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Thread: Alaska Trip 2012

  1. #1
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    Alaska Trip 2012

    My father and I made a decision about May last year that we would look seriously at doing a bear hunt in Alaska. With that i started talking to people and researching what i needed to do to make it happen. First thing to do was decide what season we wanted to hunt and then book a slot with a guide in Alaska. This is no easy task in itself and i was lucky to receive some very good advice from several sources. Dad and I eventually booked a hunt with Jake & Amber Jefferson at Black River Hunting Camps. There is a whole lot that goes into the decision of which guide to go with that i won't bother explaining here. Neither Dad or I had every done a guided hunt before.

    We booked the hunt in August last year and every week for then to when we left Dad and I were organising something for the trip - rifle, scope, ammunition, flights, permits, licenses, insurance, firearm security, rental car, accommodation, tourist activities, suitable luggage, cold weather gear... there was quite a list of stuff to organise. Some of it was easy, some of it was not.

    So i'll skip all the in between and go straight to the hunt. We flew into the Talkeetna Mountains from outside the Talkeetna township on the 21st of September. The weather was nice but beginning to turn for the worse.
    Float plane base we flew in from:


    It took two flights to get three of us in with all the gear. Jake and the gear went first with Dad and I in the second flight. We have a photo of Jake with a big grin on his face when we ask if we can hold the keys to his truck as he is flying away with ALL of our gear...
    Landing at camp:


    Jake runs a very comfortable camp (no smoking or alcohol) and as you would expect looks after his clients very well.
    You are not allowed to hunt till the morning after you fly in. As we flew in in the afternoon we checked the zero on my rifle, had a small dinner then just soaked up the atmosphere until we went to bed.
    Camp:


    We woke up to a brilliant sunrise:


    Hunting caribou in Alaska must be real easy. We hadn't been walking from camp 20 minutes when this guy basically ran right up to us:


    Soon after we spotting some grizzly food (ground squirrel):


    And then these guys ran up to us as well:


    We did not have a caribou tag as non-residents are not allowed to hunt caribou in the game management unit we were in.
    We spent the day sitting on a high feature glassing the surrounding countryside for animals. We spotted two moose, two black bears, a wolverine and quite a few caribou. We also spotted two grizzly bears, the first one about 4km away and the second one much closer. We attempted a stalk on the closer one but never managed to catch up to it. After that we followed a caribou back to camp.
    Jake and I glassing from the high feature:


    We got up the next morning and decided to head back to a area we could watch the area we had seen the second grizzly the day before. We had just reached a high point overlooking a basin when Jake spotted the grizzly about 400 yards right in front of us. Jake and I left Dad with the day packs and ran straight down the slope towards the bear. The wind was coming across from the left and so was not an issue. The bear was busy searching for food and had not noticed us. The hunt was on!

    Jake and I managed to get to a slight rise over a small creek about 100 yards from where the bear was. It was here Jake and I decided to wait for a bit to see where the bear was going to go. I was pretty excited at this stage with a bear so close and Jake and I discussed a shooting position and he used the discussion to attempt to calm me down a bit before I had to shoot.

    The bear was walking/feeding its way right up the rise across the small creek from us. Jake and I were in position watching it get closer and closer. The bear stepped over to our side of the rise and looked up to scan the face in front of it. We were now in full view of it and at less than 55 yards. It was facing directly towards us when Jake said to shoot before it spotted us and worked out what we were.
    This photo is taken just as the bear raised it head, only a second or two before my first shot:


    My first shot was right through the front of the chest at 55 yards with a .375H&H shooting 260gr Accubonds. The bear was unaware of us at the time… and did not go down. The bear slapped at the entry would and then went into a spin as it tried to “slap” the pain away. Jake called to shoot again as I was already throwing the bolt. At the second shot the bear took off in a spinning run off to our right. In the time it took me to reload after the second shot it had disappeared. It took me a “oh crap!!!” second to get it back in the scope and fire my third shot. The bear ended up stopping in the small creek and my last shot in my 4 shot magazine put it down for good. Jake and I cautiously approached it and made sure it was down. It was and we struggled to get it out of the water together. It was big grins and handshakes as I really became aware of the adrenalin pumping through me. What a rush! I went back up to the shoot location and collected some brass and then helped Dad carry the day packs down to the bear.
    From left to right – bear, Malcolm, Jake and I:


    The bear was a 7 foot female. The blond colouration is not that common. She was about 3-4 years old and had a beautiful skin with no rubs. Her claws were worn down by digging for ground squirrels. We were extremely lucky to have managed to get a bear as they are amazingly unpredictable making them very difficult to stalk. We took a few photos and Jake skinned her. We packed up our gear and made our way back to camp.
    Jake and I overlooking the area we got the bear in. He and I have swapped packs so I can carry the bear skin and skull back to camp:


    Due to a couple of factors, one being the worsening weather condition the decision was made to fly out of the hills and back to Talkeetna. We took the skin and skull to be tagged by the local Fish and Wildlife department and then dropped them off with a tannery to be turned into a rug before being sent home to NZ. Dad and I spent a few days around anchorage taking in the sights and doing a few touristy things before flying home. We have a couple of thousand photos from the trip mostly from activities before and after the hunt.

