We watched blacktail bucks chasing does through the valley below, mountain goats run across the mountain skyline above and eagles perched everywhere along the trees above the salmon filled river.
We watched bears moving through the valley throughout the day being extremely cautious on when to make our move. This style of hunting will test the patience of any hunter. “Dark to dark” is easy to say but if you actually sit in one spot ‘dark to dark’ for days on end you start to get a little antsy wanting to go after every bear you see. The guides knew exactly what they were doing though and basically everything they said was going to happen, ended up happening. They warned us that one bad stalk through the bottom of the river valley would send your scent miles up and down the river and could blow all of the big bears out of the area for a long time. The big boars we were after were extremely sensitive to any human scent, even several days old. Making a stalk on a bear wasn’t worth the risk unless the scenario was absolutely perfect. Until that perfect opportunity came, we sat on our observation points just watching and waiting.
Decisions were made and the stalk was on. We scrambled down the steep hill and towards the bears. We crossed a stream, went around the beaver pond and snuck wide around the other sleeping bear to get to the nicer of the two. As we approached where he was bedded we saw just his head poke up over the tall grass locking onto our position. He stared us down for over two minutes at around 100 yards offering no shot. He lowered his head and we all moved forward trying to get a better visual. I followed behind Seth, Ryan and Justin with the camera when the bear appeared again. This time he was in a big hurry to get out of there and was running the other direction. Seth started shooting and he connected with several good shots on the bear. He was a beautiful boar. He squared right at 9’6’’ which is exactly what the guides guessed before the stalk.
We celebrated, took photos, processed the bear and packed it back to camp. The next day we broke down camp and packed all of our gear down to the river. We inflated our four pack rafts and loaded them full of gear. We spent the next eight hours rafting out on the cold river. The scenery on the float out was incredible and I wish I could have captured it better while I was paddling my raft. We had to portage around a log jam and again for 3/4 of a mile around a huge rock gorge with raging rapids. We paddled the river all the way out to the ocean and then back to the guide’s cabin. A coat of ice covered my raft and all of my gear. We made it back to the warm cabin and wood stove a little after dark.