Places I’ve Been #2

Well, spring is in full swing now.  The beaches are rapidly turning green and bears are becoming more and more abundant.  When the sun decides to poke its head out there is warmth in it.  It is my favorite time of year.

Here in the near future I’ll be chasing bears with a good friend.  We hope to get at least 2 toads, but you never know.  I had a chance to get out recently, and this spring is definitely not as early as last year, but we saw 4 nice bears, 2 which were real toads.

I thought I’d post a picture from one of my recent trips to a place I hold dear to my heart.

Enjoy!

Windham Bay, Alaska
Windham Bay

Spring Is Springing!

As mid-April rolls around we are finally beginning to see some warmer temperatures.  Along the roadsides fresh green grass begins to emerge and the woods are beginning to come to life.

The part I look forward to most about spring is spring bear hunting.  Chasing black bears will forever have a special place in my heart.  There is nothing quite as relaxing as sitting in a fresh estuary during the “magic-hour” listening to birds and the sounds of nature while watching for a dandy bruin to emerge from the woods to feed on the fresh salty goose-tounge that lines the beaches.

I was fortunate enough to get out this last week and have a peek around.

This year marks the earliest I have ever seen a black bear out in the field.  April 16th I saw my first bear this year.  He was a decent bear, though quite skinny.  It made him hard to judge, but I’d guess he’d go 18″.

I’ve got some plans in the works, so hopefully in the coming weeks I’ll have some nice pictures and a story or 2 of a fun hunt during these spring months.

Did I mention that sometimes my job rocks?

Places I’ve Been #1

Keeping in line with my original goal for my blog as being a place to share photos, videos, and my experiences, I decided it was time to start this series.

My goal is to periodically just share photos of places I’ve either been in my personal, or work life.

Port Walter

Port Walter is located on the eastern side of Baranof Island just north or Port Alexander.  It is home to a NOAA research facility and an abandoned herring cannery.

Nakwasina River – Sitka, AK

Kuiu Island Fall Bear Hunt

A few years back myself and a couple of buddies decided we wanted to go on a fall Black Bear hunt.  We wanted to try and take a Pope & Young quality bear so we decided what better place to do this than Kuiu Island.

For those that don’t know.  Some of the largest bears taken in Southeast Alaska consistently come off of Kuiu Island.  Kuiu Island is located in central southeast Alaska, just west of the community of Kake.  Kuiu Island was once booming with logging, and was host to several small logging communities.  Today, about half of the island is designated a wilderness area by the United States Forest Service (USFS), and the island is primarily used by adventures and outdoorsman.

With the season for bear opening on September 1st, we decided we would fly from Sitka, Alaska on August 31st via Harris Air, to Rowan Bay.  We chose Rowan Bay because of a small USFS dock that was there, as well as easy access to an expansive logging road system.  Since we would be primarily hunting along the creeks we decided we would spend most of our time hunting Rowan Creek, a large brown-water creek that was host to a run of Pink, Chum, and Coho salmon.  We brought mountain bikes because we figured those combined with easy access to logging roads would allow us mobility to access several different areas relatively quickly (turned out not to be the case).

They day came and the weather was quite dreary.  We didn’t know if we were going to make it out of Sitka due to the rain and low cloud ceiling.  After a couple hour wait and breakfast at the airport, the pilot thought we had a window and we departed on our beaver!

After a short 45 minute flight we arrived in Rowan Bay.  When we arrived at the dock we were somewhat surprised to see a local bear guide tied to the dock awaiting his clients.  I knew that one liked to hunt this area, but I guess I was hopeful since we had gone so remote we wouldn’t run into one.  Obviously not the case.  The guide instantly recognized me as I got off the plane.  Great, I thought.  So much for a relaxing break from work.  We exchanged pleasantries and agreed on a way so that we wouldn’t be hunting on top of each other.

We quickly gathered up a gear and headed to a large gravel pit where we decided to set up camp.  Our camp consisted of a large bomb-shelter style tent, and multiple tarps in case in rained.

Since Alaska does not allow same-day airborne hunting for bears, we decided we’d hike down the road a ways to scout and see what we could find.

We came to a small creek at the mouth of an estuary that the road crossed.  We could tell the area had been worked over hard by bears.  Salmon carcasses littered the stream banks and the grass was matted down all over the place with bear trails.  We continued down the road and discovered it was about a 2 mile hike to Rowan Creek.  Luckily we saw the stream had a large amount of fish in it.  We had high hopes for the coming days.

The next day one of my buddies and I set out to a creek beyond Rowan Creek called Brown Creek.  The plan was that we would hunt that creek, and our third friend would hunt the upper end of Rowan Creek.  We set off on our bikes and I quickly discovered 2 things.  One, a mountain bike seat destroys your taint on a logging road with hunting gear and a backpack on, and 2, I was not in shape.

After a long bike ride we arrived at Brown Creek.  We instantly saw a bear on the upper end of the creek.  We could quickly tell he was not a shoot, but we had high hopes to see more.

We slowly began creeping up the creek.  We were seeing sign all over the place, but not a lot of bears.  We weren’t out at exactly prime time and we knew it.  We continued on to a log-jam where we saw a bear come out below us.  We hid in the log-jam, and my buddy gave a few screeches on a predator call.  The bear came slowly wondering up to us.  I drew back once the bear was about 5 yards away, and when it turned broadside, let loose an arrow.  The arrow went clean through it and stuck into the log behind it.  The bear had no clue it had been hit.  It stood there as I watched blood gush out of both the entry and exit hole.  The bear slowly wandered off into the tree-line.  A few minutes later we followed the blood trail and found the bear dead a few yards inside the trees.  The bear was a small bear, and we knew it.

