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Rambling thoughts about hunting Alaska

 
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Old 05-09-2010, 06:11 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Afognak Island, Alaska
Posts: 502
Rambling thoughts about hunting Alaska

I've been to Alaska before but this trip made me think a bit different about my trips to the great state. My past trips have been to Anchorage, Seward, Soldotna, and Homer, all towns on the Kenai. My son works for Lands End Lodge on Prince of Wales island. His boss needed some help getting the lodge open for the upcoming bear hunters so I volunteered. The plan was to work one day and hunt one day for ten days. Prince of Wales is not a bustling, populated island. We were at Point Baker on the North end of the island...a LONG ways from any convienience store, bank or help. We would take the boat over to Kuiu island to hunt bears...even FARTHER from help.
In Alaska you are your own doctor. If you have an accident, what you have in your pack and in your head is all you have to get you out of trouble. If you have a marine radio you could try the Coast Guard on channel 16 and IF they're close enough they will come. But don't count on it.
Also, in Alaska you are your own mechanic. You trash the prop or the bottom end on your outboard and your in trouble. The wind might blow you into shore or it might blow you out to sea. A million things could happen and you HAVE to be able to fix it. You're also your own cook, navigator, skinner, fire-starter etc, etc.
You hear all the time about wearing the right outer gear for a trip like this. Probably the most important equipment you'll bring is the clothes you wear....BY A LONG SHOT! I'm talking good worn-in boots, quality raingear, gloves, layers of wool or poly and a warm hat. I mostly wear wool and I love it. I did try some Sitka gear this year and really liked it. It's way over-priced though. Almost to the point of being a dishonest amount to ask for what you get.
Alaska is no place for home-bodies. If you get homesick or are dependent on the conveniences of home, your going to have a hard time up there.
Let's see, what else, there's a gazilion sea otters in Alaska and they won't stay off your boatdock. They catch crabs and eat them on the docks and leave a big mess. Everywere we went in the ocean, there they were, poking their little heads out of the water watching you go by.
Here's another thing, your probably not going to come home sporting a nice tan...just aint going to happen.
Don't go to Alaska to pick up women. Your probably better-off bringing your own...just trust me.
My son and I both shot bears this trip. Mine was 6' 2" and his was 6'0". these were among the smallest bears we saw. We both shot them with a 338Edge which delivers nearly 5500 ft lbs of energy at 200yds. Both bears were knocked on their asses and both got back up. My boys shot was a steep-raking quartering shot that went in about the last rib and out the side of his chest. Mine was slightly quartering through the lungs. This leads me to think of how shot placement and keeping your cool is so important with Alaska bears. My son's bear ran twenty feet into the forest and we still had a hard time finding it. The trees are so thick it's hard to see more than ten feet. Tracking a bear here is the last thing you want to do.

Another thing I learned...stainless steel rusts. I already knew that but I didn't realize how corrosive seawater is. I've never taken a gun to Alaska, I've always taken my longbow.The first day in the boat and I had rust on my muzzlebreak and on the edges of my flutes. That night I douched my gun with RemOil and I didn't have any more problems.

One last thing, baggage-handlers are asswipes. I bought a brand new gun case for this trip. By the time I got to Petersburg, AK every side and corner was dented, scratched and one corner protector was torn off. It was in even worse shape when I got back to Salt Lake. I complained and they gave me a voucher for $75.
Thanks for letting me ramble.

Here's some pictures for you:

Me with my bear.


Here's my son's bear.


Here's a picture of my son with my 338Edge getting ready to shoot his bear.


Sealions on a bouy
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  #2  
Old 05-09-2010, 06:29 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Afognak Island, Alaska
Posts: 502
Re: Rambling thoughts about hunting Alaska

More rambling:
I was suprised at the junk we found in the bays. Old boats, propane tanks, old outboards, Things that weren't lost overboard but were left there on purpose. This really disturbed me. I don't remember seeing hardly any junk on the Kenai or up by Palmer. Well, there's a reason for this. Bill, my son's boss, said it cost twice as much to ship the wood for his lodge than it did to buy it. Shipping is expensive. If you want to get rid of your garbage you have to ship it to the nearest landfill, which would cost you a lot of money. If you can't burn it, you pile it up behind your cabin. Some people tow it to some remote bay and leave it. There is a law that says you can take food-stuffs out past the low tide level and dump it and I'm sure alot of people do that.
I tried to shoot the first three bears with my recurve bow but the wind got me on one occasion and that damn kelp popping under my feet gave me away the other times. I tried to stay above the tide line but sometimes you just couldn't. Anyway, getting close to a big ol' bear with a stick and string is pretty cool. I could hear them breathe, hear the kelp popping under thier feet, and watch them roll rocks looking for crabs. All the bears we saw were in the rocks. Under nearly every rock were a bunch of 50-cent-sized crabs. The bears would roll a rock over and then hurry and stomp their foot down on the crabs. Then they would carefully reach under their foot with their mouth and grab a crab, being carefull not to let the others escape while he crunched each crab in turn.
Did I mention that baggage handlers are D-bags. Ya, I think I mentioned that.
I wish I knew my waterfowl better. I couldn't believe how many different kinds we saw.
I bought a wolf tag just in case. We spent the first three days concentrating on trying to call a wolf in but kept seeing bears so we'd go after them. We never saw a wolf and the season closed the last day in April.

I know some of you are interested in the terminal performance of my 338edge and 300gr SMKs so I took some pictures of the exit-wounds.


My shot was slightly quartering through both lungs.




My son's bear was steep-raking quartering. The bullet went in around the last rib and can out on the opposite side in the chest. He didn't want such a quartering shot but I gave him permission to shoot. Incredible damage!
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Last edited by LRSickle; 05-09-2010 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 05-09-2010, 06:31 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Blackfoot, Idaho
Posts: 8,234
Re: Rambling thoughts about hunting Alaska

Great post.

Good pointers.

Is you bear silver? Or was it the lighting?

Ian promoted the scapula shot. Not quite sure what that is, on a bear.
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Old 05-09-2010, 06:46 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Afognak Island, Alaska
Posts: 502
Re: Rambling thoughts about hunting Alaska

It's the lighting. Bill said there are Gracier bears on some of the islands around there but this isn't one of them. I wish it were.
My son videoed my shooting my bear. I'll try to post it.
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Old 05-09-2010, 06:54 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Afognak Island, Alaska
Posts: 502
Re: Rambling thoughts about hunting Alaska

Here's the video of me shooting my bear. It's a low quality point-and-shoot camera but it's better than nothing.



Picture019.flv video by longbow_photo - Photobucket
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  #6  
Old 05-09-2010, 07:08 AM
Miller Outdoors
 
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Re: Rambling thoughts about hunting Alaska

Interesting read. Thanks for sharing.
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