Deer hunting and Bear Skulls

Kurt and I went hunting for the day yesterday. It was not pouring rain for a change, and in the mid to upper 40’s. Winds were northly with a little lump on the skiff ride over to our spot, but nothing nasty.

We went to our usual spot, and unloaded the gear on the beach. The tide was flooding but the wind was going to push the boat up on the beach, so we took the anchor seaward, tied a line on the anchor flukes, and ran the line to the beach so we could retrieve the anchor at high tide.

We headed up the mountain, using a bleat call in likely spots as we moved. The terrain here is a gradual rise in elevation for about 3/4 of a mile, hen a steep rise to the ridge top, which is about 1800 feet. We didn’t see much deer sign. When we got to the big muskeg at the base of the ridge, we had to decide either to follow the muskegs along the base, or start climbing up the ridge. We decided to head up, as we figured perhpas the deer were in the higher country with the warm weather.

We got about half way up the ridge, and decided to have lunch. We were sitting about 75 yards from the base of a series of cliffs. Not likely deer habitat, but I have see deer come to the edge to a look over to a call.

Kurt sat down and broke out a sandwhich. I moved about 30 yards away on a spot overlooking different country than Kurt, then put a shell in the chamber of my .270, blew the deer call, and broke out my thermos of coffee.

I’d just about finished pouring my first cup when here comes a deer tearing down the hill. It stopped above us about 40 yards, and I shot. The deer took off again downhill, and when it came by again, I made a finishing shot. Kurt said he’d seen the deer coming from a lot longer way than when I first saw it. He said it came along the top of the cliff, found a path down, and then came tearing down the hill.

We decided I’d dress the deer, and Kurt would laterally along the hillside and look for more deer. I gutted the deer, then hung it by the back hocks, took the skin off, then quartered the deer, putting each piece into my pack. Kurt showed up just as I was finishing.

We hunted our way back down the hill. As we descended one area, we found an almost complete bear skeleton. The head was particularly intact. Kurt later found it had what looked like puncture holes in the head. It looked like perhaps it was a young bear that might have been eaten by a larger bear, but who knows. We rarely see bears, but this was a reminder they are around.

On the way back, I sent Kurt off to the south to try a spot that’s been good when there’s snow, and I headed to the boat. When I got to the boat, the end of the tag line from the anchor was under water. Normally, I wouldn’t worry too much, as I could just skiff over to our cabin, even in the dark, and go home the next day. But Kurt had to be to work on Monday, so I undressed to my boxers, left my socks on to protect my feet from the rocks, and waded out to try to find the line. Talk about cold. I couldn’t find the line, and the cold was now painful. I managed to make it back to dry land without falling, and redressed.

I saw a boat in the distance, and tried raising it on my handheld VHF. I got no reply, so thought the boat was anchored. However, I later saw a wake along the boat, and realized it might be moving slowly along the beach. I tried waving my arms, and thought maybe they would not see me in my camo coveralls, so I removed the top of the coveralls to let my blue turtleneck show. When I didn’t see them respond, I fired 2 shots from my gun, then waved my hands again, and tried the VHF again. This time, they responded. They came over after awhile, unloaded their raft, paddled to shore, and took me out to my boat.

By this time, Kurt hand returned, with a story that he’d been up to his waist in a bog. The canine teeth from the bear skull that he was carrying in his coat was poking on the underside of his chin as he tried to get out. We both thought that would have been interesting to hear the explanation of those who found his skeleton with the bear skeleton if he didn’t make it out.

We checked the crab pots on the way home, and found they’d been moved. There were no crab, so we pulled the pots for now. The ride home was over near flat calm water. At the house, I removed the deer meat from my pack, and hung it in my new home-made game bags in the garage. What a relief to get out of my wet clothes and into the shower.

Mark Stopha and Sara Hannan
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
Wild Salmon and Salmon Pet Treats
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801

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