Spring Black Bear Hunt
This spring has been a little later than usual in regards to warmer weather and the snow melting off. After finally hearing a few reports of bears being out and a few hunters coming back with tags filled, my friend Nate and I headed to Prince William Sound (PWS) for a quick 2 day spring black bear hunt. We were dropped off Sunday night around 8pm in the pouring rain with clouds so low you couldn’t even begin to see the mountains that we knew surrounded us. After quickly setting up our Alaska Guide Model tent, we donned our packs and went for a quick hike down the tidal flat toward the nearest mountain hoping to see some sign. After not seeing anything other than hundreds of ducks and geese, we came back to camp around midnight and called it a night.
The next morning the weather was not much better but did provide us with a glimpse of what the snow levels were on the nearby mountains…and it was still deep! After a quick breakfast of bacon, eggs, and coffee we headed in the same direction as the night before to scope out an open slide on the mountain. With no such luck on the slide we decided to walk up the nearest creek which proved to be a good area with plenty of food and cover but still we could not find any bears. With the weather slowly clearing we decided to head to the other side of the flat and see what it had to hold. Again this area looked to be a great area to find a bear but still no bears were in sight. By mid-day the weather had turned to blue skies and it was hot! We grabbed our packs and some food for the day and started cruising the beaches in the zodiac. Arriving in the next bay it showed to have more open slides and more food for the bears. It wasn’t long after we arrived that we spotted our first bear, around 4 pm. In the very back of the bay was a lone bear sky-lined on the crest of a hill. Knowing we didn’t have too many options, we quickly geared up and headed off through the deep snow hoping the bear would still be there when we arrived. The hike back atop the snow was bright and hot, but I’d been waiting all winter for this feeling. The burn in my legs felt great!
After over an hour of working our way back through the trees and snow, slowly gaining elevation, we arrived at where we thought the bear would be. As we made our final climb and scanned the nearby ridges, we couldn’t find the bear anywhere. We stayed for a little while glassing the nearby slopes, but no bears were seen. We made our descent and went back to the zodiac hoping to spot another bear and make another stalk. We paddled our way back out into bay and refueled on some food and water. Around 8 pm we were slowly gearing up for our ride back to camp and to cruise the beaches again when another bear came out to eat on an open slide. We quickly headed to shore and the stalk was on! With the wind still coming down the mountain we slowly side-hilled until we were close to the area we had last seen the bear. Sure enough, he stepped out above a waterfall right above us. We quickly dropped our packs, Nate settled into his rifle securely rested on his pack, and I ranged him at 150 yards with the vortex ranger as he turned broadside. Nate’s .338 Ruger barked loudly and the bear went down into the water and over the water fall! We made our way up to the bear took some quick pics and started our hike back to the boat with the bear in tow. After getting the bear and the zodiac back out to open water from the receding tide we started making our way back to camp around 11 o clock.
The next day blessed us with blue skies again, and by mid-morning it was already hot! After a quick breakfast we started cruising the beaches, making our way back over to the other bay, where we spotted a lone bear walking the beach. Swinging extra wide and trying to get in front of the animal, we slowly started going to shore about 1000 yards down the beach. However, this bear had seen this one too many times. As soon as we were getting close to shore he slowly headed back into the trees and disappeared. We put a stalk on anyways, slowly working our way through trees and down the beach hoping he would pop back out, but no such luck. Arriving in the bay where we shot the first bear, we saw another boat already there. Shortly after doing some glassing of the area, shots rang through the bay and we knew they had beaten us to it. We motored up to the other boat and talked with our fellow hunters. A father and friend were watching his son and another friend make the stalk in on a nice bear and they said they watched him make a good shot! With the little action we were seeing it was great to see some fellow hunters also being successful! We motored back to camp and picked up our gear waiting for our ride out.
Even though we didn’t tag out, just getting out to camp, hike, and hunt in such great weather in PWS reminded me of what a great place we live in. Getting back into town with sore muscles, full game bags, and good memories with a great friend made for an awesome weekend trip. Living The Alaska Life!