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Alaska Blackies - Act IV

Big Fin

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The calendar cannot roll forward soon enough. I've finally suckered Lawnboy into joining me on this Alaska black bear hunt. I guess my passion for this hunt is evident by the fact that I try to do it every year, if I am so lucky to draw a tag. Not sure Bart should be taking time away from his lawn business in late May, but he will have plenty of time to mow lawns when he returns.

Was there in 2010, 2011, 2013.

Been watching these episodes and reminding myself what a cool place it is. Cool enough that you can only send text messages from a tower that serves an old native village; no cell calls, no internet, no ....... Hey, since I will be in AK when Nevada results come out on May 29th, would one of you guys send me a text to let me know what unit I drew for Desert Bighorn?

2013 -
[video=youtube_share;I_GwEhd3Eww]https://youtu.be/I_GwEhd3Eww?list=PLLdxutimd-JtsQqrAMODVjKnHst9_ypD2[/video]

2011 - Two episdoes:


Going back and reading the old threads makes me realize just how lucky I am to be able to go to this place and have this kind of experience. And do it all for less than $2,000 per person. Here are the Live Hunt threads from the two trips covered in the episodes above.


2013 - http://onyourownadventures.com/hunttalk/showthread.php?254916-Alaska-Black-Bear-%96-Part-III

2011 - http://onyourownadventures.com/hunttalk/showthread.php?t=244667

On the hunt last year, we fought a week or torrential rain. I hunted a left over tag on the small islands, and I can see why it was a left over. While socked in the tent, I wrote about the hunt, every day. When I came home, I had 22,000 words. Way too many for a Hunt Talk thread. I need to figure out what to do with that piece, since the episode was for another production company and they are not going to be using it.

I hope the weather cooperates and this hunt is all it can be for Bart. He is the one who got me back into bear hunting and it would be cool for him to shoot the big old boar I have seen the last two trips. If he shoots that one, I'm not sure how we will get that one back to camp in our inflatable raft. I hope we have to solve that dilemma.

In 2011, my buddy Joel made a stalk on a huge bear that slipped into the brush and disappeared. In 2013, the morning after I shot my bear, a huge boar came out of a creek opening a couple hundred yards from where Joel had stalked that bear two years prior. Not sure if it was the same bear, but if it wasn't, there were two huge bears in the same area. Hopefully that same creek mouth provides a hang out for another big one that is Jonesin' to be a TV star.

This hunt will be added fun, as our camera guy, Tyler, is probably as much of a bear nut as exists on the planet. I think Tyler is the person who got Bart into bear hunting. Five days, two tags, and hopefully one great episode.

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duckhunt

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Cant wait to see the episode and read the thread. Is that the same Bart that went on an elk hunt with you a few years back? I dont remember wich episode but I think it was back in the on your own adventure days. Oh and good luck with that Nevada bighorn tag.
 

Big Fin

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....Is that the same Bart that went on an elk hunt with you a few years back? I dont remember wich episode but I think it was back in the on your own adventure days......

Yup, that Bart. He has finally forgiven me for all my sins against common sense. :eek:
 

Big Fin

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Just in from the islands. Not sure I have enough space on the Rackspace server we host Hunt Talk on to tell all of these details. Suffice to day, the raft you see in Post #1 is no longer "floatable." That was only the start of what makes this an interesting episode; an episode that ends with two hunters and a camera guy crawling on hands and knees through the worst of SE AK jungle brush while following the sparse trail of a hit bear, culminating with the camera guy yelling at the hunter in front of him, "Shoot that thing" as the wounded bear rises from his bed six feet from the hunter and roars to the world that he is not about to go down without a fight.

I'll try to start from the beginning and give the details that would seem too strange to be true, if not for the fact that we have video and pics to document the calamity that this episode will explain.
 

