“The general rule is, if it’s a black bear try to fight back but if it’s a brown bear then hit the ground and play dead. So, remember this if attacked by a bear… ‘Brown go down, black fight back’. Of course, the chances are that you won’t survive in either case but bears are rarely predatory, you’re in their territory and they see you as the threat. Which in most cases is true, in many instances bears are simply shot dead for being where they at the wrong time – as a wrongly perceived threat.” Bear Attacks of Canada
Henry has now joined us onboard Sänna whilst in Sitka and he’s so pleased to be finally out of school for the summer. Braden, our good friend from the fishing boat Icy Queen also stopped by in Sitka to stock us with fresh halibut and he told us the Coho salmon were now arriving in large numbers before heading up the creeks. So Henry and I fished with a fly reel off the head of the Baranoff River and caught ourselves a large Coho for dinner. The bears are gathering beside the creeks for their annual salmon feast so our exciting project can finally get underway…
Braden has arranged to meet up in a week or two in Hoonah when his dad brings Icy Queen home for a short break from fishing, their season isn’t going well and the weather has been bad. He’s not seen his mom in months. He said he’d love to join us and would bring along his rifle ‘just in case’, so our ‘bear team’ is coming along nicely, we’ll get into remote places accessible only by boat, with Sänna and our inflatable dinghy and then find brown bears as best we can. It shouldn’t be difficult. We see lots of them prowling the shorelines all the time.
Before leaving Sitka to brave the infamous Peril Strait and the swift rapids of the Sergious Narrows, we were told by locals there were a couple of bears not far, just up the road to the north so we headed up and there they were. And so we got ourselves off to a good start with some fine footage… and with amazing photos to test our equipment and prowess.
We somehow took nearly a week to transit the Peril Strait, nearly a week because we stopped by in Angoon to stock supplies from the Tlingit Indian settlement there. The locals in Angoon told us about the hot sulphur springs over at Tenekee Springs so we headed over there too, coming across the anchored New Zealand yacht Avant Guard, the first foreign flagged boat we’ve seen in months… they’d crossed the Pacific from Japan and sailed through the Aleutian Islands. We spent a fine evening drinking beer and nice Californian wine with Colin & Marion… with fresh sushi silver salmon Colin had caught earlier in the day. The sulphur springs? Well, good… but men and women aren’t allowed to bathe together, the local Tlingits insisting on naked bathing only… Henry was not amused! Bathing naked with his step-dad?
We’re now recently arrived in Hoonah and it was nice to be welcomed back by our old friends Ken & Juanita onboard their Island Rover ketch. Icy Queen we’re told arrives sometime tomorrow. Sherry, the harbourmaster says we can stay over the winter. We plan to head into Neka Bay or Eight Fathom Bay in the next few days, where Ken says the brown bears are hanging around in big numbers so we’ll set ourselves up there to start our project. We will anchor Sänna up and there’s a nice wilderness cabin on the shoreline we can use if we need… we’ll begin to shift our supplies there over the next couple of days. Then, when there’s finally a break in the weather we’ll head north into the mountains of Glacier Bay, Ken says it’s ice-bound at the moment but its clearing fast. He says that, if they get their prop shaft fixed they’ll head along with us.
Now that would be just fine.
Dave – Hoonah, Alaska. August 2016
Bear Hunters of Alaska is being produced in association with Gass Productions in the UK.