Alaskan Brown Bear - Close Quarters Encounter - Lessons Learned

JG26Irish_2

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As an ethical hunter, I try to learn from my own past experiences both successes and failures. But, this "School of Hard Knocks" is inefficient since it requires me to experience something before I can learn from it. As such another higher order form of learning is to review and absorb life lessons from the successes and failures of others. The lessons may not be as clear or indelible as those from my own mistakes but they are there for the picking if we so choose. So, where am I going with this? Alaskan brown/kodiak/grizzly bear hunting may be one of the most dangerous forms of hunting in North America. These apex predators can be hunting you while you are hunting them. The natural elements of Alaska also combine to make this sort of hunt difficult since they are in cold, windy, rocky, remote locations far from help. With that said, below is an encounter that I reviewed recently and came away with a few life lessons worth remembrance:

A young man in his late 20's to mid thirties along with his very pretty wife travelled to Alaska to hunt brown bears on a undisclosed portion of the Aleutian Peninsula. The exact location and the name of the Guide/PH is not important. They flew by float plane to the general area where they then took Zodiak boats across the bay to where the tent camp was set up. I cannot comment on the level of hunting experience they had but did note that while stuck in their tents during a 2-day rain/snow storm they had a pile of "Snacks" in the tent with them. Lesson #1 - When in bear country, never keep food inside the tent with you. This is an attractant to bears. If they did not know better the PH should have advised them.

Finally, the storm broke and they got out to hunt. After a couple of days of not much luck, the party located what appeared to be a large brownie boar bedded down on the side of a mountain above them and put on a stalk. All went well and they got set up about 220yds away near the crest of a small knoll which was still at a lower elevation to the bear. The bear was still bedded down as the hunter was laying prone with the scope all dialed in for the shot. Wife is filming but the bear still lying down did not present a good shot. The PH now suggests having the wife stand and walk off to their right to bait the bear into standing. My wife contributed lesson #2 - Do not use your wife as bear bait, lol. (unless you are willing to have her eaten). Fortunately, in this case the wife was not eaten. But, the tactic worked and the bear stood to look at her. She then runs back to the hunters to make sure her video camera on the tripod was recording and that the bear was in the fame. This quick movement triggered the bears predator response and it began ambling down the mountain directly toward them.

At this point the hunter comments that he was not prepared for this sudden move and states that he should have taken a head shot at this point. But, he was fixated on getting a broadside shot based on what the PH had coached him to do. A few lessons can be gleaned from this: Lesson #3 - Expect the unexpected and prepare for a wide variety of scenarios. Lesson #4 - While still hundreds of yards away, a head shot was still not the best choice (IMO). But knowing the anatomy of your prey is important to aid is making quicker decisions in such circumstances. Lesson #5 - When hunting dangerous game, decisive action is critical and hesitation can get you killed. The hunter was frozen as the bear came down the mountain and when they yelled at it, instead of stopping, it came at them faster. Critical seconds were wasted attempting to turn the bear for a safer shot when a well placed frontal shot may have stopped or even killed the animal. Instead, they yelled, then yelled again, and dithered until the opportunity for a shot had passed. A hunter needs to practice and have the confidence to take a critical shot under pressure, quickly in a variety of positions, and scenarios.

While the hunters hesitated and made clumsy attempts to manage the situation, the bear slithered down the mountain into a low draw between the mountain and the knoll where our intrepid hunters lay. The hunting party could hear the bear approaching thru the thick grove of alders, could hear the limbs shake and break as the big bruin approached to danger close proximity but were unable to see well enough for a shot. Panick starts to set it. Lesson #6 - Panick will get you killed. Stay cool under stress and do as you planned, trained, etc. Lesson #7 - Failure to plan and train the various scenarios is not a plan and leaves you grasping for straws in this sort of situation which often can lead to panick.

At this point things began to go even more sideways. The hunter and PH stand and move forward seeking to get in position to make a shot. They approach the top of the knoll and the little grove of alder trees. The bear is still approaching and has now gotten to within about 10yds but remains out of sight. The bear's location is clear as the trees are shaking and cracking as he moves forward but shot placement is impossible. At this point, the hunter fires two shots blindly in the general direction of the bear. The PH did not order this, the hunter did it on his own. Lesson #8 - Listen to your PH. Do what he/she says. Deviate only if you are very experienced and know more than your PH (not likely). This may not be a hard, fast rule when things are happening fast but, read on to see how this cost them later.

After the two shots, the bear moved down the draw to the hunter's left about 40yds and stopped. The hunter did not know if he had hit the bear yet. At this point the hunter and the PH moved about 20yds to the left and down the knoll until they had a clear shot. At this location the hunter fired his 3rd shot at the bear. It was a hastily aimed snap shot from a unsupported standing position. This did hit the bear, evidenced from hair and blood at the scene. The hunter's rifle was now empty! AND, all of his ammo was in his pack behind him at the top of the knoll about 20yds away, Oops! Lesson #9 - Keep spare ammo on your person, readily available! So, our nimrod now stands facing a wounded brown bear with an empty weapon and all the ammo will require him to walk/run away up hill to retrieve it. Lesson #10 - You don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the PH and your wife, lol. Still, before the PH could take any shots the bear ran down the draw into heavy cover. Lesson #11 - Most bolt action rifles of heavy bear caliber hold either 3 or 4 rounds in the mag. A few hold more. Depending on the type of action, CRF, push feed, you may be able to load one more round into the rifle when ready to chamber a round. I won't go into the details since each rifle varies. Learn how to do this for your rifle. Lesson #12 - After the initial volley of one or two shots, the hunter should top off his mag so that when following up, he/she has more, not less ammo to do the job. This does not take long if a proper belt or pouch is used to carry spare ammo (see lesson #9 above).

