Well, I need to get some more journaling in, so here’s some more of our Alaska adventures. I had mentioned we were planning to get back to Soldotna in September to help out with Max’s mountain goat hunt.
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, probably in an elk hunting story, Max is Mike’s 11 year old son, and my first grandson. He was a 2.2 pound 26 weeker at birth. This was him about 12 years ago held by his beautiful Mother, Mandy.
Fast forward (like lightspeed fast) to last week and he was setting out with his dad for another chance at his goat. Zack and I were not able to put our fall trip to AK together, mostly due to my job. Whoever said working for a living was a good idea?! With Mike’s permission and based on his texts and post hunt facetiming, I’m putting this to paper/pixels.
So Mike and Max had been making a few attempts alone as time and weather allowed. Not to give any secrets away, but Max’s hunt was on that giant mountain facing you as you turn left to ANC or right to SWD. 😊
Goats are almost a given to spot glassing from the highway. And although the steepness is brutal, it’s been that first 2000 feet through the alders, devil’s club and poison ivy(!) that has been the toughest. They’ve been turned back more than once due to that, the weather or skittish goats.
Did I mention that it’s hard not to see bears on this mountain, as well? Anyway, last week Mike and Max had a good billie spotted from the highway, with only one bear in between their approach and the goat. So they were off, approaching from the west.
They’d not attempted that direction before and were soon 12 feet deep in the bad stuff.
Mike was sure they’d make the ridge eventually, so they pushed through. And 3 hours later, sure enough, they made the first ridge and much to their surprise, a pretty good trail! They had missed it at the start, but made sure to mark it for the way out.
Another 1000 foot climb and they were in great shape and due for a snack.
They weren’t in position to see the face with the goats yet. But had a great view of the basin to the north, which Mike described as spectacular.
Giving it a good once-over with the glass, they immediately had a nice black bear spotted across the canyon, with an even bigger grizzly about another half-mile up the basin.
Mike said he had 3 things running through his head:
1 That’s a beautiful black bear
2 Will this 6.5 PRC kill this grizzly
3 Why are we getting distracted by bears?
Max broke the deadlock with, “I want to kill that black bear.” So it was game-on.
They quickly gathered their gear and headed up their side of the basin, trying to keep elevation but squaring up with the bear. Soon they were almost straight across from the constantly moving blackie, which was devouring berries as bears are want to do this time of year.
Mike ranged across the canyon and they were under 400 yards from success. The bear was now moving west at a quickening pace.
With the steep slope and limited cover, Mike tried to get Max on his pack for a sitting shot. He could tell that wasn’t going to do, so they hunkered down and made a move about 70 yards west to a little outcrop that looked promising for a prone setup.
The lichen-covered vantage looked like a bed of cottonballs for Max to make his shot.
Mike had the spotter setup and video rolling when the conditions were finally perfect. Sorry for the long video, but it’s SO FREAKING COOL! Sound Up.https://vimeo.com/864990942
At the shot, the bear flew to the west and made it past some hemlocks and around the knob of his hill. Mike was sure he’d be laying there dead, but the long walk over is always a gut-check. Max was 100% confident crossing the stream on the way over.
They made it around to where the bear disappeared, and took a good look around. Blood was hard to spot with the moss, red grass and shale. Mike saw a shale slide that looked disturbed, with a patch of hemlock below it. And then 1000 feet of open country.
Sure enough, Max’s bear was in that stand of trees and dead as a door nail.
They had quite a time keeping the bruiser from sliding down the mountain, but 3 hours later they had full packs and were headed back to where they’d come from.
This time, they made sure to find the trail and it took them right down to their car! Mike said someone had spent a lot of time and energy making that trail, even marking it with tape. He said you could even ride a horse on it.
Ironbender, you up for hire when they go back for the goat? 😊