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Monster Bruins of Southeast Alaska

“Cathy has been on four other black bear hunts and has yet to pull the trigger, so before we book this I want to verify that this hunt will be different,” asked John, the head of Oncology at a renowned hospital Back East.
“Well, I’d be very surprised if she didn’t at least have an opportunity at a good representative bear.” I said.

All aboard the Glacier for another adventure!

On day five, I was eating those words as all we had seen was sows, cubs and small to medium sized bears. Sure, we had seen an AMAZING Humpback whale show of a cow and calf that were very interested in our boat. We had plenty of Bald Eagles launching themselves out of the trees as we snuck upstream. We had the MOST incredible Wolf show at less than 100 yards howling, yipping and snickering at us after we snuck up on them and caught the three of them with their pants down. We saw Sea Otters, River Otters, Mink, Seagulls, Ravens, Dippers, Pink Salmon, Chum Salmon and the list goes on, but what we really wanted was a Magnum Black Bear that Prince of Wales is famous for.

Let’s go hunting!

Typical evening setup on a salmon stream in the Fall.

So, after scouting yet another stream John pulled me aside and once again stated “Kurt, if we see anything that is even close to a representative trophy, Please let Cathy pull the trigger.” Hmmmm, no pressure here?!

Sometimes, hunts are seven days for a reason, but I was definitely feeling the heat as we snuck into a prime location to sit for the rest of the evening. We had yet to see anything other than a track of a Trophy Bruin and I was nervous. Our perch was less than perfect and Cathy was watching downstream, John was watching upstream and I was watching both sides when we all saw movement at the same time 40 yards away. Cathy pivoted, I took one look at the Mongo Bear and told her to shoot. She had been told “Don’t Shoot” so many times over the previous week that she looked shocked, so I told her again to whack him. Ka-Boom bellowed her hand cannon and off ran the bear like a scalded cat.

A less than ideal shot in the thick rain forest is why she was shooting her brand new custom .375 H&H. Was I ever glad, because these bruins are BIG and the forest is thick.
Her bullet traveled from way behind its stomach all the way through its 475 pound body and barely exited in front of its shoulder.
Cathy made an excellent off hand shot for such a quick and difficult opportunity. Time and again I have said to my clients that “The Window Of Opportunity Opens and Closes Amazingly Fast!” Cathy made the shot and compensated for the hard angle by putting the bullet EXACTLY where it needed to be.

The Monster barely made it 12 yards and once again I said “Overkill is great!” Had she been shooting a .30-06, the bear would’ve died, but that night would have been sleepless instead of the fun celebration that followed on the “GLACIER.”

Cathy’s Monster Giant Wow Huge Something to be Proud of Black Bear! Skull 20 12/16″ Hide 7’6″.

The photo shoot the following day was memorable and I’m not sure how often I said the words Monster, Slob, Magnum, Huge, Giant and WOW, but it was a bunch.

Things couldn’t have gotten much better when John yelled out “ Cathy, I just arrowed a bear and it’s headed your way!”  The Three Stooges would’ve gotten a kick out of us change gears from skinning a bear to hunting one in .5 seconds, but we didn’t see or hear much in the thick jungle.

Beauty and the beasts.

We decided to finish the present skinning job before we took on another and presently we got the report from John that another bear had walked out exactly where Cathy’s massive bear exited the bushes and he slung an arrow at 24 yards. He also thought it might be a bit low.
Prior to the hunt we sighted in Cathy’s Cannon and I got to watch John shoot his bow with pinpoint accuracy, so now I thought to myself “Dead Bear.”
A long and fruitless tracking session produced spotty blood and all of us agreed the bear was hit low on the sternum and/or the front left leg. We followed the blood trail 450+ yards, uphill with just one small drop of blood every few feet until it finally ended in incredibly thick cover.  We couldn’t locate the trail again even though Cathy earned the nickname “Birddog” as she was great at spotting blood.

Ferns in the Southeast Alaskan rainforest jungle.

The time finally came to dash back to town so they could make the plane early the next morning but prior to that we hauled the Alaska Spot Shrimp pots we had set earlier. We were rewarded with some of the best eating seafood on the planet and gorged on them later that night in Klawock.

What an adventure! Alaska always produces amazing adventures and John and Cathy got a great one.





Dungeness Crab too!

Written 9-24-12 aboard the “GLACIER” in Klawock, Alaska by Kurt Whitehead


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