Big Fin

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This hunt has been eighteen months in the making; at least if you measure from when Lawnboy and I sent in our AK bear applications. It has been even longer in the making, as for years I have been trying to coax Bart into coming to AK with me for a spring bear hunt. Since he got me back into bear hunting about 8 years ago, it seemed fitting that I show him my new found black bear play ground.

We left Bozeman last Wednesday, excited as pups to be headed to the Tongass for some spring blackies. The plan was to get to Pbrug that day, get licenses and gear, the fly out the next day to the island where we would beach camp. Well, that was the plan.

The plan went great until we landed in Pburg. It started about that time. I was helping a little old lady get her carryon bag out of the overhead and in doing so, placed my carryon (which included my computer, license, and most personal valuables) on the seat as I did so. Once I got her bag down, the line behind me was impatiently sighing at the delay I caused them. I quickly turned and helped the lady down the aisle, putting my heavily loaded MR pack on my back, but walking away from my computer bag. Oops.

When the luggage cart came by as I walked down the plane stairs in Pburg, I could see a calamity unfolding. The homemade tyvek packaging we use for my inflatable was completely unwound and lots of long sharp holes in it, indicative of someone getting happy with their utility knives. Not a good sign. When it was dumped onto the baggage claim rack, my worst fears were confirmed.

We proceed to unload all ten pieces of checked bags and toss the raft on top of our gear pile to inspect our damage. Yup, long gaping holes along the tubes. In many different places along the tyvek, there were signs of a utility knife. Wherever tape was wrapped around the tyvek, the knife was used to open the package.

I bring a repair kit for punctures, but nothing to repair the likes of this.
IMG_3870.JPG

IMG_3869.JPG

IMG_3865.JPG

I re-entered the airport and asked to speak to the Alaska Airlines manager and the TSA manager. Both promptly attended to the claim, probably worried of the steam coming from my nostrils and my stuttering and stammering as I attempted to not use too many words with those aggressive "ck" sounds. These were two of the nicest airline and TSA people I have ever encountered. They felt terrible. They were willing to do whatever they could to make it right, but could do nothing to make the raft seaworthy.

While we were outside inspecting the raft and discussing options with TSA and Alaska Airlines, a stewardess comes into the airport with my bag and asks for the owner to come forward. I'm outside, completely distracted that I left my computer bag on the plane, all the while they are calling for the owner of the guy who is missing a black computer bag. Eventually, they hand it back to the airline crew with instructions to keep it in Juneau until the owner (me) comes to claim it. While I am stomping and huffing about my raft, my computer bag is loaded back on the plane and on its way to Juneau.

With the Alaska Airline and TSA guys scrambling for ideas, I am now calmed down. Calmed enough to realize I left my bag on the plane when I deplaned. I run inside in a panic. The lady tells me they called for the owner many times, but nobody came forward. She calls Juneau and tells them the owner has showed up and when the morning plane comes in on Thursday, they should send it down to Pburg on that flight. Uggghhh!

Completely dazed, I tell Bart and Tyler (cameraman) that we will haul our junk to the hangar over at Pac Wing and see what else I may have managed to lose, forget, misplace among the chaos of this trip. Seeing our plight, the Pac Wing employees give their possible ideas to a solution of the wounds to our inflatable. They know pretty much everyone involved with hunting and boats in this town. No remedy is found.

I get on the phone and call the person who was renting the skiff to the production company. The original agreement was that the renter's son would deliver the skiff to the production company at our beach camp. Tyler would use that to film Bart and I hunting from the inflatable. Or, at least that was the plan.

A quick note of a strange Alaska law that pertains to self-guided hunters like us. It goes like this. A skiff cannot be delivered by a boat renter to hunters in the field. It can be delivered to a production company, so long as the hunters being filmed do not use the skiff. So, our plan was to fly the inflatable for Bart and I to hunt from, with a small skiff to be delivered for the camera guy.

This Alaska law requires that if Bart and I are to use a rented skiff, I must fly to the native village and pick it up myself and drive it to the island where we are camped. It could not be delivered to our camp, since Bart and I would now need it for our replacement hunting vessel.

