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Little Delta and Brown Bear – 1959 part 2
Tuesday, September 15
—Another beautiful day. Am writing in our cabin at Camp 1. We spent the morning taking pictures of Camp 2 and putting the finishing touches on the high cache platform for Camp 2 tents and supplies. Four spruces, each about eight inches thick, standing about six feet apart, form the supports. Timbers wired and spiked to these make up the framework for the logs that comprise the floor which is about twelve feet from the ground. The trees are peeled to keep them from rotting and to discourage animals from climbing them.
Word reached us that a large bull moose was on a flat across the river from Camp 1. This information started Dick, Glenn, and me on our way. Kelly and Jesse were out hunting. Glenn offered to climb the mountain back of camp and try to direct us to the moose if he could locate it. We were to climb the opposite mountain and try to locate him from there. It is always difficult to see game on the same side of the mountain one is on. Mountains look clean from across but are a jungle once you get there.
We planned to be about two miles apart which made it necessary to arrange that each of us be in a designated spot on the mountains, so we could locate each other with binoculars.
There was another camp of hunters several miles upstream. Early in the season a wounded caribou expired on the hillside above camp. Glenn said he would signal us from there.
When we were halfway up the mountain, we looked across for directions. Glenn seemed to be sitting right on the carcass. This did not make sense since the remains of the animal had been there so long it was bound to discourage proximity.
Dick and I passed the binoculars back and forth and finally decided that we were looking at a grizzly. Not just one, but two.
It was 4 P.M. Not enough time to turn back and still have light for photography. Besides we knew that Glenn was quite likely photographing the bears from cover in the spruce at the bottom of the mountain. So we decided to stay with the moose, which incidentally didn’t show up. We got to camp in good light and studied the bears through the scope at about 1,000 yards.
They had eaten their fill and were covering the remains with rocks and grass, taking time out to play and tumble now and then. Apparently it was a sow and yearling, although it was not possible for us to determine how big either one was from that distance.
The discussion tonight is whether the small one is this year’s cub or a two-year-old. We think it is a cub. The game law reads that it is not legal to shoot sows with cubs. Aside from this it would take a hard heart to shoot either one of them after having observed the affection of the mother for her offspring. All things considered, this is not a good situation for a bow. Almost all maulings occur from one of three reasons. A female with a cub. A bear that has assumed ownership of a carcass. Or a bear surprised and taken off guard. We have right here a combination of the first two. We hope they will come back tomorrow and that the light is good for photography. Some good footage of them playing will be more valuable than a hide on the wall.
Don Loesche, our pilot, was in today and brought the following messages from the Ridge camp:
—The boys love your cooking but will settle for Jocko’s grub and the animals they have to shoot at here.
Bill Burke got a shot at a 70-inch moose. Also Wright got a shot at another big moose today. Kelly, can you send me six more of your broadheads; have you got any that shoot six inches lower? (Missed another Black again today)
The two Bills are going up in back of camp for moose. We had the spotting scope on a beautiful silver-and-black grizzly. I’m going to give it a try tomorrow. Pray for me. We can use the following as we plan to stay until at least Thursday—perhaps longer: Orange juice—Vel or Joy—candy bars—canned Ham or anything along those lines—butter, meat (one quarter will do, sheep, please.
Jocko has been doing his best to keep me off my dead ass. Now, not only do we hike all day, I now walk all night trying to find where he relocates camps. So weak can only half draw the bow. Send us an extra hunting knife. I’m getting desperate.
Wire Whiskered Willie (Bill Wright)
Mess Sgt. Jocko (and I Do Mean Mess) is doing great. He’s kept me on my diet. Am in great shape. Please send me two rolls of Turns. That’s T-U-M-S, for the tummy.
Skinny Billy next to Willy (Bill Burke)
Bill Wright would like his lens adapter for his camera. It is in the metal box in my tent.
P.S. Why don’t you guys grab a tent and come down for a bit of shooting. Why pay air freight on arrows back to Seattle?
Dear Fred: In case I don’t see you before you leave, thanks for a wonderful trip. The boys are having a good time and are getting shots every day.
Bill Wright is having a ball on the trip. He should get a moose, at least, before the trip is over.
If possible I would like to order a 70-72w, 60” bow from your factory with camouflage job on it. You can send it to my home COD or just bill me.
The boys from Windy Ridge said to have the Merry Packer ready, “Tomorrow is the day.” Bill, Willie, and Jack.
P.S. Have a good Bear trip.
