USA: Arctic Grizzly

Guy M

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A few people here asked about the grizzly photo I posted in my introduction. Thought I'd fill in some details and tell the story of the hunt:

In May of this year, I drove the 2200 miles from my home in Washington, to Fairbanks. Wonderful drive! I'd been to Alaska many times, but had always flown. The drive was a terrific experience in itself. I camped almost every night. Excellent camping in both British Columbia and The Yukon! Parked my Jeep at the Fairbanks airport, spent a night in a nearby motel and caught a small plane to the hunting area. Ended up in the ANWR (Alaska National Wildlife Refuge) well north of the arctic circle, with another hunter and two guides. We set up a spartan camp, a small backpacking tent for each of us and our gear, and a larger fifth tent for cooking and eating.

bQFkZcTl.jpg


NFiSyvxl.jpg


uei0Tepl.jpg


Hunting was by spot and stalk. That meant hours and hours of glassing with binoculars and a very few stalks over the nine days. We saw only three grizzlies and four wolves. Many caribou though.
mRZoqEUl.jpg


On our first day of hunting, I missed a chance at a small, but beautiful grizzly. She simply out-distanced us. No way to keep up. We think that grizz was a fairly young female. Incredible blonde coat, but not particularly large. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't shoot her.

Later I managed to take a white wolf at about 250 yards! The guide howled like a wolf, and the real wolf came to investigate.
M6LXdS4l.jpg


The other hunter got his bear, a beautiful arctic grizzly, after a half-mile stalk. Well done!

The sun never set during our hunt. This is about as low in the sky as it got:
I1jki6vl.jpg


Every stalk required wading this little stream:
mDi7sdRl.jpg


Normal hunting attire. Gore Tex shell, over fleece and down. Leather boots and gaiters, or rubber hip boots:
40rJdsAl.jpg


Eventually, after several days of seeing nothing but caribou, and a few wolves, a bear was seen! He was headed our direction, coming up the valley, and looked big. We watched briefly, then got rid of our warm clothing, stuffing it in our packs and set out on the stalk, rapidly! Our stalk was probably about a mile, maybe a bit less. After crossing the stream, we got into the willows and visibility was no more than 40 yards. In many places far less, though the willows were still dormant and had no leaves yet. I chambered a round, made sure my safety was on, and checked to make sure the ancient 2-7x Redfield was dialed down to 2x.

Suddenly, there he was! No more than 50 yards away, above us, and headed our way.

I'm normally a pretty cool shot, not one to get over-excited, and I was shooting a rifle very familiar to me. That said, I missed a grizzly at 40 - 50 yards. Missed the entire bear... Am sure I shot right over him, before getting the crosshairs on the bear.

He came forward, then turned offering me his right side. I'd calmed down and sent a bullet into his right fore-leg/shoulder, breaking it, and entering into the lungs. He instantly toppled, rolling downhill. Then almost as fast he was back on his feet! At this point the guide and I both opened fire. We wanted to prevent him from reaching the cover of the willows. We scored a couple of poor hits, then a shot from my .30-06 dropped him. My rifle was empty! I started to reload, and the guide handed me his .338 to finish the bear, which I did. We were at about 15 - 20 yards for the last shot.

rBidVQMl.jpg


I have a fair bit of experience with black bears, but this is my only grizzly. In comparison to a coastal brown bear or a Kodiak, he's smallish. He squared a bit over 8' and has a 22.5" skull. He won't make the record book. I'm told that he's an old bear, from the teeth and the ivory colored claws, and that for the arctic, he's a very big grizzly. His hide is incredible. Full furred, deep, and nicely colored.
6tkkWEal.jpg


ai4HOjM.jpg


We spent another day or two in camp, fleshing out the hide. Resting. Waiting for the return of our plane. Then I drove home, by a somewhat longer route through The Yukon, British Columbia and Alberta. Again, an a amazing drive through terrific country!

I used my very familiar 30-06 Rem 700 CDL with an old 2-7x Redfield which has served me well. For ammunition I handloaded 200 grain Nosler Partitions with H4350 for a bit over 2600 fps, mild recoil and excellent accuracy. I almost took my .375 on the hunt, but the outfitter asked two key questions:
1) This is rough country. Which rifle is lighter?
2) This is tundra, a 300 yard shot is possible. Which one do you shoot better at 300 yards?

