Prince of Wales Island - Spring Black Bear Hunt

EWpres

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Apr 22, 2020
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Denver, CO
I drew a spring black bear tag for POW for the spring of 2025. Now that I have the tag, I need to figure out logistics, and I was hoping you all could offer some insight. More specifically, I'm looking for suggestions for how to do this trip on an affordable budget (under $5k for rentals, lodging, gas, etc.), not counting travel to and from Alaska. I'm an experienced Western hunter with many elk, deer, and antelope hunts under my belt, as well as a handful of Montana spring bear hunts, so I'm not looking for general hunting advice, just logistics.

The plan, which is subject to change, is to rent a boat and cruise the shoreline for bears. We're open to either sleeping on the boat or on the shore. Depending on when we go, maybe we'll do some fishing when we're not hunting. I've not explored the concept of hunting inland very much, but I'm certainly open to that.

I've done quite a bit of research on truck and/or boat rentals. There don't seem to be very many affordable options. The same goes for lodging.

For those of you who have hunted there before, do you have any suggestions on who to rent a boat from? Are there some parts of the island that are better for bear hunting for one reason or another? Does anyone have any local connections there who can offer some advice?

I'm trying my best not to go through an outfitter or fishing guide service if I can help it. Any tips would be appreciated.

Thank you!
 
Mid May is good time on POW for bear, a lot of the better bear will be rubbed up. Personally I would worry about the head more than the hide.

Some random points:

~if you take the ferry and rent a truck and come over you will have less weight restrictions for gear for sure.
~ there was decent place to rent a truck in Craig but I don’t recall the name. I also think there was taxi in Craig that fleshed and salted my hide and skull. Made it really easy for packing them to fly it home.

- make sure your you understand the salvage laws for black bear all meat has to come out with you
~ you can go with a range of options on POW, there are couple places that will get you a cabin with all the comfort of home and skiff for you to hunt from. The one I am familiar with is in thorn bay. I don’t recall the name.

~ if you going to take boat on your own be very familiar and have some experience on the water . That place isn’t the easiest to get around especially in the dark.

~ there is lots less hunters in the spring since it when to a draw tag like ten years ago so you can get away a bit more easily on the road system.

Book everything as early as possible. If it’s what you want and in a convenient location …reserve it regardless of the price. Trucks, boat rentals, lodging,…all gets booked up fast. You wait trying to get a deal and you’re likely to get shut out.
~ I never did because I bowhunt but if your rifle hunting and the wolf tags are reasonable and they are in season( buy a tag). There were a decent number of wolves on the island.

Enjoy your hunt and preparing for it!
 
I haven't hunt POW specifically before, but Calder Mountain Lodge is situated on the north end of POW. They run a good operation and would keep you under that $5k mark for total cost without the hassle of a lot of the logistics.
 
I was dropped off by a friend who lived in Ketchikan and then I paddled around the bay with my inflatable kayak.
You can probably arrange for a transporter to get dropped off and picked up. Transporters cannot provide equipment, it's the law.
Look at the kayak as an investment. I travel all over with it. Sea Eagle 420x

 
There is only one guy left that I know of that will rent just a boat out as of now. He will only do daily rentals, so you have to return it every day to the dock. He isn't the nicest guy and I really wish the old owner wouldn't have sold it off because the old owner was amazing to work with. I leave in a few months for my hunt on the same adventure and it will be the second time. First time we did it via truck and it was just fine but required a lot of work as the roads don't cross much coastline you can easily access and there will be other people checking those spots. This time we have a boat.
 
Mid May is good time on POW for bear, a lot of the better bear will be rubbed up. Personally I would worry about the head more than the hide.

Some random points:

~if you take the ferry and rent a truck and come over you will have less weight restrictions for gear for sure.
~ there was decent place to rent a truck in Craig but I don’t recall the name. I also think there was taxi in Craig that fleshed and salted my hide and skull. Made it really easy for packing them to fly it home.

- make sure your you understand the salvage laws for black bear all meat has to come out with you
~ you can go with a range of options on POW, there are couple places that will get you a cabin with all the comfort of home and skiff for you to hunt from. The one I am familiar with is in thorn bay. I don’t recall the name.

~ if you going to take boat on your own be very familiar and have some experience on the water . That place isn’t the easiest to get around especially in the dark.

~ there is lots less hunters in the spring since it when to a draw tag like ten years ago so you can get away a bit more easily on the road system.

