After a couple years of thinking about a brown bear hunt in Alaska, I finally decided on a spring brown bear hunt with Ameri-Cana Expeditions as my hunting brokers and outfitted by Richard Guthrie. I’ve known Richard for a long time and was familiar with his ability to constantly get big bears for his clients. My personal master guide was Jeff Pralle, a real outdoorsman with lots of big bears taken over his almost 35 years of guiding and outfitting experience.
I arrived to Cold Bay, Alaska on May 7 and, after spending a great night with fellow hunters in Bill and Mary’s Lodge, Richard flew me the following afternoon to my hunting cabin on the coast of Volcano Lagoon in area 9D. There, my roommate, friend, cook and guide for the next 10 days, Jeff Pralle, was already waiting for me.
The weather was windy and rainy and we still had two more days to wait until opening day. We tried not to walk very far from our cabin to keep from spreading our scent and instead stayed in our nice and warm cabin where we talked, ate, drank, slept and then talked, ate, drank and slept some more. Opening day arrived soon and with it lots of hopes, but also very nasty, rainy, windy and most importantly, foggy weather. We stayed in our place until around noon, when we started hiking to the lookout point where Jeff knew there would be bear activity.
After short time glassing from the lookout point, we spotted a good bear some 1,200 yards away. It was hard to judge him at that distance and through to the fog, but we could make out big rubs on both sides of him so we just watched him go to the thick brush for his siesta without taking any action. A smaller bear passed by us at closer range, going in the same direction and it took Jeff a short time to find out that there was a dead whale washed up on the shore about four miles away that was attracting the bears. Over a couple of hours we watched eight bears walking toward or already feeding on the dead whale, then decided to go back to our mini mansion 8×10 cabin. Though built and maintained for the past 20 years, it was as comfortable and warm as a 5 Star resort.
By the time we got back to our cabin it was almost 9:30 p.m. We had just unloaded our wet backpacks inside and gone out to wash our hands and start preparing our dinner when Jeff saw a big bear across the river in front of us about 450 yards away. After a quick look through the spotting scope, we grabbed our guns and circled the wind, using the creeks and rivers as cover. In a short time, we were 160 yards away from a bear that was not aware of us. At 10:10 p.m., after watching him for a good minute through scope of my .375 H&H built by master gunmaker Ray Riganian, I recorded this memory in my mind and squeezed the trigger. After first falling into the river and getting water inside my waders, we closed the distance with the bear. As we got closer, it got bigger and bigger. It was too late to start skinning it, so we took some pictures and headed back to our cabin for celebration and a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, Jeff got all his surgical equipment and we headed to where my big bear was laying for the hard work of “wildernesses OR.” It was a nice cool, cloudy day with an ocean breeze and no rain. The fresh air was filled with songs of geese, ducks, cranes, seagulls and lots of other birds that were enjoying the leftovers from the morning’s tide. A couple of red foxes and eagles waited for us to finish our job and leave them their share of food as we started the skinning work. We were so close to our cabin that it allowed us to take some nice rest breaks.
When all the surgical process of cleaning and skinning the bear was finished, we measured the skin on uneven ground. He squared the unbelievable 10-feet, 10-inches size with a great skin that wasn’t rubbed and a big skull measuring 28 4/16.
It was at 10:10 p.m. when I shot this 10-foot, 10-inch bear, so I called him “Ten Ten at Ten Ten!”
I thank my lovely wife, Rosie, who always supports me; my mentor and good friend, Soudy Golabchi; Pat, Nick, Dan Fredericks with Ameri-Cana; Richard Guthrie, great outfitter and pilot; and master guide Jeff Pralle. Without this group of people, my dream never would have come true.–Armen Avedissian