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June 1, 2023
I remember as a young bowhunter starting out back in the 80‘s I spent hours mesmerized by the tales of guys like Pete Shepley, Randy Ulmer, Chuck Adams, and MR James. I was especially intrigued by the dangerous game and what a thrill it must be to take one of the great bears of Alaska and Canada at ultra-close range, with bow and arrow. Back then all of that seemed like an unattainable dream to a working guy with a wife and kids, nevertheless the fire to bow hunt the wildest places still burned bright in my soul. It was this burning that inspired me to put all I had on the line back in 2000 and take an incredible life-changing journey into the archery and hunting industry professionally. That decision changed my life and now I am living the life that seemed so unattainable back when I was a kid. I have been fortunate enough now to have bow hunted all over the USA and the world, but it wasn’t until the SCI show in 2019 that I took my initial step into the world of bow hunting dangerous game, specifically giant coastal brown bear.
I had spent a fair amount of time studying the challenge of taking a brown bear with archery gear and one of the first things that stood out was the very limited number of outfitters that will even take bowhunters. Most outfitters cater only to rifle hunters I believe partly because of how incredibly difficult it is to get a bowhunter in range of one of these giants, but also because of the obvious inherent danger involved. But it was the danger that drew me in and made me determined to make this happen at some point in my life.
I have also been blessed to know some of the top bowhunters in the world and many of whom have completed the coveted Super Slam with archery gear. I knew full well that many of them failed to take bears in their first and sometimes even second and third attempts. Another factor is that this type of hunting is far from cheap, and my finances would be strained enough to go just one time, so I knew I needed to make it count.
On top of that I had one other requirement. I wanted to hunt where there was a real possibility to take a world record class bear. In my research that meant either Kodiak Island, Afognak Island, or a relatively small region of the Alaskan Peninsula- specifically Unit 9 which has been managed by Alaskan fish and game to have the largest brown bears on earth. So needless to say, my options were very limited.
While walking the SCI show floor in 2019 I saw a banner with Tom Maranda’s photo holding a giant brown bear. I knew from my research that Tom had hunted one of those coveted areas, so I stopped by the booth and met Preston Cavner of Cavner and Julian guide service. His area was in the heart of unit 9 not far from where the world record archery bear was taken in 2018. But what really intrigued me was that Preston offered a boat-based hunt that would allow me to hunt miles of Alaskan coastline by boat so we could cover much more ground than the typical land-based hunt. Also, he offered spring hunts during the bear rut, and I had heard this was the best time to take a true giant as they perused the coastline searching for receptive sows.
Brown bears in this area are only hunted in the spring every other year so I booked a hunt with Preston for the spring of 2020 and was elated as I left the show with what was in store. What I didn’t know was what hand fate would deal me personally as well as to the rest of the world in 2020.
I had shoulder surgery scheduled for May 2019 to repair a partially torn rotator cuff, but the plan was to be fully healed well before my bear hunt. But fate had other plans when I re-tore my shoulder in September and that meant another full surgery in late 2019. At that point there was no way I would be able to go on my dream hunt in May 2020. Of course, I was completely devastated, but on top of that I would lose my hunt deposit unless I could find another hunter to take my spot.
Luckily, I had a close friend who is an incredible bowhunter named Casey Brooks, who was interested in bailing me out and he booked my spot as well as another for his father Pat. I was relieved but at the same time disappointed that my hunt would need to wait until at least 2022. Then in early 2020 the world changed overnight as the Covid pandemic swept the world. This shut down the 2020 spring bear hunting in Alaska along with just about everything else in the world.
When we came out of the pandemic, I found out that the state of Alaska was going to run the spring brown bear hunt in 2021 since it didn’t happen in 2020. That meant that not only would I get to go at least a year earlier than I expected but also, I would join my friends on the hunt as well. Also, the spring bears had not been hunted in 3 years, so the trophy potential was better than ever. I couldn’t wait for May to arrive and finally be able to experience the Alaskan Peninsula and the Giant bears that live there!
