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Kodiak Through A Camera
RIFLE HUNT - READ AT YOUR OWN RISK
Easter Sunday I found myself driving to Kansas City to embark on a journey that had been years in the making. Many years prior, a family friend - Danny - had booked a Brown Bear hunt on Kodiak Island as a retirement gift to himself. Shortly after booking the trip, he had asked me if I wanted to go along to pack and photograph, which was one of the fastest “yes’s” that I’d ever given. An evening of laying out gear and packing the car wrapped up early as we had to wake very early to catch our first flight from KC to Seattle. A few flights later and our plane was touching down on the Kodiak runway.
We landed in Kodiak on April 10th, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting out of the Kodiak Airport, but I was surprised by what it was - a mobile staircase wheeled up to the side of the plane and we walked into essentially just a warehouse to collect our bags. I quickly noticed a familiar face from my days of working on Capital Hill and realized it was Senator Dan Sullivan who was also here on a bear hunt, who ended up getting a bear very quickly as we would find out at the end of our hunt. We got a shuttle to the Kodiak Inn and had a great dinner at The Chart Room after many hours of travel. It didn’t take us long to collapse in the room to rest up in order to explore Kodiak City the next morning.
The next morning came, April 11th, and we explored Kodiak City; the docks, shops, and people were all wonderful. Before leaving Walnut Grove, Missouri I was discussing the trip with my preacher, who lit up when I mentioned it was going to take me to Kodiak Island, turns out he had a good friend on the island who used to preach in SW MO as well - and we had planned to meet up with him to get a tour of the island. After spending the morning walking the docks in the harbor and stopping by some shops, we met up with him over lunch. He turned out to be a tremendous asset, telling us many facts about the island and giving us a ride to Game and Fish to get the bear tag. We spoke to a lady at the visitor info center who showed us a video of 2 bears in her backyard in October of last year, it was extraordinarily strange to me that I was watching an animal that seemed almost mythical to me walk just a few yards past a fence as a dog in a sombrero was barking at it - true story. According to locals, last fall was a bad year for the salmon run, so many bears wandered into town and caused problems. The sense of community on the island was incredible, and it just felt like a place where everyone was looking out for everyone.
The next day, April 12th, the barge came in and we met up with Karl Braendel, our guide. He had been chasing bears on Kodiak Island since 1968, and you could see the 55 years of experience on his face. His white hair and goatee and sure tone of voice immediately ensured me that we were with the right guy. We stopped by the Refuge office as he turned in his paperwork and got to listen to him and the bear biologist talk bear. I’m sure there aren’t too many people who have been living with Kodiak Bears for 55 years, and we soon realized that Karl knew as much - in my opinion more - about bears than the biologists did. With all paperwork and gear needs taken care of, he drove us to Sea Hawk Air to transport us to our hunting area. We loaded our gear in the float plane, and pilot Rolan soon had us all zipping towards Olga Bay. I let it be known to anyone who spoke with me before my trip that I was much more worried about the flight than I was about the bears, but as nervous as I was it was impossible to not be in awe of the scenery we were flying over. A beautiful 55 minute flight over the Kodiak coastline ended with a relatively smooth landing thanks to Rolan’s many years of experience. We unloaded gear and met Kiche, Karl’s son, who flew in earlier that day with their gear and had set up base camp. We soon noticed blacktail deer just a hundred yards off, the first of many we would see in and around camp. I walked to a nearby waterfall to take some photos and soon found myself within 40 yards of one before it scampered up a near-vertical cliff with ease. Our camp consisted of three tents, two for people and one for gear. Me, Danny, and Karl slept in a large tent while Kiche slept in a two-man tent, while the third tent was a teepee-style tent housing gear and food. It looked out across beautiful Olga Bay, where over the course of the trip I would observe seals, otters, loons, and many species of sea ducks. Across the bay we could look at the end of a large peninsula that wrapped around in a big sweeping manner beyond what our eyes could see, making it appear like a large island from our point of view. The peninsula was home to one large mountain that I spent quite a while looking at trying to pick out a mountain goat against the snow-covered peak. “Big” country is an understatement, especially in contrast to the closeness I had come from in the Ozarks, which have a sense of intimacy in which anything you see you can touch, even the biggest of basins are a quick walk from being explored. The opposing shore seemed close, almost swimmable if a man had a reason to. Karl asked me how far I thought the shore was from our camp and I replied with 500 yards or so. He quickly informed me that it was one mile almost exactly. This was a wake-up call, as the opposing shoreline looked just as intimate as the Ozarks in comparison to the peaks that stood over us behind our camp. Later research on OnX confirmed that he was right on, exactly one mile across the bay. Behind our camp were three peaks, although the leftmost peak was outside of our hunt unit, so we didn’t pay much attention to that one as it did us no good even if we did see a bear that direction. That evening, after getting all our gear and last-minute camp chores finished up, we had a meal of moose, rice, and onions to the soundtrack of Karl’s hunting stories that a lifetime of chasing Alaska’s game had gifted him. It had finally set in that we were on a bear hunt.
