Kamchatka Land of 10,000 Bears, Part 13 My Bear

by david on February 19, 2020

I had just started to cool down and let some perspiration evaporate when the guys informed me they were ready for some pictures. Back on went the coat, hat, goggles, and gloves. Out came the rifle and I headed back towards the bear. After just a few steps, fatigue hit me and I realized just how tired I was. After struggling the remaining thirty feet or so to the bear, my exhaustion was replaced with excitement. I had to set the rifle down and pull my gloves off to run my fingers through the bear’s fur. One of the reasons I wanted to hunt a spring bear was their coats are supposed to be their most rejuvenated and luxurious after a long winter’s sleep, and that proved very true with this bear. The fur was as soft and supple as any fur coat I have ever been around. There were no bare spots from scratching itches or fighting other bears for breeding rights or a preferred food source. He was beautiful and all mine. Vasili and Igor had done a good job of removing any “red” snow and had somehow managed to position the bear for pictures. We snapped several from every position imaginable and moved him again to take some more. Lastly, I picked up a foot and held it closely to add scale for his claws. Each claw was the size of my little finger and amazingly sharp. I would hate to be on the wrong end of them. With the picture taking completed, I could take a brief rest while I waited for the bear to be field dressed and loaded onto the sled.

Everyone thought a toast was in order and Igor produced a small drawstring bag containing four shot glasses from somewhere and carefully filled each glass. The warmth of the alcohol felt pretty good and everyone agreed on another shot and then another. The brandy had its desired effect (on me, anyway) and things grew quiet while the guys finished packing up. My mind wanders, as it often does when things get still and the noise level drops to a dull roar. I was happy with my bear, but now what was I going to do for a week in camp? Maybe I should not have taken him? That thought was quickly put to rest as the fated series of events leading to him were completely random. If I had elected to take the helicopter, we would not have been on snowmobiles or afield today. If I had not been road weary and chosen the smooth way to camp, we would have never crossed paths. It was meant to be. Even the location was cool (besides being in Russia and on the Kamchatka Peninsula) we were just about in the middle of three active volcanoes: Nakhadkh, Asacha, and Opala. A perfect place in a land of volcanoes. Kamchatka has about 300 volcanoes with about 29 of them active. Pretty cool.

With the bear loaded on the sled it was time for the rest of us to climb back on the snowmobiles. Soon we were zipping along at speeds approaching 70mph (best I could estimate from wind resistance and perception). The brandy helped me not care so much and I was definitely a little more limber and could lean into the corners better. We finally got to camp about 8:00 PM. I had been traveling for 26 hours with no rest or virtually no sleep. I was completely whooped. Dinner was all but ready when we got to camp and I was starving. The pirojaki I had late morning had long give out and the thought of food made my stomach rumble with anticipation. Dinner was a nice home cooked country meal. We had meat, potatoes, vegetables, bread, cheese and then a little more brandy (had to get that last nutritional group in there). Once our appetites were sated we tried some conversation. It dawned on me there may be another bear tag available and if there was I could hunt for a monster bear of ten foot plus for the rest of the week. With a quick sat-phone call Igor confirmed my suspicions and I was in business. One week would give me ample opportunity to see the area and look for an old, old, old, big, really big bear. Exhaustion once again reared its ugly head and I was done for the evening. I asked Julia to let Igor and Vasili know I would be sleeping in and most likely would be resting rather than hunting tomorrow. They nodded in acknowledgement so I excused myself and headed to my room. I still had to shower and unpack. I voted to shower first. The water was hot and was soothing to my tired muscles, so much so that I almost fell asleep while showering. The heck with unpacking. I climbed in bed and was most likely asleep before I closed my eyes.

My bear, all 1000 pounds nine feet, two inches of him. My bear, all 1000 pounds nine feet, two inches of him.

 

All grinns All grins

 

His toe nails needed a trim His toenails needed a trim

 

The rifle is about 40" in length The rifle is about 40″ in length

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