June 09, 2011
The past two years I've headed to Alaska each spring to stalk monster black bears on Prince of Wales Island. I've also hunted bear over bait, but in all honestly, aggressive hunting is what I live for.
Not all aggressive hunting is created equal. In Alaska, I hunt the shores and grass flats scanning for bear as they emerge from the forest looking for a bite to eat. The shores are similar to an All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet when the tide rolls out and the shoreline is exposed. Low tide is my favorite time to hunt because I have more visible terrain to watch and a there's a bigger menu for the bear.
With that said, the shore is not always your friend. The rocks are usually still wet, slimy, and covered in kelp or shells. This makes for an incredibly noisy and sometimes dangerous stalk. Imagine stalking an animal on a shore of broken glass, then being slippery on top of it!
My technique? I try to look ahead and pick the flattest approaching rocks and hop rock to rock always looking for a quieter grass path near the tree line. Although a bear's best sense is their nose, their hearing is pretty amazing as well. That is, when they care. In my experience most bear are so used to being the king of the jungle and not pressured by humans in this remote area that they don't bother to look up assuming I'm a deer or another small animal. Big Mistake.
I think one of the main reasons people shy away from hunting aggressively is the fear of spooking an animal or busting a stalk. Sitting back and waiting can get it done, but there is a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction in knowing your decision created the opportunity in front of you. I may not have tried it had I not been lucky enough to get first hand experience with one of the top aggressive hunters out there.
I started filming hunts straight out of college five years ago as an intern and quickly moved into the role as a producer. I spent all fall filming some of the best hunters in the industry and soaking up as much information and knowledge as possible.
As a young hunter who grew up in central Minnesota I hadn't experienced western hunting, giant whitetails, or the wonders of Africa. After a little hard work and a lot of time in the field all that changed. Regardless of your career path, the best way to learn quickly is to surround your self with experts, and that's exactly what I did.
Whether it's rattling, grunting, or a simple distress call, bringing in game is a heart pounding experience. Especially when it's a black bear three to four times your body weight and he's licking his chops thinking you just might make the perfect meal.