First Brown Bear

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Camping' started by Dan in Alaska, Sep 28, 2007.

  1. Dan in Alaska

    Dan in Alaska

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    I thought I would share the story from my first successful brown bear hunt. I just got back earlier this week.

    The weather was lousy, and our original flight was delayed until the next morning due to poor visibility. The rain started three days before our arrival, and rained virtually the whole time we were there. The water in the river was very high, and our chances of seeing a bear were not very good, due to the lack of a shoreline. There were, however, LOTS of sockeye salmon in the river, and we knew the bears would be nearby....even if we couldn't see them.

    On the first morning, we saw a bear enter the river just below our perch on a 60-foot cliff. We watched the bear through the tree tops, but couldn't get a clear shot through the branches and foliage. The bear entered the river the same place we did, in fact, we saw its tracks in our tracks on the way out! Seeing a bear on the first day was pretty cool and fired us up for the rest of the hunt.

    The next day, we hiked 500 or 600 yards up river in hip boots - a truly crappy endeavor - one which I don't recommend. The current was strong, even if the water wasn't any deeper than our hip boots. Keeping my footing in the loose gravel, while carrying my gear, was a challenge. We needed to hike up river to get the jet boat that was staged on dry land the week before, which was now mostly swamped and sitting in some pretty deep water. We needed to use the jet boat to get up river to the better hunting areas, where the water is shallower and the fish are more concentrated and easier for the bears to get at.

    The area up river are pretty dangerous areas to hunt, due to the close quarters. The river is just a few yards wide in some areas. We spent most of our time in head-high grass and tight alders, waiting for bears to come to the river. We were basically hunkered down in the bear's kitchen waiting for them to come and get something to eat....hopefully not us. :supergrin:

    While we were hunting the second evening, we heard a bear crash into the water nearby. After a few minutes, we spotted the bear cruising the shoreline, but he was 300 yards away. I was standing in tall grass, and I didn't have a steady shooting rest. I didn't feel comfortable with the possibility of wounding a brown bear with a 300-yard offhand shot. I certainly didn't want to follow a wounded bear into thick alders and 6-foot tall grass; I wanted a more confident shot, so I didn't shoot at this first bear.

    An hour or so, we drifted down river and headed back. During our drift, I spotted a bear about 100 yards ahead of us. It was nearly dark by now, and while I was focused on the bear in front of us, another bear crashed into the river behind us! THAT will get your attention; I guarantee it! The bear behind us had cubs sitting high on the river bank, so my friend didn't shoot. I stayed focused on the bear downstream, as we slowly drifted closer, and we scanned the shoreline for cubs. The bear was a loner, no cubs. As soon as the bear cleared the tall grass, I hammered it. I was only about 50 or 60 feet away.

    I shot the bear twice with my .375 H&H. My bear load was a 270gr TSX bullet over a stiff charge of RL-15. The first shot was a pass-through on both shoulders, which put the animal down. It got back up on its hind legs and thrashed around a bit, biting at its shoulder. I put a second shot into it, to anchor it to the river bank - no chasing brown bears in the dense brush for me, thank you very much!

    For the second shot, the bear was on its side, facing away from me. The bullet entered behind a shoulder, near the spine. It broke several ribs on the way in, and paralleled the spine all the way to the base of the skull. The reacted to the second shot like it was hit by lightning. Lights out!

    After the bear was down for good, we started up the motor and headed to shore. We snapped a couple of pictures, rolled the bear into the boat, and headed back down river. We left the bear in the boat over night and came back the next morning to skin it in the daylight. I found the bullet from my second shot. The bullet had traveled through about 3 feet of brown bear, punctured the skin to leave, but never exited. We found the bullet when skinning the animal; it just popped out and fell in my lap. A perfect X-Bullet mushroom - just like the magazine ads.

    The bear measured a little shy of 7-feet, not a monster, but an average sized brown bear for this particular area. It's a really nice looking bear, with a thick blonde coat and dark chocolate colored legs. This was my first brown bear.

    Except for the constant rain, the trip was a lot of fun. We saw five bears and lots of other critters. There were times when the hair on the back of my neck stood up, just knowing a bear could burst from the shoreline at any moment. Or, when walking the 1.25 mile hike through the woods back to the cabin - in the dark - and I see a fresh set of bear tracks that covered my own tracks. As my friend says, we were "definitely in harm's way". Having a .375 H&H in my hands was a comforting feeling, for sure.

    Here are a couple of photos. The picture taken at the kill site is pretty poor, due to the low light conditions. The second photo was taken the next morning. The hide was rolled up for the pack out.

    [​IMG]

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    And finally, one of the recovered bullets. The recovered slug weighed 270 grains, just like it did when I loaded it. This is my first experience with Barnes TSX bullets on game, but after witnessing this performance, I don't think it will be my last. :supergrin:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. vafish

    vafish

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    Sweet,

    My dad is up in Fairbanks right now on a moose hunt. Mom sent me an e-mail and said he called, he shot a bull with a 52" spread.

    I haven't seen pictures yet.

    He goes up there every other year. I think next time I'll go along and bring my older son. The heck with school.
     

  3. noway

    noway

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    Man that's a great story and pictures. I need to get to Alaska. Your stories and photos sure as hell makes me want to see that land as a hunter. I 've been to Alaska numerous times as a passer-by or a temp overnight stay. The only bear I saw was the mount in the Airport on display. ;)



    FWIW, you picture and story shoudl put alot on perspective when articles comes up on what handgun to use on a Bear and what glock handgun.
     
  4. GeorgiaGlockMan

    GeorgiaGlockMan Aggie in Exile.

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  5. Dan in Alaska

    Dan in Alaska

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    That's nothing. You should see me with a fishing rod! :supergrin:


    But seriously, I am enjoying getting into the Alaskan hunting scene, and I have been really fortunate this year. My hunting partners and I have been able to take time off together and the animals just seem to be cooperating.

    Next up? Moose in October and blacktail deer in November. Let's hope the hunting gods continue to show me favor. :thumbsup:
     
  6. GeorgiaGlockMan

    GeorgiaGlockMan Aggie in Exile.

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    Add in the caribou an elk and those 2 with your bear and you've got my lifetime dream hunts all in 1 year.

    Machine it is .... you are too modest.

    edit to add - why no bow bear? You seemed to do pretty well with the caribou.
     
  7. Sharker

    Sharker

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    Wow. Great post. Send some pics from your next hunts!
     
  8. Dan in Alaska

    Dan in Alaska

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    Nah, I just happen to live in an awfully neat place. Location, location, location....


    I left my bow at home this time. My buddy took his bow, and I backed him up. We saw five bears on this trip, but the one I shot turned out to be the only shootable one. One bear never offered a clear shot through the branches and leaves. Another one was too far away (mentioned in the story above). One had cubs with her, and the other one bolted immediately after we spotted it. We had no idea if he/she had cubs or not, so we didn't shoot.

    The bear I shot was certainly in range for a bow shot, but I only had my rifle along. Maybe next time, but I've got a long wait before I can hunt brown bear in that area again. The limit in that area is one bear every four years. :sad: I will have to find a new area for next year.

    I will bring my bow along for the moose hunt, but probably not for the deer hunt. There are a lot of bears in that area, and I don't want to walk in on a deer kill with just a bow in my hands. I might be brave, but not stupid. :supergrin: