~ “I had that dream again last night“, I tell Brian, when he comes into the cook tent for a cup of coffee. “Horses hadn’t moved much, must have slept, not ate, all night. They are going to be a pain in the ass today, trying to eat instead of walking. Grizzly Bears again?” Brian replies in his half-speak-morning-talk.
Each hunting guide needs to know where the camps are. From a 3 hour horseback ride to 11.5 hours away, each camp has a unique atmosphere and purpose.
For example, “my camp” is great, just great, for Dall Sheep and Grizzly Bears. You might find a Black Bear, but there are so many Grizzly Bears, it isn’t every year at this camp you’ll get to even see one. There are wolverines, and heading out to my favorite camp, I always recommend my hunter has a tag.
I can say, “Oh, that’s my camp” but what that means, is that it is the or one of a couple camps I am really familiar and comfortable in and with. No, not the camp it’s self… The area the camp is based in, the critters that like it best and that we, my hunter and I, will have the best opportunities to find a certain animal, game trails, the critter escape routes, hideouts, alternate routes to and from the ridges or knolls for glassing from.
Grizzly Bears … The Dream
~ I close my eyes, exhausted in the best possible way. Snuggle into my bag, shifting to get comfortable.
Hope my babies at home with their Grandma are doing good. Hope we have an awesome day tomorrow. Oh! There. Grizzly Bear. Oh, Grizzly Bears, it’s a sow with this year’s cub. Look how they shine in the sunlight. Watch how they move across the grass. Even though it’s my dream, I can’t see them if I look right at them. I see them so clearly out of the corner of my eye.
Dark, dark brown, almost black Grizzly Bears, blond bears, the Toklat color phase, the hump gives them away~ Grizzly.
I know I am not asleep yet. I see bears when I close my eyes, here, in this camp, I see them. Sometimes one, sometimes a sow with one, two and I have even seen three cubs, here, in my mind’s eye. I have been guiding out of this particular camp for 12 years. I remember the first time I saw bears behind my eyes here. It was really cool, then it was really strange. Over the years, I’ve just accepted that there must be a reason, here.
What or who puts these images behind my eyes? I ponder that and try not to pick it apart, because it feels like a gift. Grizzly Bears, I’ve talked about here a few times, but never told you ~ that I have always been drawn closer to, pulled, as if I am connected by an invisible string and the bear is on the other end.
Riding up the creek that I love to hunt, I’ve seen Grizzly Bears crossing the water, found one asleep at the base of a mountain, followed them into and through brush bigger than my horse. Seen and tracked a trophy bear that a client and I watched for almost an hour, to get within 50 yards only to hear the unmistakeable (bone-chilling) sound of a cub bear calling it’s Momma. I’ve recognized certain Grizzly Bears, young bears who can’t quite figure out what you are doing out there in their area, following you all day, from and back to camp, day after day after day.
The coolest Grizzly I have ever seen was a white cub. Not a blond, but white. Watched it grow for 2 years in a row. Told a client to go f*ck himself (Yeah, the Boss hates when that happens), when he tried to convince, threaten or even bribe me so that he could kill it. (That was after I explained, for the third time, he was only two, I saw him the year before when he was just a fat little basketball of fur and as he was still with the sow, off limits, legally.)~ and no, I didn’t get a picture- either year!
Located in Unit 12, in the Chisana Valley of the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Pioneer Outfitters has one of the only areas in Alaska that a Grizzly Bear may be harvested by a hunter every year instead of one every four years.
The area has the population and more to support this hunting regulation. With the never ending winds blowing off an unbelievable amount of ice, the grizzlies have long silky coats all year long.
A few facts of Alaska Grizzly Bear Hunting:
- A hunter less than 10 years old may not hunt and kill a Grizzly Bear, except under the direct supervision of a licensed adult at least 16 years old. The bear is then counted against the adult’s bag limit.
- All Grizzly Bears must be sealed. Evidence of sex must remain on the hide, the entire hide (with claws attached) and skull must be taken to a “sealing officer” (an authorized ADF&G representative will place a seal) in the unit in which the bear was taken in. The hide and skull must not be frozen.
- A non-resident hunter may NOT take a Black or Grizzly Bear accompanied by cubs.
- To hunt a Grizzly Bear with a bow, the bow MUST be at least 50 pounds peak draw weight, the arrow must be tipped with a broad-head and at least 20 inches in overall length with at least 300 grains in total weight.
- Our open Grizzly Bear Hunting season is August 10th to June 30th.