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My KODIAK BROWNBEAR HUNT
Posted by skydiver_99654 on May 02 2006
April 21st, Friday. Off to Kodiak I travel. My partner Rex and I. Neither of us has ever been on a bear hunt before.
Land in Kodiak. Picked up by Seahawk Air. They drive us everywhere to do our last minute shopping. As a side note, Seahawk Air and Rolan are FIRST CLASS ! I would definitely recommend them to Anybody.
Anyhow, we take off with Rolan for Three Saints Bay. Circling around the bay we see a total of 4 bear. All down on the beaches. The place was like an icebox. All the boars were down feeding at the waterline. We pick a spot to land and camp. We unload all of our gear and put it onto the beach. We watch as Rolan takes off. We are completely alone in remote Kodiak. Or so we thought...... We turn around to start packing our gear to our campsite, and we notice a REALLY BIG Boar walking towards us on the beach. He isn't even aware that we are there yet. We figured he was still drowsy from just waking up. Anyway, the rifles aren't even loaded yet. The rifles are with our gear. We are about 20 yards from the gear, the boar is about 10 yards from our gear, just around the corner. The only thing I'm armed with is a MiniDV recorder. This boar gets within 30 yards from us before he scents us. Let me emphasize that this thing was REALLY REALLY BIG. He was every bit over 10 foot. His head was friggin' huge ! He slowly turns and walks away. About 2 minutes later, he is standing on the bluff about 10 yards over our heads. He watches us in a stupor for about 5 minutes, and finally ambles off. It made for a great video. We take this first 5 minutes at Three Saints Bay as good luck. We wanted to grab our rifles and just blast this guy, and turn around and go home with a 10 plus footer. It would've been the easiest bear hunt in history. But we knew the rules. There was no way we were going to shoot him illegally.
Day 2: Sunny but cold. 25-30 degrees. Walked up on our glassing knob, and got comfortable. About 1 hour goes by, and all of a sudden, my HUGE BOAR comes along. He is at about 200 yards. A very easy shot. LET me just say , that we screwed up. We were so intent on making sure that he was legal, no cubs, not a sow, etc..., that eventually he slipped to about 300 yards from us. I think we were way to cautious, when we knew that it was the same boar as the day before. Anyhow, at about 300 yards, we decide we are definitely going to take him. I know how my 375 shoots at 200 yards, but not 300 yards. We decide to get closer. We are practically running down hill after this big boy. Every 3 feet that we move he moves 6 feet. By the time we got to the bottom of this hill, he is making his way thru an alder patch. A very thick one. And he is at least 400 yards away now. Now we really get stupid. We follow him into the alder patch. After about 5 minutes of poor visibility, we realized that this was definitely a huge mistake. We back out of the patch, and never see this boy again. Bummer. We made a poor decision because we were overcautious on shooting. Then we made another poor decision because we weren't cautious enough walking into the alders. Thankfully, we learn very quickly. Our learning curve for this hunt was outstanding. The only thing we see for the rest of the day is 4 deer and 3 fox.
Day 3: Partly cloudy with intermittent sleet. Very cold. 3 deer. Nothing else.
Day 4: Cold as ice. Sleet snow and rain. Didn't see crap. Lots of tracks in the snow. One set of tracks from the bigboy that we so desperately wanted another crack at. His hind paw measured 15 inches in length. His front pad was 9 inches in width. He was definitely over 10'.
Day 5: We decide to take the Zodiac across the bay and check out some of the beaches. It is just a little drizzle of rain on the way over. We find a great knob overlooking the beach at the head of the bay. We are there for no longer than 15 minutes and the rain turns to sleet. About 20 minutes later, it is an outright blizzard. Can't see more than 50 yards. We decide to wait for a break in the weather to head back to camp. After about 2 hours we got our chance. We are about 1/2 way across the 4 mile trip and white out condiditons again!. We just hugged the shoreline and eventually made it back to camp in one piece. We holed up in the tent and strung out wet gear up as much as possible to dry out. We are in the tent for 40 hours because of the snow/sleet/rain mix, plus windy conditions.
We finally come out on day 7: Starts out really nice. Partly cloudy. Back up on our knoll again. Within an hour the sleet comes out of nowhere. We sit there for 4 hours before we can take it no more. Head back to camp to dry out again. No bears.
