John’s Note: Springtime has arrived on Kodiak Island in Alaska. The giant brown bears are coming out of hibernation and searching for food. Big-game hunters from all over the world are headed to Kodiak Island for their brown bear hunts of a lifetime. Often, hunters plan 1 – 3 years in advance to have an opportunity to take these majestic, dangerous bears. Cole Kramer lives and guides in Kodiak, Alaska. He’s been guiding for brown bears for 13 years, and his hunters have taken more than 50 of these dangerous, giant bears.
We hunt brown bear in the fall as well as in the spring.
In the fall of 2013, I had a rifle hunter from Denmark, and the hunt was not going well. For 8 days, we had rain and high winds, and we hadn’t had an opportunity to take a bear. On the ninth day, I climbed up a spruce tree. I wanted a high vantage point to get a better look at an area we wanted to hunt. I spotted a big brown bear that was walking on the edge of a lake. Quickly, I climbed down the tree. My hunter and I hurriedly moved to the edge of the lake to try to intercept the bear. We assumed the bear would continue to walk along the edge of the lake. When we got to the lake, the rain was still coming down. Because we had had 8 days of rain, the water in the lake was up. The water was about 3 feet over the trail where the bear I had seen was walking. We had to wade water with our hip boots to get to a spot where we could get a shot at the bear. As the bear got closer, I think he either saw, smelled or felt that there was some danger in front of him. When the bear stood up on his hind legs, my hunter had a good clean shot at him. He made what we both thought was a good hit.
Immediately after taking the shot, the bear ran into some thick brush. We could see the end of the brush from where we were, and we didn’t see the bear come out of the brush. We gave the bear some time to expire. However, I still could hear the bear in the brush. I told my hunter to stay ready to take the shot. I would go around to the other side of the brush to finish the bear off, or cause the bear to come out of the brush, so the hunter could get a finishing shot. I could hear the bear in the brush when I was about 20 yards from him. I kept trying to look though the brush, but I couldn’t see the bear. So, I started creeping my way into the brush, hoping I could see the bear and put him down quickly. As I got deeper in the brush, I saw a big, dark-brown spot that I felt confident was the bear. I moved to about 10 yards of the bear, trying to see where I should place the shot. Finally, I decided that if I moved just a little bit farther and slid under this one branch, I’d be within 10 yards of the bear and have a clear shot. I made my move to gain that extra 10 yards. Immediately, I realized that big brown spot that I was stalking wasn’t the bear. Ten yards to my left the wounded bear stood up and took one step toward me. Quickly, I spun around, shot him with my .375 and dropped the bear. Needless to say I was surprised. I was 100 percent sure that the big dark spot I was moving toward was the bear. However, I quickly realized I was 100 percent wrong. When the bear stood up, I only could take a quick shot, and that .375 bullet entered between the bear’s neck and the shoulder. As the bear was falling, I quickly put another round in my rifle. When he hit the ground, I shot him in the chest. My hunter couldn’t see me, because I was 50 yards into the brush. He was really concerned about what might have happened to me.
This is another one of those memorable hunts that makes brown bear guiding and hunting a lifetime adventure. The sport I plan to do as long as I’m physically able. If you’re planning a brown bear hunt now is the time to plan for next year. You can book now for a fall or spring hunts in either 2016 or 2017.
I guide and book hunts for Kodiak Outdoor Adventures and Alaska Outfitters. My personal guide service is Kramer’s Kodiak Guide Service, 907-539-6447, firstname.lastname@example.org. I guide both bowhunters and gun hunters, and I’ve had some really exciting hunts. Spring brown bear season is in April and May with fall hunts in October and November. I also guide for Dall sheep in August and mountain sheep in September and October. Sitka blacktail deer hunts are typically in November and December. I guide too for desert sheep in Mexico and in other countries all year long.