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Tim’s Alaskan Brown Bear Hunt

October 13, 2011 by  
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ALASKAN BROWN BEAR HUNT

Just back from 2 weeks on the Alaskan peninsula chasing brown bears. We went on 3 days early as we had to take a skiff ride to camp, and we wanted to make sure we could get there for the opener. In AK, you have to plan for bad weather, so early we were. It was great as we had a hole in a creek just behind our shack that was full of silver salmon, and we enjoyed world class salmon fishing. I caught 63 silvers that ranged from 10-16 pounds in the first 4 days and I generally only fished 1.5-2.5 hours.

We also saw a bunch of bears close, and a couple huge bears near dark on that first day. If only season had been in. We estimated one boar at 9.5′ and another was probably over an honest 10′. The bad thing was the wind shifted and blew up the valley toward the bears.

Over the next 6 days, we saw more than 30 bears from glassing spots. The big ones we saw were inaccessible and a few miles away. We had small bears on the beach most evenings which was neat, but on the Peninsula, I wanted a big bear or nothing.

Day 4 found us glassing on a hill and we found a good looking bear across a huge flat below. My friend Jim Bevins went after it, and we watched from above. When Jim and guide Paul Brand got to the bottom, the bear began moving toward them. The valley floor was mixed with thick willows and openings. The guys couldn’t see the bear as it fed toward them. At about 80 yards, the bear stood up and saw them. They saw it, and it came closer. It stood again at 60 yards and charged! The big bear pulled up at 25 feet from the guys as Paul shouted it down. There was no way to judge it through the thick brush as it came, and Paul wanted Jimmy to get a big one, so he told him not to shoot. He also had to make sure it wasn’t a sow with cubs and it all happened super fast. The bear retreated and the incident was over. The guys didn’t realize that it was the bear that they were stalking until we told them that night. It had come close to a mile closer to them.

We continued to see many bears but no opportunities came about. We split up on Day 8, and Jimmy killed a nice bear out on a big grass flat. Again, we were on a high mountain and were able to actually watch the stalk and shot again. It was pretty cool.

Day 9 was the last day, and we saw lots of bears at distance, but not what we needed or where we needed. Two hours before dark, Bud Willard, one of our guides, saw a lone bear about 3 miles away, so we took off as a last ditch effort. We eventually made our way to the right area, and the big bruin stood up watching us at 200 yards. I was sick…he knew we were there.

He got into some willows and we worked around trying to find him and get closer. This went on for 20 minutes or more, and we occasionally saw bushes moving but couldn’t see the bear. Then Paul pointed, and the beat was at 40-50 yards in the brush looking our way. I couldn’t get a shot as he was in thick stuff that was higher than the bear. I hoped he would stand up and give me a shot, but after a couple minutes, it was a standoff. Finally he swung to the right, and I thought he was leaving. He looked at us again, and I could see his eyes and ears over the brush, and I tried to make a shot happen. I tried to shoot him between the eyes, and I flat shot over top of him. I worked the bolt of my TC .458, and shot again quickly, but brush went flying everywhere, and my hunt was over.

12 days, 9 hunting days daylight til dark, lots of effort by a lot of people and during the last half hour of the last day, I got my shot and blew it! I should have waited, or aimed low, or something, but I blew it. The 40 hour trip with 8 flights home was the longest trip of my life. What can I say? It was my fault and that’s life I guess. I’ll have to live with it, and it isn’t going to be easy. The guys at Alaska Safari Unlimited did a great job and we saw more than 50 brown bears on our hunt, not counting the same bears twice. It is a great area and great folks. I hope I get a chance to go back and hunt there again in the future.

I’m back home in Kentucky now. I’m leaving today to take my kids crossbow hunting for a couple days and hopefully knock down some does. I am ready for family time and some no stress hunting. Next week I leave for England to hunt free range red stag and some other smaller deer. That should be a real neat experience.

Hope everyone is having better luck than me.

Hunt Hard…Tim H.

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