We made quick work of the critter, getting him skinned out.  As we headed back to the bridge we spotted another bear.  This was a classic black, Black bear with a nice white v on its chest.  My buddy took quick aim, firing one shot which dropped it in its tracks.  Before we knew it we had that bear skinned and all packed up to.

We began our long ride back to camp.  That was the most tortuous bike ride of my life.  My taint and my legs were absolutely destroyed.

One back at camp we got the hides all squared away, and our 3rd buddy returned with a bear.

We spent several more days hunting, and my buddy missed a bruiser.  All in all it was a great hunt.  One that some day we hope to do again!

Slow Rollin’…

As I sit here writing this post, I am both bored, and excited.  I am bored because we have reached that time of year where utterly nothing, is going on.  All trapping is pretty much over with.  Grouse hunting has not started.  The bears are still deep in their slumber, and deer season is months away.  Work matches play in that not much is happening.  It is hard to get excited about paperwork, but without much else to do, it is what we are stuck with.

So, instead we must ponder and dream.  Dream about stalking bears on a green grassy beach.  Hiking a trail listening to the ghostly hoots of “Sooty” grouse.  Every day is a day to scheme.  Make plans for a hunting getaway.  We’ve got plans to chase bears, scout some new areas in search of a spot to take a mainland buck this August, and hopefully do a little more fishing this summer.

Until all that, you’ll just have to enjoy my writing, as I’m currently picture-less.

Until next time…

Sitka Black Tail Deer 2016

Sitka Black Tail Deer 2016

2016 was a slower year for me.  I spent the majority of the summer at sea around Southeast Alaska.  Though I got to see some sweet sights, I sure wish I would have had more time to do my own things.

Luckily, thanks to a good friend and a spur of the moment decision, I was able to get on a fly out deer hunt at the end of October.

We left Juneau via Ward Air and headed to a lake on one of the ABC islands with a Forest Service Cabin that would be our home for the next 5 days.  The weather looked great and we set off with high hopes.

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Unloading our gear as the plane taxis for a take-off!

We arrived at the lake and quickly got camp set up.  We were amazed and disgusted at the amount of trash strewn about from the previous cabin users.  Beer bottles, cans, and food wrappers laid strewn about the front of the cabin and the surrounding forest.

We quickly picked the mess up and got our gear squared away and headed out.

We hiked a short trail leading to the logging road system and then headed off down a side-road that my buddy had previously hunted and said had some nice deer on it.

After hiking for about 45 minutes we cut off the road and setup in a broken muskeg area and began blowing our fawn bleat call in hopes that a buck would come charging in.  After about 2 series of calling we heard a doe wheeze and it sounded like she was excited and going to come charging in.  About 15 minutes later, still no sight.  We moved forward about 10 yards and I caught a glimpse of her moving through the fringe timber trying to locate us.  She was a decent size, but we had come in hopes of antlers and didn’t want to waste our first day on a doe so we let her go.

We hiked back to the road and back the way we came where we took another fork.

After about another hour of hiking we came to area an area that looked very promising.  We had been seeing numerous rubs, and some huge ones at that.  We hopped off the road into a small muskeg and began calling.  We had split up about 20 yards so we could watch different areas of the meadows.  About 15 minutes after calling, I looked over and saw my buddy was excited.  He was pointing back towards the road and had his rifle ready.  I finally figured out he heard a deer coming.  A minute later a buck came trotting down the road.  He wasn’t huge, but a solid fork with eye-guards.  My buddy indicated he didn’t want to shoot it because he was looking for a bigger buck.  Myself, being empty handed this season so far, wasn’t going to pass up the chance.  The buck cleared the roadway and I let him have it right behind his shoulder with my .300 Winchester Magnum.  He jumped and took off running strait at me.  As he ran within 15 yards of me I put another round into him and he kept going.  We ended up finding him dead about 50 yards away.

 

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My 2016 Sitka Black Tail Buck.

We made quick work of him and began the hike back to the cabin.  Once back we quickly butchered him and got him hanging out the meat pole.

We spent the next day hunting, saw 2 does, and 2 bucks, but shot none of them because they weren’t quite what we were looking for.

On day 3 my buddy missed a huge 3×3 with eyeguards that left a sour taste in his mouth.

Day 4 was our last day, and we would be picked up that evening.  I was trying to get over a cold so I told my buddy I’d stay at the cabin and clean up so that we could get outta there quick and he could hunt that day.  He got up early and took off from the cabin, intending to hunt a small knob nearby.  Within 5 minutes I heard the crack of his rifle.  I ran outside with my rifle to see what had happened, not expecting him to down a deer that quickly.  I saw him nowhere in sight.  I began hiking down the lake to where he said he’d be going.  About 300 yards from the cabin I lost his tracks and turned around and looked towards the cabin only to see a small fork buck standing on the beach.  I wasn’t going to pass on such an easy harvest so I dropped him where he stood.  Within minutes, my buddy emerged from the woods with another buck about the same size.

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2 Bucks in 15 minutes.

We quickly got the deer butchered and got the cabin cleaned up.  W decided since we had gotten what we had come for we would call for an early pickup.

Once the plane arrived we quickly loaded up our gear and off we headed back to town.  The skies were blue and it was smooth flying the whole way back.

The trip was epic and we already have plans on doing it again next year!  We will be back!

 

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Leaving the lake heading out over the ocean!

 

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We will see you again!