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Rescue mission to bear hunt...

Old 06-04-2010, 02:50 AM
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Default Rescue mission to bear hunt...

Some of you know that I wear several different hats... I'm a Capt. of a internationally accredited mountain rescue team and we respond to a wide variety of calls from high angle technical work to marine search and rescue.

My boss ( director of search and rescue and my best friend) was approached at 9:30 this morning by an operator of a kayak rental company and she tells of two clients of hers that were seriously harassed by a bear yesterday. The discussion is centered around the probability of the situation escalating and what resources might be available.

9:55 she is back and reports that the harassment continued all night and that the client's are in a Forest Service cabin and a bear is clawing at the windows and trying to force the door ( things are escalating)! A couple calls yields no law enforcement officer is available and my buddy calls me.

10:25 I've collected a few things ( 375 H&H Seiko, minimal emergency gear, a PFD, and a camera) and driven 6 miles to a launch ramp just as he's arriving with his Parker, minimal emergency gear, and a 338. We launch and take turns at the helm as we scramble to get our gear and weapons in order.

While en route we get a hold of the Alaska State Troopers (AST is responsible for search and rescue in Alaska and while we're on a mission we work for them), we are given authorization to do whatever needs to be done to ensure the safety of us and our subjects.

11:00 we throw an anchor out and rig an out-hall ( the tides going out), offload our weapons and day packs and are met by a gentleman who has absolutely run out of patience with what later turns out to be a three or four-year-old ( 300 pound) juvenile brown bear. He tells us that the bear was last seen 50 feet north of the cabin, we secure the boat, pull our weapons out of their cases and jog 50 yards to the cabin. We spend a little time discussing the situation with the gentleman and his wife ( a couple from California) and did a quick walk around the cabin and out-house ( the cabin had recently been repaired from a previous bear assault), there was considerable new damage and wet bear tracks on the sides of the cabin.

We give the folks a VHF radio and tell them to stay in the cabin and pack their gear. Our intent is first to determine if the bear is healthy ( if it's wounded, we'll drop it) and then force it out of the area. We do a quick search in the immediate area and then guess that it's moved off to the south and start working that direction. We're just shy of 100 yards away when we get a call on the radio, the bears is back. We move quickly back to the cabin,the gentleman's on the porch and the bear is 40 feet to the north. We send him back inside and start pushing the bear. We both have a cartridge in the chamber, we are 5 to 8 feet apart and we just start pushing him. He's not really afraid of us but seems to sense that he doesn't want to mess with us. He moves well, all four legs are working and he looks good so we just keep pushing, there's considerable brush and old-growth timber, we move in such a way as to be able to cover each other and the bear doesn't allow us to get closer than 25 feet. He'll move on a short distance and then stop behind a tree or a log, we keep pushing and conclude that we can push him far enough away that we should be able to evacuate our subjects and leave this obnoxius juvenile for fish & game to deal with ( we don't want to have to shoot it).

We push it 300 yards down the beach and choose not to push our luck any further, break off from it, move out onto the beach and walk back to the cabin where we learn that the couples kayak is two thirds of a mile down the beach in the direction that we pushed the bear .

As we are loading the couple and their gear on the boat, our operations section contacts us and relays that fish & game's bear biologist wants us to dispatch the bear if a good opportunity presents itself we've had opportunities... now we just want to leave.

We get off the beach ( only a little water in the boots) and cruise down the beach locating the couples kayak along a rocky stretch of beach where we were forced to be some 50 yards offshore. As we motor by I think I see movement in the bushes above the kayak. The next safe mooring for our boat is around the corner and three or 400 yards from the kayak.

We put in on a sandy beach and drag the anchor up the beach 15 to 20 yards ( is now 15 minutes before low tide) and start backtracking to the couples kayak with the intent to launch the kayak ( is a rough, rocky section) and paddle it back to our boat, we have the couple with us as our intent is to put them in the kayak.

The beach is a volcanic structure with broken cliffs and small gravel beaches, most of the terrain rises nearly 100 feet at the high tide line with a few places that the timber extends to the high tide line( this section is not passable at high tide),we walk around the last point before the kayak, the bear is 75 yards ahead and moving towards us. The kayak is in between the bear and us, we start discussing our options.

We have good natural terrain barriers, good firepower, and feel confident. We put the couple around the point and start moving for position, we decide that if we can get position where both of us have a good shot, we'll take it. The bear steps off the beach and into a narrow section of timber, we step in 15 yards ahead of it, were faced with brush, downed timber and nearly a 45° wooded slope. The bear moves across the slope diagonally yielding a shot for first one of us and then the other, it climbs the slope as we try to get position. It tops out 60 or 70 feet above us, turns and looks down the hill at us, we're climbing trying to get position, an opportunity is presenting itself, we confer and feel good about the situation, the bear starts down the hill advancing towards us. It would probably not be possible to distinguish between the two shots fired, it was but one sound.

We were both a little sick to our stomach's as the bear rolled down the hill ( with my buddy having to step out of the way) because we knew that it was human activity that had taught this wild animal that human garbage was an easy meal.
The forest service send a boat and five men to help retrieve the bear were it would be transported to a local Raptor Center and used to feed the Eagles.