Thanks again, Jack
Wednesday, September 16, 9 A.M.
—At 6 A.M. the bears were playing on the frosty hillside by the carcass. Later mama kept busy raking more debris over it. As the sun warmed the air they settled into a sound sleep. The sow draped over the caribou with Junior curled up in a ball on the tundra above.
The female has a dark brown coat, silver tipped on the back and sides. The offspring is a handsome young fellow. Silvery, with black circles around his eyes like a panda.
The affection of the mother is beautiful to see. The young one wants to play and wrestle all the time but receives no harsh treatment even when she is busy covering the banquet and the young one is nipping at her heels.
She lies on her back with all four feet in the air while he crawls all over her. Sometimes she holds his head in her paws and licks his face while he struggles to avoid the washing, like a boy I know.
The sun is not yet shining on the hillside. Glenn and Dick are tuning cameras as the hour approaches for a stalk and pictures.
—Just returned from photographing the bears. Exposed eighty feet from the cover of spruce some 200 yards away, using a 300-mm lens.
Junior bear tried to climb a dead spruce about thirty yards above the carcass to which I had tied a white handkerchief to serve as a wind sock.
As the sun warmed things up there was a wind change and the old bear got a breeze laden with our scent. With dripping jowls she tested the air and was a very uneasy bear from then on. She finally chose a tasty morsel from the carcass, walked up the hill with the cub following, ate it, and then lay down overlooking the larder and our position as well.
Right now she is sleeping. The sky was clouded over. We hope they will wake up refreshed and that the sun will be out so we can get some more pictures of them playing.
—The plane came in at noon and frightened the bears into the alders. We decided to dismantle Camp 2 and started down the river. Met Russ at the bridge. He had just shot at a big bull that crossed the river at the bridge, al-most ripping it out when he became tangled in the guy wires. We all went after him and saw a total of three bulls. Glenn and Kelly each got shots but no hits.
By this time it was late. Had dinner at Camp 2 and just got here to Camp 1. Jesse, who had the heaviest pack, forged ahead saying he wanted to get here be¬fore he got tired. I got here first and put a gas lantern in the cabin. Jesse got in last. The lantern had lured him from the hillside near the bears which was quite a bit off course.
This business fouled up a well-planned day. Russ had seen a good bull caribou but no shooting.
The bull moose that Kelly shot at was grunting which is a sign that the rut is about to start.
There seem to be a lot of moose around now. With antlers polished and no longer tender they are beginning to come out of the brush.
This is the last day of the hunt for Dick, Russ, Glenn, and me. Plane coming for us at noon tomorrow.
I have not heretofore had the pleasure of hunting with a finer group of men. All true sportsmen dedicated to the handicap of hunting with the bow. Thrilled by a kill but satisfied with a good stalk or a close miss. I hope we can do it again another time.
Perhaps we can photograph the bears in the morning. If not and no moose or caribou show up near camp, we can end the hunt with these lines. The Ridge Runners are due back in the morning. Long tales to tell but little time to listen. Don came in and flew us to Fairbanks in four flights. The last trip brought news that Bill Wright had shot a world-record moose. It had come down the mountain opposite camp and Bill crossed the creek and downed the monster with one arrow.
We flew by commercial airlines to Anchorage and then on to Cordova to join Ed Bilderback for a brown bear hunt along the shore and on the islands of Prince William Sound.
Saturday, September 19, 8 P.M.
—Aboard the “Valiant Maid” anchored in Sheep Bay—Got into Cordova on Cordova Air Lines at noon today. Glenn St. Charles, Dick Bolding, Russ Wright, and I. Met Ed Bilderback at his home and decided to buy provisions at once, board his boat, and get on our way.
A two-and-a-half-hour run brought us here. Just returned from a trip up a creek at the head of the Bay. We traveled in Ed’s skiff powered by a big outboard engine. Humpbacked salmon were going upstream in great numbers with many dead ones decaying on the banks. It was too late in the day but we had light enough to observe bear trails through the high grass on the delta flat.
Returned with the tide and are now heating a large vessel of water to cook Dungeness crabs. We saw a good-sized black bear as we entered the Bay.
The Valiant Maid is a sturdy boat built in Seattle thirteen years ago. She is six-teen-foot beam and fifty-eight feet long, powered by a six-cylinder diesel engine of 115 horsepower. Gross weight thirty-five tons. With a sleeping capacity of nine, five of us are comfortable in the combination cabin-galley.
