August 20, 2017

2015 Season Report

Mother Nature made this a rather challenging sheep season for us, as the weather was generally very poor and we lost 50% to 60% of our available hunting time due to low clouds and poor visibility obscuring the higher elevations where many of the rams are typically found. Coupled with the horrible visibility was a lot of rain, snow and wind that left the mountains mottled with snow, which are tougher conditions to spot sheep in. Despite these significant challenges, 5 of our 11 hunters harvested nice rams, one of which was a 39 ½” bruiser, and two of our hunters also harvested beautiful male Arctic Grizzlies. One of our hunters had to leave half-way through their hunt due to other personal commitments. From the current reports we have received, the poor weather extended across much of the Brooks Range and as such overall hunter success was down but we saw a dramatic increase in the number of lambs compared to last year so that bodes very well for the future.

The erratic Alaskan weather followed us right into Moose camp. While the first week of September was absolutely perfect, with ideal moose hunting conditions, the day after the beginning of our moose hunts the weather completely changed bringing with it snow, to mid-way down the mountains, colder than normal temperatures and sustained, unusually strong winds from the north. Weather is one of the largest factors in determining how a hunt, anywhere in Alaska, might turn out and it is unfortunately a variable beyond anyone’s control. We saw fewer moose this year than normal and we attributed that to the weird weather we experienced in September. While all three of our moose hunters this year saw legal bull moose, and in a few cases opportunities at some really large, trophy bulls were missed due to the fate of the twists and turns of hunting, only one of our hunters was successful in harvesting a beautiful 59 ½” trophy bull moose. Again, the lack of good rut activity this fall and the low number of moose sightings is attributable to the bizarre Alaskan weather and we are looking forward to returning in September of 2016 for a great moose season.

Our fall 2015 Trophy Brown Bear season was a very unusual one, to say the least. While the weather wasn’t really a negative factor in October, the 2015 trend for the “unusual to occur” certainly continued. Its reported that Alaska’s 2015 salmon season produced the second largest harvest ever and in the commercial fishing region where our exclusive guide area is located there were over three times as many fish caught as normal (16 million pounds harvested this year compared to the normal 5 million pounds). While it may seem counter-intuitive, there were simply too many fish for too long a period of time and it appeared as though most of the bears were quite full of fish and content to lay up hidden in the thick alders waiting for hibernation time to roll around. While there were an incredible number of salmon carcasses lying along the creek banks and seashores, along with still some live salmon, none of the carcasses were fresh, further indicating that the bears were no longer feeding on fish and were quite satiated. In all of our years on the Alaskan Peninsula, we’ve never seen so few bears as we saw this fall but I do suppose if one does anything long enough one might see just about everything.

After having spoken with some other guides on the Alaska Peninsula and from other reports, including the area biologists who said the harvest rate for this fall was very low, somewhere around 30%, it would seem that the phenomenon we experienced in our area was rather wide spread throughout the Alaska Peninsula and shared by many others, as many experienced low bear sightings and harvest.

If we, and our hunters, had been willing to compromise our standards and harvest bears less than 9’6” than all of our hunters would have harvested bears within the first few days of the hunt but fortunately neither they, nor us, is willing to compromise and settle for anything less than a truly large male bear.

Of our four hunters, two of them had to leave mid-way through their 16 day hunts with us due to pressing business commitments they had and one has already committed to returning in 2017 and allotting the full 16 days for his hunt. Of the two other hunters that remained for the majority of the season, one harvested a very large 10’ 7” male bear along with a nice large male wolf!

The very unusual anomaly that was our fall bear season this year I suspect will not likely be repeated for some time, if ever, and we are already looking forward to our upcoming spring season in May of 2016!