I had spent much of the covid lockdown healing my shoulder, shooting my bow, and fine tuning my equipment. I would be shooting my PSE Mach 1 set at 70 pounds, Victory TKO arrows tipped with my trusty shuttle T-loc broadheads. My arrows weighed in at 455 grains and were basically the same set up I had used in the past for everything from elk and eland to moose and countless other species. I talked to several friends who had been there and done that and I was confident that this setup would be just as deadly on a big brownie as well. I also had the Nock on Elevate rest, Spot Hogg “Hogfather” sight, and custom strings of my own design. My arrows were moving right at 300 fps and were driving tacks out to 80 yards. When I boarded the plane for Anchorage on May 8th, 2021, I was stoked and ready for the adventure!
I would be filming this hunt for our TV show “Hunting with HECS” (on the Pursuit Channel) so accompanying me was our producer/cameraman Rex Summerfield. Rex is a veteran cameraman of over 30 years and a trusted friend. There is no one I would rather share this experience with, and I knew Rex would do his level best to capture the adventure on film so we could share it with the world.
We would also be testing the show’s namesake, HECS technology, on yet another species. HECS is an incredible technology that actually blocks our natural bioelectric signature (www.HECShunting.com). A 2016 study found that like birds, bears (as well as canines and many other species) could actually see these electrical emissions visually and they use this to tell living beings from inanimate objects. I have taken many black bears using HECS and the difference was profound, so I expected to see similar things with the big Brownies as well.
We flew from Boise Idaho to Anchorage where we stayed the night. Early the next morning we boarded a small charter plane to the little native town of Perryville on the Alaskan Peninsula. The runway was a desolate, mostly gravel strip that had no terminal or buildings other than a small fuel shed and a locked equipment shed. There were 6 hunters total that were on the flight, and we were told that Preston would soon be flying in to shuttle us into the main camp 50 miles away. The problem was (as it often is in coastal Alaska) less than ideal weather. It began to rain and blow consistently so our little group took cover in the fuel shed and waited. Several hours passed and some of us were beginning to wonder if we would be spending the night there when we finally heard the drone of a small plane. Soon Preston landed and began shuttling us all into our respective camps. It took the better part of the afternoon and due to the weather Preston even had to change from a 3-passenger plane to a small super cub to get us all in, but soon we were all in the base camp. There we shot our bows for a bit and then transferred all our gear to the boat anchored in a small river inlet. This converted commercial fishing boat with living quarters would be our home for the next several days. From there we would take small skiffs out in various directions looking for bears along the beach.
The next morning dawned clear and calm which was surprising to me given the storm that had bounced us around the day before. As the daylight got brighter, we were treated to some of the most spectacular natural scenery I have ever seen. The sea was flat as glass and the snow capped peaks that surrounded the bay sparkled off the water in every direction. I could clearly see why so many people refer to this part of the world as “Jurassic Park”! It was truly wild and untouched in every direction. There was also wildlife everywhere you looked. We saw seals and bald eagles and waterfowl in abundance and in many species. Rex was busy capturing the beauty on film and I took photos and video on my cell phone. Preston’s young son Hudson was also with us to help with the boat should we need to beach it quickly to go on a stalk.
Soon the boat motor slowed, and we began the process of glassing the beach and hillsides in hopes of finding a brown bear to stalk. We had glassed about 2 hours when Preston said, “there’s 2 bears and one looks like it may be a shooter!” I instantly focused my Leica’s in the direction Preston was pointing and soon I was laying eyes on my first and second Alaskan giant! There was a beautiful boar and a sow in the boulders on the beach maybe 200 yards out. They were chasing each other around but soon headed up the hill and onto a small bench that was choked with thick alder brush. The hillside above them was equally thick and vertical as well. I could see that if we couldn’t catch a bear right on the beach that trying to climb through the brush would be nearly impossible. As the bears disappeared in the brush Preston suggested that we leave them alone and come back by in an hour or so in hopes the pair may return to the beach.