Day 8: Back out onto our knoll again. Snowing like crazy after about an hour and a half. Both of our cheapo binos are completely fogged up. ( Couldn't even begin to afford the expensive brands, the trip already broke me).We are down to using the spotting scope as a monocular. Really sucked. Mainly we used just our vision. Snow fades away after a couple of hours. I see just a sliver of blue sky opening up. I tell Rex that must be a really good sign. He is doubtful. 8:00 pm. He is so cold he is ready to head back to camp. I told him we're staying until almost dark (camp was only 400 yards away). The sky is getting bluer and bluer. I see a little black dot at the base of an avalanche chute up on a ridge. Its about 3/4 mile away. I use my "monocular", and i see that it is a bear. It looks like about an 8 footer. Not huge, but a trophy either way. Can't tell if it is a boar or not. We decide to go for it. We cover that 3/4 mile in about 15 minutes. Then we have to go up a 70 degree slope on our hands and knees for about 100 feet. Can't seem to locate the bruin. Rex is ready to give up. I find fresh tracks in the snow. Pad is about 6 inches wide. I figured that it was bout 8 footer. I follow the tracks in the snow. I see a shape on the other side of an alder bush. Its the BEAR! Its digging and foraging. It won't come out from behind its cover. I sneak up to within 30 yards of this critter, but I didn't want to take a shot thru the alders. Didn't know what the bullet would do ballistically if it hit a branch. We wait for about 5 minutes. All of a sudden, he stands up, looks right at us. I start to bring my rifle scope into view. He bolts. First shot was a miss. 2nd shot was at about 50 yards. Bear was at a dead run now. But the 2nd shot connected and broke her shoulder at a quartering away angle. SHe let out a huge growl. I shot 2 more times. She rolled 100 feet down into a canyon that was full of alders. SHe is dead. We say a quick prayer. Even though I've been hunting for 25 years since I was 10, I still don't like the feeling after immediately killing something. I just know that it has to be done, either for food, or in this case...conservation. We had to head down into this canyon which was tricky enough as it was. More hands and knee crawling. That is when we realized that it wasn't all that big. And it wasn't a boar. It was a 4 year old sow. She measured 7 1/2 foot. 22 1/2 skull. We weren't terribly dissappointed though, because she may not be everybody's ideal trophy. BUT, she's MY TROPHY. I will give her a good home on the wall and take care of her and pass her down through the generations. Not too many people have the chance to hunt a Kodiak Brown Bear. The people that do get the chance always want that 10 footer on the wall. I did too. But now that I have her, she will definitely be my story and my trophy. Its getting late now. We'll have to come back in the morning and finish the tough part.
Day 9: Wake up to an unbelievable day. SUNSHINE ! About 45 degrees. Hiked a mile to get the bear hide/skull. First time we've skinned a bear. Read books, watched videos, and watched bear hunting clinics with Joe Want and Tony RUss, but nothing could prepare us for the next challenge. TOok us 5 hours to skin the bear. We were very meticulous. We didn't want to screw anything up. Packed her up that canyon wall again. Lost about 15 pounds doing it. Really sucked. Good thing she only weighed about 80 pounds. Got her back to camp and worked on turning the lips,ears,eyes,nose, and toes. Fleshed her out until it started to get dark. Thru about 35 pounds of salt on her and put her into a tote. Sat phoned Seahawk. Picked us up the next day. THey had everything lined up for us. A quick trip to Walmart. THe best tasting Subway sandwich I've ever had. THen onto FIsh and Game. This was all yesterday (Sunday). Went straight to ERA to see if we could catch a flight back. One was leaving in 10 minutes. We got on. We got home.
Dropped the hide off at the Taxidermist today. He wasn't home, but his mother was doing the paperwork. Hope I did everything right on that hide. DOn't want to lose any of it. THe toughest part was the toes. Tried to get as much meat out as possible, then packed the hell out of them with salt. She told me he would call me in a coupla days to let me know if the hide was acceptable. I strongly encourage hunters who've never done this before to make sure they observe a taxidermist turn the toes. Videos and books just don't do it any justice.
Either way. I know its a long post. Maybe somebody will take away a little knowledge of what do do, and what not to do on a brown bear hunt. Sure we've made some mistakes, but that is what the learning curve is all about.
At least I have my Trophy. Someday when I have kids, I can tell them about it.
Thanks for listening,
"Take risks not to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping"
Next: Congrats Mr. Grayling May 03 2006