Ed’s business is most interesting. During the summer he fishes commercially and in the winter he runs a mail route that takes five days twice a month. Mail is carried by plane during the summer when the weather is better.
Sunday, September 20, 6 P.M.
-My quarters in the bow bunk, second deck, are very comfortable. I chose it because it is the largest, even though there is no port for ventilation. We were up at three-thirty for a daylight start at four. Got in the skiff and went up to the creek again. Sighted three brown bears. Something scared them and they ran into the thick alder and devil’s-club. Later we saw a wolverine and believe that is what scared the bears.
Went up the creek afoot. Many salmon. Saw nothing else. Coming back the three bears were out on the grassy flat again near the brush. One fair-sized bear and two smaller ones. Made a stalk along a bear trail. Got up to thirty-five yards. The big one saw us and ran off. This alerted the other two who stood head on and looked at me. Both Dick and Glenn were running their cameras behind me.
This was my first sight of brown bears. These two did not look very big. At the time, I guess they would weigh perhaps three hundred pounds. One of them turned slightly and presented an opening for a shot at his rib section. I had hoped they would stand up for a better view and give me a chance to estimate their size. The larger one I would have shot without hesitation.
We looked into another creek, went back to the skiff, and were running some film on the salmon when a black bear came into sight on the grassy flat. Glenn made a stalk on him, got a shot, and he and Ed went into the brush following the bear into the bear tunnels. I followed them later but became confused by the many trails. Hearing a twig snap a short distance ahead and thinking it was Ed and Glenn I said, “How are you doing?” There was no answer and with brownies in there I decided to get out.
It was a great first-morning start for our hunt. Beautiful weather and bears sighted. I have turned down early-season shots at game before and later regretted it. It could be that events will prove that I should have shot one of these as Ed thought they were fair-sized bears. We shall see. They were beautiful animals. Well fed, with silvery coats.
We made another run of two and a half hours to Gravin Bay and checked some creeks there this afternoon. The fish run was about over and there were few fresh signs of bear. We are now on our way to another bay where we will hunt in the morning.
During this trip, our enjoyment was heightened by the sight of a black whale, quite a few seals, many ducks of assorted kinds, some Canadian geese, and a land otter. We also saw two dozen goats on a mountain and shot two silver salmon for food.
Forgot to mention that we had a feast on the crabs last evening. Ed says we can catch red snappers where we anchor tonight. Temperatures down to freezing last night. Took a nap on the aft deck at noon.
My first brush with brownies was not different from what I expected it to be. The stalk was not difficult as the grassy flats with head-high grass and spots of brush made ideal conditions. The bears were not suspicious. All four of us were in sight. I was forward, Dick and Glenn behind me, with Ed backing us up with his .375. With two cameras running and four people in sight, we were not surprised that the bears saw us. A hunter alone could have gotten close enough to throw a spear.
The business of an archer hunting big bears with rifle backing brings up the question whether this might be beyond the realm of bowhunting sportsmanship. An analysis of the situation, however, brings out the fact that hunters with guns are backed by guides, too. The bow requires a much closer approach to the animal. This is our handicap which does make the odds more even.
In big bear hunting 1 carry a 44-magnum revolver. This is not the entire solution to a bear that takes exception to being shot with an arrow but it is some comfort, and the .375 in Ed’s hands tips the scale considerably in our favor.
Monday, September 21
—In Fort Fidelgo Sound. Got in at eleven last night. I was asleep but the anchor winch woke me up. Got up at four-thirty. In the skiff at six going to a big flat where several creeks spill into the ocean.
We saw two black bears along shore as we approached the hay. Thousands of gulls, hundreds of crows, and dozens of bald eagles swarming along the creeks where the spawning humpbacks and dog salmon make their run. Canadian geese by the hundreds took flight from the grassy flats and overhead the familiar V formations honked their farewells as they winged south.
We found many bear trails in the tall grass at the edge of the mountains but no fresh signs except those of blacks. Perhaps the brownies have had all the fish they want at one time and have turned to other food. Looking over two more creeks without any luck we returned to the Valiant Maid at ten o’clock. Three killer whales surfaced frequently as we got under way while breakfast cooked on the galley stove.
What beautiful country. Mountains ending abruptly in the sea. Sometimes with sheer walls. Coastlines etched with fjords. Creeks grow out of smaller streams cascading from pockets of snow in the mountains above.
