A Day-by-Day Prince of Wales Island
Bear Hunt Journal
with Johnnie Laird of
May 5, 1999
Temperature: 36 degrees (in early AM).
Weather: mixed rain and SNOW and windy.
Forecast: rain HEAVY at times, HIGH wind advisory, winds to 60mph
Yesterday morning I meet Arnold and Fay over in Klawock at the Fireweed Lodge and then we
went on onto Craig to the Log Cabin Sports where we got Fays auto rental and Arnold
picked up a pair of Lacrosse hip waders (fly-lite, ankle fit, air-bob sole). Then we got
Fay back to the Fireweed and Arnold and I drove across the island to my Hollis cabin.
After getting Arnold settled in to the cabin we loaded up the Lund and headed for 12-mile
Arm. There was mixed rain; snow; hail squalls moving through. We set out the crab pots and
started looking for that big blackie. When the squalls moved through we would have to run
to the shore and hide because the wind kicked up big water fast. We did spot one bear but
we decided to pass on that one being the first day out. It wasnt a jumbo. We did see
a few fresh tracks and some fresh grazing of beach grass. It was a good afternoon/evening
of scouting. Back to the cabin (cold and wet) where the wood stove and Annettes
excellent dinner (left for us to microwave) was well earned.
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May 6, 1999
Temperature: 42 (in AM).
Weather: breezy; showers; (some sun).
Forecast: wind ADVISORY; continued rain showers.
Yesterday was a VERY nasty day. (Even by southeast Alaska standards). With heavy rain,
snow showers and strong winds building into the afternoon/evening. Arnold and I took a
hike up the Indian Creek with some more bait for the bait site. There had been a bear
there. We gave the deer bleat call with no response. The bear was not in the area. He had
a snack and just moved on. We worked or way back, seeing no fresh bear activity. I checked
the beaver sets with no action. Back to the cabin and a warm fire and a change of clothes.
You know it was a wet cold one because Arnold needed a shot of his Jagermeister to warm
up. We decided, because of the bad weather, it would be a good plan to take a drive and
look over some clear cuts. We did see a set of fresh tracks and where it had been digging
skunk cabbage. Many logging sour roads are still closed by snow. We worked our way over to
the Polk Inlet. The Polk pass has 4 or 5 ft of snow still. We stopped for a Kodak moment.
For the last hour and a half of light we took a stand at the Dog Salmon Creek tidal flats.
The winds howled and the rains were horizontal. The bears we holed up. Back to the cabin,
the wood stove and Annettes cooking was superb again (shrimp caccatori over rice).
May 7, 1999
Temperature: 36 degrees (in AM).
Weather: showers and breezy.
Forecast: continued showers 90% and breezy.
Yesterday we thought there was a break in the weather (actually there was for a couple of
hours) so we headed out in 12-mile Arm. We cruised the beaches for a while looking for a
bear. We had a little sunny spell but by the time we got to the crab pots we could see a
wall of rain (squall) coming down the Arm. We headed for the dock wide open. Waves got 3ft
before we got inside the Hollis anchorage. We decided we would go upland again for the
afternoon. Back to the cabin; drop the Lund off; put on some dry clothes and out to
12-mile Arm Creek with some more bait for site #2. There had been no action at the site.
We continued on over to Polk Inlet checking a few clear-cuts on the way. We settled in at
the Dog Salmon tide flats again. Showers moved down the Inlet. I spotted a Jumbo Blackie
across the bay. We watched him feed on the beach grass and move up into the woods. It
gives me thoughts of trailering the Lund across to Polk Inlet. No bears came out on our
side of the bay. Back to the wood stove and a killer plate of Pork Ribs in Baked Beans
(that Annette had left in the Crock-Pot) and Corn Bread. Arnold went for 2 good shots of
his Jagermiester tonight plus a Becks to wash down the beans!
May 8, 1999
Temperature: 38 degrees (in am).
Forecast: showers (80%) decreasing on Monday.
Yesterday was a rest day. Arnold woke up felling tired and sore. He decided to head over
to the Fireweed and take some R&R. I went into town and ran a few errands and then
went out to the 12-Mile Arm Creek bait site. There was no action so I pulled the bait
site. Back to the cabin and called Arnold. He will be over today early afternoon ready to
get after it.
May 9, 1999
Temperature: 38 (in AM).
Forecast: slight chance of rain becoming mostly SUNNY.
The weather finally gave us a break yesterday. Fay brought Arnold over just after
noon. It didnt take us long to gear up and head for the Arm. There was a 2-ft chop
on the water. We stopped by and rebaited the crab traps and headed up the 12-Mile Arm
stopping at the beaches and grassy spots to look for fresh bear activity, taking our time.
A ways up the Arm at about 4 PM we spotted a bear on the beach. A nice one. It was feeding
in a rocky area and moving uprange. After beaching the Lund above the bear we put the
stalk on. As we moved into position on a rocky point and peeked around the corner the bear
wasnt there. We waited for a while and it didnt show. Back to the skiff.
Another bear across the Arm. After motoring across and beaching the boat the stalk was on.
Getting to within 50 yards we decided to pass this medium-sized sow. Back to the skiff.
