If you don’t count the travel time from Missouri to Anchorage, then out to Port Moller on the Alaska peninsula, then the one day weather delay, then the flight to spike camp – well, if you don’t count all of that time, it was a pretty short bear hunt.
Spike camp was a small metal cabin, anchored to the ground with giant ropes; evidence of how hard the wind blows there at times. There was enough space for a hunter and guide to be comfortable; but we were two hunters and two guides. After Brenda and I crawled into the wall bunks at night, our guides made their beds on the floor beneath us.
We flew in late one afternoon, as the wind let up just enough to allow our small plane to land on the beach. It blew hard and gusted all night long. When morning came it was obvious that the best place to be was right where we were, in our cozy little cabin.
About 10:30 I needed some relief from the coffee. The front door of the cabin faced the lake about 50 yards out and the standard safety rule was to look both ways for bear when you opened the door; which I did, then proceeded outside.
As I returned to the cabin, Brenda was waiting with the door open, motioning for me to hurry. From her bunk, she had looked out the small window on the south side of the cabin and saw a bear coming down the beach. You could say that her sighting was the very moment the bear hunt actually began.
The guides both stepped up to take a look and by this time the bear was directly in front of the cabin, wandering slowly down the beach, completely unaware of us. The head guide turned and said: “That’s a nice bear, someone should shoot it!” When we hunt together, I always let Brenda shoot first, so she put on her shoes, grabbed her gun and out the door we went.
The wind was horrific and Brenda struggled in the gust to remain upright then she made a great offhand shot to anchor the bear. It was a pretty short bear hunt!