The morning of April 13th consisted of bacon, eggs, and countless hunting stories. Karl told us stories of all of Alaska’s game animals and the clients he put on them. As the day warmed, we put up an electric fence around camp and confirmed the zero on Danny and Kiche’s rifles on the beach by camp. More stories of foreign clients were told over a ramen noodle lunch and then we began assembling an inflatable boat to begin the hunt tomorrow. As we pieced it together I gazed toward the mountain peaks that made up the horizon behind our camp. The snow-covered peaks with windswept chunks of exposed rocks were just as beautiful as the rocky shores at the bay, in their own fashion. What really caught my interest, however, was that one of the exposed rocks on the middle peak was moving very quickly from left to right across the mountain. A mad dash for binoculars confirmed I had spotted the first bear of the trip - one that I was certain was a huge bear but Karl and Kiche didn’t get to spend enough time on a spotting scope to judge it before it dipped down behind the mountainside into the basin behind our camp. Karl called Sea Hawk Air on his sat phone and received a weather forecast that will make it impossible to hunt the creek we had initially planned to for a few days, so we changed plans to spend a day or two hunting out behind base camp where we saw the bear head toward today. A dinner of moose burgers was had while Karl told us stories of his first sheep and goat season when he was only 14 which ended with him shooting 2 goats with a 30-40, a caliber I had never even heard of - which is saying something as I had previously considered myself well-versed in all things firearms and hunting history. I was intrigued by his history of hunting, as most of the old hunters around my part of Missouri were all bird hunters, as deer and turkey were nearly nonexistent in Polk County during the years in which Karl Braendel was pursuing an abundance of game in the mountains outside of Anchorage. Since that season in the early 1960s, he has been a part of over 100 successful sheep hunts.
April 14th was the first day that we could pursue bears. We threw together our day packs after a breakfast of sausage, eggs, and toast and prepared to glass the mountainsides behind camp. We hopped up the hill behind base camp and found a good spot out of the wind to glass, I tried my best to keep an open mind with no expectations of what I would encounter on the island, but the terrain was outside of my imagination entirely. A mossy floor was covered in large concave dips, not a single square foot of the land was flat. As I tucked myself into one of the larger holes, I was soon overlooking a boggy bottom housing a system of three beaver ponds, beyond that a foothill shelf stretched out in front of us about 400-600 yards away. Above the foothill stretched the two peaks with a saddle between them, with the mountain outside of our hunting area not being visible from our glassing spot. The leftward peak of the two visible to us was the one the bear had traversed the day before. Fairly early in the day, Karl spotted a bear on the far right horizon of the rightward peak. We only caught a brief glimpse of this bear for a second before it dipped off the backside of the slope, but it didn’t seem to be a bear that piqued Karl’s interest. As the sun rose and shined across the snow on the leftward mountain, the shadows exposed the tracks from yesterday’s bear leading to a drainage in the middle of the saddle between the two points, no tracks could be seen leaving the drainage, so one can only assume he is there somewhere tucked out of sight in the blanket of alders. Aside from the bear on the right horizon, a relatively uneventful morning came to a close as three blacktails browsed about 500 yards from us on the foothill slope before I dug into a roast beef sandwich for lunch.
