Alaska Spring Bear Hunt - Report #4

Bill Hefner

New member
Dec 17, 2000
St. Petersburg, FL USA
2001 Spring Bear Hunt #4
Friday, May 4, 2001

About two hours ago, Tony Lee, my outfitter friend in Alaska called me with details of his latest group of spring bear hunters. After a false spring last week with temperatures in the low 50s, the weather turned against them two days ago with a winter storm dumping 6” of snow overnight and low temperatures down to +8°F. Even in the “heat” of the afternoon while Tony was flying his Super Cub, the outside thermometer in the plane never registered above +15°F. Br-r-r-r-r!!!

They used their snow machines to pack down the new snow on the runway they made on the frozen lake. With the low temperatures it looks as if they may be able to get another week or so out of the snow-packed runway before it starts to break up from spring thaws.

Despite the cold weather, the snow was a welcomed addition to the hunt because it was hard to spot bears against a brown terrain from the air and then track them over dry ground. So far, in this 3rd group of three hunters there are 2 bears down and 2 days remaining for the third hunter.

Both bears were taken were over fresh moose kills. The larger of the two was a nice 9 ft. 2 in. with a 27-3/4” skull and was taken at 70 yards with a .375 H&H Magnum. Considering the current #5 SCI grizzly one of Tony’s hunters took last spring with a skull of 27-1/4” this year’s bear should be the new #5 SCI grizzly. The second bear that was taken was about 9 ft. and was taken at about 100 yards with a .300 Winchester Magnum. Both bears were taken between 50-75 miles from camp.

Incidentally, so far this season Tony’s hunters have not taken any bear taken under 8 ft. 8 in. And with the 9’ 8” monster that measured 28-1/8” it looks like Tony’s hunters have the new #2 and #5 SCI grizzlies.

Tony has been averaging about 21 hours of flying time per bear kill, which is below average. He said an air taxi flew in 4 hunters over a week ago and dropped them off in the same general area for 10 days but no one shot anything. Flying and scouting is essential for spring bear hunting. When you consider it cost about $100 plus per hour to operate a Super Cub, you can quickly see why it cost as much as it does for a spring grizzly hunt.

That’s it for now. I should hear from Tony again toward next weekend and will have another spring bear report for y’all.

Keep in mind there are still several unguided moose hunts this fall in Unit 19, which will probably the last time non-residents can hunt moose without a guide. He is down to under a dozen unguided caribou hunts in Unit 17 in August and only 2 in early September. There’s also 1 guided 10-day moose hunt left for early September. If you’re interested in any of these, let Tony or me know, OK? Later………..

Saturday, May 5, 2001

It was brought to my attention yesterday that in my Spring Bear Hunt – Report #4 the description could have left the impression that the bears were killed the same day the hunter was airborne. This is not, nor has it ever been the case. What happens is the outfitter scouts for bear from the air, sometimes up to 100 miles from their main camp, and when he spots the right one, hopefully a big boar on a moose kill, he returns to camp for his hunter. Together they fly to an area a good mile or so away from the bear and camp overnight then stalk the bear the following morning. If the wolves don’t chase the bear away from the moose kill overnight, chances are good the bear will still be feeding or close by. In my attempt to distribute this information in a timely fashion, while it was still news, I apologize for the appearance of any impropriety. I want to thank Ralph Nestor publicly for pointing this out to me.
“Bear” with me, Ralph! I’ll try to do a better job proof-reading next time.

Bill Hefner
St. Petersburg, FL