A Few Recent Bear Stories
Just spent a couple weeks on Kodiak where the weather was fantastic with clear blue skies and no rain for over a week! Now I did say this was a post of stories so you may choose to disbelieve the weather report, too! And as proof I was in Kodiak once for two weeks and it only rained twice... Once for five days and once for nine days!
Anyway, I was fishing a small stream right next to the airport, the Buskin River, with a friend when we were approached by a largish Kodiak sow. It is a bear I know well from years of fishing the same place and she has always been an easy bear to be around.
I moved to river right to give her room to go by as she was coming upstream river left. I called to my friend to let her pass. When she reached the pool I was fishing she did not just keep going, but rather dove into the pool no more than 20 yards from me. Looking back, the bank was a bit steep for a hasty retreat if needed so I moved downstream toward the bear and got out of the pool by an easy path.
The bear was easy to see from the higher bank and she ate a couple really "special" humpies which had not flushed out of the river due to the extremely low water. She was comfortable "fishing" right below me and I was watching closely.
Suddenly she started to growl way down deep and her hackles came up as she turned to look at me. The growls continued and suddenly her ears went back. I needed no more telling and I immediately went straight back to my van and jumped in. I was warning my buddy at the same time that the bear was uneasy and watch out!
He suddenly popped out of the trees lining the river downstream of where he had been and in an unusual spot... Then it hit me. Rather than return the same side, river right, he had gone down river left putting the bear right between us. It was an extrordinarily foolish thing and only the good nature of the bear allowed it to come off without any more incident than it did...
A few days later just upstream from the earlier incident I looked up to see the same sow headed down river right and no more than 25 yards from me. She looked uncomfortable about me being there, but I had just landed a silver salmon and was holding it under water while it expired. I did not want to give the fish to the bear and did not want to encourage the bear to ask for it, either.
She moved downstream, walking well out to the middle of the river before moving down and reducing the distance between us considerably. Suddenly she took off, running away, just as fast as a bear can move. She was in very shallow water and it was literally a rooster tail of rocks and water flying. I heard a splash close behind me about the time she started running and assumed it was a salmon jumping.
Turned out the jumping salmon was a very large boar that has never been comfortable around people and just pushed them off the stream anytime he felt like it. He had bluff charged me a couple times a few years ago and I always give him all the room he wants.
But he was "fishing" also and he "drank" the first humpie no more than 10 yards from me, holding it in both paws like a trough and slurping it out. He gave me a ridiculous grin/smile as he finished it like he was apologizing for running me off all those times before. Somehow I do not consider him a drinking buddy yet!
He dove in for another humpie and I backed out of the river as fast as I could, still holding my silver. He stayed in the pool looking for soupy humpies and the silver made it back to the van.
The next day I fished another hole on the Buskin and when a third bear, a young boar showed up it turned into a real circus with the fools fishing and trying to drive the bear off. A stringer with two silvers on it had been left in the river an dthe bear found them. He only ate the heads, guts, and skins (typical bear feeding) leaving the meat on the bank.
One fellow had a leashed pitbull and kept making statements about how he wanted the dog to get a chance at the bear... I was on the opposite side of the river and far enough away to just enjoy the show if it came to that. The bear proved extremely tolerant and did not flinch or worry even when people were directed to trails running just a few yards from the bear. Several people popped out of the bushes and found themselves so close they paniced and ran.
After a while the bear laid down and took a nap with about 10 people within 40 yards.
If that bear ever grows intolerant there will be some injured people...
In all there were over 20 unique bears on various rivers during the two weeks I was there and I saw them multiple times. Easily 100 bear sightings in the two weeks and probably closer to double the number of unique bears were seen. The population is increasing dramatically there and I expect issues soon... There was a poor (mostly late) series of salmon runs this year and a near total berry crop failure and those sorts of pressures will be hard on the bears.