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Thread: My first Black Bear, and with Stid to boot!!!

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    Premium Member AZinAK's Avatar
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    Talking My first Black Bear, and with Stid to boot!!!

    It all started years ago when I was stationed at Eielson AFB near Fairbanks. I was new to the state and wanted to get out and experience some of what it had to offer. I was interested in doing a boat based hunt in the sound and was asking for info here on the Forum. Stid PM'd me and offered to take me on a trip out of Valdez as one of his buddies was unable to go. I jumped on it. I didn't get a bear that trip, but met an amazing man that I proudly call my friend. It was an awesome experience, and unfortunately until this year I was unable to meet back up with him for another hunt. I contacted him about a month ago asking if he knew anything about a subunit the wife and I have cow tags in. During the conversation, it turned to that bear hunt years ago. He then said he may have a spot again and I quickly said I was ready and willing! Next thing I know I'm meeting up with him in beautiful Valdez for another adventure! We got some sleep and then packed up and headed out mid morning on the 17th of May. Flat seas and light overcast made for a great run to the hunting grounds. Our original camping spot unfortunately was occupied so we set off in search of a little know pad close by. After some very coordinated wondering around we found the spot and quickly unloaded and setup camp. Our food area we set up away from the Arctic Oven. Soon we were working on readying his very capable raft with a 20hp Merc Jet. This would be our main transportation for getting into our hunting area. Once ready, we head off to setup a bait station in a very good area that he has had good success in. By 4:00 pm we were back at camp anticipating everything to come.

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    Premium Member AZinAK's Avatar
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    9:00 pm rolled around and off we went to the hunting grounds. The plan was for me to sit in a ground blind, still hunting a choke point for bears passing through from cover to the grass that they feed on when initially out of the dens. The ground blind has three windows with a zippered door on the back. The center window and the right window (when sitting inside) were open for viewing/shooting. The left window was left closed besides a 3" triangle at the upper corner for "peeking". The Wise One said that most the bears seem to come from right to left heading to the grass flats, but to keep an eye for the random left to right bear. I was excited and optimistic based on the stories and history Stid has with the area. Now the hurry up and wait game...

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    Wow! They got internet up in the wilds of Alaska?

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    Premium Member AZinAK's Avatar
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    Hours went by with me sitting in the back left corner of the blind. This position afforded me the best view of the area out in front of me and to my right. I was also close to the left window for peering through the corner if needed. I sat motionless besides slowly leaning left to right to cover my blind spots. My Browning A-Bolt Composite Stalker chambered in 300WSM topped with a Zeiss Conquest 3-9x40 scope sat at the ready in my lap. I was imagining the Barnes Tipped-TSX 165gr bullets path from chamber to bear when I realized it was starting to get dark. I figured I'd better grab my headlamp out of my bag before it got too dark as I was in a very forested area, inside a blind. As I'm feeling around in my bag, I hear something. So faint and random it was more a "change" in the atmosphere than a twig breaking or the sound of a turned rock. I sat up and did my full scan of the area to include out the left side through my peek hole which is where the "sound" seemed to come from. Nothing. Back to digging for my headlamp. After pulling my headlamp out and putting it in my pocket I hear something again, and this time I am SURE something is out there. I start my scan of the area. This time paying extra attention to the area to my left. I lean to my right looking out the center window slowly bringing the world outside my cubicle into view when I see him. I had been sitting for a little over 2 hours by now. My heart rate to this point was probably at my normal resting 58 bpm. Now I've added atleast 100 bpm to that in the matter of a second! I slowly lean back straight out of his possible view and shoulder my rifle. Now looking through my scope that is turned down to 3 power, I do the same slow lean to my right looking to my left hoping he is still there since I last saw him seconds ago. Suddenly he steps into my circle view of the world. He is oblivious to me and is slowly walking from my left to right at 25yds. His next step is left leg forward exposing his chest for a quartering to me shot. I ease into my 2.5lb Timney trigger springed trigger and BOOM!!! I jack a round and focus on the bear for a possible second shot! it was not needed. I had dropped in his tracks! Not a death groan, teeth clack, or thrash came from him. All I could see was an occasional breath which subsided in seconds. It was over...I had just harvested my first Black Bear! I sat for about 10 min at the ready giving him a chance to be sure he had moved on to the land of blueberry flavored salmon, and for my nerves and shaking to subside! I slowly exited my hiding place and approached my trophy. After the textbook barrel poke, I reached for the VHF radio Stid had given me to contact him. Right as I go to key the radio I hear the motor on the raft start. Like a dinner bell, Stid was coming in hot! Minutes later with a grin from ear to ear Stid was congratulating me and about as excited as I was! It was right at dark so we snapped a few pics and headed off for a couple hours of sleep and better light for skinning and packing.
    The next morning (3hrs later) we were back to snap some better pics, and get to the work of getting my trophy taken care of and back to camp. He has the most beautiful coat on him! I'm used to Arizona bears in the fall and these bears seem like a different species when it comes to the coats! Of coarse comparing a fall Arizona bear to a spring Alaska bear is a duh, but it was a stark difference nonetheless.