We had only gone another mile or so when my eye caught a weird looking light brown object on top of what at first appeared to be a large piece of driftwood. It really didn’t look like anything at first but as we continued by, I began to make out what looked like a short tail and soon I had to ask Preston if I was looking at a bear. As soon as Preston saw it, he instantly said “big bear asleep!” We could soon see the entire side of a huge blonde colored bear stretched out on what appeared to be a small washed-up whale and sound asleep!
What luck! Day 1 of the hunt and we had found a huge bear sound asleep on the beach. What was even better was that the beach was located on a small spit of land that jutted out into the Pacific Ocean and we could easily get the boat around to the back side leaving what appeared to be a very short stalk over the top of the ridge and right above the bear. It was a bowhunter’s dream and I couldn’t believe it was happening to me on day 1!
We quietly motored the boat past the sleeping giant with no reaction at all. In less than 10 minutes we were slowly climbing the small ridge that would take us directly above where the bear was laying. Another 5 minutes later we topped out on the ridge and silently moved toward the bear’s last known position. Everything seemed perfect until I felt a strong breeze hit the back of my head and blowing off the cliff directly toward the bear. When we finally saw the carcass, the bear had disappeared. He had undoubtedly winded us when we topped the ridge. All that was still there was a small red fox that was also feeding on the carcass. I was disappointed of course, but at the same time stoked to have already seen 3 huge bears and one that was obviously feeding on this washed-up carcass. We could now see that what we thought was a small whale, was actually a dead sea lion that appeared to have been there several days. The carcass was huge but all I could think about was how much of the sea lion was covered when the bear was on top of it! We knew we had a world class bear on our hands! The great news was we now had a great food source that was being hit by a trophy bear and in an incredible position for a bowhunter to stalk in close. This bear became the focus of my thoughts and I felt that if we played our cards right, we would have a great chance of getting this bear!
The second day of the hunt dawned clear and calm, and we were on the water right at first light. It was 6 to 7 miles over to where the big bear was on the sea lion, so we were heading up the coastline at a pretty quick pace. We had only gone about 2 miles when Preston suddenly throttled back the motor and pointed to a distant shoreline. It was still pretty dark, but we could see a large dark object moving along the rocky beach about ½ mile away. A look through the binoculars confirmed it was indeed a brown bear and it was an absolute giant to boot! Preston quickly turned the boat toward the shore and soon we were on foot and stalking up the beach toward the huge bear. Through binoculars we could see his dark hide rippling as he headed steadily around the inlet in our direction. The bear was still probably 1000 yards away and although he was just walking, his pace was eating up the ground between us at an astounding rate.
We hurried up the beach to close the gap as much as possible from our side and when the bear reached the corner of the inlet instead of continuing up the beach toward us, he turned and headed toward the brushy hillside. Thinking that he was leaving the beach we hurried up to the spot where we last saw the bruin. Little did we know that the bear was apparently just checking something out in the high grass because when we topped a small rise the giant bear was coming back to the beach and right toward us! I quickly ranged him at 35 yards and immediately got ready for a shot, but the bear was facing directly at me. I detest the head on shot angle especially on big dangerous game. I stayed focused however because I have had many such experiences with black bears while wearing HECS. I fully expected the bear to slowly turn broadside and give me the shot I needed. To my surprise the huge bear soon bolted straight away from us and headed up the hill in a noisy retreat to the thick stuff.
I was extremely surprised by the bear’s reaction. As I said, I have been in the exact same situation at least a dozen times with mature black bears while wearing HECS technology and I have never had a bear react that way. We had the wind perfectly in our face and so I had expected a similar reaction from this bear as well. As I turned to Preston, I could see that he wasn’t wearing the HECS face mask that I had given him when the hunt started so I asked if he was wearing the HECS base layer. He sheepishly admitted that he had forgotten to put it on that morning. I am not sure at the time that Preston believed me when I said that I felt that mistake cost us that bear but by the end of our hunt I think he too was convinced that HECS is a huge advantage- when you have it on that is! To pour salt in my open wound, Preston said that he felt that bear would be in the top 2 or 3 bears ever taken with a bow. I knew he was a giant but that really put it into perspective and made me want one of these behemoths even more.