At 3:30 I noticed something dart across my binoculars. I glanced and saw 2 pair of mallards flying out of the boggy beaver ponds between us and the closest foothill. As an avid waterfowler, this was a welcomed surprise, as mallards were the last thing I was expecting to see on the island. My gaze fell back to the mountain and I noticed a new dark spot in a clearing to the right of the drainage that the tracks from the night before led to. “I think I see a bear…” I tell Karl. Then it moved. “Yes, that’s definitely a bear.” Karl swung his spotting scope in the direction of the bear, unlike the bear on the right horizon, this bear piqued his interest immediately. “Are you ready to climb a mountain?” he asked Danny before we all began throwing gear in our packs. We quickly made our way across the bog - as quickly as one can on the uneven terrain - before coming to the base of the foothill. What looked innocent from 400 yards away became increasingly menacing as we approached. I soon saw Danny gazing up to the top as we began our ascent. “No, no, no, don’t look any further ahead than Kiche, take it 10 feet at a time”. I knew that focusing on the slope in its entirety is the fastest way to demoralize someone, as I had seen many strong men become overstimulated doing the exact same thing on the mountains of Camp Pendleton. As overbearing as seeing the whole slope can be, taking it ten feet at a time can turn an insurmountably steep route into a relatively modest trail. As we neared the top I told him “Just one more push and we should be real close to him”, but knew deep down that we were still a long ways from the bear.
We summitted the first slope at 4:30, but we were looking at the same view we had from the initial glassing point. A long boggish bowl with another foothill the same distance away, both of which we couldn’t observe from our initial glassing point. As we quickly glassed the clearing the bear had entered - that was still a world away - he was gone. We glassed for over an hour before Karl noticed the bear from early this morning had shown back up on the far right skyline of the slope. Unlike the bear we had taken after, this bear was on “our level” of the mountain system, just a mile or so to our right on relatively the same elevation. They told us it was around a 9 foot bear, which sounded appetizing to Danny after the intense climb we just had. Danny handed me a trekking pole and smiled as he said “Okay, Chase, go poke him in the ass and run him over to me.”
After watching that bear for a few minutes I glanced to the left and again saw a peculiar dark spot next to the drainage. I called “bear” and once again the chase was on. One foothill between us soon turned to two, which then turned to three. I’m sure Danny was incredibly annoyed by me, as at each foothill I ensured him “the bear is right at the top of this one” only to summit to a view identical to the one we had at the bottom of the mountain. We eventually made it to the summit of the final hill and were staring down on a huge grove of alders in a deep bowl beneath the drainage. We dropped pack, as we knew if it happened that it would happen fast. I glance to the left and saw the blonde-tipped bruin cruising up the next foothill at about 400 yards away. I tapped Karl on the shoulder and notified him of the bear and once again the chase was on. Anybody who says you can’t outwalk a brown bear hasn’t hunted with a career railroader in his early 60s. We took out after him and begin climbing the final foothill. On top, we were staring at another hill a mere 75 yards away, with a saddle below us 50 or so yards away that led into an alder drainage. Past the alder drainage, there was an opening that stretched 200-400 yards away. Kiche began waving frantically and pointing toward the grove of alders to the left of the near saddle. Danny got in position as Kiche began blowing a deer call. I turned my attention to the opening past the alders about 200 yards from our position, but couldn’t see any movement and definitely no large dark silhouette that resembled a bear.
As my hopes began waning, over Danny’s shoulder, no farther than 50 yards away in the crotch of the saddle, emerged the blonde-tipped bear. I try to get my camera focused as Danny’s rifle erupts tumbling the bear into the alders. I run to the left to see if he ran out the back of the alder thicket into the opening below the saddle, but all I saw were a couple of blacktails slowly making their way out of sight. I return to the shooting position and closely follow Kiche and Danny as they started pushing the opposing side of the foothill as we gazed down into the alders. After a mere 30 yards, Danny’s bear was piled up in the drainage. This was Karl and Kiche’s first first-day bear in over 25 years that they could remember. As they made their way down to the bear, I backtracked and collected me and Danny’s packs. Wearing mine on my back and Danny’s on my front, like a mom wearing a baby carrier, I made the trek back to the bear. I hadn’t realized how far we had come in our final push until I was carrying a moderately heavy and incredibly unbalanced load across the uneven boggy ground. I approach the bear as Karl is finishing setting up his camera. He took pictures for a while before I took a turn with my camera.
