Sharing the environment with brown or grizzly bears isn’t for sissies. If you hunt, fish, or hike in bear country, you must constantly be alert to avoid confrontation. Bears often live and feed in very thick cover and use the same travel trails as other animals. If you are a fisherman and want to follow a stream, you’ll most certainly use a bear trail. Usually, these small paths are through alders and tall grass so that you can see about as far as you can feel with your hands. The best case is to walk into the wind, because bears have a pungent odor and you can often smell them in advance.
I celebrated my 40th birthday with a do-it-yourself deer hunt on Kodiak Island. I pitched in with two friends and we flew to Red Lake, one of the more remote areas of the island. We unloaded our gear and waved goodbye to the pilot who would pick us up in a week. We literally camped along a bear trail and could hear them catching salmon during the night. The first night was terrifying.
In Harm’s Way
Bill McKinley and I each brought a bow and a rifle with the plan to hunt together so that we always had one firearm with us. One morning Bill killed a buck with his rifle and I helped him bone out the animal and watched him walk back to camp. As he disappeared, I realized that I had blood on my cloths and only a compound bow for defense.
Ironically, my friend wasn’t gone 10 minutes when I spotted a large brown bear headed in my direction. Luckily, I saw it first and retreated over a ridge top. Peeking over my back-trail, I hoped the bear hadn’t smelled me. Suddenly, it burst into a gallop, like a racehorse, on a course that would have been my destination. Had I continued on course, it would have charged right toward me.
If you fish for a living in Alaska, you must deal with bears, yet not everyone approaches the peril in the same way. This post from Sports Afield Daily covers how three men handle the problem, a fun read and good information: http://sportingclassicsdaily.com/run-for-your-lives/