Early Bird Doesn’t Get The Black Bear in Alaska

They were all dressed in the best sporting gear. The Alaska hunting guide’s son looked just like his father and duplicated everything dad did. The mother, who was really in charge, was taking care of the required paperwork.

Steve said, “Dad, let’s just hang back until this all gets settled.” It finally did after the son came in one door looking for a bag his Dad was carrying out the other. Finally, our move. The pilot and the dispatcher are very efficient and were quickly loading out voluminous gear plus supplies for the boat. He reserved just enough space for Sam to squeeze in the rear seat. He did have a view out. Joe sat in the copilot’s seat. Steve, Steven and I were in the center seats.

Shortly before takeoff, I saw the great fin of a killer whale roll over in the water runway. I told the pilot. He said, “it’s probably a sea otter.” It rolled again and it was a whale, not an otter. The pilot taxied out, lined up and roared to a takeoff. I was still looking for the whale and saw a rise of light blue bubbles come up about fifteen feet to our right just as we took off.

The flight time was 45 minutes. It was smooth with scattered, high clouds. The Alaskan scenery was breathtaking everywhere I looked. The western scene was of islands, points, passes and the ocean. Snow-crusted mountains dominated the east. The pilot did have to navigate a few passes with mountaintops on both sides. The is true wilderness in Southeast Alaska. About forty-five minutes out, we went over an area that had been logged off. Later, Bruce said that the cleared off areas reseeded naturally and actually required thinning to mature properly.

“Southeast Alaska is unique in the sense that in order to get to your hunting grounds you have to travel by float plane or boat”

We reached the bay at precisely 6:15 ADT, landed and transferred to the luxury yacht. Two skiffs came out to move us from the plan to the yacht. There seemed to be people everywhere: Bruce, his wife, Ann-Marie, guides, Len and Earp Funk; and Tara Nielson, the cook. The transfer was efficient and the roar of the Otter taking off for its return flight occurred in only minutes. That thinned the crowd. After proper introductions, Bruce told us we would go ashore and zero in the rifles and then have supper.

Len set up the targets one hundred yards down the shoreline from a large rock that obviously was used as the shooting rest. Len set up a spotting scope and took charge. Sam shot first and uncharacteristically missed the target. His sights obviously had been bumped. Steve finished sighting Sam’s weapon. Sam fired a confirmatory shot. Joe fired next. One shot. Len scoped it and said one inch left. One inch low. Joe’s rifle was in. Steve shot his rifle next and nearly went through the same hole. Ok. Steven’s 300 short mag. was last.

While cleaning it in Knoxville, Steve found the scope was loose. Obviously, it was going to be start-from-go to zero it in. He started at twenty-five yards, and about six shots later declared the job done at one hundred yards. After some urging, Steven shot twice with favorable results.

5-Star Accommodations on the Luxury Yacht

Now back to the luxury yacht for a dinner of hamburgers, giant crab, and chocolate cake. Great job, Tara. We went to bed well after midnight, Alaska time. The four hour time difference is proving tough to overcome. It was about 11 pm local time when we went to bed. I dozed off immediately. Some undetermined time later, my eyes crept open to dim light. What time was it? One hand of my watch was on four and the other on nine.

My brain started a slow stir. Was it 4:45 or 9:20? I looked again, dim light and dim eyes still couldn’t tell the long hand from the short. A glance up the stairwell told me that there was light from the heavens. Was it 4:45 or 9:20? With twenty hours of daylight here in Alaska, it could have been either, I guess.

Best time to hunt Alaskan Black Bear is in the evening. A time we like to call bear-thirty.

I reached for the light cord, but Joe’s peaceful, even snoring said, “Don’t do that.” My slowly engaging brain thought, “Ten hours? No Way.” The brain engaged enough to say, “Fool, just get out of the snug warm sack, go up four steps and look at your watch in full light.” I did. It was 9:20 Tennessee time. I thought, “That’s 5:30 hunt time, and I should use the time to write in my journal before the others stir.” In any case, this is the first day to hunt.

I got up about and wheeled my watch four hours to local time. That proved to save me a lot of unnecessary mathematics. Wyatt joined me about ten. We brewed some pretty stout coffee. We communicated well and had a fine “get acquainted” conversation. We both enjoyed it, and it was to become a morning ritual. Tara proceeded with the preparation of breakfast.

Bruce bounced in and said,

“Buddy, this is a great time to hunt bear”

A phrase he repeated prior to any hunt and to everyone regardless of the weather, tide, or anything else. The 7 1/2 foot Alaskan Black Bear trophy is proof that Bruce was right!

Taken from Steve Brewingron’s journal entries on his Spring Alaska Black Bear Hunt