After we were sure we had plenty of pictures, Karl and Kiche began gutting the bear. Karl retrieved the heart, as me and Danny both enjoy organ meat from whitetails, particularly the heart, and he told us that brown bear heart would taste no different. Karl made the inital cuts they would need to skin the bear out tomorrow and we were soon all heading back down to camp. A beautiful sunset over the mountains and bay made it the most pleasurable hike I have ever been a part of, a blacktail was skylined no more than 60 yards away with a beautiful dark red sun as a backdrop. At our elevation, we could make out the far reach of the peninsula that created the “island” across the bay from our camp. As we dropped into the first bog we crossed that afternoon, I miraculously found a blacktail shed in the creek bottom. I happily packed it back to camp, as I felt it was a great souvenir to commemorate the deer that cover this landscape. Once back at camp, we had a victory dinner of brats, sauerkraut, and Modelos as we prepare for a big pack out tomorrow. A very successful day comes to a close as I attempted to scribe all the day’s events in my hunting journal.
Pack full of bear hide!
Pack full of bear hide!
We spent most of the morning of April 15th in our sleeping bags. It was cold enough to freeze over the pond beside our camp, which is saying something since the winds across the bay stayed a steady 30mph all night long. After filling up with another great breakfast we headed back up the mountain with empty packs. With far less adrenaline in our veins, the hills seemed far steeper, the bog flats seemed far longer, and the ground seemed much rougher. Halfway to the top we were met with giant snowflakes that greatly limited visibility, but made for absolutely beautiful scenery as we ascended the mountain. As we got close to the kill site we grouped tight behind Karl, he was the only one with a gun since we were all packed light for a pack out, but he had dealt with charging bears before and had lived to tell the tale, so I was incredibly confident and felt extraordinarily safe. Luckily, nothing had discovered the kill site and the bear was still in perfect condition. Karl and Kiche began skinning the bear, it had completely frozen solid due to last night’s temperatures, which made the skinning an awfully difficult task. My hands freeze just gutting deer in those temperatures, let alone skinning a frozen bear for 3.5 hours straight. Eventually, we were ready to load up. I was going to carry the hide down, and Danny was going to carry the skull. The sun had just popped out and the snow had eased up before we embarked on the hike, which made it much more pleasurable. The uneven terrain kept a fella on his toes with a light load, but it REALLY kept a guy on his toes whenever he had an undeniably heavy load on his back. Kiche estimated the hide to be well over 100 pounds, and I was beginning to feel it by the time we strolled back into camp, I don’t doubt this, as it felt heavier than any pack I had carried in the Marine Corps, and after it was fleshed and salted it still weighed close to 90 pounds at the airport.
We sat and relaxed in camp while Karl cleaned his rifle - a Winchester Model 70 in 375 H&H that rolled off the production floor in 1937. I can only imagine the country that rifle has covered in its 86 years on this earth, he joked that it was the only thing in those hills older than he was. We took the rest of the early evening to rest up and Karl fixed some of the bear heart as he answered many of my questions in all manner of things bear, the difference in Spring and Fall hunting, and stories of archery hunters he has guided in years past. Karl has an endless supply of incredibly captivating stories. He has been journaling his hunting adventures since 1982, and after telling him he needs to formalize them into a book he ensured me one was in the works. When that day comes, I can ensure you I’m gonna be the first one to buy Karl Braendel’s book. I finally changed base layers and was able to clean up a bit since we will likely be staying close to camp from now on and there wasn’t a need to “save” my fresh base layers for a later date. Unfortunately, it set in that we were now on the downward slope of our time on the island.
We all slept great after the big pack-out. Another bacon and egg breakfast was had to the tune of Karl’s stories on the 16th, this time of his wife’s 123” Blacktail hunt which held the world record at one time. I cannot get over - or put into words - the passion he displays in regard to the outdoors. He truly loves Alaskan game and the pursuit of it, especially bears. After breakfast and stories, Karl and Kiche started the long process of fleshing and salting the bear hide while I fleshed out the oosik they had saved from the bear skeleton. I spent the remainder of the afternoon sorting through the photos and videos I took during the relatively short hunt. Danny seemed very pleased with the pictures and videos that I showed him while we waited for Karl and Kiche to finish fleshing the hide so we could measure the bear. We had measured the skull at 27 14/16” the night before, and were watching anxiously as Karl stretched the tape measure across the hide. Some quick addition and division by Kiche resulted in a final square measurement of 10’ 1”, an absolute unit of a bear that was bigger than what Danny had ever imagined when he had planned this hunt years before. When they were skinning the bear yesterday we observed a large puncture wound behind the bear’s eye. Upon further examination of the skull we noticed that it had a caved-in zygomatic arch. Karl put two and two together and concluded it had likely gotten bitten in the head during a fight by another bear. We ate bear heart again, this time boiled for a while before being pan-seared with garlic, salt, and pepper. Another great meal, as most are when eaten in the backcountry - it has a way of keeping a man from being too picky with his food. With the hide stretched and salted we are pretty much done with the bear work and are just relaxing while we await the float plane back to Kodiak City.
