Last year I had an opportunity to do some hunting for moose and bear on the Yukon out of my flat bottom boat (The Amelia). It ended up being a 130 mile round trip down the Yukon and back. The Amelia did well, except for a small issue with a clogged fuel filter in the tank, that only took about 3 hours and 20 miles to figure out.
We (Spence and I) launched the boat on Monday in Eagle,
and went down river past the Glenn Creek cabin in search of moose primarily. Because black bear season is year round here and the limit on bears is 3/person/year, we try to make the most of the shorter moose season by targeting them. After traveling about 65 miles down river (mostly floating) it dawned on me that if we shot anything we would never be able to get it back upstream. The Amelia is 16′ long, 40 years old, and has a 16 year old 25 horse power Mercury pushing her around. With two guys, extra fuel, and all our gear we were already sitting a little deep in the water…
So we began slowly shuttling our gear and extra fuel back to Eagle, about 25 miles at a time. About 18 miles from Eagle, we spotted a large black spot on an island bank. Unlike many of the black spots we tend to spot and become prematurely excited about, this one was actually a bear. It was also the first big game animal we had seen in the five days of hunting. He was walking along the gravel bank of an island when we first spotted him from close to half a mile away. We were under power and headed upstream at the time, so we decided to continue motoring past him.
After we were a quarter mile or so upstream we slowly worked our way to the other side of the river as the bear casually sipped from the Yukon. Within about a 100 yards of the bank and 500 yards of the boar I shut the motor off and let the river take the boat to the beast. When we were about 300 yards from the black bruin he became a little more skeptical of the large river rat floating his way and began making his way leisurely back toward the brush line. It was difficult to rest the rifle on the side of the boat, but with the gas tank providing a rest for my elbow, I had about as solid a rest as I was going to get in a boat floating about 6 miles an hour down the longest river in Alaska. The bear just happened to stop about a step from the safe cover of the brush and look back over his shoulder as the boat decided to change its spin from clockwise to counterclockwise. In the blink of time between rotations I was able to squeeze the trigger and hit the bear behind the front shoulder. It ran about 100 yards in the brush along the shoreline before admitting defeat.
With a bear to add to the cargo in the boat our shuttling operation back to Eagle became even slower, but I really didn’t care. Traveling 6 mph upstream on the Yukon with my first black bear laying on the bow of my old boat from Texas was something I thoroughly enjoyed.
We guess the bear weighed close to 300 pounds, but then again that’s what everyone says. You be the judge.