I’ve always been a bear hunting fanatic and it’s always been a dream of mine to hunt those big beautiful bears in Alaska. I was offered a cancellation hunt through an outfitter, after a client backed out, and had very little time to plan such a massive hunt.
I was packed and headed to Alaska a month later.
It all happened so fast, it didn’t really hit me until I saw Alaska from the plane. When we touched down in Fairbanks, I saw mounts of muskox and grizzlies. That’s when it set in.
Hunting all over the world gives me the chance to experience different climates and terrains. Alaska is kind of the ultimate when it comes to this though, so it took more thought than usual. Luckily I have several friends who have hunted and lived up there and that was a great resource for me.
Going through my gear I had to be sure sure I had everything I could possibly need. I made sure batteries were charged, I had arrows, release, bullets, bills were paid, I had bug nets, lightweight waders and more.
Like any trip, I laid out my gear and took out anything I didn’t absolutely need several times before condensing my gear for travel. It still left me with two big Sitka Bags along with my Browning .338 WIN rifle case as my three checked bags.
My favorite caliber is a Browning X-Bolt .270 WIN. I have shot everything from elk, moose, bear, deer, etc and have full confidence to get it done with that rifle, but for this trip I chose a .338 WIN Browning X-Bolt. I wanted something with some good knockdown power since I was going to be hunting grizzly.
Growing up in Montana, I already have to think about diverse weather conditions every time I take to the field. It can go from 70 degrees to freezing in a matter of hours. I never really leave unprepared. Alaska was just going to be a few more days than my normal outings.
We flew to Galena and took an eight hour jet boat ride up the Yukon River to reach camp. We passed through flat marsh areas, mountains, canyons and navigated a section of rapids before we arrived. Along the river we saw bald eagles, moose and a couple black bears. Salmon filled the streams and rivers as we boated up them.
We didn’t see anyone for 10 days after getting to camp. Every once in awhile we would see an old horse trail. It was the closest thing we got to civilization.
It was an unreal feeling to be sitting in the middle of nowhere Alaska, hunting grizzlies. The terrain is everything I ever dreamed to hunt in, and full of wildlife. We saw everything from caribou, wolves, black bears and grizzlies.
It's a great feeling to be out there amongst the bears in the natural habitat, wild, untouched wilderness as far as the eye can see in all directions. It doesn't get much better.
I never felt nervous at all, I was always at peace. It was surprising to feel that way, because I was surrounded by more griz than ever before in my life. I had to pinch myself to make sure I was actually doing it.
The highs of the hunt were unforgettable, like killing a beautiful white wolf, which can be one of the hardest animals in North America to hunt. I felt completely blessed by the opportunity. Just being in a wild place like this with one of my best friends, Ben, was the real highlight though.
The lows were equally as memorable though.
I couldn't believe I missed an animal as big as that bear. I went back and reviewed the footage and tried to analyze what happened, to at least give me some piece of mind. I don't know why I missed in that moment, but I did. And it will always be in my mind. I do believe everything happens for a reason bigger than myself though, and this scenario was no different.
It's easy to fall in love with Alaska as a hunter or outdoorsman. From the amount of wide open space to the vast amount of wildlife that calls it home, it truly is a hunter’s paradise on every level. I look forward to my return trip there this Fall too try once again at my lifelong dream of harvesting a grizzly bear...
Jason’s dream hunt, like most of our hunts, didn’t go according to plan. This is why we hunt, not for the assured harvest, but instead the unpredictability of nature and a constant reminder of the beauty and adventure that awaits in wild places.