Another slow morning on the 17th and a great breakfast was had while Karl told us more stories of hunting Morris’ East Fork and Zacker Bay and stories of guiding very interesting characters and foreign royalty. The stories of his experiences of traversing large amounts of the Alaskan wilderness on horseback while working for outfitters were beyond captivating, stories of adventure on a scale I truly didn’t know existed in 1960s America. A sat-phone call to Sea Hawk Air confirmed that we could get on a flight back to Kodiak City tomorrow. I spent the evening picking Karl’s brain and writing down gear and book recommendations as well as his overall hunting strategy. We ate bear heart yet again, I learned that brown bear heart will feed four men for at least four meals. I also discovered why I had been so cold the last few nights, as I found that the survivability rating of my sleeping bag stated 30 degrees Fahrenheit, much higher than the degrees we had experienced the nights before which resulted in a frozen pond. Karl and Danny had a good laugh out of sorrow for me when they learned that - rightfully so, as I assumed I would be plenty warm in it with my daily hunting clothing on, a dumb mistake that could’ve been dangerous if it was much colder.
We awoke to a peaceful bay and relatively warm sunny weather on the 18th compared to the last few days of 30ish degrees and 30-40 mph winds. Bagels for breakfast and a sat phone call later we had confirmed our flight for this afternoon. When we exited the tent the bay was teeming with wildlife - presumably from the warmer temperatures. I got many pictures of a blacktail as it fed down the beach toward our camp, getting to within 35 yards or so before it scampered up the hill. I took a jaunt down the beach and saw a huge spray of water out in the middle of the bay. I scrambled for the camera and managed to get a short video and some pictures while some whales were surfacing. Danny and Karl got the inflatable boat up and running while I tried to stalk into photo range of a seal that was staying 100 yards away despite how much ground I made up walking down the coast. I was sure to remember to snap a group photo on the beach in front of camp before we went our separate ways. Karl was telling stories right up to the end. He gave some great bear-judging advice right up until the end as well, always seeming happy and pleased to answer questions and share his experiences. Rolan picked us up at about 7:00 that evening. We shook hands with Karl and Kiche and wished them good luck with the rest of the season. Karl is undeniably the last of a dying breed, and it was beyond an honor to be a guest in his camp.
We had some great conversations with Rolan on the flight back. He came from an agricultural background as well but came to Kodiak to commercially fish 51 years ago. While fishing he was able to get his pilot’s license and has been flying on the island for 44 years. He shared many facts about Kodiak and its history as we made the flight through the middle of the island back to Kodiak City. One smooth landing later and we were officially back to civilization. We get settled into a hotel room and planned on getting the bear sealed by game and fish tomorrow before calling Alaska Air to try and get our flights moved up.
Much of the morning of the 19th was spent sharing pictures and stories with family and friends back home. At 1:00, our friend from SW MO took us to Sea Hawk Air to get our bear hide and skull, then over to Fish and Game to get the bear sealed for transport off the island. We learned that we were the fourth bear checked this year, and the biggest yet. Senator Dan Sullivan was one of the three, and the next day we met an archery hunter in the airport that accounted for another. A call to Alaska Airlines confirmed that we would be flying out early the next morning, so the afternoon was spent packing our bags and getting ready for our flight back to Missouri. We had one last good seafood meal at Henry’s before settling in for an early morning wake-up call for our flight home. A trip of a lifetime is an understatement, although we only spent one day actively hunting bears, we were not complaining that our three-week trip got cut to a mere ten days, as this meant success. I feel like you can tell how successful a trip is by looking back and asking yourself if you would change anything if you could. I truly feel like both me and Danny wouldn’t change a thing about this trip, which is saying a lot.