At this stage of the story, I will add that when they first found this bear there was only about 2-3 hrs of daylight left and the initial stalk took about one hour. By the time the 3rd shot was fired, it was dusk and the hike back to camp will take one hour in daylight, longer in the dark. The hunting party now has a wounded bear on their hands and must return to camp in the dark. Lesson #13 - Never stalk and hunt DG too close to dark. It only lowers your odds of success while doing something already very dangerous and difficult. If everything goes well, you will still be skinning a dead animal in the dark (now you are the prey). Instead, plan for the worst case scenario when making such decisions. This one, I place on the head of the PH more than the hunter. He should have restrained them from getting that close so late in the day. Lesson #14 - Once an animal is wounded a proper followup should be made within the hour. Give it 30min to bleed out while you prepare a plan and then go in to get it.

In this case, I give the party the benefit of the doubt. Because of the bad decision to engage so late in the day, the prompt followup was not possible and so, the team hiked to camp in the dark, arriving safely. It rained that night which washed away most of the spoor. When they returned the next morning to the scene of the crime, they found blood and hair at the site of the last shot fired. Were able to track the bear only about 100yds before losing the trail. Tracking conditions were bad. I cannot comment on the PH's or the hunter's tracking skills, beyond only stating that in this case they were unable to find the bear. A tracking dog as used by some PH's might have helped in this case but it is only my speculation. The hunting party spent all of the next 10 days attempting to locate and harvest the bear. They were not successful. In the end the hunter and his wife had a scary and memorable encounter with one of NA's most deadly apex predators and lived to tell the tale. Frde Bear once said, "If you are disappointed after a failed hunt, then you missed the point of the hunt". I agree, as I rarely care if I kill something on a hunt or not. However, only once in my life, I have shot large game, wounding it and then losing the animal. It is a frustrating and painful experience and one than I try to avoid at all times. I am sure the hunter's frustration after his failures on that trip was great. Perhaps he should take solace in the fact that he and the rest of his party were all safe and his last ditch efforts did turn the bear away from them. A small but not insignificant victory.

As hunters we put on the mantle of predator when we choose to hunt. The term fools rush in, comes to mind. If you follow the behavior of wild animal predators they rarely "Rush In". They instead approach slowly, quietly, and when they attack it is with speed and precision. They are not always successful either. When we become the predator we have then ethical obligation to be careful, competent, decisive and effective in our efforts to harvest wild game. Aim fast, shoot slow, and make the first shot count and you will be frustrated far less often.

Good Hunting!
 
So all the time it was walking towards them and there was a clear shot ,why wasn't the guide telling him what to do.....way it goes its as if the client was on his own....obviously only seeing what you wrote but sounds like a fkup from start to finish....and all on the guides head for apparently not assisting and calming him down.....
 
Difference between a guide and a PH......
Yeah Alaska shouldn’t allow a NR to hunt DG or sheep & goats with an untrained PH / resident .
lots of mistakes in this story, play stupid game win stupid prizes
 
To be totally honest, I am too verbose in most of my writings already and did not comment much on the guide/PH and his actions or lack thereof for the simple reason that the film of the hunt was all shot by the wife and she was usually behind and a few feet away from her hubby and the guide most of the time. As a result, it was hard to often hear what the guide said. During the critical moments when the bear began to climb down the mountain, there were a few seconds when a frontal shot of some sort could have been taken. I could hear muffled words from one of the men and then the other but was not clear on who was who or what was said. I think the guide may have urged the client to shoot but the client did not either because he was not able to or lacked the confidence to take a shot on a moving animal. They tried multiple times to stop the bear by shouting at it but this did not work and at no time did he stop.

In hind sight, I can say that a shot, even a miss at that time might have stopped or dissuaded the bear. Plus, while a long distance head shot on a moving bear is usually ill advised, an aimed shot at the base of the nose might have penetrated the chest cavity and if it went high could have hit the spine. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, yada, yada.

I think the client was the bigger failure in this case. He was not mentally or physically prepared to face down a moving dangerous animal and his lack of timely action placed all of them in danger. He urged the guide to lead them on the late day stalk despite being told that it was going to be dark in a couple of hours. The client was not prepared to act quick and decisively when the moment came and once things started happening fast it took him too long to gather up the nerve to act and then when he did act it was in a less than effective manner. Still it is tough to 2nd guess a hunter when you were not there. He should have shot the instant the bear stood but did not. Once the bear was in the alders and still approaching, the client could have waited to shoot until the bear came out into the open, but that would have meant that he was taking a kill shot at very close range at a large predator. That is a tough one. Only a head or spine shot will assure an instant stop. Both are tough and the shape of the bears head makes head shots very tough. I don't know what cartridge was used by this client. But it is unlikely that it was a large stopper as we might see in Africa. They could have retreated a few dozen yards so the bear would have been further away when it came out of the alders giving them a few seconds more to take a clear shot. But, it still might have ended badly.

IMO - Like so many foul-ups, this was a series of smaller errors that led up to the moment of truth. I would have liked to have seen him be more ready before his wife stood up and to have decisively shot the bear just as it stood. His reaction time was just too slow. While his wild two shots into the bushes were not exactly effective and his failure to top off the mag prevented another follow up shot a few seconds later, his actions did likely save the hunting party from being mauled by a bear since it did force the bear to retreat. It was a big series of foul ups. The hunter went home a failure, empty handed and the bear likely died somewhere in the bushes miles away from the scene.
 