Across the Arm to put out the bait stand (I moved from 12-Mile Creek). As we eased into
the beach a nice bear looking out of the beach fringe at us. No chance at this one he had
us made. After setting up the bait back to the skiff. A bear across the Arm. A jumbo. We
beached uprange and started the stalk. A light shower moved down the Arm bringing a little
wind with it. Half way to the big boar wind at our backs (not good). The big boar eased
off the beach into the jungle. We moved behind a big rootwad on the beach and waited. He
didnt come back out. Back to the boat. Another bear across the Arm. The small squall
had moved through. The bay was like glass. We beached uprange and put the stalk on. It was
the largest boar yet. We moved to about 100 yards from the jumbo. He sat down, then laid
down. Jet black and not a rub. A close look at his face told me he was drowsy. Probably
just out of den and asleep on his feet. There was no good rest for Arnold. We both took a
sitting position with some brush for cover. Arnold squeezed one off. The big boar jumped
up and loped away. Arnold just then noticed that his folding scope was not in the locked
position. He had moved his scope to open sites on the last stalk and in the excitement of
the moment didnt lock it back down. His shot was way off the mark. I went and looked
for blood on the beach and up in the brush. After a thorough check of the area I was
convinced it was like I thought at the time of the shot, a clean miss. Arnold was very
disgusted with himself. There is an old Alaska saying at time like this "defecation
occurs". Back to the boat to spend the remaining light at the new bait. Another bear
on the beach. This one spooked as we moved the skiff into position. No stalk. In the
twilight we motored back to the Hollis dock. Stopping at the crab pots and making a nice
haul. The wood stove, Annettes delicious meal and a double shot of Jagermiester
(chased with a St. Pauli Girl) for Arnold was the end to exciting day.
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May 10, 1999
Temperature: 42 degrees (in AM).
Forecast: showers and breezy decreasing into Tuesday.
Yesterday Arnold and I got an early start. After launching the Lund at the Hollis dock. We
headed out to rebait the crab pots. Again there was about a 2-ft chop coming out of Kasaan
Bay. The weather was partly cloudy with rainsqualls moving through. We motored up the Arm
stopping by Rons float house just to say "waz up" and to see if Ron has
seen any bears in his front yard yet. After a nice chat we continued up the Arm. No bear
sightings but it was early in the afternoon. The wind began to lie down and some sun came
through. We decided to take a run out toward Kasaan Bay. When we got out to the mouth of
12-mile Arm there was still about a 3-ft swell rolling out of Kasaan Bay. We headed over
to the lee shore line and headed out a little farther scanning the beach for bear. We
pulled in behind a small group of islands to fuel up. After fueling I walked up to see
what sign was on a grassy beach. As I looked across the small bay I spotted a bear feeding
on grass. We motored slowly across the bay and the stalk was on. As we got within 50 yards
the bear moved into the brush. Back to the skiff and slowly around the corner. There it
was walking in our direction. We decided to pass on this medium fur ball. Back up the Arm
we went to where Arnold now calls "bear alley". It was becoming prime time. As
we slowly motored up the Arm we spotted a sow and yearling. Slowly up the bay toward the
bait site. On the beach just past the bait a nice boar walking and grazing his way
uprange. There was a slight breeze in our face. We couldnt get above the bear. We
beached behind him and the stalk was on. I was surprised how fast Arnold moved this time.
We caught up to the bear but he was still moving along at a clip. 150 yards wasnt a
good shot. He moved around the next corner. We put the sneak on expecting him to be
feeding on the next grassy area. He was gone. We played the waiting game. He didnt
show. Probably had a bedding area just above the beach and it was time for a nap. Back to
the boat. Slowly down the Arm. The breeze had died and the bay was like glass. As we
neared the spot where Arnold missed the jumbo the night before we both were looking at
that spot and replaying in our minds the stalk, the miss and the what ifs. I
brought my binoculars up. There he was. He is big. The same bear Arnold missed in the same
spot. But the bear had us made. He watched us with an eagle eye as we idled out of sight
and over to the beach. We put the same stalk on only this time moving in a little closer
and played the waiting game again. He didnt show. I blew the deer bleat call. No
action. Arnold says this bear is up in the brush giving us a certain finger gesture. Back
to the boat. Slowly back toward Hollis picking up speed as the light fades. We motored on
past the crab pots tonight because we have more than a meal waiting for us in the fridge.
Annettes king salmon dip and Chicken Alfredo and crab hit the spot. We toasted a few
shots of Jagermiester and a couple of beers and talked of the hunt.
May 11, 1999
Temperature: 42 degrees (in AM)
Weather: showers and windy
Forecast: rain and windy (30 mph) diminishing into Wednesday.
Yesterday after getting up Arnold decided to head for Klawock and spend the rest of the
day with Fay. Gift shopping, getting some smoked salmon shipped home, packing and
Arnold had a great hunt and we are talking about future scheduling.
Arnold is 70 years young, a goldsmith by trade, from Berlin Germany, now calling Florida
home, recently retired. He is a true SPORTSMAN. We passed on several medium sized bear. He
feels the missed shot was his opportunity. He feels the whole adventure was a new learning
experience for him. His attitude exemplifies big game hunting at its best. He came for an
Alaska bush experience (after a trip through the area on a cruise ship sparked his
interest). He got insight on our Southeast Alaska lifestyle that most people dont
get. We watched Eagles & Seal, among other wildlife. One of his many great moments was
watching a mink moving along the beach right in front of us. He got tired, sore and wet.
We talked, laughed, told jokes. We sighted bear 13 times. If he made the kill it would be
just icing on the cake.
I have made a new friend.
Webmaster's note: Alaska hunting guide Johnnie Laird
regularly updates his page with new information -- even when he is in the field.
This story appeared May 5 - 11, 1999 on his web page.