Congratulations on an awesome adventure. You are a lucky man. Not many will experience that hunt. I was there in 2021. One of my favorite hunts.
Definitely am, Slate! If it wasn’t for his generosity I would t have went on a hunt like this for a long long time - if at all
Congrats to your friend Danny killing a stud bear. Thanks for posting!
Congrats on a great bear! Thanks for taking the time to post, I enjoyed the recounting.
Great storytelling! These are the threads that make Bowsite so great and always keep me coming back after all these years!
Awesome story Chase. Awesome experience too!
Great story Great Hunt thanks for sharing
Spectacular, Chase! You got to experience the entire thing first hand and it will be one that you will remember the rest of your life! Thank you so much for the pictures and story! Just Awesome!
Chase. One of the most well written recounts Ive seen in a long time! The way you describe all the details, and embrace the “suck”, helping your friend keep his enthusiasm up on the stalk was exceptional. I felt like I was right there with you.
You undoubtably got to experience an amazing hunt, in an incredible place, with fantastic people. You are living well young sir, and with the right intentions. Thank you for the recap, and congrats to your friend on a fantastic accomplishment.
Wow.... Thanks for sharing...
Excellent story, Chase! Kodiak is a spectacularly beautiful place, that I don’t think pics truly do it justice. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.
Great hunt and story. Fellow Missourian here as well. I hunted Kodiak in 2014. Magical place.
I have never hunted with Karl but speak to him yearly to get a season recap. I love to research and talk about hunting and Karl is a great guy to converse with.
Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story.
Legendary all around. Well done.
Chase, that was absolutely spectacular -- great read, pictures, and story telling.
Sounds like a great trip!
thanks for sharing. i especially like the shout out to the old winchester iron getting it done. i have a pre '64 in .270 and been thinking of giving it a ride this fall on an elk hunt. i may just do that!
Thanks for the feedback, fellas! Definitely a trip of a lifetime and one I will cherish forever! Means a lot
Love the pics. I miss Kodiak quite a bit. Once you set foot on Kodiak, it claims a place in your imagination for the rest of your days. Sorry if I missed it but what lenses did you use?
Hell of a trip and write up! Thanks for sharing.
Owl, I couldn’t tell ya what lens I used, I was shooting a Nikon d5500 that I got as a package deal lens included in about 2016, I’ll look and see if I can find the specs on the lens
I just skimmed thru this writeup and beautiful pics. Quite the adventure.
Question. I didn't see anything mentioned about the bear meat. Does that get utilized, or not so much with brown bears?
Matt, on Kodiak Bears it doesn’t, which was surprising to me. Not sure why, as Alaska has some of the most stringent wanton waste laws in the country. I believe (just speculating) that it is built into the management plan to provide food for the scavengers of the island, who don’t have much to eat this time of year. The guide said he had seen 3 day old carcasses picked so clean that you could put them in a museum, just pure white bone.
Owl, lens was a Nikon DX VR, AF-S Nikkor 18-140mm 1:3.5-5.6 GED if that sounds right? I’m not too knowledgeable on the different lenses but that’s what I’m reading on this one
Thanks Chase. A brown bear hunt has always been out of my budget, so I wasn't aware that the meat is just left for the scavengers. That would probably prevent me from ever hunting them, even if I could justify the price.
Congrats on your trophy.
I agree, Grey Ghost. It was a very cool hunt from a population control/demographic balance standpoint, but it was unfortunate that we weren’t able to take any of the meat. Studies in Katmai and Denali have shown unhunted populations become almost entirely dominated by old boars, with very low cub survival rates. So the goal of the Kodiak Refuge is to prevent that from happening. Note: I don’t have the studies, that is just what the biologist was telling us when we were there with Karl
Chase, I would like to see those studies. My question to the biologist would be, does a live and actively hunting brown bear provide more, or less, sustenance to the scavengers than a dead one? I'd also ask why a lower population of old dominate bears is less preferable than a higher population of younger bears. I understand it's all about a natural balance, but I have to question what that balance would be without human intervention.
