Prospecting for Brown Gold

By Gary English
Alaska, Guided, Public Land

Gary English - Prospecting for Brown GoldDecember/January 2014 EHJ (Issue 140) - My fascination with the giant Alaska brown bear started when I was 12 or 13 years old. I can remember looking through the Boone and Crockett records book and being amazed at the sheer size of the coastal brown bears and Kodiak Island where most of them came from. At that moment, I wanted to hunt this mysterious island and take a world-class brown bear.

Over the next 35 years the desire to hunt brown bears on Kodiak only intensified. After securing a permit, my hunt dates were set for late April and my quest for a giant brown bear began.

The hunt was in Ugak Bay of Kodiak Island with master guide-outfitter Brian Peterson. Base camp was a lodge and we used a skiff to access the numerous inlets and beaches, glassing the hillsides and snow-capped mountains for bears.

Days one and two pounded down heavy rain and thick fog took the visibility to zero. Day three was different though; not only did we have rain and fog, we also had snow and wind – not unusual for Kodiak. We dressed for the weather and enjoyed hunting in the raw elements. I knew things had to get better, but I definitely didn’t expect to have the next seven days without a cloud in the Alaskan sky.

With the clear, warm weather and sunshine, Brian explained, "The bears should really start moving.”

By the time he got the words out of his mouth, I spotted a bear at the head of the bay, but he was too small for me. Things were looking up. The weather was great and we had just spotted another bear. From that day on, spotting bears was a regular occurrence. Some were sows with cubs, some were small boars and one was a beautiful nine footer that got me pretty excited.

On Day five I spotted a big nine-anda- half-foot bear that was completely rubbed to the wool on half his body. Days Six and Seven brought more bear sightings. In the early afternoon of Day Seven, Brian spotted yet another bear.

"We might have found your bear! Let’s just watch him and see what he does.” Brian said.

He looked to be at least nine-and-ahalf- feet with only minor rubs. The bear was a long ways off and about 400 yards above the beach on a hillside. Over the course of the next hour we watched the old boar meander across the hillside, walking from alder patch to alder patch rooting around for something to eat. Eventually, he walked into an alder patch about the size of a football field and didn’t come out.

After a while, Brian said, "He’s taking a nap. Let’s go get him.”

Gary English - Prospecting for Brown Gold

For a full account of Gary's adventure, go to page 14 in the December/January 2014 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.