By James Dansie
One of my favorite things about being a part of the Sportsman’s News team is meeting the outfitters that make up our Platinum Approved Program. We vet each one of these outfitters to make sure they are the best in the industry. Another great thing about Sportsman’s News is the Pro-Membership Program, as it allows us to give our members a chance at a trip of a lifetime, with many worth tens of thousands of dollars. Even if you don’t win right away, being a Pro-Member gives you a five percent discount with most of our Platinum Approved Outfitters, which can end up saving you hundreds of dollars depending on the type of hunt or fishing trip you are booking.
We welcomed Alaska Raven Guides as a Platinum Approved Outfitter after CEO Michael Deming, had a great time fishing with Scott McLeod and the rest of the crew a couple of years ago. During that trip, Scott talked about the type of bears that they hunt and that peaked Mike’s interest enough to shell out over $18,000 to make it a part of the giveaway line up. Joining me on this hunt was our winner, Jeff Sposito from Montana and Mike Schafer, from California. We were able to help book Mike on the hunt with us and because he is a Pro-Membership member, he took full advantage of his five percent discount, saving himself an extra $900 on the hunt.
The Western Profit was our new home for the next ten days during our hunt.
The unique thing about the way Alaska Raven Guides hunt brown bear is that they utilize their fishing vessel, “The Western Profit”. Being able to move on the water and glass from the ship greatly increased the amount of bears we saw and it was an extremely effective way to hunt. I’ve been on three other brown bear hunts and had only seen a total of six brown bears from those other trips and by the end of this hunt, we had seen over sixty. The Profit had ample room for our large hunting party, with the top deck housing the kitchen and dining area and down below three estate rooms with bunks as well as a bathroom with a shower. Alaska is famous for being cold and wet, so having the opportunity to dry off every night and sleep in a bed made for a really comfortable trip.
The plan of attack was to anchor the big boat in a bay or sound and leave on smaller skiffs. From the skiffs, we would glass and putt around looking for the perfect bear to put a stalk on. Scott and his son Dustin, were the guides for this expedition and they both have high standards in determining what makes a shooter and what to pass up. Our focus was to find a bear that was a boar, over eight and a half feet and had no rubs on the hide. Even though we were seeing a large number of bears, it was challenging to find the one that met all of the requirements. Jeff was able to bring his own camera guy, so I was with Scott and Mike Schaffer and I could tell from the moment we left the Western Profit on our skiff the first day that it was going to be an interesting hunt.
Saying that Scott McLeod is a large man would be an understatement. He is a work horse of a man and his quick wit and sense of humor is equally as large. Mike Schaffer is as down to earth as you can be and has a great sense of humor too. Witty banter also makes glassing more enjoyable and there was never a dull moment with these two. In typical Sitka, Alaska fashion, there was a constant misting of rain which made it difficult to see through our optics. In spite of the rain, we were able to glass a dark bear that was a couple hundred yards away. Because my spotting scope was basically useless, we decided to load up in the skiff to get a closer look. Mike had never hunted brown bear and was excited to put a stalk on a bear on day one. As we got closer, the bear was still looking good and we decided to dock the skiff and walk up for a closer look. We got to about two hundred yards and picked the bear apart with our binoculars. We decided that he wasn’t quite good enough to punch our tag on the first day.
One of the many crab boil dinners we were able to enjoy while onboard the Western Profit.
Another great thing about being on a boat is that when you’re not hunting, you can spend your day fishing and crabbing. It seemed like we put the crab pots out every day and always had a couple when we pulled them up. We had a couple of excellent crab boils and even got creative and had a crab scramble for breakfast one morning. Scott really knows his way around the kitchen and there was no shortage of good food. We would start off the day with a hearty breakfast and after a couple hours of glassing, we would come back to the boat to have our big meal of the day. We would then glass and hunt until after dark and when we got back, we would warm up with a bowl of soup. It was amazing that Scott could come up with a new soup for each day and each one was delicious.
Mike Schaffer glassing hard for a giant brown bear.
After a couple of days of seeing nothing but sows, we finally spotted a giant bear. It was a bear that I consider a no-brainer, meaning that you only need to look at it for a couple of seconds to know that it was something that you need to quickly pursue. Scott’s excitement level also made it really apparent that it truly had to be a monster. As we were closing the distance in the skiff, the big bruin must have smelled another bear because he sprinted into the woods. We took advantage of his absence and set up at the edge of an opening and waited for him to come back out.
The wind was in our favor, so all we had to do was wait. After about half an hour, we could see something beginning to emerge out of the brush into the open. To our disappointment, it was a smaller young boar. We watched the boar for about an hour as he slowly fed his way in our direction. He made it within twenty yards of us and would have walked right over us, if Scott hadn’t waved at him to scare him off. Even though he wasn’t a shooter, it made for some awesome footage.
This smaller brown bear boar walked within twenty yards of where we were glassing before we had to scare it off.
With only an hour of light left, we decide to change locations so we would be able to see into another opening and sure enough, we could see two bears feeding, a boar and a sow. The boar looked good enough to start a stalk on, but we needed to get closer to really size him up. We put ourselves in front of the two bears and again the wind was blowing the direction we needed. There was a downed tree in between us and the bear, making it impossible to see what he was. Scott had Mike set up his sticks and get ready to take the shot, but only if he gave him the green light.
After five days of glassing hard for bears, Mike Schafer takes a
After what seemed like forever, the boar finally came around the tree and as he turned the corner, he stopped and stared right at us, giving us a perfect shot. It only took Scott a couple of seconds to see that the bear in front of us was really big and he immediately told Mike to take the shot. Mike fired and made a perfect double-lung shot that only allowed the boar to travel about fifty yards. Mike was shaking because he was so full of excitement. As we walked up to the bear there was definitely no ground shrinkage and Mike was in awe at how massive brown bears really are.
All of us had a great time with Scott and Dustin McLeod and there is no question that this brown bear hunt will be one that we give away year after year as part of the Pro-Membership Sweepstakes. If you want more information about the Sportsman’s News Pro-Membership Sweepstakes, go to www.PromembershipSweepstakes.com.
And for more information about Alaska Raven Guides, visit them on the web at www.alaskaravenguides.com
or give them a call at 907-747-6405.