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Alaska Bears: Shaken and Stirred

Alaska Bears: Shaken and Stirred

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Alaska Bears: Shaken and Stirred

298 pagine
3 ore
May 1, 2017


ALASKA BEARS: Shaken and Stirred is a collection of 24 stories describing Jake's personal experience hunting and guiding for all the species of bears in Alaska. Bear biology, hunting techniques, cabin depredations and avoidance thereof, and other aspects of bear pursuits are detailed. These are true stories except for the names of some of the hunting guests from Jake's fifty years of living and hunting in Alaska.
May 1, 2017

Informazioni sull'autore

After hearing stories of shooting moose in the cabin yard, placer gold and massive runs of salmon, at age five, Jake decided he would live in the far north. Twenty years later he arrived in Alaska - eight and a half years after Statehood and one hundred years after purchase of the Great Land from Russia. The first two years Jake traveled throughout Alaska delivering dental care to remote villages from Southeastern to Arctic Alaska as an Indian Health Service officer. He gained a first hand knowledge of subsistence, commercial and personal use of the abundant wild resources of the far north. Within a month of arriving in Anchorage, Jake was hired as an assistant big game guide and has ever since been actively engaged in hunting and fishing endeavors that ranged from catching earthworms for fish bait to accompanying Eskimos in their frigid pursuit of the bowhead whale and recovering ancient wooly mammoth remains. After five years as an Assistant Guide, Jake received his Registered Guide license in 1972 and Alaska Master Guide license #54 in 1984. Jake continues to guide hunts in the Arctic and transport deer hunters in the Kodiak Archipelago.

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Alaska Bears - Jake Jacobson


My First Bears In Alaska

Ishot my first bears in Alaska in September, 1967. It wasn’t especially exciting. I’d been weathered in at Cordova, en route via float plane to the native village called Tatitlik which was up toward Valdez.

After several days of sitting out of the rain in the old Parmeter hotel, reading and playing cribbage or pinochle with others stuck by the same meteorological conditions, one afternoon the weather seemed to improve, so I walked down to the air taxi office to find their two float planes loading up with sheep hunters to drop off in the Wrangel Mountains. The hunters had arrived in Cordova a day or so after my dental assistant and me, so I mentally questioned the priorities of the operator. It became apparent to me that our plane load of two passengers and several trunks of equipment might be put off indefinitely, as the trips to the remote drop off camps were much more lucrative for the owner of the flying business. Also the hunters’ time was limited, and accessing their drop-off strips was far more unsure than going to our destination. In those days with no airport at Tatitlek or most other remote coastal villages, float planes landed in the ocean and taxied to the beach to off load passengers and freight. The operator told me that he would call me as soon as he could take us to the village, which was only about a half hour away by float plane.

As I headed back to the hotel, it occurred to me that the down time we had already experienced exceeded the time I needed to take care of the school children in Tatitlik, and that soon the overall expense in lost time and travel money was going to potentially keep some other village from getting their annual dental field trip. I had a strictly fixed budget with which to service many rural villages that fall. And I was responsible for monitoring the expenses.

Main street in Cordova, Alaska CORDOVA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

I stopped in a small cafe for a cup of coffee and overheard two fellows discussing taking their seiner up to Valdez. I moved from the counter to their table and asked the strangers if I could join them. They nodded affirmatively.

The older fellow introduced himself and his deck hand. (I’ll call him Arne and his partner Rolf.) Explaining my situation, I offered to examine their teeth and perform whatever operative and light surgical procedures they might need, once I got set up in Tatitlik, which was on their way to Valdez, in exchange for a boat ride to the village. And furthermore, once the clinic was set up, they would be my first patients.

They said that sounded like a fine deal, as they were headed that way, and we could depart in about an hour.

My assistant was in her hotel room taking a nap, so I told her we had to hurry to be on the street to meet the two fellows with their pick-up truck and be taken to their boat.

We were on the boardwalk with all our gear in forty-five minutes.

We loaded the the 42 foot seiner and cast off the lines.

We were underway, finally.

I’d never been on a boat like that one before, and was really intrigued with it all. It had radar, an oil stove for cooking and cabin heat. Tight little bunks were in the forecastle and all was well kept and clean. It was not at all like what I’d heard about most dirty little fishing boats. A small plywood skiff was towed behind for going ashore or to another boat.

Sea conditions were a little rough, and my assistant was not too keen on this mode of transportation in the first place, but she handled it well. While underway the skipper told me that he thought it best we anchor up for the night in a sheltered cove, then get an early start in the morning. That sounded like a good idea to me.

