Species: Black Bear
I'm still on the 54' Alaska Adventure as I type this report of one of the absolutely most enjoyable hunts of my life. Let me start this report by saying that I have taken quite a few black bears and a couple of real monsters, so this hunt was to be a no pressure, fun ordeal. I wanted to take a good mature boar and get good video. The video was much more important than the size of bear. I was also hunting 2x1 with long time friend, my partner on our TV ventures, James Brion.
Normally, Paul Brand and AK Safari Unlimited doesn't begin their bear hunts until around May 6, but our schedules didn't line up, so he took us a week earlier than he usually hunts. He also told me that the action would likely be slower, but we could still find a couple of bears.
On the first day, we all packed onto the 54' boat and cruised about 4 hours to a big bay. On the way, we stopped and took photos of sea lions, saw otters, and on the side hill of the bay, we counted close to 60 mountain goats, some as low as 100 yards above the beach. The weather was cool with off and on rain, but not awful.
We counted over a dozen bears up on the side hills, some of them being quite high. Our hope was that they would move down in the afternoons and feed on the new grass on the tidal flats. However, they never seemed to make it down to the flats.
We moved the boat a couple hours away to another bay that had lots of clear cuts on the sides, and grass on the flats. At the new spot, we spotted 10 bears before we ever anchored. We took the skiff in, and began moving to check out bears. We saw one really big bear, but as we closed the distance, he moved out of the clear cut and into the thick forest.
As we worked around the hill we spotted another bear. He was a beautiful boar, with a nice head, but Paul guessed him as 6.5' so we decided we should pass on him as we could find more of that size without much trouble.
The next day we moved the boat a couple more hours and we took the skiff up into a huge tidal area with 2 rivers flowing out. It was miles of grass, Paul said it was one of his "go to" spots and we spotted 3 bears on the way in. We stalked one to about 300 yards and decided he was too small, but then the sun went in and the bears just disappeared. It seemed when the weather was nice, the bears popped out and when it got nasty, they went in the woods to lay up.
We went back earlier the next day and spotted a bear within 15 minutes. He was a mile away across the flats and within a couple minutes he disappeared. It didn't take long for him to show up again, so we took off after him. There were a number of tidal ditches, streams and channels crisscrossing the flats, so we were able to use these for a stalk. He was lying just above the main creek eating triangle grass and we found a huge old uprooted tree that we could put between him and us. It made the final stalk absolutely perfect. We crawled up into the roots, and I ranged him at exactly 135 yards. We watched him lying and eating grass like a lawnmower and Paul said he was a decent and mature boar. When he stood up, he said he thought we should take him and my cameraman said that the over the shoulder footage was excellent. So, I knocked the safety off and hammered him in the shoulder with the 180 Accubond. Bear Down...
We took photos, went back and pulled the skiff up to him and loaded him up. I handed the rifle to James and we took off to find him a bear. About one hour before dark, a bear emerged where we had seen one the day before and the chase was on. When we got within a couple hundred yards, we saw that he was rubbed all over his front legs and we stood around watching him. Someone looked back the way we had come and there was another bear a mile behind us.
We reversed course, crossed a few streams (one over my hip waders) and 15 minutes later, we were standing in knee deep water looking over the bank at another boar about 150 yards out. He looked a little better than my bear to me and Paul again said he was a mature bear, but no monster. James decided to take him as we had good over the shoulder footage again. He let the AccuBond fly and we had our second bear down in 5 hours.
We floated the skiff out at low tide, and it was a gorgeous and peaceful ride out. Harlequin ducks, pintails, eagles, otter and a host of other animals were everywhere, and the pristine snow covered peaks were a beautiful backdrop for the setting sun.
This trip was just plain fun. No pressure (everyone is going to kill bears), we ate like kings, and it was really nice to be able to come in to a warm dry "camp", take a shower, dry your gear out, and sleep in a nice bunk. Also, being on the boat allowed us to move areas at will and find bears wherever they were. I just can't say enough about the trip. I feel sure if a guy wanted a 7' bear and wanted to hunt hard for 6 days, there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to get one. Paul told us that this was the slowest hunt he had ever done due to it being so early. He felt like only 10% of the bears were out at this point. He told us that on the flat where we took our bears, on a good night in mid-May, you would see 20-25 bears.
The last day was spent catching a few fish, taking photos of eagles and cruising back to Homer. What a nice way to end an enjoyable trip.
I will be back on this trip in the future.
- Tim Herald
Magnum Hunt Club