It was now fully daylight and we headed back to the boat and pointed it toward the sea lion carcass. We were hoping that like the day before that big blonde bear was still lounging on the carcass and we would have another chance. We approached the area with a brisk wind in our face and were just about to beach the boat to sneak in when we saw the huge bear on a low ridge about 80 yards out. He was walking slowly, angling past our position and up toward a nearby knob. We quickly headed up a small draw that we hoped might get us in front of the bear and soon we saw the bear top over the knob and head into the draw we were waiting in. The problem now, however, was the wind. It was blowing right up the draw as soon the giant bear reacted to our scent with a huge growling hiss and a short charge! He was 50 yards out when he turned broadside and began walking to my left. He paused briefly in a small opening but not long enough to get an arrow headed his way. As he lumbered away, we could see that this too was a giant bear and looked to be past his prime. He walked stiffly and had visible scars from countless fights in his past. As he disappeared into the thick alder brush Preston said that bear was a dinosaur- and that was what we called him for the rest of the hunt. How fitting- bow hunting a dinosaur in Jurassic Park!
While I was disappointed that I never got a shot I was also elated that I had not 1 but 2 stalks on huge bears, either one of which could have easily yielded success if we could have just caught a break. That is what makes bowhunting so special and satisfying. Had I been packing a rifle, I would have undoubtedly been tagged out with a monster, but for me the hunt is not about the filled tag. It’s really about those close calls and near misses that makes the memory so complete!
We hunted the rest of the day and we saw several bears up on the steep hillsides. We saw several breeding pairs that were not in a stalkable place. It was cool to watch as they seemed to almost be fighting then they would roll down the hill together in an almost playful way. We watched and filmed them for several hours before heading back to the main boat, ending another epic bow hunting day.
We got started early once again and headed toward where we had encountered the dinosaur the day before. We saw several smaller bears on the way but nothing that was mature enough or in a stalk able position. When we got to the sea lion, we saw no bears and from the sign it looked like he had hit in the darkness and left well before light. The previous 2 days he had been disturbed so it didn’t really surprise me that he had seemingly gone nocturnal. We looked over a ton of beautiful country the rest of the day but didn’t see anything we could hunt.
We decided to go back to the sea lion for the last 2 hours of light and set up close by where we could try to ambush the bear if he came back in to feed. The tide was high as we motored into the little inlet and soon, we were perched above the sea lion on a terrifyingly narrow ridge just 20 yards from the main trail the bear had been using to access the carcass. The ridge had a sheer rock cliff to my left and it dropped off almost as steeply on my right with some knurly alder brush growing from the side. We sat up with me in the front, Rex behind me and Preston (with his rifle) behind Rex. I was sitting in a small bush that had been ripped from the ground by a bear sometime in the recent near past.
It soon became apparent that this was a very risky situation. If the bear came in and just went straight down the trail, I would have him broadside at 20 yards. But if he decides to walk out on the little ridge to check things out, he would be in my lap most likely head on. We were all pretty much in a straight line with the Pacific Ocean at our backs. There would be no place to retreat to and if it got harried, Preston would be in line behind both Rex and I so a rifle shot could be dangerous. Also, the bear would not be visible to us until he was within about 40 yards so we wouldn’t have much warning if he showed up.
As I sat there, I was seriously questioning my sanity, but I was there now so I had to stick it out. As it began to get dark everything was very still. Even the ocean seemed quiet as I strained my eyes and ears trying to get a first glimpse of the incoming bruin. I had my 500 smith and Wesson handgun out of the holster and at the ready beside me if things turned bad and my release hooked on the string loop. Finally, it was just too dark to make an ethical shot. We slowly crept out and back to the boat. The bear never showed. A sigh of relief came over me as we motored out of the inlet. That was one of the most intense experiences of my bowhunting career and we never even saw an animal!