So... I decided on the 30-06 rifle. Had I known I'd take my first shot at 40 or 50 yards, I'd have brought the .375 for sure! Also, I have made first round kills at a bit over 300 yards with the .375 in the past, on black bear. So... Who knows? Either way, it worked out.

The guides & outfitter were great! I'm not sure yet if I'm allowed to mention their names or link to their web sites on this forum, so I'll wait for that.

Regards, Guy
 

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LivingTheDream

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Man awesome story! Really cool you got a wolf as well. Sounds like there were plenty around.

How many days did it take total? Beautiful animal and a hell of a trophy! 8 foot is a big bear and it seems pretty big for an interior.

Thanks for posting!
 

Guy M

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I was in camp nine days. Loved every freezing, raining, sleeting, mosquito bitten minute of it!

The spring hunt was really between seasons. We had days when it was rather warm, and other days when we made multiple trips to the cook tent for hot cocoa or coffee!

The drive up was about six days and back home was about the same though the distance was longer because I took a different, more remote, route.

Essentially it was a three week trip from home, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

Regards, Guy
 
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BRICKBURN

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Thanks for sharing your adventure.
 

Brent in Az

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Nice Grizz. Fly camping looks like a great adventure in that country. I have heard the skeeters up there, can be quite voracious.
 

MMAL

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Great trip. Thanks
 

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What a nice bear and great experience, thanks for sharing!
 

Foxi

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an old bear is a good bear and to hunt in this country these animals is a privilege.
Complete equal that the skull is 22" or 24"
You and Mekaniks followed the real call of the wild.
I envy you both, what you can do and have done (y)
Regards from Munich
Foxi
 

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Great bear and as good of a tale to tell about the hunting of it. On another forum a hunter was not able to do this exact hunt except this fall. He gave thee hunt away.... If I hadn't just had both knees replaced. You had quite the adventure. Glad to have you here on AH. No problems telling us who you hunted with. Part of the power of this site. Bruce
 

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Congrats! Nice bear and exactly the kind you should have taken. I like the ivory claws as well!
 

Nyati

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Great adventure, thanks for sharing !
 

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Hello Guy M,

And, welcome to the best forum in the world.

Yes, your bear is definitely large by "tundra standards" lol (above the Arctic Circle / very short summers / not salmon fed, etc).
I worked not far from ANWR for several years and part of my job was to keep oil field workers from interacting with bears.
So, I was blessed to see many Arctic grizzly and a very few polar bears.
Your grizzly is indeed large however, more important than any tape measure particulars, your bear and wolf experience is the truely exceptional prize imo.

Great report, I enjoyed reading it very much.

Cheers,
Velo Dog
Anchorage.
 

Guy M

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For info, my outfitter was Lyle Becker, with http://www.alaskaskookumguides.com/

On this hunt as an assistant guide, was Joey Klutsch, who is also an outfitter, http://www.joeyklutsch.com/

Both are terrific young men with a huge amount of experience hunting and fishing Alaska. I'd happily hunt with either of them again!

Guy
 

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What a great hunt! I've been to Kodiak twice trying for a brown. Got within 30 feet or so of one, but he didn't make my minimum.
A wolf! Oh am I jealous!
Thanks for sharing such a grand time! Hope I can try again, but at 70, I may be running out of time.
Congratulations!
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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Thanks for sharing and congrats!
 

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Great write up and awesome pictures! Thanks for sharing.
Congrats on a very successful hunt! (y)
 

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Great story, and taking a wolf on top of the grizz is exciting for sure!
 

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A few people here asked about the grizzly photo I posted in my introduction. Thought I'd fill in some details and tell the story of the hunt:

In May of this year, I drove the 2200 miles from my home in Washington, to Fairbanks. Wonderful drive! I'd been to Alaska many times, but had always flown. The drive was a terrific experience in itself. I camped almost every night. Excellent camping in both British Columbia and The Yukon! Parked my Jeep at the Fairbanks airport, spent a night in a nearby motel and caught a small plane to the hunting area. Ended up in the ANWR (Alaska National Wildlife Refuge) well north of the arctic circle, with another hunter and two guides. We set up a spartan camp, a small backpacking tent for each of us and our gear, and a larger fifth tent for cooking and eating.

