I very much enjoy reading The Hunting Report (and I hope my subscription has not expired!). In the spirit of the other contributors who have written extensively on their hunts, I thought I would pass on to you my recent experiences.
My wife and I booked at the Safari Club 2004 convention a trip with Mr. Scott Newman of Southeast Guide Service, based in Petersburg, AK. Our hunt was for two brown and two black bears each. The cost of the hunt, booked at Safari Club '05 was $12,500.
With the greatest of anticipation my wife Alisa and I arrived in Alaska. Scott's operation is based upon the hunters living aboard his 42 foot boat, the Tyler Two. Not being terribly familiar with boats, I must say that the Tyler Two seemed much bigger in person than it had it Scott's promotional material. A photo of the Tyler Two accompanies this letter. The boat is spacious and has the look and feel of a floating hunting cabin. Our accommodations were in the stern of the boat, consisting of a private stateroom with two queen-size beds and our own head and shower. We liked the boat immediately upon stepping on board. Here we met Scott's assistant, Mr. John Bisson
Provisioning for the hunt was all that we could have asked for. We went to the local supermarket with Scott and he simply purchased whatever we wanted.
On Tuesday, May 23, 2006 we left the harbor and headed towards our hunting grounds in Southeast Alaska. At Scott's request I will not disclose exactly where we went. Apparently, not many hunters know that where Scott took us is just crawling with bears. In fact, once we arrived at our destination, the closest human contact we saw was a float plane flying by in the distance.
We were hunting in an area of glacier created fiords. The land was lush with trees and vegetation. The terrain sloped steeply down into the ocean, at angles which generally exceeded 45 degrees. This steep and nearly impenetrable terrain is only broken by the occasional meadow. In the fiord area the sea was as smooth as a lake. In fact, except for the occasional seal that would swim by, there was no other indication we were in salt water.
Upon arrival at our destination, we anchored a hundred yards or so off shore. This would be our home during the hunt.
The weather during our stay at "boat camp" was perfect, except for one morning of rain. Otherwise the sky was blue, accented by a few white clouds.
The hunt plan was as follows. We would begin our hunts around 6:00 PM in the evening. All four of us would pile into a skiff and head off along the coast, glassing up ahead for bears. When we saw a bear we wanted to look at closer, we would pull ashore and land and being our stalk.
We went on our fist hunt the day we arrived and anchored. On our run up the first fiord, both my wife Alisa and I fell in love with Alaska.
I had been bear hunting once before, in Arizona on an Indian reservation. This had been in the late 90's, and the guides had been morons. What a change it was with Scott and John. It turned out that Scott had decided to become a bear guide at age six! The experience and professionalism showed. Everything was done just right.
This first hunt we were in the skiff for about one hour when we spotted three brown bears. The meadow was quite large, measuring nearly a mile across. We landed and as this was Alisa's first hunt, she took the stalk. While Scott and Alisa moved out across the meadow, John and I stayed with the skiff. It was great fun to watch through binoculars as Alisa and Scott maneuvered through the meadow. Their approach took about one hour.
What they stalked was a sow and a bore who were playing together in the meadow. This hormonal distraction allowed Alisa and Scott to come within approximately 160 yards of the bears. As Alisa and Scott had moved around and behind a clump of trees, we could not see their final position. Just as the final light of the day was about to fade, John and I heard a rifle report.
On the radio, Scot called for John and I to bring the skiff around a point up ahead -- perhaps a quarter mile ahead -- and pick he and Alisa up. When we arrived, we saw that Alisa had taken her shot across a small inlet and that her bear was half in the water and half out. The shot was perhaps 130 yards or so. The bear looked rather small in the water. However he grew in size as we pulled him out.
The sow Mr. Bear had been frolicking with lacked a sense of humor at the demise of her mate. Having retreated into the tree line, she poked her head out and growled at us. Needless to say we worked quickly to get Alisa's bear into the skiff and head back to the Tyler Two.
Alisa's bear weighed in at around 600 lbs or so and stood in at 8' 10" tall. The skull measured green was 23.5". Alisa and all the rest of us were very proud of her first bear on her very first hunt -- and all with one shot from her .308 Styer Scout.
We celebrated with a midnight dinner aboard the Tyler Two, washed down by some good champagne.