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The next day it was apparent that our good weather was beginning to deteriorate. While the rain was not yet upon us the clouds were low and the beautiful mountain scenery that we had been spoiled by the past few days was now cloaked in eerie clouds and fog. The feeling was optimistic for the morning as we once again headed toward the sea lion carcass in hopes of catching the bear we were now calling “dinosaur” there. The sea was a bit rougher than on the previous days and the trip was much slower than we had become accustomed to.
We had gone maybe 2 miles when we noticed 2 bears on the beach, and we decided to go in for a closer look. As we got closer, we could see there was a big boar and a beautiful blonde colored sow. As we closed the distance the big boar wandered up into the brush above the beach, but the sow stayed there gorging on the seaweed that had washed ashore. There was really no good opportunity for a stalk due to the wind direction so Preston decided just to bring the boat directly toward the sow so we could get some good footage of her. We slowly motored closer. She got nervous and retreated about 20 yards but soon came right back to the shoreline and began feeding once again. We were close to a distance of only 35 yards, and she just stood there looking at us.
We were able to get some incredible footage and she never ran off. I asked Preston if it is common to be able to boat right up to these bears and he told me he had never seen it before. He was expecting the bear to run off before we were 100 yards out and he was amazed that it came back and let us get well within archery range and never left! Once we got the footage, we needed Preston started the boat motor and we slowly backed away. The bear never ran or really even reacted to us. We were all wearing HECS head to toe and even Preston admitted that it was a very unusual encounter.
We had gone another mile or two toward the carcass when we saw a huge bear walking up the beach about 300 yards away. One look told us that this was a monster boar, so we quickly got ahead of him and out of sight and beached the boat on the rocky shoreline. There was a rocky point separating the beach the bear was on and our landing spot, so we quickly gathered our gear and hurried up to where we could see back to where the bear had been.
Once we reached the rocky point, we could see that the bear was now well up the hillside and heading for impossibly thick cover. Thinking that that opportunity had passed, we headed back to the boat and pushed back out. To our surprise, however, as soon as we could again see the beach where the giant bear had been we could see that he had returned to the beach and was once again heading toward a perfect ambush spot! We instantly reversed course and in a matter of a few minutes we were once again on the rocky point, only this time the huge bear was 90 yards out and heading straight toward us!
We got set up and watched as the giant bear lumbered toward our position in no particular hurry. At one point he stood on his hind legs and rubbed his back on some alder brush that was sticking out of the steep hillside. I was in a great position as the bear closed the distance. If he kept on his current path, he would be at point blank range!
My rangefinder read 70 then 60 then 50! I just knew in my mind that this bear would soon be in our lap, and I would be getting an easy top pin shot. At 50 yards he turned broadside and sniffed something on the hillside. It was a perfect shot opportunity and well within my effective range, but I decided to wait. But just then, instead of turning toward us as I expected, the bear began climbing the steep hillside! I waited patiently in hopes that he would again return to his beach route but soon the bear was out of my sight around the big rock overhang I was behind. I then decided my only chance was to creep down the beach as quietly as possible and hope to have a shot at the bear as he climbed the mountainside.
I could soon see the bear walking up a steep trail at 35 yards. His angle was perfect but try as I might I just couldn’t see a clear path for my arrow. The bear was completely oblivious of me and was digging at something in the brush. I was going out of my mind trying to see any opportunity to get an arrow to his vitals but there just wasn’t any. Finally, the huge boar just slowly walked up the hill and disappeared into a jungle of alder brush.
I was thrilled and devastated again at the same time. I was so certain that the bear would come closer that I ignored a great opportunity within my effective range. As a bowhunter those are the things that we must learn to expect but on a giant bear of this caliber this sting was more like a thousand bald hornets! Nevertheless, I had the encounter and the memory of the close call. All we could do was go back to the boat and keep trying!
When we finally made it to the sea lion carcass it was mid-morning and as we kind of expected there were no bears there. There was however a set of giant “dinosaur” tracks in the sand leading away from the carcass. Since the tide had just started to recede, we knew they were fresh and that he was definitely there in the daylight! They headed right back to the area where we felt the bear had been spending his days, so this gave me new resolve. I needed to hunt this bear exclusively if I wanted to take him home.
