Brown Bear 2010
To all of my friends, customers and clients:
I wish to share with you photos from my recent and most successful brown bear hunt this past May. It is not very often that I get the opportunity to hunt for myself so when my good friend and outfitter, Creig Butler, owner of www.redbearguides.com
invited me to come, I jumped at the offer. Creig runs a great camp. His exclusive hunting area ranges over 120 magnificent miles of pristine Alaskan Peninsula coastline offering hunters the unique opportunity to "honestly" get a bear of their dreams. The bear I took is such a bear. A trophy of a hunting lifetime.
The first time I spotted this brute was on day 8; about two miles away. The day was warm and clear. A rarity in those parts. On that distant mountainside was also a big chocolate colored boar that my guide estimated would be a solid 9 footer. As we sat watching this bear through our spotting scopes we noticed he was acting nervous, as though he was "not" the biggest bear in the woods. Our intuitions soon proved correct. Coming from out of a thick alder patch a couple hundred yards to his left was "my" bear. He had smelled and seen the intruder and was in no mood for companionship. The big boar methodically pursued the chocolate boar and soon had him going over the top of the highest mountain and out of sight. Watching these two great bears was a thrill I will never forget. The time spent studying them through the spotting scope gave me a unique opportunity to compare both bruins side-by-side. Although the chocolate bear was a good bear by any measure, compared to the much larger blonde bear, he finished a distant second. Those lessons were worth the trip. As both bears walked up the mountain and out of my life, I sat back and smiled. It had been a damn fine day. The big bear stayed high atop the mountain as nighttime fell.
It would be another four days before I would see the big blonde bear again. Where he had been in the meantime was anyone's guess. Yet when I saw him, he came from out of the same alder thicket as before. This time, however, he was on the move; bear walking as they say. Having spent the better part of three hours watching with him through the spotting scope four days before and again now, only made me want him that much more. I decided then and there, I would only shoot "that" bear. As I sat fixed in the spotting scope, I was reminded to what Jack O'Conner always use to say, "the big ones look big" and this guy was no exception. But then, as quickly as he had walked into my life, the "bear-walking bruin" disappeared in a cut of alders and was gone. Zip, nada, nothing. I was powerless to do anything. The bear of my dreams had vanished for the second time.
For the next several hours I held to the belief he would magically appear. The spot where I last saw him looked benign enough. Surely he would walk out into the open or so I thought. Then, a mile further to the right, but still on the same facing mountainside, I spotted another bear. I instantly recognized him for what he was; a big, solid 9 foot plus boar. He sported a rich deep dark chocolate coat; a massive body with huge buldging shoulders and thick arms, his ears were wide set on his head, topped off with excellent hair. The trophy of a hunting lifetime for anyone but me. But I had already made up my mind. I wanted the big blonde or nothing. I let the big chocolate go.
I fully admit I made a horrible decision. I should have gone over and killed the chocolate bear immediately without regret or further thought. That is what anyone in their right mind would have done. But not me. I'm not built that way. Instead, I sat and watched through my Leica 20x60 spotting scope this great bear for the next four hours. I knew I was taking a big gamble, but I was willing to take the risk.
Eventually, darkness set in. The big chocolate boar was still asleep in an open field of bright yellow grass; oblivious to the world around him. He was there for the taking. My bear, the "Toad", did not show himself again. He turned into a ghost. I had gambled and lost. I felt sick to my stomach.
The next two days brought no hope at all. For whatever reason, bear activity had come to a grinding halt. I saw only one small bear in two days of constant glassing. I realized then and there I would go home without a bear; all my fault to be sure. I didn't blame anyone but me. But as I was soon to learn, the hunting God's work in mysterious ways. The final chapter had yet to be written. Even though I had played a poor hand, to say I felt regret was an understatement. As I sat there on my last hunting day I could not wait for the torture to end. I prayed for the boat to pick me up and take me back to main camp. I checked my watch, the time showed 7 pm. My guide, who had aged 15 years in as many days, (I'm not the easiest client to hunt with) got up to make dinner. I stayed on the grassy knob, my heart and binoculars in hand, still believing in the impossible. Then, the unthinkable happened; I spotted the "Toad"!
He came from out of the same alder thicket as he had done two times before. I yelled to my guide. By the time he got to the knoll, I had the "Toad" beautifully centered in the spotting scope ready for his inspection. There was no doubt, this was "my" bear. We gathered out packs, rain gear, headlamps, and assorted stuff and headed out for the mile plus race. We did not wait for the bear to "setup". We were not going to let him control us, rather we took the initiative and ran after him. An hour and twenty minutes later we had him located; feeding on spring grass. I laid down my pack and binoculars. The time to close the deal was now. Not a minute more. I held all the memories I needed in my head. I didn't want anymore. The need to kill ran wild in my veins. Get out of my way and let me do what I do best.
Suddenly, the brute got our wind and took off on a dead run. I rushed through the last 15 yards of the alder thicket, crossed a shallow stream and bolted into the clearing. The great bear was putting on the distance fast. All I had to shoot at was his big butt. I aimed and fired. The 270 Barnes X triple shock bullet traveling at 2795 feet per second struck the bear just above the tail with stunning results. He crumbled to the shot, but was soon up on his front feet. I held the crosshairs on his shoulder and fired again, then again. The great bear fell silent.
As we approached I marveled at just how big and beautiful he was. His hair had not a single rub or imperfection to be found anywhere. A trophy of a hunting lifetime. Why the Hunting God's shone on me this day I cannot say, but they did. I shall always be in their debt.
I highly recommend this hunt. Anyone interested should contact Creig Butler at (907) 301-8775. The next peninsula spring hunt is scheduled for May 2012. Sign up early. If you wish further information from me, please call my direct line at (602) 956-3551. I cannot say enough good things about this hunt.
A word about the gun I am using. It was custom made for me by my good friend and master gun maker, Lon Paul. Lon builds the finest bolt guns in the business. There is no one better. While Lon usually builds his guns using only the finest exhibition walnut, he was kind enough to make my dream Alaskan gun. It features a 24 inch stainless Douglas Premium barrel, teflon coated, a Darcy Echols synthetic stock, Winchester mauser type action, NP3 finished, Griffin & Howell detachable sidemount manufactured in 1935, Silver's red recoil pad, a German bolt handle to replace the factory one, topped off with a Swarvoski 3x9 varible compact scope. Chambered in .375 H&H of course. The ammunition I used was Double Tapp 270 grain Barnes X bullets with a muzzle velosity of 2795 feet per second. I sighted the gun in to be three inches high at 100 yards. Accuracy was minute of angle. At 300 yards the point of impact was four inches low. At 400 yards bullet drop was 24 inches from point of aim. I practiced long and hard. I knew exactly what I could and could not do with this gun. I was prepared for any kind of shot out to 400 yards. I did not want to shoot at that distance, of course, but had the opportunity arose I knew I could make the shot. Lon's number is (951) 659-2699. I highly recommend him.
A word about the size of the bear. You will notice I do not say how big a bear it is. I did this on purpose. I did not measure him. I know it is standard practice to "square the bear" and come out with some exhagerated figure. But the truth is, when you pull and tug every which way you can come out with any figure you want. It just depends on how hard you pull. The fact is, I did not want a "number?" that would somehow define my bear, good or bad. This is "my" bear. I loved him the moment I saw him on day 8. By the 12th day I loved him even more. To somehow disgrace him with an arbitrary number does not do him or me justice. He is "my" trophy of a hunting lifetime. I do not need a number to make him any more loved than he already is. Remember this, one constant always remains; it is what it is!
Great Hunting and Best Wishes,