And that becomes the new plan. Once my bag came in on the 11:30 am flight of Thursday morning, I would get my licenses, jump on a flight to this village, and motor the boat down to our beach camp. Bart and Tyler would take a different flight directly to our beach camp and I would meet them there. If all went well, we would have a craft to hunt from, albeit, not what we had originally planned.

But hey, somehow, some way, we had withstood the first two calamities for the trip and the next day we would be in bear camp, hoping to find Big Hank cruising the shoreline for hot sows.
 

Big Fin

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Thursday morning starts out way better than the previous day. A good breakfast of smoked salmon and eggs makes a lot of things better. We head to the hangar to organize gear in preparation of our flights out to the island today. A big sigh of relief when the Alaska Airline flight had my computer bag containing all my possessions.

After scrambling to get my licenses purchased, I got on an empty Cessna to the native village. I brought with me a life jacket and a few other emergency necessities that I hope would not be needed. A perfectly uneventful flight got me there, with the boat renter not yet at the small harbor.

A beautiful day if ever there was one. The sun was bright; not a cloud in the sky. Eventually, a Ford Ranger pulls up with a 16' Lund and an old 25hp Johnson on the back. Quickly followed by the local sheriff. Not sure if that is my boat, or not, but the local deputy spends some time questioning the guy with the freshly painted Lund that is trying to back down the loading ramp.

After about 10 minutes the deputy leaves and the boat is driving over to the seaplane dock. Hmmmm. I've owned five Lund boats and the cumulative wear and tear on all of them combined was not even close to the abuse this boat had been subjected to. But, being a Lund fan, I am confident it is a seaworthy craft.

I write a check and I am handed the tiller to the Johnson. Twenty gallons of gas will hopefully get us through the five days of hunting. The fresh orange paint on the outside was plastered in even thicker coats on the inside, hiding a lot of caulk and puddy. As I shove off, the renter jokingly says, "Make sure you wear your waders when driving that boat, it has a slow leak."

And I'm off. I've owned lots of boats and in spite of my proclamation of having no handy man skills, boat motors are one area that I can usually hold my own. A life experience of my family being very loyal Evinrude/Johnson/OMC owners. Anyone who has had many of the 1970 and 1980s vintage of those OMC motors knows you need a good stable of mechanical talent to keep them running. This Johnson looks like the one my Uncle owned and on which I had spent considerable time wrenching, so I left the harbor in good confidence that all would be fine.

The Johnson struggled with low end RPMs, as is the case with those old OMC motors. But once you "got 'er up on step, she would scream." Well, scream as much as 25hps can push a 16' Lund. It was about eighty minutes later when I round the final corner of the island that will be our camp. Bart and Tyler are yet to arrive on the Pac Wing deHaviland Beaver. I unload my few pieces and start prepping a camp site up in the second growth Sitka Spruce that are regenerating those toppled in a long past wind storm. The soft moss and tall trees, among a gap in the beach-hiding alders, makes for a great spot.

Within a half hour, I hear the roar of the Beaver coming over the pass from Pburg. Right on schedule, they touch down on the calm bay in front of our camp. I am hoping Bart's known penchant for motion sickness has not stricken him during the flight over the mountains. He steps from the plane with a big smile, showing he thoroughly enjoyed the scenic flight to our beach.

Whew, the bad luck has passed and it is now about killing a couple big bears.

IMG_0080.JPG
 

RobG

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The plan was to get to Pbrug that day, get licenses and gear, the fly out the next day to the island where we would beach camp. Well, that was the plan.

The plan went great until we landed in Pburg.

okay.....
 

ovis2

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And the adventure starts ramping up! The greater the challenges, the greater the reward, right? Keep it coming....
 

Big Fin

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Hotel internet connection just dropped and about a thousand words went down the tubes with it. Urrrrggghh!

Going to get some dinner.
 

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