Ed made a two-hour run to show us the Columbia Glacier today. It is three miles across the base and rises to a sheer height of 200 to 300 feet. Large chunks of blue ice drop off at frequent intervals hitting the water with a roar like thunder and sending out swells like tidal waves. In an area of five miles the ocean was dotted with icebergs varying in size from footballs to perhaps hundreds of tons. We gathered some of the small ones for our icebox.
After checking several creeks with no results, we are running now at 7 P.M. for a safe anchorage. At midnight we will make another run to reach some creeks or an island at daylight.
We rammed a small iceberg with the skiff while photographing the glacier and punched a hole in the side. Winched it aboard to do a patching job and it does not leak any worse now than it did before. We carry a good bailing scoop aboard.
One could get out of shape easily on a hunt like this. Most of our time is spent either on this boat or in the skiff. Ed is trying hard to produce bears. We have done a lot of traveling. On a direct course the distance to Cordova is about fifty miles. Rained today while we were at the glacier. Have had very little wind. May get into some on the morning run through open sea.
Tuesday, September 22, 3 P.M.
—Went to bed at nine last night. Ed started the run at midnight. Ran into bad weather. Winds 35 mph with gusts up to 50. My bunk forward was not the best place to be and I soon began feeling uncomfortable. Staggered up to the galley and found Glenn there in the same condition. Russ and Dick showed up later.
No one talked much. Water was pouring over the cabin and coming off the back on the rear deck. This closed the passage to the head and we had to improvise. Lots of traffic in and out of the galley through the early morning. Reached shelter here shortly after daylight and now have 600 feet of 5/8 ” cable tied to a big spruce on shore. With the anchor out at right angle we have a two-way tie.
Everybody still groggy except Ed who was up most of the night also. Things were pretty well shuffled around and the floor is littered with all kinds of gear. We are at Hinchinbrook Island now. The rain is still coming down in sheets with wind beating it horizontally. Can’t hunt tonight unless things change.
—Weather getting better. An hour ago we launched the skiff and went into a flat nearby to look for Canada geese. Found them and got three with a shotgun. Dinner is being prepared now as we sit around the table discussing events of the last twelve hours and making plans for tomorrow.
This is quite an operation. The skiff, which is fifteen feet long and weighs about a thousand pounds, is kept on the aft deck which is big enough to accommodate three automobiles. It is winched aboard by an overhead boom. The 35-hp motor is handled the same way. Hip boots are a must on board and when hunting. Saw several sea otters and seals this evening. The former are tame but the latter very wary. There is a $3.00 bounty on them and their skins are very much in demand.
Wednesday, September 23, 6 A.M.
—We have an oil-fired cooking range in the galley. It operates like a blast furnace and quickly warms the place up. The wind has gone down but it is raining and we are rather well fogged in. There are so many things to photograph here but so little light to do it. Yesterday we saw some rock islands shaped like mushrooms—their bases corroded to small stems by the tides rushing by. The tides are sometimes seventeen feet high.
Someone is making coffee. We’re going to look for bears and then come back for breakfast. The timber here is chiefly hemlock with a small percentage of Sitka spruce. Farther south, the timber is much bigger. Ed tells of Sitka spruce that he and his father harvested. It was thirty inches at the top and 189 feet long. The butt was seven feet and it yielded 16,900 board feet of lumber.
The underbrush along the creeks is alder mixed with devil’s-club and berry bushes. Higher up the mountains this growth gives way to rocky cliffs and basins with snow pockets scattered here and there. This is where the goats live.
—We hunted all day. Went from one creek to another but saw no bears. The salmon run is over and the bears seem to have left. Shot a spruce hen and this evening we raided Goose Bay again. Russ got the only one. Two bears had crossed our tracks of the night before.
Not sure what to do from here on. Thinking about going back to Sheep Bay where we saw the brownies the first morning. What we do depends on the weather in the morning. Have four geese. Two have been skinned and boned to be parboiled and then fried. The other two will be roasted.
We did a lot of walking today through the forest on bear trails along the creeks. Rain-soaked, moss-covered rocks and logs lay under trees adorned with lichen. The limbs of these trees are covered with a green moss that swells a two-inch branch to eight or ten inches in diameter. We saw trees six feet at the butt and in some areas ate red raspberries and currants from growth along the way.
It rained off and on all day. We are always in boots and slickers and pay very little attention to rain anymore. From the skiff we saw many sea otters. They are cunning animals, coasting along on their backs. We ran the boat to within seventy-five yards of them sometimes. They are protected the year around and have no reason to fear man.
