This is Part V of a five-part series of Steve's Alaskan Bear Adventure
Click here for Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV
Steve West of "Steve’s Outdoor Adventures" took his show on the road for bear hunts in the Alaskan wilderness. Through April into early May, West and his team awaited the warmup that would bring bears out of their dens.
West, a professional hunting consultant who books clients for trips, teamed with DeLorme inReach to update followers of the bear hunts, which will be featured on his Outdoor Channel show starting in October.
Following is West’s daily account and photographs of this Alaskan Bear Adventure.
See his entries and photos from April 23-26.
See his entries and photos from April 18-22.
See his entries and photos from April 13-17.
See his entries and photos from April 8-12.
April 27, 2013
About noon we crawl out of the frozen tents and hike up over the mountain and start glassing the dens. We can see three of them clearly from one spot and know the other two are there but from our angle we cannot find them in our optics. A bear is finally spotted; he was there the whole time just hidden until he got up.
2:30 p.m. Dan McArthur shoots his first bear at 180 yards twice. The bear cartwheels 1,000 feet down the mountain. Before we head down the mountain, we review the film. It’s awesome video. This will make an awesome TV show!
Things get REAL for me after that when I twisted my knee in a fall through snow and headed back to camp by myself up and over the steep mountainside. I started assessing my fitness which is non-existent, and decided to get into better condition and lose weight and fast as soon as I get home.
The crew returns around 9 p.m. with the bear and my cameramen report that they have awesome video. But everyone looks completely exhausted and our cameras need a few hours in a warm room being cleaned and cared for before we continue the adventure … so I arrange a day back in Anchorage via inReach for the boys tomorrow. We might even spend the night and recharge batteries. Ours and the cameras!
April 28, 2013
11 a.m. We landed on Judd Lake to meet Joe Schuster for a Beaver flight to town. Tommy Moe, Olympic gold medalist skier and co-owner of Tordillo Lodge, treated us. Warren Miller and staff are here filming helicopter skiing.
We get to town, meet up with Scott Carr, who is back to finish his hunt. Hicks and I decide the best thing is for the crew to overnight and fly out tomorrow so we can look for bears along the way.
Bob Meyer is in town, too! He will be out in a day or two after he explores Anchorage! Two bears down, two to go!
April 29, 2013
2:30 p.m. Hicks and Doug take Ian and Scott to go fly for bears.
3:30 p.m. Jeremy, Dan and I fly with Joe Schuster back to camp
5:45 p.m. No one spots any big bears but there are three new holes behind camp. That makes eight den holes within a mile of our existing camp. We decide to stay here and check those dens out tomorrow.
We shot one bear, and the sow with two cubs is on the other den. That is six dens with possible big bears. Odds are we will find another shooter bear!
Clear, very cold, evening ... This will be a shivering cold SOB tonight.
April 30, 2013
Woke up at 8:30 a.m. to lightly falling snow and low clouds, and it is a lot warmer than it has been. Around 2 a.m. the temperature jumped up, probably when the clouds rolled in and the snow started falling.
By 11 a.m. we had an inch of fresh snow. Not ideal for finding grizzlies but it cleans up the tracks and we will now have little trouble finding fresh tracks around the dens. This will narrow our search significantly so we are only looking at loaded dens! You have to find the positive aspect in everything. Plus we sleep better when it is 35 degrees instead of 15 degrees at night.
Unfortunately the clouds are so low we can’t see anything, so we hang out close to camp and wait. Right before dark Hicks rolls in with Bob Meyer, our other hunter who wanted to spend a few days in camp rather than wait in town. We set up a third tent for him, an orange MSR tent, not as good as the bomb shelters but good enough for one guy.
May 1, 2013
9 a.m. We wake up to sunny and breezy conditions, and the clouds have blown out and we decide to snowshoe around the mountain, climb a small pass and glass for the three dens we had spotted from the air. I am definitely in better shape now as I did not get winded and my legs feel great. The dens are inactive, no tracks or open den holes that we can see. The consensus is we believe most of the bears dug out and headed to low country. Doug flies into camp and heads back out to look for bears while we are on the mountain.
Three hours later we get back to camp, a short while later Doug returns. Not good news, he only spotted one small bear on a den, no new tracks, and a big winter storm coming. We brace for the worst.
May 2, 2013
Awoke at 9 a.m. to two inches of fresh snow and very little visibility. Regardless, we leave at noon and snowshoe to a vantage point to glass and watch a valley. Two hours later visibility is zero. Moral is damn low, and we get word that the worst weather is just arriving.
Hicks tried to resupply our groceries, couldn't make it, no ceiling to fly. He had to land in the low country and got his plane stuck for a while.
Jeremy gives Scott an Indian name, "Black Cloud," because he has bad weather luck!
Snowing hard as we go to bed, and I am now fearing the worst.
May 3, 2013
I woke up at about 8 a.m., and I am now at decision time.
This is a worst-case scenario for bear hunting, we have 12 inches of fresh snow and it is still falling fast. Zero visibility with clouds so low you can barely make out the tents from 10 yards away. I had told my cameramen that we would film thru May 5. Dan shoots video for a Coast Guard show that is expecting him back soon, and time is now running short … I make the call, when the weather clears my team and I are out of here, as soon as Schuster and his Beaver can fly and land in here.
Food is low, moral is low, however cameraman Ian is working hard to keep everyone laughing. He is a bright spot in an otherwise dismal day. This kid can sing!
Forecast calls for more snow before a break tomorrow. With a little luck we can get out of here tomorrow and fly home. 25 days since I last saw my wife, I am definitely ready for home.
May 4, 2013
We woke up to sunny skies and a light breeze, figured we were getting out for sure. I called for the plane to come get us, only to find out Anchorage is in a Blizzard and low ceiling, no flying on their end. I checked back at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., and kept getting bad news. The last chance was at 4 p.m. when I made my last call. The ceiling in town had lifted and the Beaver and two cubs are in the air!
Joe Schuster brought in the beaver to get us and Hicks and Doug flew in with the cubs. It was 60 degrees and hot sun on the snow at camp. I feel like we are leaving a day or two early -- the weather has turned perfect. But my cameramen have to get home.
On the way in, the cub pilots call on the radio and report bears popping out everywhere ... Ol' lucky Scott Carr leaves and the weather turns perfect.
(We found out that Bob Meyer) shot his bear the next day!
I got to town at 7:30 p.m., hustled back to the Millennium Hotel to pack my gear, shower, and eat dinner and make my midnight red eye flight home.
May 5, 2013
11 a.m. I am back home!
Click image to view photos from April 27 to May 5
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