My brother Ken and I just returned from Nome, Alaska, after a successful hunt for fall grizzlies. It was my second hunt with Tom Gray and Alaska NW Outfitters (I connected on a B&C spring bear with Tom 6 years ago) and Ken's first. The hunt was tougher than expected because the usual run of silver salmon had petered out, so the bears weren't concentrated along the rivers. We had to cover lots of ground to find the bears, which were feeding on this year's bumper crop of blueberries.
We hunted on ATVs, a first for me, which proved a Godsend because we covered up to 50 miles daily in search of the scattered bears. On the fifth day, we spotted a big chocolate boar, and when I went to retrieve my rifle from the soft case bungeed across the front rack of the ATV, I found to my dismay that the stock was broken into 2 pieces--apparently from our brush-busting through the thick alder patches--and I had to borrow Ken's .338 to make a one shot kill, using Tom's shoulder for a gun rest. It squared 8' 1.5", a very nice grizzly indeed!
On the seventh day, Ken nailed a gorgeous blonde bear that absorbed three 250-gr Swift A-Frames before succumbing right at the edge of the alders; had the grizzly made it to cover, it would have made for an interesting bit of close-quarters sorting-out. Brother Ken absolutely loves bear hunting. His 7'10" grizzly now gives him a brown, a black, and a grizzly from Alaska in just 4 years.
Nome's gold mining history is everywhere you look, and old dredges and tailings are scattered willy-nilly across the landscape:
Many of us remember--and not fondly--the Cold War. Military installations, most inactive now, abound:
This muskox bull is within the Nome city limits....and has the right of way:
Crossing the Stewart River on the Yamaha ATVs:
Hunters like wild blueberries almost as much as the bears:
We had to bushwhack through numerous willow and alder patches. Our rifles were bungeed cross-ways in soft cases on the rack in front of the handle bars. I think a close encounter with a steadfast alder limb was the cause of my broken stock:
My poor rifle stock. Had my brother not been there with his rifle, I guess I would have tried to repair it with epoxy and hope for the best. Or more likely, I would have borrowed Tom's .30-06. If ya wanna survive in Alaska, you gotta be tough:
Tom spots a grizzly down on the Flambeau River. False alarm....it turned out to be a solitary muskox bull.
He's out for the count. Time to unload:
Yours truly and Tom Gray with my 8'+ trophy. Note the tattered remnants of the weather-proofing electrical tape on the barrel muzzle of Ken's .338WM:
The obligatory bear paw picture:[img]http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p186/dawaba/Grizzlies%202015/IMG_1704_zpsqjrno11z.jpg
Fortunately, Ken's bear fell just short of the alders:[img]http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p186/dawaba/Grizzlies%202015/IMG_1168_zpsp2zdv7ng.jpg
Ken's beautiful bear has the "Toklat Grizzly" coloration. This color is fairly common around the Denali area. The haircoat is quite blonde with a chocolate hump and dark legs, a very desirable and attractive color phase:[img]http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p186/dawaba/Grizzlies%202015/IMG_6321_zpssn8gzho5.jpg
I include this picture to show the plug of fat extruding from the bear's abdomen. Like our Texas hogs, a bear's ample subcutaneous fat can plug up the bullet's exit hole and block a good tracking blood trail:[img]http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p186/dawaba/Grizzlies%202015/IMG_6350_zpsrjlkosma.jpg
Tom, Ken, and yours truly salting my bear hide:[img]http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p186/dawaba/Grizzlies%202015/IMG_1754_zpstjf4giv6.jpg
I can't resist tossing in a photo of my 2008 spring grizzly hunt with Tom Gray. This slug squared nine feet and scored 25 9/16". It is my second-largest trophy of my hunting career and currently sits at #125 in the B&C all-time book:[img]http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p186/dawaba/Old%20Hunts/LastScanp.jpg
More muskoxen, two calves:[img]http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p186/dawaba/Grizzlies%202015/DSCN0048_zpspeqtctlf.jpg
More blueberries. A good time was had by all:[img]http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p186/dawaba/Grizzlies%202015/IMG_1673_zpscpqdnouy.jpg