Everything is well wet down. Water came in a ventilator during the storm last night and soaked some gear we had stored in an empty bunk. Hardest job is to keep feathers dry. Even plastic bags get wet inside. Binoculars fog up, too, and have to be handled carefully.
Thursday, September 24, 7:30 P.M.
—Up at 5 A.M. In the skiff at six. Rained all day. Hunted many creeks but no bears. Back on the boat at ten and pulled the cable from the tree, lifted anchor, and ran here to a snug harbor, Port Chalmons. Sounds like a town but there is nothing here except safety in a storm.
Checked a number of creeks but no bears here either. Found some high bush blueberries as big as the cultivated ones we get at home. Back to the boat again at 3:30 P.M. for a snack of stewed goose. Very good.
Went seal hunting at 5 P.M. Ed shot four with his 22 Hornet in a few minutes. From there we hunted a creek until dark. Plan to go back to Sheep Bay in the morning. Will use the seal carcasses for bear bait. This will be another night run. I hope it will be more pleasant than the last one. Ed says it will take about seven hours. That means we start about ten tonight to get there at daylight.
Friday, September 25, 7 A.M.
—Fog last night. Could not start until daylight. We had rough seas for a time but are protected by islands now. Everybody is up sitting in the galley drinking coffee.
Ed Bilderback, our outfitter and guide, is thirty-three years old, 5’8” tall, and weighs 160 pounds. He has unbounded energy and bubbles with enthusiasm. He loves this country and does mostly what he likes to do which is hunting and fishing. He has twinkling brown eyes and a lively sense of humor and sharp wit. He is as alert and quick as a cat and very resourceful, stemming, I am sure, from his background of hazardous occupations.
Yesterday he shot at a seal with the .375 he carries for bear. The shot was wild and he decided to target the gun. He adjusted and zeroed in the sights with his one tool, his hunting knife. This morning at one point, the gun didn’t fire. The cure for this was to squirt some oil on the firing pin inside the bolt.
We picked blueberries yesterday for some pancakes to serve with seal liver, which we are told, is a great delicacy.
—This was the day. Dropped anchor at 11 A.M. and immediately set out in the skiff to place the seals for bear bait. As we approached the end of a bay where two creeks empty, we spotted a black bear on the beach. Motor was shut off and Ed sculled us to shore with an oar. Glenn was to try for the blackie and Dick and I handle the photography.
Just as we started out Ed saw a brown bear swaggering down the edge of the creek on our left. We watched as two more followed him. Blackie was forgotten. Ed and I took cover and started the stalk followed by Dick and Glenn with the movie and still cameras. Russ stayed with the boat since we couldn’t take chances making noise by beaching it.
We rounded a point but the bears had left the narrow beach and gone into the woods. It was too thick and dark for photography so Dick and Glenn stayed behind as Ed and I took a bear trail walking quietly along the side of the mountain. A slight rain was falling and we had gone about 100 yards when I saw the last of the three brownies walking up a big moss-covered log looking down at us. He was clicking his jaws, not sure he had really seen anything. He was about sixty yards away, too far and too thick for a shot. The bears then went up about 100 yards and lay down on a knoll with their heads hanging over looking our way.
Using big trees for cover we cautiously bellied our way toward them. At twenty-five yards we ran out of cover and could proceed no farther. We watched them for an hour hoping they would expose themselves for a shot through one of several openings. They were very fat bears. The short climb to their perch had winded them and they lay there panting. Two of them went to sleep while a third stood guard, although his head would nod lower and lower until he’d jerk it up again for a good look around. The wind was blowing from right to left. Finally they apparently smelled the men at the boat. All of them got up and moved around restlessly. They came about five yards closer but still no opening for a shot and finally they moved out of sight around the knoll. We went after them but they were swallowed in a tangle of alder and berry bushes.
This ended the episode but that hour was worth the trip. We had made a good stalk and had practically lived with the bears as they lounged in their bedroom. I can still see those massive heads with their rounded ears, mouths open as they panted with lolling tongues.
We made our way back to the boat and sat there talking when I noticed another brownie coming down a different creek. Again we sprang into action. Followed by two cameramen we made our way to a grassy point where the bear would pass if he continued his course.
Another bear followed him. The first one slowly walked into view broadside at about forty yards. My arrow missed him, on the left. He whirled and stared back where he’d come from. The second arrow went left also, just missing his head. The third one at about sixty yards went over his back as he hurried away to join his mate who was eating fish up the creek. Apparently neither bear knew what was going on. They might have thought the swish of the arrows sounded like gulls flying close to them.