The weather soon took a major turn for the worse. The rain started pelting us relentlessly and we decided it would be best to retreat to the big boat to wait it out. The crew had moved the big boat up into a somewhat protected cove, but the trip back was interesting to say the least! The once serene ocean was now furious, and the waves pummeled our little 16-foot boat relentlessly. After more than a few tense moments we were soon back on the big boat and trying to dry off from the drenching.
It was obvious that hunting the dinosaur that evening would be impossible, so we settled in to wait out the storm. About an hour before dark the rain let up for a short while and one of the guys saw a bear on the beach about 400 yards out from the big boat. We couldn’t really tell its size so with nothing to lose, we decided it was worth getting a closer look, so we donned the rain gear and were soon in the skiff heading toward a spot on the beach 200 yards from the feeding bear. Before we hit the shoreline the rain started back in earnest. It was raining so hard that it was hard to see more than about 50 yards and the wind was gusting from my right. We stalked toward where the bear had been and soon the bruin appeared from the fog at 35 yards! We knelt down to assess the bear and soon saw it was a big sow and certainly not one we were really after, so we soon backed out. As we walked back to the boat in the drenching rain, I was thinking what an incredible day I had just had! I had been inside an archery range of 3 Alaskan brown bears, one of which was a giant boar! While no arrows were released and the weather was beating the tar out of us, it was still one of the most eventful days in my hunting career.
When we got back aboard the big boat, we discussed the plan for the next morning. The weather report was calling for clearing by daylight with a return to storms by the afternoon. It seemed obvious that if we wanted to get a chance at the dinosaur, we needed to get there at the absolute first light and not get distracted by the other bears. So, we decided the next morning we would leave the main boat in the dark at about 4:00 AM with the intention to be stalking above the sea lion carcass at first light.
Day 5 was cool but calm as we motored away from the main boat in the dark. We all knew the plan, so we just snuggled down inside our jackets to try to stay as warm as possible for the ride to the carcass. I was glad to see the calm weather after the drenching we got the day before, but the forecast was for more rain and wind by the afternoon. The clouds were high up the mountainside, so everything looked good at the moment. We just needed the dinosaur to cooperate!
Soon we could see our intended landing spot through the gray light and there was a light wind in our face as we quietly pulled the skiff ashore and made our way up the small ridge that would lead us to a point directly above the carcass. We had to move slowly through the knee-high brush to keep our approach quiet and we were soon nearing the cliff edge where we would know if we had a giant bear or just an empty beach below us. Preston moved ahead and I was right by his side as we slowly eased out and peeked off the cliff at the beach below. We had misjudged the position of the sea lion slightly, so our first look yielded just an empty rocky shoreline. We silently pulled back away from the edge and moved another 30 yards before taking another peek.
This time I could see the sea lion carcass right below me and Preston was excitedly pointing straight down the cliff face! I moved slightly and then saw the giant bear standing broadside looking up at me at point blank range! Rex was a few steps behind so I hurriedly motioned him up so he could film while I hooked my release and got ready to shoot. Rex was soon beside me and the film was rolling, but before I could get drawn the bear slowly walked around the rock point and out of sight. We quickly moved a few yards further down the cliff edge and we could see him once again, this time slightly quartering away and looking out across the ocean paying us no mind at all! My rangefinder said 16 yards and it was nearly straight down. The bright green pin settled solidly in the crease behind his shoulder and my mind whispered, “take your time”!
That visual image will live with me forever! For most of my life I have been dreaming of this moment and now I wanted to savor it and burn it in my memory. Then without even realizing it the arrow was gone from my bow and burying exactly behind that top pin!
I could instantly see that penetration was good and the placement was perfect as the bear gave a loud woof and bolted to my right and around the cliff face. On his second jump I could see my lighted nock and fletching go flying toward the ocean as his massive shoulder broke the arrow off just in front of the fletch. I could also see the crimson spray from a collapsing lung shoot out and into the tidewater turning it an instant red. Preston and I dashed down the ridge toward where the bear was heading and soon, I saw him lope across the end of the ridge about 70 yards out. I quickly took another shot at him running but that arrow sailed just behind him. I could see the blood on the ground even from there so I was confident he wouldn’t go far.