It was made clear that had we not taken care of this issue, law enforcement and fish & game personnel would be out later in the day to do what we did, the bear had more bad history then we were aware of, there has been no successful reform for bears in this area that have acquired a taste for human food...
The photos
#1 the couple standing at the door with recent damage.
#2 a side window with claw marks and wet paw prints.
#3 the bear moving off in the clear.
#4 the bear at close range and in the brush.
#5 he steps out on the beach.
#6 and moves off again, but not in any hurry.
#7 the deed is done ( and I still have the protection of a PFD )
#8 my buddy and I... the transport
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Last edited by commuter boats; 06-04-2010 at 03:17 AM.
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Old 06-04-2010, 03:10 AM
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You guys are brave...or nuts...and your excellent story makes it sounds like its just another day in AK.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-04-2010, 05:39 AM
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What would have happend if the kayakers killed the bear themselves.
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Old 06-04-2010, 06:13 AM
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That’s a very good account of the events, but one you’ve shrouded. What sort of state of mind was the couple in while this whole thing was unfolding?

I got the part about the couple was from Ca, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were from the big city and are very urbanized. They obviously were in Alaska, on a kayak trip of some sort, rented, possibly own or just homesteading in a cabin......was the couple enjoying their full Alaska adventure?

Something I caught, twice, in your recount.....that bear circled around twice. The first time was at the cabin and the second time was while you were trying to get the kayak.....sneaky bastards they are....it also makes them very dangerous with them having that trait!
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Old 06-04-2010, 06:16 AM
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the sign on the cabin indicates it was a USFS rental.

Re: the couple. the way they're standing says they didn't fully appreciate their situation if the guys in white hats hadn't have come by.
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by freeporttuna View Post
What would have happend if the kayakers killed the bear themselves.
Killing a bear out of season and without a permit requires a fair amount of paperwork, and interview to determine whether it was justified and most importantly a weapon... these folks didn't have a weapon

Originally Posted by Garett View Post
That’s a very good account of the events, but one you’ve shrouded. What sort of state of mind was the couple in while this whole thing was unfolding?

I got the part about the couple was from Ca, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were from the big city and are very urbanized. They obviously were in Alaska, on a kayak trip of some sort, rented, possibly own or just homesteading in a cabin......was the couple enjoying their full Alaska adventure?

Something I caught, twice, in your recount.....that bear circled around twice. The first time was at the cabin and the second time was while you were trying to get the kayak.....sneaky bastards they are....it also makes them very dangerous with them having that trait!
They were rattled, most certainly feared for their lives, he grew up in urban Alaska ( which isn't the same as urban LA), they were both professional people whose jobs put them in positions where decisions had to be made under stress, the cabin was a rental as well as the kayak, this wasn't their first adventure in Alaska end we explained everything we were going to do before we did it. They understood that with this type of bear behavior, the seriousness of interactions always escalates and somebody was going to get hurt. None of us wanted the bear dead but nor did we want to see somebody mauled or killed.
With exception of our officers who receive a stipend pay, we are a volunteer team and maintain a bank account to benefit our volunteers, our account received two deposits yesterday which we are thankful for but we also received very nice compliments for professionalism and courtesy.
Sneaky bastards.... they are highly trainable, it's been suggested that a bear can be trained to do anything a dog can be trained to do, circling is an expected trait, they are the top of the food chain until men with firearms show up.
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by bamaboy473 View Post

Re: the couple. the way they're standing says they didn't fully appreciate their situation if the guys in white hats hadn't have come by.
They fully understood their situation, I think their posture relays that they knew they were in good hands...
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Old 06-04-2010, 09:13 AM
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The gentleman showed me several photos on his Blackbeery where the bear filled the screen, those things don't have much magnification.

I stayed on the beach while my buddy transported our new friends to the launch ramp along with their kayak, the forest service arrived at the same time that my buddy returned with another member of our team.
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Old 06-04-2010, 09:45 AM
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What does it cost to rent one of those cabins..
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Old 06-04-2010, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by freeporttuna View Post
What does it cost to rent one of those cabins..
Is not much, go to the US Forest Service site and surf around looking for cabin rentals.
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Old 06-04-2010, 10:06 AM
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http://www.reserveamerica.com/campin...ex=CampingSpot
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Old 06-04-2010, 11:01 AM
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A link. http://www.adn.com/2010/06/03/130681...ifornians.html
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Old 06-04-2010, 11:06 AM
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I've never seen a Parker with a transom set-up like that.



Hey, this is a boating forum!
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Old 06-04-2010, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by gf View Post
I've never seen a Parker with a transom set-up like that.



Hey, this is a boating forum!
It has a two foot extention... A 19 foot Parker
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Old 06-04-2010, 12:44 PM
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Who wrote the note dated May 7?
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Old 06-04-2010, 01:04 PM
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Hell, I commend the couple for reaching out for help. Lots of nin-com-poops dont know when to get help and it leads to a bad situation getting much worse.
There aint no wilderness here in the east as beautiful as those pics. Thanks for sharing your story.
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Old 06-04-2010, 01:47 PM
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CB, do you figure momma ran him off this spring? heck of a story...
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Old 06-04-2010, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Classic25 View Post
CB, do you figure momma ran him off this spring? heck of a story...
Most likely, the biologist will give us his assessment on his age and health ( yeah I know it's dead) soon.
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Old 06-04-2010, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by gf View Post
I've never seen a Parker with a transom set-up like that.



Hey, this is a boating forum!
Extention...
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Old 06-04-2010, 10:47 PM
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Hell of a story. I am envious. Love the part on the sign regarding the bear loving butter. I am a bit of a hunter and gun collector and have never heard of a Seiko rifle. Is it the same company that makes watches??
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