Western Hunter Magazine July/August 2019 #70 - Page 37

“ We made it to Jeremy’s bull at 11:45 p.m. The Alaska sky was still somewhat lit in a dusky, blue haze marbled with clouds. We finished butchering and made it back to our tents with all his meat by 6 a.m. the following morning...” Cautious Optimism The northern latitudes of Alaska mean that sunrise and sunset are nearly a blended affair in mid-August. With a sky that holds a dusky glow throughout the night, our alarm clocks were primed for a very early wake-up call on day one. We were greeted by some conventional Alas- kan weather, and as we ate breakfast that first morning, it became evident we wouldn’t be able to see the top half of the mountains. Since we needed to locate travel corridors in the massive landscape that surrounded our river valley camp, we split up and went in three directions, form- ing a large triangle of viewpoints that put each point roughly two miles from the next. We were afforded maximum coverage of the area to hope- fully enlighten us on a hotspot for caribou traffic. As luck would have it, my glassing knob, which overlooked the convergence of two creek draws and a massive meadow, turned out to be the hotspot. This knob afforded me the oppor- tunity to see 20-30 animals, including many nice bulls, moving through in small groups through- out the day. Although we had all spent the day absorbing the traditional rainy, socked-in Alaskan weather, we had found a promising location! Upon arrival at camp at 10:45 p.m., in the dimming but never dark light, I relayed the info. We had cautious optimism for the next day. Wolf Stalk It was decided that my brother and I would ease back up to my glassing knob and DJ would strike out the opposite direction to look for an- other area of activity. Because DJ and I had wolf tags, we had one rifle in camp in addition to our bows. Thus, I elected to take the rifle. As soon as Jeremy and I finished the hike through the soaked, tussock-pocked mountain- side, we were greeted with an amazing sight – a grizzly bear and a wolf appeared to be traveling together! After a few minutes, the bear began traveling at an angle in our direction while the wolf seemed satisfied to lie down. The bear made its way across the hillside, moving to our right. With the wind blowing that direction, we watched him abruptly stop and take deep breaths in through his nose and out through his mouth for about ten seconds. He then turned 180 de- grees and began briskly walking away. He then launched into a full run down the hillside, over the creek, and up into a spruce tree-clad moun- tainside a mile away! It was truly an experience of a lifetime! With our attention back on the wolf, I de- cided to cut the distance and try a long shot in the completely open country. If the wolf spooked, my brother would start moving up toward our desired position closer to the head of the drain- age and I’d meet him there. My path would take me down to the creek, straight up the mountain- side, and then toward the wolf. Once on the opposite side of the creek and level with the wolf, I began working toward him, but given the open terrain, he saw me and started walking away. I knew Jeremy would now likely be moving to our rendezvous point, so I sat on the hillside taking the day in, giving him time to get going. Josh (right) accomplished a lifelong dream when he squeezed the trigger on this magnificent bull. info@westernhunter.net WESTERN HUNTER 37