Actually there weren’t any lions or tigers just bears, lots of bears. Alaska Hunting Specialist spring black bear season here at Icy Bay started out with a bang. Our first group of six bear hunters took six bears in four days ranging from a not so shabby 6′ 7″ to largest a whooping 7′ 6″ with some bigger ones still running wild in the streets. So far our top skull measured 20 14/16 green, all topped 18″ mark.
I’ll be doing some blow by blow on our more interesting hunts along with some the highlights of the season. We bait a little different from the typical bait station. Instead of using a barrel for holding bait and shooting from a tree stand we hunt from the ground and the bait is scattered in a fairly large area. to keep the bears coming back we use scent balls and a grease ball, an invention of one of our guides. The grease balls are old floats that wash up on the beach. We drill a 1/2″ hole on the top to fill the float with grease then a smaller hole the bears can suck the grease from. the float is attached to a tree with a piece of chain. by hunting from the ground the hunter has the freedom to move around the bait site. It also allows the guide to get hunter in close to the bears. Many of our bears are taken at less the 20′ which makes for a more memorable hunt than shooting a bear from a stand while it is eating from a 55 gallon drum. It is common to have several bears working a station at the same time. More than once I have been surrounded by bears that were only a few feet away. Before each hunt hunters are given a short course on the do’s and don’ts around bears and what some of the more basic bear postures mean to help keep every one safe and have a fun memorable hunt.
Our first and so far largest bear was taken by Jeremiah. Jeremiah and outfitter/guide Garrett Cox loaded up 4- wheelers on the second night of the hunt and headed out the Little River bait station up the gulf coast from our main camp. The trip to Little River takes you down a couple of miles down a bone jarring boulder infested dry river bed that could be used for an ATV proving ground, then five miles of sandy beach along the Gulf of Alaska to recover.
The arrived at the parking area dynamic duo where they started their one hundred yard stalk to the bait station. Waiting for them at the bait station was Bandit a small six footer who calls Little River his home. Bandit is a little short of our target for harvestable bears so he gets to keep his job as keeper of the bait for a couple more years. While the intrepid hunters baited the site several more bears came to dinner bell sound of banging plastic buckets. It’s common to have bears come in to a station and eat while a site is being baited. Several shooter bears came in during the first few minutes but since it was still early Garrett and Jeremiah decided to wait to see what else was out there. This time of the year we have good shooting light well passed midnight. However the boys didn’t have to wait that long. About fifteen minutes into the hunt Garrett spotted a black blob making its way through the alders to the bait. Garrett has an uncanny ability to judge bears by just seeing some of the body features. Garrett knew at first sight this one was a monster but it wasn’t coming out in the open, at least not right away. The hunters watched and waited as the huge bear check out things from the cover of the thick alder. The bear that was later named Big Nasty (I’ll explain that one later) didn’t get big by being careless. Big Nasty taunted Jeremiah by moving through the alder but not giving him a clear shot. For the next several minutes watched and waited while Big Nasty tested the air for trouble. Then it happened Big Nasty satisfied all was well he stepped out of the alders, right into Jeremiah’s 45/70’s waiting sights. The shot they were waiting for was here now it was up to Jeremiah to do his part. When Big Nasty stepped out of the alders he was so close Jeremiah could have kissed him. The first shot did it’s job both of Big Nasty’s lungs were turned to jelly. The follow up shot just hurried Big Nasty’s demise. Even with two big chunks of lead in him Big Nasty wasn’t going down easy. He headed back to the safety of the alders where he rolled himself into a lifeless ball in a depression under a very large Hemlock log. Now the boys had to get Big Nasty out of the hole and up a few feet to get him over the log. If you have never moved a deadbear up and over anything try to imaginelifting an equivalent size bag of jell-o.
After nearly three hours of hacking brush then pushing and pulling they finally got Big on top of the log. Now all they had to do was get the foot trail from the parking area widened for the four wheeler so they could get it as close to Big Nasty as they possible. Fifteen minutes of adrenaline and gallons of sweat Big was loaded and on his way to the taxidermist.
Big squared out at a whopping seven foot six inches with a green skull measurement of 20 14/16’s. He was the equivialent of a 370 lbs bag of jell-o.