Not being early risers, Alisa and I awoke the next morning at the crack of noon. We loafed around the boat until we left for our evening's hunting. Today would be my crack at a brown bear.
We left the Tyler Two at 6:00 PM. By 6:45 John had spotted a brown bear swimming close to shore. Scott pulled the skiff ashore I took my position behind a large fallen log. We were on the other side of a small point and could not see the bear from our hide. Scott told me that the bear would soon get of the water and walk down the shore towards us. I asked him how he knew just what the bear was going to do. He looked at me and said, "Because that is what the bear is going to do. He will be around the point in five minutes. Get ready. "
In five minutes -- almost to the second -- the largest bear I have ever seen came around the bend. Through my scope, he looked like a small tractor. I was already patting myself on the back. With my A-Square .375 H&H and such a good perch behind the log, he was going down with one shot.
Mr. Bear kept walking down the shore towards us. At about 100 yards Scott whispers shoot him. I have the pedestal reticule in my scope right on this shoulder. Wham I let one round go. Wham gravel and sand jumps up in front of him. Mr. Bear looks around. Scott says, shoot as I work the bolt and slam a round into the chamber. Wham again, more gravel flies in Mr. Bear's face. Maybe I can scare him into a heart attack. I can hear a bit of impatience (or was it dismay) in his voice as he says, shoot, shoot. Now I remember what I had forgotten. My gun case had been given a good bashing by the airline and I had promised to remember to sight it in. So, now I aimed a couple of feet back and wham, fired again. I thought I had better hit him this time as my rifle only holds three rounds and I didn't think Mr. Bear would wait around as I fished more rounds out of my pocket...
This time I got more response than throwing gravel in his face. My shot this time knocked him down...but not for long. He jumped up and disappeared into the trees.
Scot was carrying his hunt-a-bear-in-the-brush gun, a nice looking .470 double rifle. A couple of years before he had gone into the brush after a wounded bear with a bolt rifle. The bear came after him and Scott got one round into him. Unfortunately, the bear needed more encouragement and Scott's bolt jammed. He finished the day on a Coast Guard chopper on his way to a hospital.
We carefully began poking around the tree line looking to see if we could see where Mr. Bear had gone. Scott soon spotted him about twenty feet or so up the slope, lying on a ledge, only partially exposed. He was moving his head around and growling now and then. This bear was a tough old bore and it took another five rounds for me to finally kill him.
By looking at his teeth, Scott estimated his age at around 25. He measured in at 9" 6' tall with a green skull of 25 12/16.
We loaded him on the skiff and headed back. Alisa politely asked me why it had taken me so many bullets to kill my bear. I gave her the clearest explanation I could, "Well dear, er, hum, it sort of, old tough bear "
We headed back to the Tyler Two for another late night supper, hot shower and clean bed.
We now had our two brown bears. It was off to see if we could each take a blackie.
The next morning it rained until early afternoon. Then the clouds cleared and the sun was back out.
We motored in the skiff down one of the fiords where Scott thought there would be black bears. As usual, Scott's bear detector was accurate, and we began seeing nice bears. We came a shore and set up on one bear a good 200 yards away. As the bear started to move around, we realized he was too small.
We then crossed the fiord, went around a bend and found a much larger bear moving down the shore. I set up at around 115 yards and hit him hard. While he rolled over, he was quickly back on his feet and into the brush. We were later to come back the next day and find him dead, not more than 40 feet from where he was shot. The brush was nearly impenetrable and Scott though it wise to not chase after a wounded bear in the brush. His skull measured out at 18" at a height of6' 4".
Now it was time to turn to Alisa's black bear. We crossed back to the other side of the fiord and there he was, poking around in a meadow. Alisa set up on some rocks and hit him from approximately 150 yards. He ran a short ways up the hill and died. Alisa's blackie measured in with a skull of 19 1/4 and a height of 6' 8".
We were now three days into a nine day brown and black bear hunt and had all our bears. We decided to head back and fly home early.
Scott gave us an absolutely wonderful hunt. He delivered more than he promised. Scott and John Bisson took over as soon as we shot the bears, skinning, preparing and freezing the hides. The next time we saw them they had come back from the taxidermist. Clearly, Scott knows where the bears are and how to hunt them in a safe, professional and thoroughly enjoyable manner.
I cannot recommend Southeast Guide Service enough.