and saw that the bear was a sow and had two cubs in tow that we had not seen. She was moving at full charge when I stood up and waved, and gave a few "whoo bears". She stood up on her hind legs, took sight of us, and off she went the other way. We gave a fews laughs about the mornings events and kept on hunting, not seeing another bear the rest of the day. As we were walking back to the truck I told Chuck that there was no way the hunting gods were going to send him a bear that easy after ten minutes of sitting, he was gonna have to put some more time in to get his bear.
Day 2 (today)
We headed down the same trail at the same time. We crossed a river and instead of going to the right as the day before, we crossed and went left. We climbed up about 150 feet on the side of the mountain and set up for the mornings hunt. We stayed up on our perch until about noon and decided to come down and continue to walk the trail we had come in on. We were walking along, just talking and not really to focused on hunting when I looked up and thought I saw a bear's head on the trail about 200 yards ahead. I focused my eyesight and about the time I realized it was a bear, the bear realized we were human and spun around, taking off down the trail in the opposite direction. Chuck and I continued along thinking maybe we would see him climbing one of the hills in his escape, but after walking another 1/2 mile and not seeing the bear we figured he had slipped through the thick stuff and got away. Here's where our story gets interesting.....
As we were glassing the hills ready to turn around and head back we hear splashing in the lake about 40 yards in front of us. We were standing on the trail, the lake was about 20 feet in front of us, and inbetween the land dropped about 8 feet and was covered in thick alders. Whatever was splashing was getting closer and in a matter of about 10 seconds from when we first heard it we could see it was a bear moving towards us, now thirty yards away. I told chuck to "get down and get ready". Things were happening so fast by the time I looked up again he was 15 yards away still moving closer. We stood up, both of us taking aim, the bear immediately saw us, put his ears back started growling and charged. Before I could blink Chuck had fired two rounds out of his 45/70, the bear stopped and turned around towards the lake and Chuck fired twice more. I could see the bear was determined to make his escape in the lake so I fired once hitting it in the spine and stopping him in about 3 feet of water. All that was visible of him now was his head and neck as he struggled to stay afloat. One more round out of Chucks 45/70 into the bears neck sent him sinking to the bottom. All this happened in a matter of about 20 seconds and it took a good ten minutes to get our heart rates to come down. Later we walked it out to where Chuck had fired his first shot and discovered the bear was only 6 yards away and charging at the time of the shot. Thank god Chuck was cool, calm, and collected!!
Chuck took his boots off and waided waist deep in the freezing cold lake but was unable to find the bear. We hiked back to the truck and headed to our shop to get our drysuits, mask and snorkle, and some line to winch it out of the lake. We returned about 2 hours later, donned our gear and jumped in expecting to find the bear right off the bat. Well...after 30 minutes in the water and nearing hypothermia we finally found it sunk in about 6 feet of water. I took some pictures on my underwater camera, slipped a line around the back leg, and we towed it until it got beached in two feet of water. From there we winched it to the shore, skinned it out, and got back home about an hour after dark. The bear was a boar, about 71/2 feet in length, and when we take it to fish and game tomorrow we'll get a feel for the age and skull measurement. Im definitely taking a break from bear country after this adventure!! Here are some pictures