Preston and I tried to regain some form of composure as the bear disappeared behind the rock overhang. We could see the entire area past that about 200 yards out, so if the bear made it that far we would certainly be able to see it. We waited about 10 minutes but there was no more sign of the bear. We then cautiously moved up to the rocky overhang and peeked over. There below us we could see the dinosaur piled up in some big boulders, his blood drenched side shining brightly as the sun momentarily peeked through the clouds on the horizon.
Then the rush of emotion hit me like a freight train! I began to shake as the adrenaline dumped from my body and I began to realize I had finally done it! Finally, I joined the handful of bowhunters who have successfully taken one of these behemoths! It was a feeling unlike any other I had ever felt in my hunting career and one that I will most likely never top again.
As we approached this fallen monster, he only got bigger and bigger! His head was unbelievably massive, and it took all my strength to even hold it up! His paws were over ten inches across and to hold one simply defied all logic. And to top it all off he was an amazing blonde color phase which made him even more stunning!
We spent the next hour filming, taking pictures and just reliving the moment while the weather was holding. By the time we had the skin off and the processing completed it was already past noon and rain began to spit at us off and on. Also, we had arrived during the high tide so by now the tide had receded a good 30 yards leaving our little skiff setting high and dry. We gathered some nearby driftwood logs to make rollers under the skiff and soon we had it headed back toward the water and back afloat. We then loaded up gear, bear, and exhausted hunters and pointed the skiff toward camp in the distance.
By the time we arrived it was late afternoon, and the sea was churning again. We decided the best course of action was to stop by the main boat just long enough to grab our gear and then take the skiff straight back to the river inlet where the base camp cabin was. By the time we reached the inlet Mother Nature was showing her power once again. The tiny skiff was churning and jumping with every white capped wave, and we were holding on to the boat and gear just trying to keep it all in and upright.
It was nearly dark by the time we cracked open the cabin door and were greeted by a roaring fire and a joyous crew. It was a welcome end to one of the most incredible bowhunting experiences I have ever had the blessing to enjoy. As we dried our gear and shared photos, videos, and stories with the one other hunter as well as the guides and helpers that were in the cabin it was apparent that I had now completed a once in a lifetime “bucket list “adventure with all of the ups and downs you could ever want and came out victorious. I truly believe that this was a blessing from God himself and I will be forever grateful for my entire experience in Jurassic Park!
Author’s note- My Alaskan brown bear skull ended up scoring 27- 7/8” and his hide squared over 10 feet. My buddy Casey Brooks did not take a bear on this hunt as he was holding out for a true giant. He had many encounters with nice bears, just not one he wanted to take. His Father Pat took a great bear on the last evening of the hunt.
My gear included the PSE Mach 1 bow set at 72 pounds, Victory TKO arrows tipped with my tried-and-true shuttle-T lock broadhead. The arrow weighed in at 455 grains and is the same set up that I use for all my big game hunting. I used the Spot Hogg Wiseguy release and Spot Hogg Hogfather sight with 7 pins set from 20 to 80 yards. I had Sitka and Helle Hansen rain gear and of course the complete HECS system underlayer. I believe the HECS system was key in keeping the bear so calm at such close range for the time it took to take him on film.
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Mike Slinkard is a life long bow hunter, professional archer, successful entrepreneur, and self described science geek from the rural town of John Day Oregon. Mike has spent his life in close proximity to all types of animals. His grandfather was a well known cattle and horse rancher who first instilled Mike’s keen interest in animals and why they react the way they do in different situations. Mike’s insatiable curiosity in this realm led him to team with other professionals to make the HECS discovery in 2009. Mike has hunted all over the world and has taken over 30 species with archery gear including 48 elk to date. Mike currently hosts “Hunting with HECS TV” on the Pursuit Channel. He has also written many bow hunting and archery articles as well as being a guest on many different hunting podcasts.