My Second Awesome Bear

I think luck definitely has a lot to do with hunting. In May, 1984 I shot a 9 ½ ft. Grizzly Bear in British Columbia. I wrote an article about that hunt in our news letter ­"Front Sight". This Spring I booked a Brown Bear hunt with Sam Fejes' Tsiu River Lodge in Cordova, Alaska and was lucky enough to shoot a 10 ft. 8 inch Brown Bear with a skull score of 27-15/16 inches.

The day I landed at the main camp in a rain storm, Des, the pilot, said to me, "Oh, they must have one of the three-wheel Honda ATV's out on the strip." Wrong! It was a big Brown Bear sow and her cub. Before I had even gotten out to my spike camp, I'd seen two bears.

After getting something to eat and meeting everyone in camp, Tom Rigden took me over to the rifle range to sight in my rifle. My rifle for this hunt was a Ruger M-77 338 Winchester Magnum, 250 Grain Nosler Partition Bullets.

The following morning I met my guide, Brad Waitman, and we were flown out to the Copper River Valley Basin Area. The next five days we spent living in a tent glassing and spotting. During this time we really saw some great sights. We saw lots of eagles, moose and a Brown Bear sow and her cub get stalked by two wolves. After circling the bears for about a half hour, the sow drove them off. We also experience a small earthquake while we were glassing the area.

Well, let me get to the real thrill of my hunt. Brad climbed a big tree to do some spotting in the swamp area we were hunting. In about twenty minutes Brad came down and said that he saw a ten foot plus Brown Bear about three hundred yards out in the swamp. He told me to listen very carefully as he explained how we were going to stalk the bear. He also mentioned that it looked like the bear was on a dead moose kill. We needed to be down wind of the bear and we were going to have to get very close because it was so thick with brush.

Well, this is the time you find out if your nerves are okay. I also thought it was time for a chew of tabacco because I haven't smoked for nearly three years. I'm not sure how long it took us to get just down wind of where the bear was, but I suppose it took about an hour. The wind was blowing hard and it was also raining, so that was in our favor. Anyway, as we slowly moved through the water, I saw a movement out of the corner of my left eye. The bear had evidently been lying on the dead moose but sensed something was wrong. When he stood up the only shot I had was at his head because that is all I could see of him and we couldn't get any closer. We were within thirty yards of the bear and I knew if I thought about the shot much longer I wouldn't be able to hit the broadside of a barn, so I took the head shot and luck was with me again. My first shot took him squarely in the left eye, me second shot hit the brush as he pitched forward, but I think he was already dead before he hit the ground. He really neve took a step after I hit him. In fact, he died right on top of the dead moose.

Sam says he has a big bear like this one, except he is 11 ft. plus and he calls him Box Car Willie. Brad and I named my bear One-Eyed Box Car Willie!

I would like to thank Roger Card for getting me booked with Sam Fejes on such short notice. Special thanks, also, to Dr. Kowaleski and Roger Froling for recommending Tsiu River Camp.

Signed,
Dale Dean 1989