Spot & Stalk
Mar 25 2020
By Billy Molls
Billy guided Sam Triplett to a beautiful, 9’8” brown bear. After waiting the legally required 4 years to return to hunt brown bear on the Alaska Peninsula, Sam is back for a spring hunt once again with his sights set on a 10-foot boar.
Sam and I sat there watching the show: The old boar chased, tended, wrestled, and ultimately bred the sow right in front of us for over an hour as her 3-year old cub wandered the valley aimlessly, bawling for it’s mother. “This is incredible!” beamed Sam.
It was 8 O’clock in the morning. We weren’t 200 yards from the tent, and I used three batteries filming and photographing the event. “I’m gonna run back to camp and grab a couple extra batteries before we climb up on the hill,” I said.
Minutes later, I returned to find Sam sitting in the same spot, but the boar was only 100 yards away, in creek walking straight toward us! “After he finished breeding her,” my client explained, “I gave him a predator squeal and he just started coming.”
We had actually spotted this boar the evening before. I guessed the bear at 9 ½’. Being Day 3 in what is one of the best trophy brown bear areas of Alaska, we decided to let him walk. With his hormones quelled for the time being, it was clear the sleek-haired bruiser was looking to fight or eat something. Neither Sam nor I were interested in partaking in either. We shouldered our packs and hotfooted it up the mountain to our glassing vigil—taking frequent glances at our back-trail I might add. “I’m sure he’ll smell camp, or our tracks and boogie outta here,” I huffed, “but we’d best be on our toes just in case.”
We never did see Romeo again, but love was in the air; we watched two other pairs breed that afternoon. The weather, the timing of the rut, and our location seemed perfect. That night as I fried pork chops in our tiny tent under the light of my headlamp, Sam and I relived the day’s events. “I know it’s just a matter of time before we spot a giant bear here,” said Sam. “As much as I’d love to hold out for a ten-foot bear, part of me believes that sometimes a guy’s gotta take what the Good Lord gives ‘im.”
“Yeah,” I smiled. “Not many guys would’ve passed-up that bear this morning.”
“Oh, I was tempted,” Sam assured me, “but I’m glad I passed him up. I don’t think he was as big as the bear I took last time.”
We finished supper and wiggled deep into our sleeping bags. The moon cast a dim glow against the tent and we could hear the faint rush of the creek when Sam spoke. “It’s funny how when you get out here that 10-foot measurement doesn’t mean as much… Rather than worrying about a few inches one way or the other, if we’re lucky enough to see an old boar with a good hide that you figure is bigger than the one we passed-up today, I think we ought to take it.”
“Agreed… We’ll just keep hunting hard and take what the Good Lord gives us.”
Sam and I were wiping the first beads of sweat from our brows the next morning as we climbed to our perch. “There’s a bear!” he pointed. “He’s really dark.”
The bruin was 900 yards straight above us, cruising the craggy ridge top. One glance through my binoculars told me all I needed to know. “That’s a big boar, with a perfect hide,” I asserted. “But if he keeps heading along that ridge we’ll never catch him. We’ll have two gorges between us that’ll take at least an hour to get around… I’m gonna try calling to ‘im.”
I pulled out my predator call and immediately huffed every bit of air I could muster into it. The bear froze still. “He heard you,” Sam assured me. I blew again. “He’s comin’!”
“Let’s go!” I said. Sam and I charged up the brushy mountainside. “We gotta get above our glassing knob, or he’ll cut our scent and blow out before we ever get a shot at him.”
What was normally a ten-minute climb took only three. Sam and I were panting as though were kids who’d just hit a baseball through the neighbor’s window when we stopped to glass. I relocated the bear, standing on a knob —now 400 yards above us—looking, listening, and smelling for whatever made the noise. I called again and shook a nearby bush. Again the old boar resumed lumbering down the mountain, straight at us.
We hustled up another 70 yards. We came to a deep crevasse with an angry, white stream roaring deep below. We found a small hump that offered great visibility, across the chasm, in the direction of the bear. It was perfect. I dropped my pack for Sam to use as a rest. We loaded our .375’s. Sam found a comfortable prone position as I set-up my video camera on the tripod. We weren’t ready for more than a few seconds when movement in the alders caught our eye.
“He’s trying to circle downwind of us, but he doesn’t want to go down into the gorge,” I whispered. “He’s probably come right in. You should be three or four-power at the most.”
Sam double-checked. “Yep. Three.”
Moments later the chocolate boar stepped out and stopped in small clearing 200 yards above. “Wait,” I breathed. “He’s gonna come.” I squealed, and the bear came charging, weaving around some of the alder patches, but for the most part barreling right over and through them.
The intensity was palpable as bear was now within 50 yards and still coming at us. I squealed. The bear kept coming. I squealed again. Alarmed by the sound, he slowed his pace. “Take ‘im in the chest,” I ordered.
“Boom!” Sam’s magnum bellowed. The massive bear rolled twice before springing back on all fours.
“Hit ‘im again!”
“Boom!!! Boom!!! Boom!!!”
Sam had collected his second Alaskan brown bear.
“Now that’s brown bear hunting!” he cheered. As reality set in and adrenaline subsided, Sam’s raw emotion seeped out. Tears welled in his eyes. “That’s a beautiful bear, Billy.”
That evening we enjoyed a bottle of vodka as the sun slowly set behind the mountain. “That first hunt was great, but this one was even better,” smiled Sam, admiring the flawless 9’ 9” bearskin before us. “Maybe someday I’ll get a crack at a big ol’ ten-footer…and… maybe I wont. But as long I’m able, you can bet I’m gonna keep comin’ back up here.”
Billy Molls is an Alaskan guide and outfitter for brown bear, grizzly bear, Dall sheep, caribou, moose, and wolf. He is also an author, freelance writer, renowned public speaker, and producer of The Modern Day Mountain Man DVD series. For more information call (715) 205-7766 or go to www.billymollsadventures.com.