February 21, 2018

2017 Report

2017, our 27th year hunting Dall Sheep in the Brooks Range, was another very safe, successful and enjoyable Dall Sheep season for us.  We had horrible weather this August (the last time I recall it being so consistently poor was in the fall of 1995) with a great deal of rain, low clouds, poor visibility, and snow.  Despite the poor weather challenges that Mother Nature threw at us, and the fact that, depending upon the camp/area one was in, 50 – 80% of the available hunting time was lost due to the upper 2/3rds of the mountains being shrouded in heavy clouds, we were still 7 out of 10 on nice rams!

Two of the three hunters that did not harvest a ram were bow hunters who understood that it is very difficult (and usually requires two to four Dall Sheep hunts before having an opportunity at a legal ram with a bow) and the one rifle hunter that did not harvest a ram spent most of his hunt sitting in clouds that would just not lift and allow for hunting the upper portions of the mountains where his guide knew there were some nice rams, which he had spotted on the previous hunt, but that hunter plans to return hunting with us for sheep again in the next few years.

In September, for the first time in 22 years, we opted to not conduct a Moose & Grizzly Hunt / Season, simply for the fact that my fourth child, a boy, was to be born in September and while I know I will miss his birthdays in the future I was determined to not miss his actual birth!  The only way to guarantee me being there for his birth and to be there to support my wonderful wife Amanda was to not risk trying to conduct a hunt in September and “hope” to make it out of the field in time for his birth so we opted to skip the hunts for 2017 and in hindsight, it was a wise choice for not only was I there to see our son born but this September there were epic rains and high water levels, which made for very poor conditions for moose hunting from all reports that I got of the area.  We are very much looking forward to being back in our camps for this upcoming 2018 season!

This fall’s bear season resembled the 2015 fall bear season in many ways, which subsequently meant we saw and harvested very few bears. Its reported that Alaska’s 2017 salmon season produced a record harvest in the commercial fishing region where we were and apparently 22 million pounds were harvested this year, compared to the normal approximately 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 some of 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 my years on the Alaskan Peninsula, I’ve never seen so few bears as we saw this past fall but I do suppose if one does anything long enough one might see just about everything! The bears obviously didn’t go on a vacation, nor were they abducted by aliens, but they were simply not moving much at all and were laid up during daylight hours with some movement occurring at night, which being a nocturnal creature is very typical bear behavior but made even more extreme with their overly full bellies and lack of interest in fishing and eating anymore.  After having heard reports of some other guides on the Alaska Peninsula it would seem that the phenomenon we experienced in our area was rather widespread throughout the Alaska Peninsula and shared by many others, as many also experienced low bear sightings and harvest.

I am confident that this coming spring we will again see normal bear activity and a normal, healthy population of bears in this area and we are all excited to return and harvest four more BIG brown bears!