On the first afternoon we both hunted together with our guides Mike Klaui and Russ Bouveur. They decided to hike us up the Apple River to glass for grizzly feeding on the lush estuary grasslands. The walk up an old logging road was a couple of miles long and fresh bear spoor and scat was evident along the route. At the far end of the road, we spotted a large mature boar that was slowly walking into the woods. We didn’t have a chance for a stalk as he steadily moved away from us and finally disappeared into the woods.
A few hundred yards further up the river, we spotted a sow with her cub feeding together. We watched the female for quite a while until they also moved away. While we walked back to the beach we where really excited! This was the first afternoon and we had just seen three grizzly bears. That evening, as we sat for dinner on the Estero, we watched two black bears grazing on the estuary where Peter had seen good grizzlies in previous years. The black bears were average in size and it was decided to leave them alone in case there was also a grizzly around.
The next morning, it was decided to hike again up the Apple River and wait to see if the boar seen last night would come out to feed again. We watched for the entire morning and at mid day we decided to walk out to the beach since there was no sign of him. When we got back to the Estero the tide was low and the sea seemed a bit choppy for going out in the small boats. Mike decided to guide Alvaro and hunt the beach with the smaller boat and see what had come out to feed. They chose the West side of the inlet and Russ and I motored down the Eastern shore. We spotted a sow black bear and cub and stopped to take some photos. Alvaro and Michael continued south reaching Beaver Inlet, which is one of Michael’s favorite grizzly spots. As they entered the inlet they spotted a mature grizzly feeding in the grass near one of the abandoned homesteads. They tied up the boat and began a stalk to within 100 meters of the bear. Michael told Alvaro that it was an average size grizzly but it was probably the darkest coloured one he had ever seen. Alvaro took the bear with his 375 H&H Blaser We arrived and started moving the bear for photos when we realized that the black coloring was not his natural color. It was old oil and grease eaten from abandoned oil cans probably left in the bush by loggers or grease from old machinery.
On our second morning we decided to again hike up the Apple River at an earlier time. At 06:40 am we spotted a grizzly once again. It was judged as a mature boar so we decided to stalk close enough to get a good shot. Since the tide was high, we had to walk further up river and cross to the other side where the grizzly was grazing. During our stalk, a helicopter from the logging camp flew just over the top of our heads making a lot of noise. When we reached the spot where we thought we would see the grizzly he was already gone. Probably spooked by the low-flying helicopter. As we walked back to the beach, the silence among the four of us clearly showed our disappointment. Peter and Russ went to discuss the situation with the loggers who informed them that the helicopter flights would be finished that day and would give us the opportunity to hunt the area without interruption the next two days!
After having brunch, we set out again to hunt the beaches at low tide in choppy sea conditions. On this trip, both boats stayed close together glassing both shorelines. We spotted three black bears at different locations on the inlet, but none were judged as trophy size so photos were taken only. When we reached the South end of the inlet, the seas were better and Alvaro and Michael continued on. As we continued on separately, we could see Alvaro and Michael on the other side of inlet tying up their boat. They had spotted an average size chocolate phase black bear, and as Michael said previously “if its brown it’s down” . As I watched them move around the last rock face to the bay where the bear was feeding, they must have realized that their scent would reach the bear Michael tells Alvaro to sneak to the rock ahead and take a his shot. Alvaro does so, and as he lies down to aim, the bear gets his scent and starts to raise his head. Alvaro fires and the bear is down, if he had waited a few seconds the bear would have been gone. As we motor back, I once again have mixed feelings! I am happy for Alvaro and his great chocolate bear but I am getting a bit anxious because the hunt hadn’t worked out for me, yet.