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The Hunt Was Interesting
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Back when I was a little kid I was browsing through one of my father's farming magazines. Normally I found them extremely boring but that day I found a really interesting article of two old bachelor dudes who went up to Alaska and shot a couple of monster sized brown bears. That was a hell of a lot more interesting than the dynamics of hog wallowing so I instantly decided that I must hare it up there myself some day and get me a big brown bear.

It took a while. The biggest obstacle was my job as a teacher gave me lots of time off - but it was summer time and I never did see any July brown bear hunts advertised. ( I see them now) So I went to Africa and hunted lions and leopards and elephants and buffalo and even the game that does not bite back. And as much as I could be - I was content.

Eventually I was runned out of teaching and my springs and falls immmediately opened up. It was time to get me a big juicy brown bear.

A chap was advertising on AR about spring brown bear hunts so I gave him a call. He wanted me to come up in April and we could hunt the high country in snow shoes. I thought that was a . horrible idea as I wanted to hunt them on the salmon rivers. For one thing, I thought it would be a lot warmer and I have enough of snow in Alberta to keep me from looking for more.

The guy told me to come in June. The price was $9,000 U.S. and I would pay 1/2 down and the other $4,500 when I had collected the ol' bruin. That was more than fair. I accepted and when the time came I hared it up to Anchorage. The guide told me to expect to see 6-8 bears on the hunt.

I was his fourth client that spring. One chap had shot a black bear and a 7 foot brownie. The other two chaps had been skunked.

We drove to a major river in full spring flood. He told me that none of the other guides hunted it at that time of the year because it was too dangerous. His own wife refused to even get into his jet boat. He went on to say that a few years previously he had lost everything but his life in a boating wreck. He did not tell me the story and I was not going to ask for it. I have happily lived my life in ignorance on a great many topics.

We drove about 30 miles down the river and while a tent was set up - in the ten days that we hunted we never once used it. We slept where ever we wanted to on the beach and at that time of year the daylight hours seemed to be about 23 hours with a bit of twilight around 2:30 a.m. In ten days hunting mostly 24 hours a day (someone was usually awake) we saw two wolves and a wolverine. No bears at all.

The wolverine was marching along the beach marking his territory about every twenty five yards. My guide blew his predator call and the cowardly wolverine who must have once had the hell beaten out of him by a rabbit immediately rushed away into the bush and disappeared from my life forever.

The river was so high that most of the beaches were under water and all the trees were leafed out. Not good for bear spotting.

One day we were pulling away from the shore but were still in the over flow and still maybe 50 yards from the actual roaring river. We got some gravel in the jet and the boat stalled. The guide went nuts! He started shouting for me to get an oar and paddle to the shore! Right now! Hurry! I grabbed an oar and I was frantically looking around for the danger? I could not see what the hell had that fine man so spooked?

I thought that I could just row to shore and the fellow could fix the boat and if not - we could use a satellite phone and get a float plane or the cavalry to come and rescue us.

I rowed to the shore , grabbed my rifle and walked over to a log and waited for a bear. The guide finally got the boat repaired enough that we hunted for the rest of the time without any grief.

There were mountains paralleling the river to the north and the chap told me of one time being half way up the mountain when they spotted a giant (I guess) U.F.0. hovering above them. Eventually it left. I immediately muttered that everyone on those hunts carried a camera. He said that was true but they did not work for some reason. When they got to the bottom and the UFO was gone - the cameras then started to work.

He told of a client that was scared to death of bears. They were in a cabin on a river and there were bears everywhere. That evening, dressed in his pyjamas, the client killed a ten foot bear. When they tried to approach it they ran into a sow with cubs so they got the hell back to the cabin for the remainder of the night.

The next morning they went up to the giant bear and suddenly the dude collapsed with a heart attack. He phoned for medical help and the doctor on the phone told him that he doubted it was a heart attack but they would send medics on the chopper.