Without being too judgmental, the hunter seemed ill prepared for this hunt. I’m reminded when I killed an Alaskan grizzly years ago, the guides whispered instructions to me were the following: “Your only going to get this one chance, don’t f@#& it up!! Hardly calming words hah, hah, but I was confident in my abilities due to lots of practice!
 
Eating in a tent is not recommended in bear country. But it happens. Sometimes the weather is so bad you don't have much choice. Other times the likelihood of a problem is pretty low (like when you have 5 guys in a tent)
 
To be totally honest, I am too verbose in most of my writings already and did not comment much on the guide/PH and his actions or lack thereof for the simple reason that the film of the hunt was all shot by the wife and she was usually behind and a few feet away from her hubby and the guide most of the time. As a result, it was hard to often hear what the guide said. During the critical moments when the bear began to climb down the mountain, there were a few seconds when a frontal shot of some sort could have been taken. I could hear muffled words from one of the men and then the other but was not clear on who was who or what was said. I think the guide may have urged the client to shoot but the client did not either because he was not able to or lacked the confidence to take a shot on a moving animal. They tried multiple times to stop the bear by shouting at it but this did not work and at no time did he stop.

In hind sight, I can say that a shot, even a miss at that time might have stopped or dissuaded the bear. Plus, while a long distance head shot on a moving bear is usually ill advised, an aimed shot at the base of the nose might have penetrated the chest cavity and if it went high could have hit the spine. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, yada, yada.

I think the client was the bigger failure in this case. He was not mentally or physically prepared to face down a moving dangerous animal and his lack of timely action placed all of them in danger. He urged the guide to lead them on the late day stalk despite being told that it was going to be dark in a couple of hours. The client was not prepared to act quick and decisively when the moment came and once things started happening fast it took him too long to gather up the nerve to act and then when he did act it was in a less than effective manner. Still it is tough to 2nd guess a hunter when you were not there. He should have shot the instant the bear stood but did not. Once the bear was in the alders and still approaching, the client could have waited to shoot until the bear came out into the open, but that would have meant that he was taking a kill shot at very close range at a large predator. That is a tough one. Only a head or spine shot will assure an instant stop. Both are tough and the shape of the bears head makes head shots very tough. I don't know what cartridge was used by this client. But it is unlikely that it was a large stopper as we might see in Africa. They could have retreated a few dozen yards so the bear would have been further away when it came out of the alders giving them a few seconds more to take a clear shot. But, it still might have ended badly.

IMO - Like so many foul-ups, this was a series of smaller errors that led up to the moment of truth. I would have liked to have seen him be more ready before his wife stood up and to have decisively shot the bear just as it stood. His reaction time was just too slow. While his wild two shots into the bushes were not exactly effective and his failure to top off the mag prevented another follow up shot a few seconds later, his actions did likely save the hunting party from being mauled by a bear since it did force the bear to retreat. It was a big series of foul ups. The hunter went home a failure, empty handed and the bear likely died somewhere in the bushes miles away from the scene.
Is this video published online? You have a link?
 
As an ethical hunter, I try to learn from my own past experiences both successes and failures. But, this "School of Hard Knocks" is inefficient since it requires me to experience something before I can learn from it. As such another higher order form of learning is to review and absorb life lessons from the successes and failures of others. The lessons may not be as clear or indelible as those from my own mistakes but they are there for the picking if we so choose. So, where am I going with this? Alaskan brown/kodiak/grizzly bear hunting may be one of the most dangerous forms of hunting in North America. These apex predators can be hunting you while you are hunting them. The natural elements of Alaska also combine to make this sort of hunt difficult since they are in cold, windy, rocky, remote locations far from help. With that said, below is an encounter that I reviewed recently and came away with a few life lessons worth remembrance:

A young man in his late 20's to mid thirties along with his very pretty wife travelled to Alaska to hunt brown bears on a undisclosed portion of the Aleutian Peninsula. The exact location and the name of the Guide/PH is not important. They flew by float plane to the general area where they then took Zodiak boats across the bay to where the tent camp was set up. I cannot comment on the level of hunting experience they had but did note that while stuck in their tents during a 2-day rain/snow storm they had a pile of "Snacks" in the tent with them. Lesson #1 - When in bear country, never keep food inside the tent with you. This is an attractant to bears. If they did not know better the PH should have advised them.

Finally, the storm broke and they got out to hunt. After a couple of days of not much luck, the party located what appeared to be a large brownie boar bedded down on the side of a mountain above them and put on a stalk. All went well and they got set up about 220yds away near the crest of a small knoll which was still at a lower elevation to the bear. The bear was still bedded down as the hunter was laying prone with the scope all dialed in for the shot. Wife is filming but the bear still lying down did not present a good shot. The PH now suggests having the wife stand and walk off to their right to bait the bear into standing. My wife contributed lesson #2 - Do not use your wife as bear bait, lol. (unless you are willing to have her eaten). Fortunately, in this case the wife was not eaten. But, the tactic worked and the bear stood to look at her. She then runs back to the hunters to make sure her video camera on the tripod was recording and that the bear was in the fame. This quick movement triggered the bears predator response and it began ambling down the mountain directly toward them.

