Moose Hunting for Bear

By Paul Atkins

Paul Atkins

Paul Atkins
Alaska, 2009, DIY, Public Land 

This didn't start out to be a bear hunt, even though I had a tag in my pocket. Our focus was moose and caribou, but with all the bears in the area, things soon changed.

My friend Carl and I had planned this hunt for over a year. I wanted to go to a place high above the Arctic Circle where I had taken big moose and some fine caribou bulls.

It was midday when we set camp. We pitched two tents high up on the river bank - one for sleeping and one for gear storage. We then gathered firewood and covered it with a tarp. One thing I knew for sure was that it would rain, and a fire after a long day of hunting would be a pleasure.

Before hitting the sleeping bags, we inflated my portable raft. When hunting near a river, rafts are ideal for the hard work involved in getting moose or caribou from point A to point B. They are lifesavers, since packing a moose even a short distance can be back-breaking work.

Early in the morning we awoke instantly to a sound you don’t want to hear in the dark outside of your tent. It was the popping of teeth and an unmistakable “woof, woof” sound! With pistol and rifle in hand, Carl and I were wide awake wondering what to expect next.

The bear was just outside of our tent inching closer and then backing off again. He did this for what seemed like forever before departing, and to say the least, we didn’t get back to sleep that night.

Dawn finally arrived and we emerged from the tent, which was encircled by huge bear tracks. We expected to see our supplies strung out across the tundra, but all looked well until I saw that he had completely destroyed our raft.

After breakfast we proceeded on foot to a nearby hill. It was a good place to peer into the low-lying willows for moose. After two hours and no sign, we headed down the bank to a willow-choked stream to spot and hopefully stalk something.

Paul Atkins

For a full account of Paul's adventure, go to page 52 in the August/September 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.