Meanwhile the guide gave the poor sick client a couple of aspirin. Eventually the chopper arrived and the two medics got out. They sauntered up to the dead bear and were standing around admiring it when the hunter started yelling that he was dying and to come and help him! And he threw a bunch of F Bombs at the First Responders, too.

So they scurried up to the guy on the ground and listened to his heart! Heart attack! They rushed him to the hospital and saved his life.

( Part 2 of this sorry saga next)
Posts: 1446 | Location: Alberta/Namibia | Registered: 29 November 2004Reply With Quote
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The next year came and I saw an advertisement on AR for yet another brown bear hunt in a different part of Alaska. This hunt would be in September on a salmon river and I was told by both the booking agent and a reference that it would probably take three days to get a brown bear. We would probably plug the varmint on the river or maybe even where the blue berries grow on the hillsides.

I got in shape for the autumn hunt by climbing a small hill every now and then. And then it was off to Anchorage one more time. From there I took two more planes and finally ended up back in bear country. If I remember correctly, this hunt cost me about $8,500 U.S. There was one other guy in camp hunting bears. He is a farmer from Iowa and a great guy. He hunted 5 days, saw 10 bears and killed his bear on the 5th day and went back home to combine corn!

There were three other chaps there that were hunting moose. I was told that each was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Hell, one chap even owned a couple cigar stores and had brought 150 cigars with him to pass around. Also in camp was a well known hunter that had his own television show and sold lots of products using his fame. He was very nice also and gave me a cigar. I do not like being beholden to folks so I gave him one of my books. Hopefully only one of us burned the gift given in good faith.

The fellow in charge warned us to be back in camp before dark as it was too dangerous to run the river when a person could not see too well. I thought that was good advice. My motto since I was a little kid, taken from that French Canadian poem of long ago, ' You can't get drowned on Lac St. Pierre .. so long you stay on shore.'

I had to be on a jet boat but I did not have to trust it entirely.

I was given their best bear guide I was later told. The chap was from Nevada if I remember correctly and was a civilian in charge of some kind of military range. Or maybe several of them. He told me that the road side bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan were set off by cell phones. And that the Americans had a plane that its electronics could ring the number of every cell phone in the Middle East at once. Hoping to catch the bad guys carrying or transporting the bombs. Mighty interesting. Mighty interesting.

On our first day, we went down the river a few miles and then beached the jet boat. There was a small creek heading off at right angles and we strolled down it for a while. No bears so eventually we headed back to the boat. We could not find it nor could we even find the damn river. I had a GPS back at the boat but I did not actually even consider that the guide would get lost so soon.

We wandered around for quite some time when suddenly we happened on an old airplane run way. Ha! The guide recognized it and we gleefully took off to the end of the cleared area which stopped at the river. When we got to the end - no river. We had gone the wrong way. So we turned around and headed back.

The chap was a bit rusty in his rowing and a couple of times the current took us into big sweeper type trees that had fallen over into the river. I would then plunge to the bottom of the boat until we could extricate ourselves. But his only happened a few times and then he got the hang of it, again. Of course when the motor was running it was easy to go around them but often he wanted to be as quiet as possible.

Day #3 came and went and no bears while the chap from Iowa was seeing few most days. The booking agent was also in camp but after about day #4 he avoided me. I am not sure why as I am really good company.

I think it was about day #5 when the guide finally said, ' Richard, I see your bear!' He was peering with his binos at some far away hillside. I grabbed my Leica's but all I saw was a porcupine meandering in and out of the bush.

And then the hunt was over. I was in my little hut talking to a farmer dude from New Mexico. He owned 7 farms in the States, one in Mexico and did a Billion dollars of business a year. He told me that the airfare from far away Florida to Alaska was less than the two bush plane flights out of Anchorage and he was not impressed.

About then the boss guy came in and said to me that he understood that I had never even seen a brown bear on the hunt. Yet the other chap had seen 10 in five days. I sadly agreed with the facts.

He said that they wanted me to get a brown bear. If I agreed to pay for the groceries (and he added that groceries were expensive) I could come the following year and hunt for free.