    We had a great trip overall, looking back we learnt a few things and would have done a few things differently. Only really two disappointments – I didn’t know the terrain and so didn’t take my Canon 100-400L lens on day one, this was really stupid of me but I didn’t want the extra kilogram or two of the lens on terrain I didn’t know. The other disappointment was coming out of the hills early. It was absolutely the right decision to come out but it was still disappointing.

    Dad and I thought there was considerable risk in booking a guide without meeting them so far in advance. Jake has a really great reputation and lived up to it. He was great to deal with both before and during the hunt. He was fit, knew the country and the game, he was thinking two or three steps ahead all the time and nothing was ever a problem. He was easy going and had a great sense of humor. I wouldn’t hesitate to book another hunt with him and would recommend him to others as well. He is not the most expensive guide out there nor is he the cheapest. He doesn’t advertise the highest success rates either but he listened to exactly what Dad and I wanted out of the trip and lived up to his word.

  2. #2
    OPCz Rushy's Avatar
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    Excellent story and clearly a great experience. Well done Gillie.
    It takes 43 muscle's to frown and 17 to smile, but only 3 for proper trigger pull.
    What more do we need? If we are above ground and breathing the rest is up to us!
    Rule 1: Treat every firearm as loaded
    Rule 2: Always point firearms in a safe direction
    Rule 3: Load a firearm only when ready to fire
    Rule 4: Identify your target beyond all doubt
    Rule 5: Check your firing zone
    Rule 6: Store firearms and ammunition safely
    Rule 7: Avoid alcohol and drugs when handling firearms

  3. #3
    Member RUNAS's Avatar
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    Nice work Gillie, 55 yrds Hmmm add another 5 to that for me please !

    Caribou looked awsome ! What a shame you couldnt shoot one of them.

    RUNAS

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by RUNAS View Post
    Caribou looked awsome ! What a shame you couldnt shoot one of them.
    RUNAS
    Yep we seen 2 or 3 in the same class as that good bull shown above. I would have decked that one above in a heart beat (he ran within 30m of us!). The guide thought he needed some length to really make him a trophy though.

  5. #5
    Member Kudu's Avatar
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    What awesome photos. Its a dream to get to canada. One day.........................

  6. #6
    Member Bryan's Avatar
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    Fantastic writeup Gillie! Great photos too!
    Hunting is not a hobby.....its an addiction

  7. #7
    The Scope Whore ! Philipo's Avatar
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    Yeah good write up & pics G
    Shoot it, root it & then BBQ it !!!

  8. #8
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    Alaska Trip 2012

    Great report, photos are spectacular.

  9. #9
    AB Precision
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    at 55 yds the poo would be well getting close to start running or brake out the ak

  10. #10
    Cutting Edge Bullets Terminator's Avatar
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    Enjoyed your write up thanks
    1000yds is fun, 1500yds is getting interesting, 2000yds is exciting, 2500yds will blow your mind

  11. #11
    Almost literate. veitnamcam's Avatar
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    Fantastic
    "Hunting and fishing" fucking over licenced firearms owners since ages ago.

  12. #12
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    Thanks guys, that trip is going to take some beating i think. Pearl habour is awesome, Prince William Sound is great, the winter train north of Anchorage was really cool as well.

    One of the biggest differences we noticed over in Alaska is how much hunting is in their society, more so when you get out of Anchorage. We would go into a shop/bar/tourist activity and they would ask where we are from and what we were up to in Alaska. When we mentioned hunting they just about all lit up! Almost everyone wished us luck, or wanted to see how we got on, or shared a story about their own experience. It was really refreshing to not think to be careful not to offend anyone by talking about shooting bambi! I got almost the complete opposite response back here at work in NZ.

  13. #13
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    Awesome trip, awesome write up.
    Would have the bear succumbed to the first shot? Lingering death?
    Is that it or are you going back?
    Those wide open spaces.
    55 yards. Bit close to have a biting variety and only four shot mag.

  14. #14
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    Yes bear would have succumbed to the first shot. As the guide said though "we aren't keeping the meat and the taxidermist will sew up the holes. If it's still moving you are still shooting".

    Looks like we are going back for a holiday next year. Also this looks pretty cool:
    Alaska Winter Predator Hunting

    Funny you mention the 4 shot mag there is a story with that as well, lets just say that i did have more ammunition "with me" but the bulk of my ammunition was a good 400 yards uphill run away with the day pack

  15. #15
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    I enjoyed your write up and photo's.
    Heres hoping theres a few more bits to come our way.
    cheers
    FH

 

 

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