Bear camp – By Lee Francis

Bear camp – By Lee Francis

I picked up the water bottles and left the fragile security of our camp, to retrieve some much needed fresh water. I followed the winding path down through the alders to the small stream which emptied into the secluded ocean bay. The air was crisp and cold, and you could smell the heavy fragrance of the bear tracked beach below.  I waded into the small stream, which spilled off  the mountain. As I bent down to fill the water bottles, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end.  I suddenly felt clammy.  I was on full alert.  I could feel the presence of something watching me in the darkness. Was it just my imagination?  Then I realized I had left my gun over on a boulder thirty feet away.  My stomach dropped as fear passed over me. I spun around and worked my way back over to the comfort of my rifle.  I remembered  the wise words of the outfitter, when he cautioned me to never go anywhere without my rifle. I feel better now.  I go back to fill up the water bottles.  I tell myself it was silly to be so nervous, but I am still on edge.  I still feel the presence of something out there.  I hurry and finish filling the bottles and head up the trail back to camp.  As I enter the tunnel of alders, I see him across the small stream from me.  Just a dark silent shadow staring at me from the darkness.  Now my heart really jumps, pounding in my ears.  I swing my 458 lott over to cover the bear, and work my way backwards up to our little tent camp. I arrive with relief to the company of the others, and vow not to ever go out alone on the Alaskan peninsula ever again.

Alaska Bear Hunt Scenery
Brown bear hunting in the remote wilds of the Alaskan Peninsula is an experience unlike any other.  You are in their territory, hunting animals which have little fear of you. They could attack you at any time and for  any reason.  This leaves you with a feeling that is different than hunting anywhere else in the world.

After only three days hunting, my wife Rebecca had a great big, chocolate brown bear down.  She shot him with her bow at 20 yards.  He measured over ten feet.  But I will leave the telling of that story to her.

Now it was my turn to go after the big bears.  We got up early and went up on a little knoll close to our camp.  From the lookout we could see a huge amount of area.  We spent the entire day glassing.  It was grueling.  We spotted several bears, but they were so far away that it was impossible to make a stalk. At 10:30 at night we retired to our tent.
Glassing for Bear
The next day we returned to our vantage point, and resumed spotting.  Hunting bears requires hours of boredom punctuated by moments of adrenalin pumping excitement. We glassed until noon then ate some lunch, while we continued spotting. We watched a wolf work his way down the dry stream bed, about 500 yards out.  It was fun to see him.  There is always something to watch while looking for bears.  We glassed  moose,fox,wolves,waterfowl and birds.  Then Rebecca said there he is.  We perked up, as she pointed out the huge bear working his way up the valley.  He was a long way out there, but you could tell instantly than he was really big.  The trick now was to get lucky, and have him come close enough for an opportunity.  The excitement grew as the bear worked his way up the valley towards us. It looked like he was going to come with in 300 yards of us.  Maybe we could cut him off.  But he was walking into the wind, not giving us a chance to get in front of him with out spooking him.  So we waited and watched.  It looked like he was going to go past us without giving us a chance to get close enough for  a bow shot.  Maybe I could get close enough for a rifle shot.  He was just walking up the open dry river bed, but his  walk was quickly taking him past us.  We did not have time to get closer to him.  Then we got lucky. The bear went onto a little island in the middle of the dry river bed, and laid down.  We could see all the way around the island, and we did not see him come out.  We watched for a while, and then decided to go after him.  Rebecca stayed at our vantage point, to keep a look out.  The guide took my .458 Lott, I grabbed my bow , and off we went.  We worked down wind of the island where the bear was bedded, and then started towards him.  As we approached the island the river bank was about four feet high. We stayed back away from the bank so that if the bear came out we would not be to close to him.  We wanted to get the bear without him getting us.  It was intense looking into the alders trying to see the bear before he could see us.  We worked our way around the far side of the island with no luck. As we returned to the other side, we could see Rebecca waving at us and pointing up the river.  We hurried around the island and spotted the bear going up the river bed  120 yards in front of us. My guide grabbed me and handed me the gun.  He said shoot him with the gun, he is a monster.  I insisted we wait and see what he does first.  Then the bear spotted us. He slowly made his way across the dry river bed, and up and over the bank into the alders. We were both sick.  We had just let a giant slip away into the impenetrable alders.  We continued up the river bed trying to get a glimpse of the bear again.  When we got close to the bank we could see the bear circling back around us.  The guide said back up, down the river, the bear is trying to get down wind from us, if he dose he will charge.  As we backed down along the river bank, we could get glimpses of the bear in the thick alders, as he parallelled us down the river.  He was close. But I was so focused that I do not remember being scared.  We continued to work our way backwards, waiting for the bear to make his move.  Then the bear came out into an open area, about thirty yards long.  He did not stop he just kept walking, and staring at us as he entered the opening.  I drew my  bow and waited for him to step forward.  I centered my twenty yard pin behind his front leg.  I instinctively released the arrow as the bear moved his front leg forward. The easton arrow with the montec broadhead took him through both lungs.  The bear looked towards us for a chilling split second, then returned into the thick alders,  vanishing out of sight.  My guide said, lets get out of here.  We took off fast, and worked our way back to the lookout point where Rebecca was waiting. Then I started shaking.  When we arrived, we asked her if she saw where the bear went?  She said the last time she saw him he was running up the valley over a mile away.  I was sick.  Then she started laughing and said the bear was right below us about two hundred yards away.  Very funny I said.  We got the Zeiss spotter on him and watched him until dark.  Someone suggested that we wait until morning to go in after him.  We all immediately agreed, and headed back to camp.

The next morning we went to the lookout point and could see the bear still laying there.  But he still looked like he was alive just laying there.  We got the guns and carefully approached the bear. It was still scary.  When we got up on him, we found that he was dead.  Then we finally celebrated.  We were all relieved and happy.  We skinned the bear and found that the twenty eight inch arrow was completely inside him.  He really was big.  We spent the next two days fleshing the hide and waiting for the weather to let us get out of there.  The bear  measured 11′ 4 x 11’2 and the skull officially measured 28 10/16 after drying for two years.  He ranked number two in the pope and young records.  This was a super exciting, beyond description hunt.  The outfitter was Bill Stevenson, of Alaska Outfitters. Unit9bearhunts.com.  He did a great job in every way.  He made my hunt the hunt of a life time.

Big Brown Bear - Alaska

Written By
administrator, bbp_keymaster

Brad was raised in Western Wyoming and was introduced to big game hunting by his father while chasing elk and mule deer in the mountains around his home. Brad started a website in 2009 called HuntAddicts.com and more recently owns and manages Altitude Outdoors. He finds fulfillment in hunting big game on public land, especially Mule Deer. You can typically find Brad in the Altitude Outdoors Gear Shop in Afton, Wyoming.

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3 comments

  1. Randy Johnson
    5 years ago

    Great story Lee and congratulations on a trophy of a lifetime!

  2. Dennis Donati
    5 years ago

    WOW! What a bear, and a great article. I’m sitting here in class reading this and getting goose bumps envisioning the thick alders along the river and seeing a bear that huge. Congratulations on an incredible bear.

  3. Brown Bear Hunting
    5 years ago

    Brown bear hunting in the remote wilds of the Alaskan Peninsula is an experience unlike any other. You must really have some fear when you enter their territory.

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