I am way too clever for these rubes! I countered with, ' I'll give you $3,000!' He knew that he was beaten and agreed to my demands.

Back in Anchorage the shuttle van was taking me to the hotel. I told the chap that I had not even seen a bear on two trips. That my wife was thinking that I was in a whore house in Reno.

The chap pointed to the transit bus in front of us with a giant mural of a brown bear in a salmon river. ' Like that?' he asked.

I peered out of the windshield and then confessed that I had seen lots of those but thought that they were moose.

(PART # 3 next)
Posts: 1446 | Location: Alberta/Namibia | Registered: 29 November 2004Reply With Quote
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It was great to be back hunting brown bears in Alaska. In Alberta they have long ago closed the grizzly bear season yet I was told that if I wanted to, I could shoot two brown bears as there were too many of them chowing down on moose calves and such. I think that they were going to charge me, for bear #2, about 10 of my Canadian pension cheques which was more than fair - but mostly I wanted one bear.

My new guide was a cowboy type from Utah and like all of these chaps - very personable and great company. I just needed luck. They asked me to come a week earlier as the season had been changed to maybe have better luck when the salmon were really running heavy. Not a problem as I am unemployed.

The food was excellent but I noticed that the lady cook and her dog from the previous year were no longer there. I had really admired that pooch and when I had heard that his job was to keep bears out of camp I gave the hound a $10 tip. The new cook did a great job, too. No problem with the vittles.

This particular year there were a bunch of bear hunters in camp. One couple could not cross the Canadian border so ended up flying over that half frozen Dominion. He was sort of a biker dude and on his first ever brown bear hunt - killed his bear before lunch on his first day.

I rejoiced for him in my quiet smouldering way.

Another chap was bitter as hell. I doubt if he weighed 130 pounds but they charged him a bunch of money for a surcharge as he had more than the 30 pounds (or whatever it was?) baggage. He stated that every one weighed a hundred pounds more than him on the hoof so why the extra charge? I doubt if he got a satisfactory answer. I just sucked in my gut and nodded sympathetically.

He wounded a brown bear on his first or second day and the guide went after it with a 12 gauge pump shotgun that held 8 rounds. The bear got up in front of him, roared and he shot it 7 times. A few days later we took him fishing and he caught some silver salmon and said out loud that it was better than sex. Ugly women in his state?

A few days later he heard that there was a hurricane heading for his city. He wanted to fly home immediately. He was a bachelor and some one was looking after his home. I told the guy to stay in the camp. Don't go!

He got a bush plane to come and get him and flew back to Anchorage. He had to stay in an expensive hotel for a few days as there were no commercial flights heading into a hurricane. In October he flew to Newfoundland to hunt moose and another hurricane hit the province while he was there. He said that God protected him.

I told him that it sounded like God was out to get him.

On my first day hunting with my 3rd guide in three years I saw my first brown bear. A little guy, he rushed off the river and into the bush. The guide said that it was too bad it was too small. I had a life jacket on and I could not have gotten the rifle to my shoulder to shoot. I was glad it was a wee bruin. That day we saw two small black bears and some far off caribou.

On day #2 we must have gone about 15 miles down the river and actually missed the little river that we were supposed to turn on to. Eventually, 'paddling' slow we came around a bend in the river and right in front of me was a brown bear - head down in the river.

The big boar stood up .. fuzzy ears .. and looked at the Canadian opening (as planned the night before) the snaps on the life preserver as fast as he could. As the bear went down on all fours I shot and killed it instantly stone dead with a high shoulder shot. (I do not remember aiming but I surely must have?)

The guide jumped out of the boat and ran up to the bear while I was screeching, 'What the hell are you doing?' He assured me that it was dead and he did not want it to float away.

Some hours later the hide and head were laid out on the bow of the boat. The guide asked if I was in any hurry to get back to camp? I said, 'Not in the least!'

And so very slowly we motored back to the camp. On the way we passed three natives sharing a campfire on a gravel bar. I waved my rifle in the air and pointed at my bear.

And they waved back.
Posts: 1446 | Location: Alberta/Namibia | Registered: 29 November 2004Reply With Quote
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Posts: 535 | Location: Oklahoma | Registered: 27 November 2010Reply With Quote
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Great story!
Posts: 2677 | Location: Texas | Registered: 06 January 2009Reply With Quote
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Extremely well written. I like your style.
Posts: 208 | Registered: 04 February 2012Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by Overland:
Extremely well written. I like your style.

X-2 tu2 tu2
Posts: 2226 | Location: KENAI, ALASKA | Registered: 10 November 2001Reply With Quote
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Always enjoy your stories, thanks for posting it. Big Grin

I'm a trophy hunter - until something better comes along.
- Glen St Charles

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Posts: 2504 | Location: Washington (wetside) | Registered: 08 February 2005Reply With Quote
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That evening, dressed in his pyjamas, the client killed a ten foot bear. When they tried to approach it they ran into a sow with cubs so they got the hell back to the cabin for the remainder of the night.

To quote Groucho Marx: "What was that bear doing in his pajamas?"

Posts: 871 | Location: AKexpat | Registered: 27 October 2008Reply With Quote
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Well done, finally.
My luck with brown bears still sits at 0 for 3. I may go again and have heard nearly all the excuses you have mentioned plus a couple....
Posts: 9278 | Location: Texas... time to secede!! | Registered: 12 February 2004Reply With Quote
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Enjoyed reading that! tu2
Posts: 712 | Location: England | Registered: 01 January 2010Reply With Quote
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Great read tu2

Posts: 2117 | Location: MI | Registered: 20 March 2007Reply With Quote
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Thoroughly entertaining read.
Thanks for sharing.

All We Know Is All We Are
Posts: 1128 | Location: E Central MO | Registered: 13 January 2014Reply With Quote
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Thank you,
Posts: 1696 | Registered: 27 October 2011Reply With Quote
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Well written. Seems these brown bear hunts are never one and done. At 15-30 thousand a hunt, it's an expensive quest.
Posts: 89 | Registered: 20 June 2009Reply With Quote
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Well done --- good entertainment!!

OMG!-- my bow is "pull-push feed" - how dreadfully embarrasing!!!!!
Posts: 917 | Location: 8K Ft in Colorado | Registered: 10 December 2005Reply With Quote
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Great stories Scruffy. As much as brown bear hunting in Alaska sounds appealing I’ll stick to hunting near Kamanjab Namibia where we both have spent a lot of time.

Jesus saves, but Moses invests
Posts: 1208 | Location: Lake Bluff, IL | Registered: 02 May 2008Reply With Quote
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I hear you, Bud. I can hardly wait to go back. It sounds like the game is slowly coming back after that horrible drought. I did not want to return until then.
I was used to not seeing anything in Alaska .. Roll Eyes Big Grin But dead and dying critters during that last episode was tough to watch.
Posts: 1446 | Location: Alberta/Namibia | Registered: 29 November 2004Reply With Quote
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Enjoyed the tale!! Well written.

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Posts: 7221 | Location: Alaska | Registered: 05 February 2008Reply With Quote
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That was quite an entertaining story. Thanks.

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Posts: 7429 | Location: Arizona and off grid in CO | Registered: 28 July 2004Reply With Quote
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That was great!
Posts: 7372 | Registered: 10 October 2012Reply With Quote
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading that! Thanks for sharing.
Posts: 3004 | Location: Hockley, TX | Registered: 01 October 2005Reply With Quote
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Well written!

Thanks for taking the time, I got a few laughs from the way you wrote that!
Posts: 6983 | Location: Minnesota USA | Registered: 15 June 2007Reply With Quote
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Hello Richard:

Enjoyed reading about these bear hunts a
second time better than the first.

Seems like lady luck likes to play games with
you too.

Enjoy planning the next hunt too.


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Join the NRA today!"


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Posts: 5248 | Location: Pueblo, CO | Registered: 31 January 2006Reply With Quote
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