At this point the hunter comments that he was not prepared for this sudden move and states that he should have taken a head shot at this point. But, he was fixated on getting a broadside shot based on what the PH had coached him to do. A few lessons can be gleaned from this: Lesson #3 - Expect the unexpected and prepare for a wide variety of scenarios. Lesson #4 - While still hundreds of yards away, a head shot was still not the best choice (IMO). But knowing the anatomy of your prey is important to aid is making quicker decisions in such circumstances. Lesson #5 - When hunting dangerous game, decisive action is critical and hesitation can get you killed. The hunter was frozen as the bear came down the mountain and when they yelled at it, instead of stopping, it came at them faster. Critical seconds were wasted attempting to turn the bear for a safer shot when a well placed frontal shot may have stopped or even killed the animal. Instead, they yelled, then yelled again, and dithered until the opportunity for a shot had passed. A hunter needs to practice and have the confidence to take a critical shot under pressure, quickly in a variety of positions, and scenarios.

While the hunters hesitated and made clumsy attempts to manage the situation, the bear slithered down the mountain into a low draw between the mountain and the knoll where our intrepid hunters lay. The hunting party could hear the bear approaching thru the thick grove of alders, could hear the limbs shake and break as the big bruin approached to danger close proximity but were unable to see well enough for a shot. Panick starts to set it. Lesson #6 - Panick will get you killed. Stay cool under stress and do as you planned, trained, etc. Lesson #7 - Failure to plan and train the various scenarios is not a plan and leaves you grasping for straws in this sort of situation which often can lead to panick.

At this point things began to go even more sideways. The hunter and PH stand and move forward seeking to get in position to make a shot. They approach the top of the knoll and the little grove of alder trees. The bear is still approaching and has now gotten to within about 10yds but remains out of sight. The bear's location is clear as the trees are shaking and cracking as he moves forward but shot placement is impossible. At this point, the hunter fires two shots blindly in the general direction of the bear. The PH did not order this, the hunter did it on his own. Lesson #8 - Listen to your PH. Do what he/she says. Deviate only if you are very experienced and know more than your PH (not likely). This may not be a hard, fast rule when things are happening fast but, read on to see how this cost them later.

After the two shots, the bear moved down the draw to the hunter's left about 40yds and stopped. The hunter did not know if he had hit the bear yet. At this point the hunter and the PH moved about 20yds to the left and down the knoll until they had a clear shot. At this location the hunter fired his 3rd shot at the bear. It was a hastily aimed snap shot from a unsupported standing position. This did hit the bear, evidenced from hair and blood at the scene. The hunter's rifle was now empty! AND, all of his ammo was in his pack behind him at the top of the knoll about 20yds away, Oops! Lesson #9 - Keep spare ammo on your person, readily available! So, our nimrod now stands facing a wounded brown bear with an empty weapon and all the ammo will require him to walk/run away up hill to retrieve it. Lesson #10 - You don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the PH and your wife, lol. Still, before the PH could take any shots the bear ran down the draw into heavy cover. Lesson #11 - Most bolt action rifles of heavy bear caliber hold either 3 or 4 rounds in the mag. A few hold more. Depending on the type of action, CRF, push feed, you may be able to load one more round into the rifle when ready to chamber a round. I won't go into the details since each rifle varies. Learn how to do this for your rifle. Lesson #12 - After the initial volley of one or two shots, the hunter should top off his mag so that when following up, he/she has more, not less ammo to do the job. This does not take long if a proper belt or pouch is used to carry spare ammo (see lesson #9 above).

At this stage of the story, I will add that when they first found this bear there was only about 2-3 hrs of daylight left and the initial stalk took about one hour. By the time the 3rd shot was fired, it was dusk and the hike back to camp will take one hour in daylight, longer in the dark. The hunting party now has a wounded bear on their hands and must return to camp in the dark. Lesson #13 - Never stalk and hunt DG too close to dark. It only lowers your odds of success while doing something already very dangerous and difficult. If everything goes well, you will still be skinning a dead animal in the dark (now you are the prey). Instead, plan for the worst case scenario when making such decisions. This one, I place on the head of the PH more than the hunter. He should have restrained them from getting that close so late in the day. Lesson #14 - Once an animal is wounded a proper followup should be made within the hour. Give it 30min to bleed out while you prepare a plan and then go in to get it.

In this case, I give the party the benefit of the doubt. Because of the bad decision to engage so late in the day, the prompt followup was not possible and so, the team hiked to camp in the dark, arriving safely. It rained that night which washed away most of the spoor. When they returned the next morning to the scene of the crime, they found blood and hair at the site of the last shot fired. Were able to track the bear only about 100yds before losing the trail. Tracking conditions were bad. I cannot comment on the PH's or the hunter's tracking skills, beyond only stating that in this case they were unable to find the bear. A tracking dog as used by some PH's might have helped in this case but it is only my speculation. The hunting party spent all of the next 10 days attempting to locate and harvest the bear. They were not successful. In the end the hunter and his wife had a scary and memorable encounter with one of NA's most deadly apex predators and lived to tell the tale. Frde Bear once said, "If you are disappointed after a failed hunt, then you missed the point of the hunt". I agree, as I rarely care if I kill something on a hunt or not. However, only once in my life, I have shot large game, wounding it and then losing the animal. It is a frustrating and painful experience and one than I try to avoid at all times. I am sure the hunter's frustration after his failures on that trip was great. Perhaps he should take solace in the fact that he and the rest of his party were all safe and his last ditch efforts did turn the bear away from them. A small but not insignificant victory.

As hunters we put on the mantle of predator when we choose to hunt. The term fools rush in, comes to mind. If you follow the behavior of wild animal predators they rarely "Rush In". They instead approach slowly, quietly, and when they attack it is with speed and precision. They are not always successful either. When we become the predator we have then ethical obligation to be careful, competent, decisive and effective in our efforts to harvest wild game. Aim fast, shoot slow, and make the first shot count and you will be frustrated far less often.

