....my eyes squited against the rare kodiak sunshine as i slumped in my seat to see under the wing. The soft drone of the beaver echoed in my head somewhere, its easy to echo in my head, i keep alot of it empty. We banked softly thru the pass and into the valley that feels like home. Bear trails run like viens from brush patches to creek banks, weaving there way around the valley floor and walls, appearing as an unorganized mess, but yet extremely efficient and tactfully laid out.
After my eyes adjusted from the bright trackless snow and I could see into the leafless alders and flattened grass, I glanced straight down, perhaps knowing somehow that i needed to? A dark ominous form was positioned between a snow slide and alder patch. I craned my neck and face against the window to follow it with my eyes as long i could, desperatly wanting to know if it was a brown bear. My gut said yes, my eyes said maybe and my mind said move on. With no resolvement, i turn back forward.
22 hours of heavy rains gave me time to get to know my client, Dean an eye doctor from Iowa. He was beginning to get antsy. Kodiak rain will do that to you. My new cabela's XWT 10x10 defeated every rain drop, often times its the little things. Like a tent working to help a trip be an adventure and not a survial trip.
We spotted him on day 2, when the was out beconing the island back to life. Deer grazed on almost every hill side, one of the boone and crocket bumble bee's whizzed by and the foxes were out on the beaches digging around and watching the whale as it coasted thru the bay. A good day. But to late in the evening.
To sum up the next several days...it rained. on day 4 or 5, we saw him again. A tall long legged bear, dark against the brown carhart collored grass, but on this day we saw him bed.
A fine location he'd picked, the intersecting point to about five brush patches, laden with black berry bushes and dense alders surrounding him. No weak point i could find to break in and trash his house. We set up at 200 yards and just waited...and waited....you get the idea. Our wind was squirrely, not wanting to bust him from this valley wall, we eased out and let him lay. There will be another day...tomorrow.
On day six we moved back into his neighborhood slowly, with the my Big Eye (swarovski spotter) tearing apart the landscape. We found him....again. He hadn't moved, still slumbering in his bed. Taking up a mobile postion 500 yards out we sat and waiting,dreaming of ways he could move that would be great for us and bad for him, fretting about ways he could move that would be great for him and bad for us! Taking about shot placement and our sandwhiches. roast beef with barbacue sauce...ya.
You could see the restlessness in the bear, he rolled and flopped around. Stretching and reaching, sniffing the air and flopping back down. I didn't dare try to make a move on him as he acted ready to move himself. He did. he rose from his bed, he tiny black marble eyes standing guard as his nose went to work...satisfed he was alone he began to graze. straight down hill!!! perfect, we hadn't though of that one. We slide forward, workin' tight to the alders to break up our outline along the grass, moving when he was distracted, stopping when he stared. He slid down the hill a few yards on his rump, like the neighbords dog does on the carpet...never taking his eyes off the valley. We slithered thru some thick alders, duckin' and weaving our way under and over tender dead limbs and devils club. but on this day, none of it seemed to hold us back, only add concelement to our mission. 230 yards we stopped, unless he came down more, this was going to be the kill floor. he was in some pretty open country, a couple small bushes that want to be alders when they grow up decorated the grass patch he stood guard over. it was one of those junior alder branches that now kept us from shooting....
we waited....he stared, we stared. he sniffed, we wondred. Then it happened. His nose shot into the air, reaching out with his head as far as he could reach as if there was just one odor just to far to grab that he needed desperatly....he reached it. The smell of Dean filled his nose (deans taller than me so i just figure the bear smelled him first.. ) spinning on his haunches he headed up hill. "you'd better do it, you'd better do it!" i uttered, a soft bark to try to stop him, no, he sped up, "do it, do it!"
Well, Dean did it, a perfect vital shot from a .375 took the bear on a hard quarter away, stopped him, but not rolling him. I heard the soft empty metallic song that empty brass sings when it flies thru the air and lands softly in the wet grass. knowing dean was not loaded yet and the bear on the move again i fired thru his chest as well...as the bear climbed thru one of the young alder bushes the last shot to be heard in the valley that day broke the bruins back and dropped on the steep slope. 60 yards or so from the security of his bed. Dean had done it, two perfect shots, one perfect bear.
We pounded fists and talked of hugging, but both figured it would be awkward. We rolled the bear down the hill for better pictures and skinning. Found him to be a big 9'2" boar with long legs and a 26.5" skull, estimated age of 9 years old. His lip was split in half years back and healed up this way. it will be remembered in the lifesize mount.
Another great client, with a great attitude and expectations made this a great trip for me and him as well.
This was my 100th bear....never saw that day coming.