I was out of arrows with two brownies in sight. Usually I carry four broadheads but with so many smaller targets around I had substituted the fourth for a blunt. Watching carefully I crossed the small creek while the bears were not looking my way. My first arrow was retrieved from the mud and gravel bank. I removed the insert, sharpened both it and the blade, replaced the insert, washed the mud off in the creek, and started the stalk, using the brush along the bank for cover. Thirty-five yards from the bears I ran out of cover and stepped out on the gravel, kneeling low to clear some overhanging branches. One bear saw me and turned broadside to head for cover. Because of some branches I had to wait until he got just to the edge of the brush.
The arrow entered the rib section with a crash. I saw red blood as he rose on his hind feet and bellowed, turning to disappear in the brush. Th other bear followed. We took up the course of my bear and found him dead on the trail about seventy yards from where he was shot.
The Razorhead had done a remarkable job. He was a two-year-old, fat, well furred, and weighed, we estimated, about 450 pounds.
Those first two bad shots worried me. They were made in the open at a good range with no excuse for shooting to the left. As I remember they did not get away clean and crisp. The sing of the string was muffled. I think I know what happened. The .44 I carry in a shoulder holster under my shirt is not easy to get at. When stalking bears I take it out of the holster and tuck the barrel in my pants under my belt. To get at it quickly I must leave my jacket open. I think the bowstring was striking this open jacket. At least this is the best excuse I can think of for two poor shots. It is fortunate that the bears were so co-operative.
We’re having seal liver for dinner tonight. Ed has improvised a crab trap which now rests on the bottom of the bay beside the boat.
Saturday, September 26, 8 P.M.
—Checked the creeks this morning. Saw a blackie but he was sharp and we could do no business. Bait seals were not touched. Back to the boat at ten o’clock and skinned the bear. The arrow we thought had gone through the ribs broadside had actually gone in at an angle shearing ribs, nicked the heart and plowed through the brisket. The lungs were not touched and the slit in the side of the heart had done the job.
Sunday, September 27, 4:30 A.M.
—Waiting for breakfast. Moon and stars are shining bright. Looks like we might end the hunt in a blaze of sunshine as we began it.
This has been an entirely different kind of hunt from any I’ve ever been on. Living on a boat with eyes glued to binoculars, watching shorelines, sneaking up creeks, sidestepping dead salmon as well as live ones, stalking bears on shores that at low tide are slippery with eel grass and slimy rocks.
After a few days one gets used to the rain. Hip boots are standard equipment with a slicker on and off as the skies open and close.
—Had just toast and coffee early and went hunting. Air frosty. Saw nothing. Back on the boat. Anchor up and running for another creek. Picked the crab trap up. Had crabs in it but the harness had become fouled and the Dungeness beauties were spilled back into the sea. Breakfast is ready. Blueberry pancakes with butter and honey, fried ham, fresh peaches, and pots of coffee.
Passed some sea lions on a rock. Checked more creeks. No bears. Everybody gathering personal gear as we head for Cordova. Things tucked away everyplace and some of it considerably scrambled by the blow last week.
I have mementoes of the trip as has everyone else—a bear trap, driftwood, glass floats from Japanese fish nets, and bear teeth pulled from a skull found near an old cabin.
Hunting from a boat is an interesting variation. Except for the climbing required to hunt those coastal goats, it is an easy hunt and one could turn tenderfoot fast.
For the Midwesterner, living away from salt water, the sea food is a delicious change of fare and life on a boat quickly becomes routine except when running through a blow in the night.
This is the stronghold of the fisherman. Hands calloused by salt spray. Faces weathered by wind. Ed takes life seriously when hunched over a book on a stool in the wheelhouse. He reads by a small light—one eye on the book and the other on his navigation charts. He steers, when reading, with his foot.
We will not forget Prince William Sound, the Valiant Maid, the white-collared, white-tailed eagles, sea lions, seals, goats, the dainty-footed black bears and the strutting, pigeon-toed brownies. Nor the screaming gulls as they crowded the mouths of creeks to prey on the salmon. Or the fog and the rain which really did not seem to matter too much.
We have plans to come back for a spring hunt next May.
Chapter 8Little Delta & Brown Bear - Part 2
Leaving the Little Delta River behind them, Fred Bear and company join their guide Ed Bilderback and fishing boat in Cordova, Alaska for a brown bear hunt along the shore and on the islands of Prince William Sound.