Good Hunting

As an ethical hunter, I try to learn from my own past experiences both successes and failures. But, this "School of Hard Knocks" is inefficient since it requires me to experience something before I can learn from it. As such another higher order form of learning is to review and absorb life lessons from the successes and failures of others. The lessons may not be as clear or indelible as those from my own mistakes but they are there for the picking if we so choose. So, where am I going with this? Alaskan brown/kodiak/grizzly bear hunting may be one of the most dangerous forms of hunting in North America. These apex predators can be hunting you while you are hunting them. The natural elements of Alaska also combine to make this sort of hunt difficult since they are in cold, windy, rocky, remote locations far from help. With that said, below is an encounter that I reviewed recently and came away with a few life lessons worth remembrance:

A young man in his late 20's to mid thirties along with his very pretty wife travelled to Alaska to hunt brown bears on a undisclosed portion of the Aleutian Peninsula. The exact location and the name of the Guide/PH is not important. They flew by float plane to the general area where they then took Zodiak boats across the bay to where the tent camp was set up. I cannot comment on the level of hunting experience they had but did note that while stuck in their tents during a 2-day rain/snow storm they had a pile of "Snacks" in the tent with them. Lesson #1 - When in bear country, never keep food inside the tent with you. This is an attractant to bears. If they did not know better the PH should have advised them.

Finally, the storm broke and they got out to hunt. After a couple of days of not much luck, the party located what appeared to be a large brownie boar bedded down on the side of a mountain above them and put on a stalk. All went well and they got set up about 220yds away near the crest of a small knoll which was still at a lower elevation to the bear. The bear was still bedded down as the hunter was laying prone with the scope all dialed in for the shot. Wife is filming but the bear still lying down did not present a good shot. The PH now suggests having the wife stand and walk off to their right to bait the bear into standing. My wife contributed lesson #2 - Do not use your wife as bear bait, lol. (unless you are willing to have her eaten). Fortunately, in this case the wife was not eaten. But, the tactic worked and the bear stood to look at her. She then runs back to the hunters to make sure her video camera on the tripod was recording and that the bear was in the fame. This quick movement triggered the bears predator response and it began ambling down the mountain directly toward them.

At this point the hunter comments that he was not prepared for this sudden move and states that he should have taken a head shot at this point. But, he was fixated on getting a broadside shot based on what the PH had coached him to do. A few lessons can be gleaned from this: Lesson #3 - Expect the unexpected and prepare for a wide variety of scenarios. Lesson #4 - While still hundreds of yards away, a head shot was still not the best choice (IMO). But knowing the anatomy of your prey is important to aid is making quicker decisions in such circumstances. Lesson #5 - When hunting dangerous game, decisive action is critical and hesitation can get you killed. The hunter was frozen as the bear came down the mountain and when they yelled at it, instead of stopping, it came at them faster. Critical seconds were wasted attempting to turn the bear for a safer shot when a well placed frontal shot may have stopped or even killed the animal. Instead, they yelled, then yelled again, and dithered until the opportunity for a shot had passed. A hunter needs to practice and have the confidence to take a critical shot under pressure, quickly in a variety of positions, and scenarios.

While the hunters hesitated and made clumsy attempts to manage the situation, the bear slithered down the mountain into a low draw between the mountain and the knoll where our intrepid hunters lay. The hunting party could hear the bear approaching thru the thick grove of alders, could hear the limbs shake and break as the big bruin approached to danger close proximity but were unable to see well enough for a shot. Panick starts to set it. Lesson #6 - Panick will get you killed. Stay cool under stress and do as you planned, trained, etc. Lesson #7 - Failure to plan and train the various scenarios is not a plan and leaves you grasping for straws in this sort of situation which often can lead to panick.

At this point things began to go even more sideways. The hunter and PH stand and move forward seeking to get in position to make a shot. They approach the top of the knoll and the little grove of alder trees. The bear is still approaching and has now gotten to within about 10yds but remains out of sight. The bear's location is clear as the trees are shaking and cracking as he moves forward but shot placement is impossible. At this point, the hunter fires two shots blindly in the general direction of the bear. The PH did not order this, the hunter did it on his own. Lesson #8 - Listen to your PH. Do what he/she says. Deviate only if you are very experienced and know more than your PH (not likely). This may not be a hard, fast rule when things are happening fast but, read on to see how this cost them later.

After the two shots, the bear moved down the draw to the hunter's left about 40yds and stopped. The hunter did not know if he had hit the bear yet. At this point the hunter and the PH moved about 20yds to the left and down the knoll until they had a clear shot. At this location the hunter fired his 3rd shot at the bear. It was a hastily aimed snap shot from a unsupported standing position. This did hit the bear, evidenced from hair and blood at the scene. The hunter's rifle was now empty! AND, all of his ammo was in his pack behind him at the top of the knoll about 20yds away, Oops! Lesson #9 - Keep spare ammo on your person, readily available! So, our nimrod now stands facing a wounded brown bear with an empty weapon and all the ammo will require him to walk/run away up hill to retrieve it. Lesson #10 - You don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the PH and your wife, lol. Still, before the PH could take any shots the bear ran down the draw into heavy cover. Lesson #11 - Most bolt action rifles of heavy bear caliber hold either 3 or 4 rounds in the mag. A few hold more. Depending on the type of action, CRF, push feed, you may be able to load one more round into the rifle when ready to chamber a round. I won't go into the details since each rifle varies. Learn how to do this for your rifle. Lesson #12 - After the initial volley of one or two shots, the hunter should top off his mag so that when following up, he/she has more, not less ammo to do the job. This does not take long if a proper belt or pouch is used to carry spare ammo (see lesson #9 above).

At this stage of the story, I will add that when they first found this bear there was only about 2-3 hrs of daylight left and the initial stalk took about one hour. By the time the 3rd shot was fired, it was dusk and the hike back to camp will take one hour in daylight, longer in the dark. The hunting party now has a wounded bear on their hands and must return to camp in the dark. Lesson #13 - Never stalk and hunt DG too close to dark. It only lowers your odds of success while doing something already very dangerous and difficult. If everything goes well, you will still be skinning a dead animal in the dark (now you are the prey). Instead, plan for the worst case scenario when making such decisions. This one, I place on the head of the PH more than the hunter. He should have restrained them from getting that close so late in the day. Lesson #14 - Once an animal is wounded a proper followup should be made within the hour. Give it 30min to bleed out while you prepare a plan and then go in to get it.

In this case, I give the party the benefit of the doubt. Because of the bad decision to engage so late in the day, the prompt followup was not possible and so, the team hiked to camp in the dark, arriving safely. It rained that night which washed away most of the spoor. When they returned the next morning to the scene of the crime, they found blood and hair at the site of the last shot fired. Were able to track the bear only about 100yds before losing the trail. Tracking conditions were bad. I cannot comment on the PH's or the hunter's tracking skills, beyond only stating that in this case they were unable to find the bear. A tracking dog as used by some PH's might have helped in this case but it is only my speculation. The hunting party spent all of the next 10 days attempting to locate and harvest the bear. They were not successful. In the end the hunter and his wife had a scary and memorable encounter with one of NA's most deadly apex predators and lived to tell the tale. Frde Bear once said, "If you are disappointed after a failed hunt, then you missed the point of the hunt". I agree, as I rarely care if I kill something on a hunt or not. However, only once in my life, I have shot large game, wounding it and then losing the animal. It is a frustrating and painful experience and one than I try to avoid at all times. I am sure the hunter's frustration after his failures on that trip was great. Perhaps he should take solace in the fact that he and the rest of his party were all safe and his last ditch efforts did turn the bear away from them. A small but not insignificant victory.

As hunters we put on the mantle of predator when we choose to hunt. The term fools rush in, comes to mind. If you follow the behavior of wild animal predators they rarely "Rush In". They instead approach slowly, quietly, and when they attack it is with speed and precision. They are not always successful either. When we become the predator we have then ethical obligation to be careful, competent, decisive and effective in our efforts to harvest wild game. Aim fast, shoot slow, and make the first shot count and you will be frustrated far less often.

Good Hunting!
A great breakdown of valuable lessons! Thanks!
 
I am curious if this is the same video that I came across about a month or two ago on YouTube. If my memory serves (a big if), some of these details sound familiar. Is this a younger couple that have several videos of them hunting together posted to their channel?

PS - I'd be hard pressed to dig up the link to the video I watched, as it has been awhile and I don't remember enough identifying details.
 
I am curious if this is the same video that I came across about a month or two ago on YouTube. If my memory serves (a big if), some of these details sound familiar. Is this a younger couple that have several videos of them hunting together posted to their channel?

PS - I'd be hard pressed to dig up the link to the video I watched, as it has been awhile and I don't remember enough identifying details.

Were you thinking about this post that has the video in it?

 
Were you thinking about this post that has the video in it?

Ahh, yes; that's the one.
 
As an ethical hunter, I try to learn from my own past experiences both successes and failures. But, this "School of Hard Knocks" is inefficient since it requires me to experience something before I can learn from it. As such another higher order form of learning is to review and absorb life lessons from the successes and failures of others. The lessons may not be as clear or indelible as those from my own mistakes but they are there for the picking if we so choose. So, where am I going with this? Alaskan brown/kodiak/grizzly bear hunting may be one of the most dangerous forms of hunting in North America. These apex predators can be hunting you while you are hunting them. The natural elements of Alaska also combine to make this sort of hunt difficult since they are in cold, windy, rocky, remote locations far from help. With that said, below is an encounter that I reviewed recently and came away with a few life lessons worth remembrance:

A young man in his late 20's to mid thirties along with his very pretty wife travelled to Alaska to hunt brown bears on a undisclosed portion of the Aleutian Peninsula. The exact location and the name of the Guide/PH is not important. They flew by float plane to the general area where they then took Zodiak boats across the bay to where the tent camp was set up. I cannot comment on the level of hunting experience they had but did note that while stuck in their tents during a 2-day rain/snow storm they had a pile of "Snacks" in the tent with them. Lesson #1 - When in bear country, never keep food inside the tent with you. This is an attractant to bears. If they did not know better the PH should have advised them.

Finally, the storm broke and they got out to hunt. After a couple of days of not much luck, the party located what appeared to be a large brownie boar bedded down on the side of a mountain above them and put on a stalk. All went well and they got set up about 220yds away near the crest of a small knoll which was still at a lower elevation to the bear. The bear was still bedded down as the hunter was laying prone with the scope all dialed in for the shot. Wife is filming but the bear still lying down did not present a good shot. The PH now suggests having the wife stand and walk off to their right to bait the bear into standing. My wife contributed lesson #2 - Do not use your wife as bear bait, lol. (unless you are willing to have her eaten). Fortunately, in this case the wife was not eaten. But, the tactic worked and the bear stood to look at her. She then runs back to the hunters to make sure her video camera on the tripod was recording and that the bear was in the fame. This quick movement triggered the bears predator response and it began ambling down the mountain directly toward them.

