With 2 bears on the ground the pressure was off and we could all go home happy. After coming in from Nicole’s hunt, we were greeted by my parents at camp with a fire going and dinner almost ready. My uncle had stopped by earlier that day to check his shrimp pots and decided to treat us with a fresh bag of spot shrimp.
We cooked the shrimp in boiling salt water and on the grill over the flames. I don’t think anyone could quite decide which was better, but we all agreed they were delicious. You can find our campfire shrimp recipe HERE!
Early the next morning we awoke to the calls of a large bird that at the time no one quite knew what it was. Not until the sun rose did we find out that it was a pair of bald eagles with one of their young on our beach scavenging on the remains of Nicole’s bear carcass. We took some pictures and admired what an amazing bird they are.
During breakfast we decided to cruise the beaches again and run down to a tidal flat we had visited a couple days ago. With the sun shining we loaded up the zodiacs and headed out on the calm flat water. We scoured the coastline and hill sides along the way, but no bears were out. However, just riding along the coastline taking in the scenery and nice weather was good enough for me.
We eventually reached the tidal flat and slowly motored in checking for any cruising bears. Nobody was home so we decided to anchor up the zodiacs and take a walk back to the end of the flat.
With heat waves coming off the tidal flats grass we found a nice place in the shade to sit and watched the far hillside expecting a bear to pop out any second. With no bears in sight we decided to head back to the boats and eat a quick lunch. On the way back we came across this fresh set of bear tracks. It appeared we had just missed a really good bear.
As the tide rolled in we loaded up and cruised the beaches again heading back for camp.
Upon reaching camp we discussed our options and decided to call my Uncle and arrange for an early pickup that evening instead of the following afternoon. He agreed to come out and said he could be there by 9:30 pm. That left us one final evening to try at another bear. By now we had figured out the bears schedules. By 4 pm there was at least one bear out and it was typically the bear we named Charlie that was always near the top of the hillside. I made my way over to the clearing where we could see the hillside and started to glass the area. Sure enough there was Charlie at the top out feeding in a clearing of devils club. Running back to camp we came up with a game plan. My dad and I would make one last climb while everyone else stayed behind as spotters.
It was a long way to spot and signal from, but doable. I let them know what our route would be up the mountain and loaded the boat. Reaching the other beach we dragged the zodiac on shore, tied it off, and headed up the mountain with our packs light. The climb up was just as beautiful as the others walking through the old forest. Going up the mountain further east than we typically had gone was a mistake though. This section was a lot steeper and an avalanche area with big trees down everywhere making it hard to climb. Finally getting through the trees we reached the snow slide I had pictured and decided to climb up that instead of continuing through the dry and noisy brush. By now I knew we were fairly close to the bear. Every 50 yards we would get a signal from the group just to make sure we were still on track. Reaching the top of the slide we ducked back into the trees for cover instead of continuing through the thick devils club. On hands and knees I came up over a small cliff and saw black through the brush. Sure enough there was a bear laying down out in an open spot at 50 yards. My dad stayed put where he was below me and I slowly inched forward on hands and knees. From where I was positioned the brush was too thick and I would have to move about 10 feet to get a shot. Hardly moving at all the bear looked right at me. It must have already heard us coming up the brushy mountainside. Keeping as still as possible the bear stared in my direction for a long time, but was not startled at all. Every time it would turn its head away I would slowly move closer. Getting into position in the dry brush was difficult and kept the bear locked on my position after every little crunch of the brush. Just 1 foot away from the shooting lane I snapped a twig causing the bear to get up and start to move. I quickly moved the last foot just as the bear stopped and looked back at me. Finding the cross hairs on the vitals I squeezed off a round wishing I had put my ear plugs in. The .300 wsm barked loud, but found its mark as the bear started to roll. I side hilled over to where the bear went down and found it caught up in the trees. Even from 3/4 mile away I could hear our group let out a yell as they watched the hunt unfold. Climbing down we knew it was another good bear and had a decent head. We took some pictures and got to work.
Being so steep was going to make it hard to clean without it moving or rolling further down. We moved some trees around and had some what of a flat working table to work on. Getting the bear all done and in the packs we started the steep climb down. The descent went very quickly by using the snow slides to slide down holding on to the brush as we went. Reaching the bottom we found the tide had gone out quickly and left the zodiac high and dry. We emptied the boat, took the motor off, and hauled it all down to the water. We took one last picture and headed back to camp.
Reaching camp we showed everyone the bear we had got and quickly ate dinner. Talking over the hunt they informed us that this was not the bear we intended to get but another bear that had popped out as we were climbing up. Charlie was still right above us after we shot and surprisingly not startled from the shot. We had just a little time to break down camp before my uncle arrived for pickup. Right on time he swung into the cove and we loaded up our gear.
Getting back into Valdez late and then having to unload and load all of our gear into the truck made for a long day. We woke early the next morning and headed for breakfast at The Totem which, as usual, was the best breakfast I’ve ever had. We hit the road tired and a little beat up from the steep and brushy mountain but full of memories.
Not only did I get to share this trip and adventure with my dad who showed and taught me how to hunt, but with my mom who has never hunted. Not only did she endure the trip, but I could tell she had a great time. I knew that this trip would be an adventure, but it topped all of my expectations sharing it with my family. It had been years since my dad and I had been able to get out and enjoy the outdoors together and it was a hunt I will never forget. Hopefully we won’t wait as long next time to do it again. It’s trips like this with family and friends that make memories I can look back on and look forward to the rest of the year.