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    Premium Member AZinAK's Avatar
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    He had a forehead on him! We snapped some more pics... ...and got to work.

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    Premium Member AZinAK's Avatar
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    When skinning we found the entrance wound between the front right shoulder and the neck. The exit wound was in the left hind quarter. The exit was found when my Havalon hit something metal. Yep, the mushroomed Barnes was just below the hide in perfect form. Very happy with the performance of this bullet. After some more skinning, some expert pointers from the Pro, quartering, and packing up...we were off.

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    Premium Member AZinAK's Avatar
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    What a beautiful place to hunt. Back in camp we got the meat hung and the hide airing in the shade. Soon Stid's famous cooking was ready and breakfast followed by a nap was the agenda.

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    Premium Member AZinAK's Avatar
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    Being in an unfamiliar spot coupled with full moon extreme tides helped Stid's boats namesake "High and Dry" keep going. No worries though since the hunt had now turned to camping. We had met a couple older gentlemen that were in the camping spot that we originally wanted had been invited for dinner. We pulled some shrimp pots... and one of the bear backstraps as our contribution.

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    Premium Member AZinAK's Avatar
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    Soon we were Stid was in full swing again cooking up the backstraps with some onion and sauteed shrimp Rock fish our new friends had caught and some potatoes round out our meal. Delicious!

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    Premium Member AZinAK's Avatar
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    The next morning we loaded up and headed for Valdez. Back in Valdez we took my bear to get sealed with Dave Winey at Frontier Taxidermy. He measured the skull at 17 3/8". The hide was measured at 6'2" squared. It was bigger than I thought! I left my bear with Dave especially after all the good words put forth from Stid and after having seen many different bears in his shop. Look forward to getting it back next spring in rug form! Saying thank you seems almost insulting when describing my gratitude to Stid. He is definately one of the most selfless, caring, knowledgeable people I know. He never comes short of exceeding expectations in any given situation. You will always be considered treasure in my book. Hope we can share more time in the future, over a beer or on some new adventure.

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    Member Hunt'N'Photos's Avatar
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    Wow, what a hunt. I am looking forward to seeing that skull soon! Thebugs are on there way! Congrats to both of you!
    US Air Force - retired and Wildlife photographer

    To follow my photography adventures check out my facebook page

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    Premium Member AZinAK's Avatar
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    One last part of the story that I'm sure Stid will enjoy...

    During our hunt he tells me a story about a sheep hunt in the Brooks Range that involved a Mountain Grizzly and a lot of rain. His buddy ended up losing his Grizz skull when it was washed away during a flash flood of sorts. He spoke of having bad juju with bear skulls and said to be sure to take extra care with mine. During our packing out on the morning we were heading back to Valdez I set my bear hide, meat, and skull on the gravel beach by the boat. The tide was coming in but was still six feet or so away from my gear. I was loading up and had but a few things left when Stid walked by eying my bear skull now inches from the water and said "be sure that skull makes it in the boat". I assured him it would and continued placing my stuff in the bow of the boat. We jump in and head out to pull some shrimp pots on the way. On the first string while dumping the second pot Stid says "Man, it would have been cool if you were staying a couple more days cause the sand fleas would do a number on your skull". I then yelled "MY SKULL"!!!! I had left it on the beach. With a smile he said "You've got to be kidding me". We then high tailed it back to the beach. Sure enough in 4' of water was my bear skull. With a long gaffe, I had my skull back thank goodness... It was an adventure inside an adventure. Good times...

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    WOW, great report Sir. Very much enjoyed being apart of your hunt and thank you for all the help. I also hope to share a fire with you again soon. I also have to say that you did and awesome job tagging and bagging all the meat and I could tell you knew how to care for game.


    Being remembered every time you look at your bear is my great reward!!!!

    Congrats Sir.


    Steve
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
    Founding Member
    http://www.residenthuntersofalaska.org/

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    Premium Member AZinAK's Avatar
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    Thanks for the kind words buddy. Good luck this fall with your hunts and I hope the wife makes it home safe and sound, and sooner than what is hoped.

    Chris

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    That is a cool story and sounds like the best time. Congrats to both of you guys.

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    AZinAK,
    Great story, very great pictures. Thanks for taking us along on your adventure by sharing with the forum.
    dennis

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    Great write and report man!! Enjoyed hearing the account if your first black bear. Thanks for sharing.

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    Awesome hunt! You were fortunate to hunt with Steve. Steve's a good man!

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    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    Wow that is a great account of your hunt and one nice looking bear! Nice gaffing job by the way!!!

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    what a great story and photos. do you guys pull the inflatable behind or motor it all the way out there?

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