At this point the hunter comments that he was not prepared for this sudden move and states that he should have taken a head shot at this point. But, he was fixated on getting a broadside shot based on what the PH had coached him to do. A few lessons can be gleaned from this: Lesson #3 - Expect the unexpected and prepare for a wide variety of scenarios. Lesson #4 - While still hundreds of yards away, a head shot was still not the best choice (IMO). But knowing the anatomy of your prey is important to aid is making quicker decisions in such circumstances. Lesson #5 - When hunting dangerous game, decisive action is critical and hesitation can get you killed. The hunter was frozen as the bear came down the mountain and when they yelled at it, instead of stopping, it came at them faster. Critical seconds were wasted attempting to turn the bear for a safer shot when a well placed frontal shot may have stopped or even killed the animal. Instead, they yelled, then yelled again, and dithered until the opportunity for a shot had passed. A hunter needs to practice and have the confidence to take a critical shot under pressure, quickly in a variety of positions, and scenarios.

While the hunters hesitated and made clumsy attempts to manage the situation, the bear slithered down the mountain into a low draw between the mountain and the knoll where our intrepid hunters lay. The hunting party could hear the bear approaching thru the thick grove of alders, could hear the limbs shake and break as the big bruin approached to danger close proximity but were unable to see well enough for a shot. Panick starts to set it. Lesson #6 - Panick will get you killed. Stay cool under stress and do as you planned, trained, etc. Lesson #7 - Failure to plan and train the various scenarios is not a plan and leaves you grasping for straws in this sort of situation which often can lead to panick.

At this point things began to go even more sideways. The hunter and PH stand and move forward seeking to get in position to make a shot. They approach the top of the knoll and the little grove of alder trees. The bear is still approaching and has now gotten to within about 10yds but remains out of sight. The bear's location is clear as the trees are shaking and cracking as he moves forward but shot placement is impossible. At this point, the hunter fires two shots blindly in the general direction of the bear. The PH did not order this, the hunter did it on his own. Lesson #8 - Listen to your PH. Do what he/she says. Deviate only if you are very experienced and know more than your PH (not likely). This may not be a hard, fast rule when things are happening fast but, read on to see how this cost them later.

After the two shots, the bear moved down the draw to the hunter's left about 40yds and stopped. The hunter did not know if he had hit the bear yet. At this point the hunter and the PH moved about 20yds to the left and down the knoll until they had a clear shot. At this location the hunter fired his 3rd shot at the bear. It was a hastily aimed snap shot from a unsupported standing position. This did hit the bear, evidenced from hair and blood at the scene. The hunter's rifle was now empty! AND, all of his ammo was in his pack behind him at the top of the knoll about 20yds away, Oops! Lesson #9 - Keep spare ammo on your person, readily available! So, our nimrod now stands facing a wounded brown bear with an empty weapon and all the ammo will require him to walk/run away up hill to retrieve it. Lesson #10 - You don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the PH and your wife, lol. Still, before the PH could take any shots the bear ran down the draw into heavy cover. Lesson #11 - Most bolt action rifles of heavy bear caliber hold either 3 or 4 rounds in the mag. A few hold more. Depending on the type of action, CRF, push feed, you may be able to load one more round into the rifle when ready to chamber a round. I won't go into the details since each rifle varies. Learn how to do this for your rifle. Lesson #12 - After the initial volley of one or two shots, the hunter should top off his mag so that when following up, he/she has more, not less ammo to do the job. This does not take long if a proper belt or pouch is used to carry spare ammo (see lesson #9 above).

At this stage of the story, I will add that when they first found this bear there was only about 2-3 hrs of daylight left and the initial stalk took about one hour. By the time the 3rd shot was fired, it was dusk and the hike back to camp will take one hour in daylight, longer in the dark. The hunting party now has a wounded bear on their hands and must return to camp in the dark. Lesson #13 - Never stalk and hunt DG too close to dark. It only lowers your odds of success while doing something already very dangerous and difficult. If everything goes well, you will still be skinning a dead animal in the dark (now you are the prey). Instead, plan for the worst case scenario when making such decisions. This one, I place on the head of the PH more than the hunter. He should have restrained them from getting that close so late in the day. Lesson #14 - Once an animal is wounded a proper followup should be made within the hour. Give it 30min to bleed out while you prepare a plan and then go in to get it.

In this case, I give the party the benefit of the doubt. Because of the bad decision to engage so late in the day, the prompt followup was not possible and so, the team hiked to camp in the dark, arriving safely. It rained that night which washed away most of the spoor. When they returned the next morning to the scene of the crime, they found blood and hair at the site of the last shot fired. Were able to track the bear only about 100yds before losing the trail. Tracking conditions were bad. I cannot comment on the PH's or the hunter's tracking skills, beyond only stating that in this case they were unable to find the bear. A tracking dog as used by some PH's might have helped in this case but it is only my speculation. The hunting party spent all of the next 10 days attempting to locate and harvest the bear. They were not successful. In the end the hunter and his wife had a scary and memorable encounter with one of NA's most deadly apex predators and lived to tell the tale. Frde Bear once said, "If you are disappointed after a failed hunt, then you missed the point of the hunt". I agree, as I rarely care if I kill something on a hunt or not. However, only once in my life, I have shot large game, wounding it and then losing the animal. It is a frustrating and painful experience and one than I try to avoid at all times. I am sure the hunter's frustration after his failures on that trip was great. Perhaps he should take solace in the fact that he and the rest of his party were all safe and his last ditch efforts did turn the bear away from them. A small but not insignificant victory.

As hunters we put on the mantle of predator when we choose to hunt. The term fools rush in, comes to mind. If you follow the behavior of wild animal predators they rarely "Rush In". They instead approach slowly, quietly, and when they attack it is with speed and precision. They are not always successful either. When we become the predator we have then ethical obligation to be careful, competent, decisive and effective in our efforts to harvest wild game. Aim fast, shoot slow, and make the first shot count and you will be frustrated far less often.