View attachment 200085

NFiSyvxl.jpg


uei0Tepl.jpg


Hunting was by spot and stalk. That meant hours and hours of glassing with binoculars and a very few stalks over the nine days. We saw only three grizzlies and four wolves. Many caribou though.
mRZoqEUl.jpg


On our first day of hunting, I missed a chance at a small, but beautiful grizzly. She simply out-distanced us. No way to keep up. We think that grizz was a fairly young female. Incredible blonde coat, but not particularly large. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't shoot her.

Later I managed to take a white wolf at about 250 yards! The guide howled like a wolf, and the real wolf came to investigate.
M6LXdS4l.jpg


The other hunter got his bear, a beautiful arctic grizzly, after a half-mile stalk. Well done!

The sun never set during our hunt. This is about as low in the sky as it got:
I1jki6vl.jpg


Every stalk required wading this little stream:
mDi7sdRl.jpg


Normal hunting attire. Gore Tex shell, over fleece and down. Leather boots and gaiters, or rubber hip boots:
40rJdsAl.jpg


Eventually, after several days of seeing nothing but caribou, and a few wolves, a bear was seen! He was headed our direction, coming up the valley, and looked big. We watched briefly, then got rid of our warm clothing, stuffing it in our packs and set out on the stalk, rapidly! Our stalk was probably about a mile, maybe a bit less. After crossing the stream, we got into the willows and visibility was no more than 40 yards. In many places far less, though the willows were still dormant and had no leaves yet. I chambered a round, made sure my safety was on, and checked to make sure the ancient 2-7x Redfield was dialed down to 2x.

Suddenly, there he was! No more than 50 yards away, above us, and headed our way.

I'm normally a pretty cool shot, not one to get over-excited, and I was shooting a rifle very familiar to me. That said, I missed a grizzly at 40 - 50 yards. Missed the entire bear... Am sure I shot right over him, before getting the crosshairs on the bear.

He came forward, then turned offering me his right side. I'd calmed down and sent a bullet into his right fore-leg/shoulder, breaking it, and entering into the lungs. He instantly toppled, rolling downhill. Then almost as fast he was back on his feet! At this point the guide and I both opened fire. We wanted to prevent him from reaching the cover of the willows. We scored a couple of poor hits, then a shot from my .30-06 dropped him. My rifle was empty! I started to reload, and the guide handed me his .338 to finish the bear, which I did. We were at about 15 - 20 yards for the last shot.

rBidVQMl.jpg


I have a fair bit of experience with black bears, but this is my only grizzly. In comparison to a coastal brown bear or a Kodiak, he's smallish. He squared a bit over 8' and has a 22.5" skull. He won't make the record book. I'm told that he's an old bear, from the teeth and the ivory colored claws, and that for the arctic, he's a very big grizzly. His hide is incredible. Full furred, deep, and nicely colored.
6tkkWEal.jpg


ai4HOjM.jpg


We spent another day or two in camp, fleshing out the hide. Resting. Waiting for the return of our plane. Then I drove home, by a somewhat longer route through The Yukon, British Columbia and Alberta. Again, an a amazing drive through terrific country!

I used my very familiar 30-06 Rem 700 CDL with an old 2-7x Redfield which has served me well. For ammunition I handloaded 200 grain Nosler Partitions with H4350 for a bit over 2600 fps, mild recoil and excellent accuracy. I almost took my .375 on the hunt, but the outfitter asked two key questions:
1) This is rough country. Which rifle is lighter?
2) This is tundra, a 300 yard shot is possible. Which one do you shoot better at 300 yards?

So... I decided on the 30-06 rifle. Had I known I'd take my first shot at 40 or 50 yards, I'd have brought the .375 for sure! Also, I have made first round kills at a bit over 300 yards with the .375 in the past, on black bear. So... Who knows? Either way, it worked out.

The guides & outfitter were great! I'm not sure yet if I'm allowed to mention their names or link to their web sites on this forum, so I'll wait for that.

Regards, Guy

I like your wolf. Sounds like s terrific hunting trip and congratulations.
 

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