Book everything as early as possible. If it’s what you want and in a convenient location …reserve it regardless of the price. Trucks, boat rentals, lodging,…all gets booked up fast. You wait trying to get a deal and you’re likely to get shut out.
~ I never did because I bowhunt but if your rifle hunting and the wolf tags are reasonable and they are in season( buy a tag). There were a decent number of wolves on the island.

Enjoy your hunt and preparing for it!
Thanks for the info. My hunting partner lives on a boat, so he'll be in charge of driving. I definitely intend to harvest the meat but I wouldn't have thought that the hides would be rubbed too badly by mid-May. That's good to know.
 
I was dropped off by a friend who lived in Ketchikan and then I paddled around the bay with my inflatable kayak.
You can probably arrange for a transporter to get dropped off and picked up. Transporters cannot provide equipment, it's the law.
Look at the kayak as an investment. I travel all over with it. Sea Eagle 420x

I was toying around with the idea of bringing an inflatable kayak in addition to renting a boat. I'll take a look at the Sea Eagle. Thank you.
 
There is only one guy left that I know of that will rent just a boat out as of now. He will only do daily rentals, so you have to return it every day to the dock. He isn't the nicest guy and I really wish the old owner wouldn't have sold it off because the old owner was amazing to work with. I leave in a few months for my hunt on the same adventure and it will be the second time. First time we did it via truck and it was just fine but required a lot of work as the roads don't cross much coastline you can easily access and there will be other people checking those spots. This time we have a boat.
I hope your hunt goes well. Please let me know how it goes. Where are you renting your boat?
 
Call Dave at Shelter Cove Lodge. He owns a fish guiding business but has a great deal of knowledge about the ins and outs of what you are planning on. He is in Craig. He is very easy to talk to and runs a great fishing/guiding business.
 
I was toying around with the idea of bringing an inflatable kayak in addition to renting a boat. I'll take a look at the Sea Eagle. Thank you.
I’m definitely bringing my pack raft, definitely allows you to be much sneakier and deal with the tide change.

We got hosed last time due to not paying attention.
 
Calder Mtn lodge is a great place to stay as I had the Kuiu tag last year. Keeps you in your budget and you can fish til noon. Fishing is really a fun way to pass the morning. We didn't see any bears before noon each day. You'll have some restrictions as far how far theyll let you take their boats. But theres a fairly extensive logging road system that can be productive walking. Mid may is best but the dumb ones along the shore will be wise to the game by then.
 

This place bundles vehicle and boat rental in with your cabin rental. I’ve never personally stayed there, but would if/when I get a chance to hunt POW.
I stayed at this place about 10 years ago with some guys I met on this site.
The place was exactly as advertised, clean and easy to access. We used the grill and smoker outside. Boats and vehicles were well kept and offered no problems. I would definitely recommend. But I have done other things a well. See my later post.
 

Last fall I rented a suburban with a mess kit from these folks. My friend and I took camping gear so we just drove the roads every day Looking for salmon.
Camped on a few back roads and stayed in a couple campgrounds.
The truck looked a bit worn but gave us zero issues.
I have no doubt you could do it too.
 

Last fall I rented a suburban with a mess kit from these folks. My friend and I took camping gear so we just drove the roads every day Looking for salmon.
Camped on a few back roads and stayed in a couple campgrounds.
The truck looked a bit worn but gave us zero issues.
I have no doubt you could do it too.
Thanks for all that great info! Were you bear hunting too or just fishing? How many bears did you see by using the road system?
 
We were only fishing. This trip we saw 2 bears while driving for sure and a half a dozen maybes.
My last trip we saw more than a dozen from the road in a week.
Lots of deer, lots of bears and trout everywhere. I love the island.
 
I just got back from POW this year and was lucky enough to take a bear. I did it completely unguided and DIY. A lot of outfitters to be had if you want to take that route and pay the money. It is not really any cheaper to DIY it from my experience but it depends on how you hunt, gear you have, etc. Logistics are a decent PITA if you don't already have connections and/or trying to DIY it but it can be done.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
 

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I just got back from POW this year and was lucky enough to take a bear. I did it completely unguided and DIY. A lot of outfitters to be had if you want to take that route and pay the money. It is not really any cheaper to DIY it from my experience but it depends on how you hunt, gear you have, etc. Logistics are a decent PITA if you don't already have connections and/or trying to DIY it but it can be done.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
Nice work! I leave Friday with my wife for a 10 day trip there. We both have a tag and we are both ready for a much needed cellphoneless vacation
 

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