Good Hunting!
@JG26Irish_2 - unless you were “there” to witness this event, not sure how you could possibly list “Lessons 1-14”? …but it was a fun read.
I cannot agree with much, even regarding the Boy-Scout-Obvious “don’t keep food in your tent” because they were stuck in that tent for Two Days, and No matter how “pretty” the Wife was…you need to come up for Air sometime and eat some food. However, I agree with your comment on Lesson #2 “Don’t use your Wife as Bait” (if IF she’s really pretty, unless Divorce settlement is pending). Regarding Lesson #6 “Don’t panic…stay Cool under stress etc..” — funny ! Might as well add “Learn to Pray”.
 
Eating in a tent is not recommended in bear country. But it happens. Sometimes the weather is so bad you don't have much choice. Other times the likelihood of a problem is pretty low (like when you have 5 guys in a tent)
Yeah, because your chance of being the one mauled has been reduced from 100% to 20%.

Eating in a tent in bear country isn't a good idea no matter what.
 
"Lesson #1 - When in bear country, never keep food inside the tent with you. This is an attractant to bears."

I spend a lot of time camping in brown bear country. That one is non-negotiable. My buddies will tell you I am a fanatic about it. There is a separate food tent with a fence around it. Always. Food in the tent you sleep in? NoPe. To do so, that is a whole other level of dumbassry, IMHO.
 
Were you thinking about this post that has the video in it?


The video link above was not the one that I reviewed. I know that some of the so called lessons learned might be tongue in cheek and others very much based on my limited knowledge of the event as I was not there and only have the video and the comments by the hunter after the trip. So, there is some speculation or filling in of the blanks in my commentary but I did try to keep my speculation to a minimum. I cannot post a link to the video as I no longer have it. It just underscores the unpredictable nature of wild animals. The guide and the hunter clearly expected the bear to stop when they yelled at it. I think I would have expected that as well but also think the hunter should have acted sooner and more decisively and the guide should have coached him thru what to do more clearly before having wifey-poo stand up to play "Bait". Once things were set into motion, events happened so fast that coaching the hunter on the fly is chaotic and not nearly as effective.

I just like to break down these type of events and at least attempt to learn from them as best I can. Maybe one last Capt Obvious lesson might be: "Wild animals are unpredictable - so, you should expect the unexpected." Still, bears (insert your favorite DG animal here) will do what bears do. They are hunters, and are always on the move looking for food. They are omnivores and will eat ANYTHING. They have no real natural threats except man and in remote regions such as where this encounter occurred, they often have had only limited or no contact with man and are not afraid of him. He and his pretty wife are just another potential meal. While the hunt was a bust, it is good that everyone went home safely except perhaps the bear. I feel sorry for both the hunter and the bear but hopefully the hunter learned some valuable lessons on this trip for future reference and hopefully, neither he nor his wife have been soured by the experience.
 
Some of you guys are pretty quick to judge based on that video. They made some mistakes in the backcountry and shit hit the fan, they owned it. They both are very accomplished and experienced hunters.

The posted video is Tana Grenda guiding her brother, she's an Alaskan resident.
Here's a podcast with Adam Grenda(Tana's husband), he goes into some detail on what happened on that hunt and why.

I would say without hesitation that the Grenda's are pretty amazing humans. My circle is pretty tight and they would be welcome in it.

 
Some of you guys are pretty quick to judge based on that video. They made some mistakes in the backcountry and shit hit the fan, they owned it. They both are very accomplished and experienced hunters.

The posted video is Tana Grenda guiding her brother, she's an Alaskan resident.
Here's a podcast with Adam Grenda(Tana's husband), he goes into some detail on what happened on that hunt and why.
That is good input and the Grenada video that was posted by one of the commentors to the OP was not the video that formed the basis for my original post to the forum. But, it does illustrate the same premise that we as aspiring hunters, hunters seeking to expand our horizons, etc can and should attempt to learn from the mistakes of others. Kinda like the old pilots motto, "Any landing you walk away from was a good one." Perhaps we can paraphrase that to say, "Any bear hunt (or othe DG hunt) that we can walk away from was a good one." I have been hunting for more than 50yr and am still learning and adding new skills or understanding to my bag of tricks.
 
My takeaway on this ! And at the risk of not being judgmental, I only have a question
" They flew by float plane to the general area where they then took Zodiak boats across the bay to where the tent camp was set up."
Why not just have the float plane drop them off at the campsite ?
And by the way I remember quite well my first Dangerous Game/ brown bear hunt in North America, Alaska , my pH and I did everything perfectly. LOL!
 

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JG26Irish_2 wrote on WISafariHunter's profile.
About Lon's Elephant hunts w/Tokoloshe? I hear Lon is battling cancer? What is his long term prognosis? I am already booked to hunt Africa in 2024 2025. Might consider 2026 for another African hunt. I want to hunt a more wild open region devoid of civilization. Concern is the risk that I book f/2026 then find poor Lon has passed on? Does Lon have any assistance to carry on the business in his absence?
Life is Short live it how you want...
jgraco33 wrote on 85lc's profile.
Is your 22HP still available? If so have the original case?
tacklers wrote on ianevans's profile.
Hi Ian, I'm contemplating my first outing, leaving UK via Dubai to Africa, taking rifles as you did.

I presume it went okay for you, would you have done anything differently? Cheers, Richard East Sussex
A.A. wrote on Msprenger!'s profile.
Are you still looking for a 375 H&H?
 
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