Tim Herald – USA Guest Author
Dall’s sheep, brown bears, Alaskan-Yukon moose; these are all marquis species that we think of when hunting Alaska is mentioned. Truth be told, all of these hunts are as expensive as a 10-day safari, and most of us will never part with that much hard-earned money to pursue one animal. There is, however, a very affordable species to hunt, and if you do it right, you will get the complete Alaskan experience with a very fair price tag.
A boat-based, coastal black bear hunt may be the perfect Alaskan adventure. The price is comparable to a good whitetail hunt, you can fish for halibut, rock fish and salmon in season, and you will experience some of the most incredible scenery that the Last Frontier has to offer.
I recently returned from a May black bear hunt with Paul Brand’s Alaska Safari Unlimited, where my partner James Brion and I had one of the most fun trips we have ever been on. We stayed on Brand’s 53-foot yacht, cruised the bays and tidal flats, and both took very nice black bears.
We left out of Homer, AK, a beautiful little harbor, and headed out around the Kenai Peninsula. On the way to our first tidal area, we saw a colony of sea lions, otters, numerous mountain goats and a few bears. We stopped off a point and caught a limit of rock fish that we had for supper that evening, which in my opinion was a definite bonus. The “cruise” was a great way to see this beautiful part of Alaska as we readied our gear for the hunt.
We spotted half a dozen bears on the side hills from the boat at our first mooring, and we took a zodiac type skiff in to a hidden tidal flat via a small river. We saw more bears up higher that afternoon, but none came down into the luscious grass lining the water’s edge.
The next day we moved to another bay that had some old clearcuts on the hills. Again, we spotted plenty of bears, so we launched the skiff and prepared for a stalk. The first bear we targeted looked to easily make the 7-foot mark, but he disappeared into the thick evergreens before we got close enough for a shot. Another 300 yards around the clearcut, we stalked a very nice boar, and we made it to 95 yards. He had a nice square head, and Paul said he guessed him a little over 6 feet. It was early in the hunt, so both James and I decided to pass though he was a quality bear.
We moved the boat again, and late that afternoon we made our way up into a huge tidal area that had two rivers dumping out into a bay. There were miles of grass when the tide went down, and Paul told us that it was one of his go-to spots. We spotted three bears on the way in. Once the tide went down, enough for us to move around on foot, we only had time to get close to one of them, and again, we elected to pass. The spot looked so good, we all agreed to spend another day or two in the area.
The next afternoon, we were in the same area, and within 30 minutes, we spotted a bear about a mile away. The tide was low, so we were able to drop down in an exposed ditch and cross most of the open ground between us and the bear. The final 200 yards were covered as we used a huge uprooted tree to hide our approach. The sun was out, and the boar was lying on the river’s edge eating the new growth grass as fast as he could.
Paul told me he was a shooter, so I slipped my .300 Win TC Icon into a crook of old roots and steadied myself for the shot. Paul ranged the bear at 135 yards, and I just waited for him to stand and give me a broadside shot. After five minutes, he did just that, and I squared the crosshairs of my Nikon Monarch scope on his shoulder and slowly squeezed the trigger.
Upon the impact of my 180-grain Winchester Accubond, the big bear did a flip, and was down. After handshakes and back slaps, we all walked up the river and recovered my trophy. He was a beautiful boar with a superb hide.
After taking care of my bear, we were back at it for James, and a mere five hours later, he took a very nice, square-headed boar of his own after two other stalks.
Overall, I would have to give this hunt the highest rating. We had a dry, warm place to sleep, our camp was mobile, we caught and ate fresh halibut and rockfish, the scenery and other wildlife viewing was world class, and the black bear hunting was as good as it gets. For my money, without a doubt, this is the perfect Alaskan hunt.
To book a quality hunt with this outfitter, go to http://www.bear-hunts-alaska.com/index.html