Jan 26 2023

Bear Island Paradise

Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes, but it’s hard to beat the Last Frontier

Like many of you, spring means black bears, and there is no better location than Alaska’s Prince of Wales Island to chase them. It literally is a black bear island paradise, a rainforest ecosystem that is perfectly balanced for them to thrive. Tags are only issued in their annual draw and I was one of 180 lucky non-residents who got a ticket to this spring affair. Unlike grizzlies and brown bears in Alaska, a non-resident does not need a guide to hunt them, making them an ideal dangerous game option for the solo adventurer. Needless to say, I was elated when I finally stepped off the ferry after a full day of travel.
-Brian Strickland-
“What in the world would possess you to want to travel all the way across the country to climb a mountain, just so you can kill a bear?” my mother questioned. It was a fair question with a complex answer. Notably, in the opinion of most of my East Texas friends and family, my newfound fixation with the idea of bear hunting was being viewed as abnormal. After giving it some thought, though, why wouldn't it be?
To be a successful spring bear hunter, a hunter must understand that each year, each state, and each mountain range will all have “spring” at different times of the year. Each of these areas could be great during any given year but be under a foot of snow the next year or even next week. Since a different elevation could be prime hunting during any given year and a hunter can not predict this, it is always encouraged to plan for multiple spots at multiple different elevations and then be mobile.

Jul 22 2022

Patience Pays off on Kodiak

Originally published March/ April 2016 in Bear Hunting Magazine

Nestled at the base of the Brooks Range Mountains, our camp was set on a tundra bench beside a crystal clear stream. The bugs were all but gone and the willows were turning yellow. A gentle arctic breeze felt good against our faces as we sipped hot coffee. To the west, the otherwise drab, brown tundra was aglow with waning rays of sunshine. We watched as a small group of caribou filed by our tents. Life was good.
Kondelis stepped up to the challenge. He said, “Myself and a good friend are dyed-in-the-wool bear hunters that just loved the sport and loved the species. We noticed a lack of concern for bears and bear hunting. We felt not a lot of states were worried about their bear populations, not a lot of the organizations out there focusing on the right to bear hunt and ensuring there’s a future for bear hunting on the landscape. We’re in existence because we’re seeing a lot of headwinds coming against bears, bear hunting, and specifically predator hunting.”
If you are from or are familiar with California, you know that there is no shortage of black bears or wildfires. California has one of the highest black bear populations in the lower 48. California's black bear population has increased over the past 25 years.
He was the most significant black bear I had seen in 10 years, and he was only 100 yards across the legume-rich meadow from where I lay. I was surprisingly calm, however, as I could only see the top of his back in the high foliage. His female companion was even less visible. I was downwind of the bears, and a stalk to get closer was unthinkable in the dry, late-May weather. The stalky clover, dead from last season, was crunchy. It was like walking on a large packing bubble sheet. My mind was busy trying to figure out what to do. I think that helped with the nerves. I didn't know it at the time, but my adrenalin would be flowing hard within minutes of this particular moment.

Apr 06 2022

Challenge Accepted

It was the fall of 2017 when my dad and I were driving back from an unsuccessful hunt in the national forest in Arkansas. We had hunted all day and were frustrated at how little our expedition had produced. My dad explained to me that we hunt here because while we may not have very much success, the day that we do, it will mean so much more. He told me that if we wanted to go kill a deer or bear, we could go to the bait pile and could have a much better chance at killing one, but we hunt on national forest because there will be so much more behind the animal that we harvested. I understood. Not long after that in the same long drive home after talking more on the subject I made a commitment that I was going to try to kill my first bear in national forest. This was a massive commitment.

”A Very Propitious Event”: (pruh-pish-uhs, indicative of favor, favorably disposed towards you)
Every once in a while something significant happens that causes you to ponder the individual choices that decided the outcomes in your life. That causes you to wonder; what if things went differently, what if I went left instead of right, what if I stayed home, what if I did ask that girl out on a date, what if, what if, and what IF?

Feb 14 2022

Glassing Arizona

A veteran hunter takes a new bear hunter into the backcountry & breaks the curse.