The rain pounded all night long. We spent most of the morning inside the float house and suited up the rainwear for our first day of crabbing. This area of Alaska has Dungeness crabs (considered by many to be the best crab meat in the world) along with Halibut, Red Snapper, and various other saltwater rock fish. We baited up the pots and set them in the bay. I've never crabbed before, this was going to be a treat.
After the crab pots were set, we loaded the skiff and headed for a remote beach named "Sandfly." We dropped Tom and John off at the beach and Johnnie and I continued down the canal to the Harrison River. We passed a rock covered with seals and drove past porpoises and bald eagles. The quiet inlet snaked through a jungle of light-green, moss-covered spruce trees before ending at a waterfall. It was spectacular. Johnnie and I remarked at how this looked like a good area for brown bear but the sign didn't prove this out. We marked the area to check out later in the trip.
After some time we arrived back at Sandfly but before picking up Tom and John, we scouted a far bank. It was here that we found our first fresh brown bear sign. There was one fresh pile of scat and a rubbing tree that was covered with fur. We all headed back to Halibut bay and checked our crab pots on the way back. They were both loaded up. After returning we suited up for a long hunt on the outer corner of the main tidal flat. The rain was coming down hard but that wouldn't stop us.
Tom and John took a stand near a large stump where they could overlook the entire meadow. Because I was hunting with a bow, Johnnie and I went deeper into the trees and took a stand on a river bank next to a popular crossing. As the day went on we spotted a bear, a nice one, feeding his way towards us. Johnnie and I discussed the bear and I was on the fence. He looked good, but not great. I took an arrow out and got ready. My remark to Johnnie was that I'd make the decision at the last moment.
The bear got 40 yards and heading right in, suddenly a bigger bear appeared. The two bears became aggressive towards each other. Johnnie and I looked at each other and just knew that this was gonna be good. One bear was slightly more dominant than the other - but only slightly. They approached each other sideways, hackles up, and growling. Now, all of this was taking place between 40 - 50 yards away! As the two got next to each other one bear immediately backed down and ran to the bank. The other was heading toward us. But just as my fingers gripped the handle of my bow tighter, the other bear came rushing back in and the two ran into the trees. We could hear them fighting - brush rattling and snapping - before all went quiet. The bears were gone. That was exciting.
Johnnie went to check on the boat and left me at the stump. It was getting quite dark. I noticed a bear coming at me from the other side of the river. All I could make out was his silhouette 30 yards away. I snapped a few pictures before Johnnie came back. We headed home in the rain.