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Kids, the Sound, and Black Bears

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  • Kids, the Sound, and Black Bears

    My kids have been wanting to chase black bears with dad since last year, so a friend and his nine year olds came out with us for the week. We headed out Monday evening and were greeted with flat seas and a light drizzle. We decided to drop the shrimp pots relatively close to the port and anchor up for the evening. The kids were tired and so were the two dads. We awoke to more rain and a three foot chop. We pulled the pots, reset them, and headed to the hunting grounds about two hours away. I like to let the shrimp "purge" themselves in a bucket or two of salt water before heading them and giving them an ice nap. We pulled into a calm passage and processed the over night haul.



    We encountered a young black tail buck swimming from the mainland over to an island. These little guys have been seen swimming several miles offshore. If it were August, he would be added to the freezer!



    We arrived to the bay we planned on spending the week and my six year old spotted the first bear of the trip. It was working the edge of the treeline along the beach. We anchored the boat and deployed the raft, but the bear didn't want to play. In the spring, the bears are on the move constantly. They move from grass patch to grass patch and then retreat to the shelter of the forest. We decided to take the raft to shore and explore up a small stream. It leads to a small pond with some nice grass flats. This adventure was all about the kids. The actual harvest of an animal would be just icing on the cake.

    We worked our way up the creek and up onto the grass flat and wouldn't you know it, an average sized black bear was grazing. The wind was in our face and the creek created enough back round noise to allow our thundering herd to close the gap.


    sigpicSpending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

  • #2
    We decided to pass on this bear.



    We retreated back to the big boat for the evening and had some dinner. The rain started up again so we assembled the make shift cover for the back deck. The two boys decided to jig for some bottom fish and caught several. I was cleaning a small yellow eye rock fish when my son said " Dad, I have something big on here! " I looked over and his little ugly stick rod was bent over to the grip and line was peeling off the little spinning reel. He fought it for about a minute and then could not hold on any longer. He passed the rod over to me and I started to work the big slab up to the surface. The tide had turned and the boat had swung over a drop and we were in about 90 foot of water. The fish must have seen the bottom of the boat, because she sounded and then ran along the bottom. I watched the line peel off the spool and hoped that there was enough. I started palming the spool to slow the fish down and she turned. I slowly worked her up to the surface and we had color! The tell tale white belly of a big flat *******! She planed up to the surface, took a look at us and with a couple pulses of the tail she took us for another ride. I slowly worked her back up, popped her with a load of number 6s from the .410, and hooked her with the gaff. We pulled her aboard. You just never know what you will pull up from the depths when jigging a little, silver buzz bomb!



    Here is the home for the week:



    We hunted the bay for another day, but didn't see anymore bears. The rain was finally slowing down, so we decided to pull the anchor and slowly cruise the shore line to another anchorage. The two boys wanted to drive and navigate, so I reminded them that the " * " were rocks, so steer clear.

    sigpicSpending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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    • #3
      The girls continued to play card games at the table while the dads glassed from the aft deck.



      We had been trolling for bears for about an hour and the sun started to peek out. This is what we were waiting for. We were scanning the beach ahead of us and found a bear working the grass about a half mile ahead. My two kids donned their life jackets and rubber boots and we hopped into motor floater to try and close the distance. My eight year old daughter is an extremely sweet and sensitive youngster. In the back of my mind, I was thinking that the actual harvesting of an animal would be tough for her. We did not have to take an animal for this to be a successful experience, so I had planned on her making the call.

      We closed the distance to about 300 yards and the set up was ideal! We slowly motored to a small island that was between us and "our" bear. We secured motor floater and crept around the edge of the island to a rock out cropping. The bear was still there! I huddled with my kids and asked them what they wanted to do and my daughter told me to take him. We all put or ear plugs and I waited for the shot. The dark bruin was 185 yards away and was feeding along the grass line. He presented me a broad side look, so I put the cross hairs on his shoulder and squeezed a round off. He dropped at the shot. I have learned over the years that a "dead" bear can jump up and hit the brush in short order, so I racked another round into my old Winchester model 70 .375 and put the cross hairs back on him. He tried to get back up, so I hit him again. He was down for good. I turned to see the reaction from my two kids and both of them gave me the thumbs up and were smiling ear to ear. I then looked out to the big boat and could see the two kids raising their arms as well. They had the cheap seats, but were able to see the hunt unfold.

      I asked my kids what we should do now and they both responded: "Let's go get our bear!" We hopped back into the raft and hit the beach. We pulled the bear a bit higher onto the beach and went back to pick up the others.

      I could not be a more proud father. Sharing this experience with my two kids ranks right up at the top of the list!



      The entire crew:



      After the June 1st you do not have to salvage the meat, just the hide. But the meat of a spring bear is some of the best table fare out there. It makes fantastic sausage as well as some tasty roasts.

      sigpicSpending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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      • #4
        One more with the bones shaken out:



        We got the bear taken down and put away and went back to the boat for some celebratory jiffy pop.



        We awoke the next morning and there was not a cloud in the sky. We decided to work our way back towards Whittier and anchor up, so the kids could row around and enjoy some beach time.



        sigpicSpending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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        • #5
          They could do this all day.



          I could not have asked for a better trip. We all created some lasting memories. This one will be a tough one to top, but I will try!:topjob:

          sigpicSpending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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          • #6
            PWS; what a great playground. Has to be better than a trip to Disneyworld.
            Thanks for sharing your memorable experience; you're a great dad. Wish you many more of the same.

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            • #7
              Very nice! Thanks for sharing and congrats to you and your kids! AWESOME!

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              • #8
                What an amazing life you and your children are having. Bringing kids up as you today is what being a parent is all about.
                27' Wooldridge Super Sport Offshore Pilothouse PRIME TIME!
                Kodiak Custom Fishing Tackle Pro Staff
                Heavy Hitter Fishing Crew
                MMSI# 338232859

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                • #9
                  Spoiled One,
                  I am officially putting myself up for adoption. If you want another boy....... Good job man, way to get it done. I hope when I have kids I can provide memories like that. Until then I can live vicariously through your posts.

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                  • #10
                    What a trip! Can't wait until my boys get going on the bear hunts with me, they have a few years of waiting yet. How many kids in this world get to live this life we Alaskans get? Spoiled one indeed again thanks for sharing.

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                    • #11
                      I can almost feel the line peeling off the reel, and the Ugly stik bent to the handle. Amazing story!

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                      • #12
                        Awesome Trip...I have 4 boys and this is our first year in AK. Can't wait to get back next year and start raising some men. Thanks for the great story and pics...

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for the comments, guys! Next spring we are bringing mom. I have finally figured out how to consistently catch halibut in the sound. Just go bear hunting!
                          sigpicSpending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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                          • #14
                            Very cool outing with the kids. What could compete with a trip like that??

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                            • #15
                              good story and photos

                              those kids will never forget that trip. thanks for posting.

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