It was early September and silver salmon were jumping in the bay, prior to making their runs up the creeks.

We saw several Black Bears near the mouths of the creeks and other bruins strolled close to the beach. The bears were catching and feeding on the fish. I had my fishing pole, as well as a rifle and shotgun in a wooden case, so the skipper asked if I’d like to shoot a bear.

Sure, I said.

We three men boarded the small wooden skiff and silently rowed toward the nearest bear. The water was coming in after an big low tide. We entered a narrow tidal gut and continued up that waterway which kept us about four feet below the level of the bank where one of the bears was stripping a fish. At about seventy-five yards I leveled my rifle on the neck just behind the head and squeezed off a shot, which dropped the bear - stone dead in it’s tracks.

At the sound of my shot, another bear jumped up on the bank about twenty yards from the first. Rolf hollered, There’s another one and stood up in the boat aiming his rifle. This commotion caused the second bear to turn and run toward the tree line, Rolf shot, but hit the bear in the guts, then as he attempted to lever another round into the chamber, his rifle jammed.

Shoot him, I’m jammed ! he yelled.

I led the running bear a little for the quartering shot and broke his neck, which sent him on a nose dive into the muck. Now bears were appearing all over the flats, most seemed dumbstruck, but some were hightailing it for the timber. My assistant, talking it all in from the boat, said she counted 11 Black Bears within about 300 yards of us in the skiff.

Arne said, Vell, ya may as well get anudder one, vile we’re here. Rolf, whose rifle apparently had a defective extractor, was still trying to pick his jammed round out of the barrel, so I got up on the bank and took a broadside shot at the largest bear I could see and broke it’s back, then put a second round into its chest as it struggled to get up.

This was some bear hunting, I thought. I had longed to take a black bear in Montana, but an opportunity had never come my way.

The tide was coming in, which allowed us to row the skiff up the little tidal guts, and close enough to each of the three carcasses to just roll them to the edge of the waterway and into the boat. The hides had plenty of mud on them, but it was the easiest game packing in which I had ever had the pleasure of participating.

We were back to the anchored seiner in a little over an hour after setting out on the great bear hunt. Using the main boom and hydraulics to lift the bears from the skiff, dip them in clear water and broom off the mud before depositing them on the deck of the boat was effortless. Gutting after careful skinning took about two hours with the three of us working. We hung the carcasses on the main boom, had a nice hot meal from the boat’s supplies, and slept peacefully.

We offered the bear meat to the villagers, but since the smelly bears had been feeding on salmon, the local folks politely turned down our offer. I kept two hinds to freeze and take home for roasts. They did not smell or taste at all bad to me. Arne said they would find someone to take the rest of the meat, or, I silently suspected, he might use it for crab bait.

Already enamored with Alaska, this unplanned little hunt further solidified my love of the Great Land.

These were not large bears, so after having them tanned, and having a difficult hassle with the local tanning fellow who tried to substitute some badly cut and rubbed skins for mine, I gave them to Gram - my Grandma Nason, who made a queen sized bed spread from the three hides. She loved to show her warm cover to her friends in Oracle, Arizona.

I kept the front leg skins from one bear and later asked an Indian lady, Ruth Koktelash from Nondalton to make a pair of mittens for myself.

Once unloaded at the village, we had the field clinic assembled in about an hour, cleaned the boatmen’s teeth, placed a couple of silver amalgam restorations, and our debt was paid.

1968: A Black Bear Encounter While Carrying Fish

In late August of 1968, after fourteen wonderful months in Alaska, I had a weekend free before starting my autumn village trips, so I thought it would be a good idea to catch some silver salmon to freeze for winter meals. I had a .357 magnum, double action pistol with a six inch barrel, which I usually kept in the cab of the truck for personal safety, but I carried it as bear protection when fishing, as well. I was still new to Alaska, and generally inexperienced with bears.

This particular Saturday I’d risen about four o’clock in the morning and drove my pick up with the plywood camper I built while in dental school from Anchorage down toward Seward.

A moderate hike off the highway took me to some holes that were loaded with fresh sea run silvers and I had my limit of three bright salmon in less than an hour. I was pleased to see no other fishermen in the area. But fresh bear tracks, made by both black and brown bears were plentiful. I hadn’t seen a bear that morning, but the dozens of stripped fish carcasses littering the river banks and trails clearly indicated recent bear and bird

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