Not alot of hooters hooting today. There were four boats fishing the low tide between Horse Is and Admiralty, so there might be a few king salmon around. The birds were up on the side of the ridge, and the snow was melted back an amazing amount in a week and it was not hard to pick my way up to the hillside. On the way up, I saw some tracks in the snow that I thought were hunter tracks. I went to check them out and dang – biggest bear tracks I ever remember seeing anywhere. Like a dinner plate with claws. They may have looked bigger because the snow is melting, but the tracks were not old and the claws well defined. Luckily he was going down and I was on my way up. And glad I carry a 12 ga instead of a .22 for the hooters.
I did not hear a bird till I got to the side of the ridge. The snow actually made climbing easier than the open moss, which was terribly slick. I got the first bird, and headed to the second hooting, which ended up being further up the hill and a real hike. But once you can see the trees you think the birds are in, I know I can’t give up there. These birds were easy shots since I could climb up the hill behind them to see them, and the trees seem scragglier and not so tall as those in the flat.
I walked a long time and did not hear another. Someone was running a chainsaw across the channel on Horse Island, and the little creeks were running hard with the spring melt, so I think if the birds were hooting, I couldn’t hear the ones that were very far away. Or, they just weren’t hooting. I dressed out my two birds at a snow pile, then filled two ziplocs with the snow, and put the birds in a plastic shopping bag, then put a ziploc of snow below and above the birds in my pack to cool them down.
As I descended, I stopped regularly to listen, but couldn’t make one out. When I got off the ridge, I moved a bird on the ground in front of me. It didn’t flush, but walked out of sight as I had to change out the slug in the single shot to bird shot. I slowly walked a few more steps downhill and there it was in the brush. I took that bird, dressed it right on sight, and put the bird in with the other two.
Didn’t hear any more birds on my way down to the beach – just one back up on the hillside somewhere. The skunk cabbage was all nipped to the ground by the deer, but I saw no deer today, although lots of fresh scat. Never came across any more bear tracks either.
When I got to the beach, I had several hundred yards of beach back to the boat. I found a crab buoy and a nice boat cushion beach combing along the way, along with a deer antler. It took awhile to get the boat shore line in, as the anchor held up and I had to go way down the beach one way, and then the other, until the anchor finally came free. Today wasn’t like last week – my legs felt good all day and I just took my time spooling up the shore line. I loaded my gear in the skiff and headed home after another great day.
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801