Brown Bear Adventure in Alaska Part 7

June 24, 2011

The two big brown bears taken near the end of a lengthy, challenging hunt certainly met, and perhaps exceeded, our hopes. Stephen’s bear was a 9½-foot brute, while mine pushed 9 feet, and both possessed perfect, not-yet-rubbed pelts that will make stunning trophies. The only downside was that Andrew never did connect despite gamely pushing it right to the end. On our way back to port, in fact, he and guide Dan Ondersma took off in a skiff seeking a last-ditch black bear, a detour that meant a long, cold boat ride in rough water before finally arriving back in Valdez late that night. For all three of us, cruising the breathtakingly beautiful Alaska coast in search of North America’s alpha game animal added up to an extraordinary adventure.

Brown Bear Adventure in Alaska Part 6

June 23, 2011

At least we were going to have a rare sunny day—our next to last one—to find and get on a bear. Meanwhile Greg and company would resume the search of Stephen’s bear and leave no stone unturned.

Brown Bear Adventure in Alaska Part 5

June 22, 2011

It was rainy, it was cold and the clock was ticking. The end of our hunt was looming too fast. What made it worse was that Andrew and I had botched opportunities at bears we should have had.

Brown Bear Adventure in Alaska, Part 4

June 20, 2011

You’ve heard it’s always darkest right before the dawn? Well … not this time. The darkest came our fifth day out when a fierce storm swept in from the Pacific bringing torrential rain and gale winds up around 50 mph. The Ruffinit bounced like a cork and swung wildly on its anchor line. Repeatedly the skiffs nearly swamped in the vicious chop and the guides had to battle to keep them pumped out. Though nowhere near “Deadliest Catch” turbulent, the storm was an amazing spectacle of nature’s power even in those sheltered waters.

Brown Bear Adventure in Alaska, Part 3

June 17, 2011

Our floating “camp” was like nothing else I’d ever experienced. With eight men aboard, living space in the Rufinit’s cabin was elbow-room tight. But in fact it was way more comfortable than that might sound, and we soon assumed a practical “flow” that allowed all of us to move around at will. Because it was mostly rainy and cool and at times quite windy, being able to get inside and get our gear dry was a real luxury compared to tent camping. We had heat, lights, a bathroom/shower, even a flat-screen HD monitor for watching movies. Cook Tom Jennen (Greg’s cousin) proved to be a comfort-food wizard, cranking out meatloaf, ham, mashed potatoes, biscuits, etc., and so it even had the feel of a visit to Grandma’s house. I was one of the lucky ones who got a bunk to sleep on, a cozy little slot in the bow with a mattress and its own reading light. It was lots better than sleeping on the ground, and the roll of the tide made me sleep like a tired old hound.

Brown Bear Adventure in Alaska, Part 2

June 14, 2011

Just getting out to hunt was a bit of a production, what with hip boots, rainwear and all the usual gear, and then into the skiffs and off we’d go. Because our attention focused almost exclusively on open shoreline areas where bears could be spotted, it involved quite a bit of waiting and watching for big trophy boars to poke their heads out of the heavy timber. And while we did see some good bears that way, all were on the move and gone before we could close in for a crack at them. We also spotted potential shooters from the Ruffinit and while cruising in the skiffs, but they wouldn’t stand still long enough either. There were several likely spots—coves, lagoons and little inlets—close by and so when one place got stale or the wind switched, we could pull up anchor and motor on to another.

The Arrowhead Gobbler

May 13, 2011

Every gobbler is interesting to the hunter who kills it, but here's one that grabbed the attention of a gang of rambunctious boys and their dads. A few weeks back, my sons, Jacob and Jack, and I joined former American Hunter assistant editor Hunter Jenkins and his son, Hunter, along with their friends Jim and John Henry Dudley, for camp at the Jenkins family cabin, just a stone's throw from the historic James River in central Virginia. We had returned there at mid-morning after the skies opened up with rain, and aside from a close-but-no-cigar encounter that excited and frustrated Jack and me, it had been pretty quiet for our group. So it came as a high point when another friend, Vic Sorrell, came rolling in with a big tom he had taken nearby. However, there was more to see than just a dead turkey.

Bullfrogs Inspire Blogger

May 13, 2011

Early on in my NRA career (1980s) our star writer was Col. Charles Askins, a Border Patrol lifer, ex-military attaché, pistol champ, worldwide big-game hunter and all-around gun expert. Askins was a mainstay in NRA's magazines for years, carrying on a legacy begun by his father, Capt.