I believe the problem with the population being dominated by old boars is that the young bears and females have to leave their territory to survive, which winds up resulting in them being forced into Kodiak City. I’m definitely not the subject matter expert, as I haven’t spent too much time researching brown bear biology and conservation specifically. Karl taught me a ton about bear behaviors and movement, but I didn’t really push his brain on that topic since it’s the decision of the refuge biologists and Alaska Game and Fish to implement quotas, tag allotments, wanton waste laws, etc. and he is just abiding by the regs he’s given
No problem, Chase. In no way am I'm trying to make you justify your trophy hunt. You had an adventure that only a tiny fraction of hunters will ever enjoy. I'm sincerely happy for you. Thanks for the discussion.
Your take on Karl is spot on from my rememberance of an 18 day bear and deer hunt in the Fall of 98. Best hunt I was ever on. I have never seen more bald eagles. The multicolored foxes that escaped from a fox farm years ago were everywhere. Yea, Karl is the man and Kiche is his wingman.
Great thread!!! Awesome write up. Seems like I always hear about these hunts being a grind…crazy how quick you guys got it done. Thanks for sharing the adventure with us.
Glunker, definitely! Was super cool to be able to share camp with him as a packer and photographer, as just mathematically speaking by the time I’m able to go on a hunt like this myself he likely won’t be doing it anymore.
If he ever releases a book, I have absolutely zero doubt that it would be the greatest book on Alaska hunting every written - likely forever, as nowadays his adventures couldn’t be replicated
I think your are allowed to keep the carcass if you want, it's just no one does. I have heard the meat isn't fit to eat and full of parasites.
I'm sure Karl and other outfitters prefer to not mess with it. I had absolutely no desire to take an ounce of my bears carcass.
The big boars try to kill every cub they can in order to get the sow to come into heat again in order to breed her.
Killing the old dominate boars is removing the "cream" off the top. You are killing a true trophy bear that is nearing the end of it's life anyway and it takes pressure off the younger male bears and sows with cubs.
Mature Kodiak bears are magnificent animals that live in an awesome place!!
Chase, I had to look up a few facts about the 30-40 Krag:
Should You Hunt With It? The .30-40 Krag was a revolutionary centerfire rifle cartridge when it first came on the scene in the 1890s, but is it still a good choice for most hunters? When they close their eyes and try to imagine a .30 caliber rifle cartridge that started off in service with the Army and then entered widespread use with civilian hunters and shooters, most American hunters likely picture the .30-06 Springfield. However, that sequence of events also perfectly describes history of the .30-40 Krag, which came on the scene over a decade before the .30-06.
The old .30-40 Krag is nowhere near as popular among hunters these days as the .30-06 or any of the more recently developed magnum cartridges. Like the venerable .30-30 Winchester, the .30-40 Krag does not have very impressive ballistics on paper. Even so, the cartridge was very popular among particular segments of the hunting community during the 20th Century and still has a very dedicated following to this day.
And then, "oosik" What is bear baculum used for? 4 Step DIY Bear Baculum - Tactics/Knowledge - Bear Hunting ... Known in the south as “Texas toothpicks,” or “Abrahams,” it would not be uncommon for baculum to be used in bridal bouquets, as toothpicks, or worn as charms by women attempting to conceive. In Alaska, the baculum of black bear and grizzlies are used as cocktail stirrers.
Chase, what a wonderful accounting of a more than wonderful bear hunt with Danny and Karl. Many of us were right there on the hunt, feeling the cold, the dampness, the pack out, and the thrill of the hunt. Nicely done by all and looking forward to your next story. My best, Paul
My grandfather deer hunted from the time he got back to Michigan after WW2 until the day he died with a sporterized M1899 KJ in .30-40; worked just like the 30-06 predecessor it was. Just right.
That baby blue Beaver of Roland’s is a Kodiak icon. My favorite place on this earth is Kodiak Island.
Thanks Boggs. Great job with one variable lens.
I'm not sure how I missed this thread before. Heck of an adventure!
Man. What an adventure! One that most of us will never do. So glad you got to go, and share it with us!
Thanks for sharing your experience and adventures of a lifetime. WOW
Thanks a ton, guys! Feedback means the world! Definitely didn’t spend the time writing that I should’ve, as it doesn’t do it justice - it was truly a magazine story type of hunt and I am not a magazine story type of writer.
Drew a MT antelope tag and am hopefully linking up with Eric from my “ A Bowsite Story” thread a few years ago, so there should be another write up this year if all goes well!