Hunt Of A Lifetime: Kodiak Brown Bear

AK brown bear sam

My friend and fellow Virginia hunter Sam Fullerton just returned from a dream hunt and filed this field report:

The hunt took place in a special draw area on the northern end of Afognak Island in the Kodiak chain. It took 3 years to draw the permit.

I booked the hunt through Wade Darby at Crosshair Hunting Consulting. Wade booked me with Afognak Wilderness Lodge, which has an extremely remote camp that the Randall family has chiseled out of the Afognak wilderness over the last 50 years. It is an impressive camp considering every single thing was either made from the rocks or trees growing on the island, or brought in by float plane or boat.

We left base camp every day by boat, and after about an hour’s ride to our permitted hunting area we glassed from the boat along the shore lines and hillsides.  We concentrated along the beaches at low tide. When we spotted a bear and determined it was a good one, we launched a Zodiac with a small motor and maneuvered to shore to get a closer look at the animal. We saw from 5 to 20 bears each day. Many were inaccessible and we simply watched to see if they would move or feed into better position, which rarely happened.

One day we spotted a bear, launched the Zodiac and got into position. My guide, Josh Randall, immediately realized we were looking at an exceptionally good one. After a good bit of slipping and sliding we were able to get into a good shooting position on a slime-and-barnacle covered rock along the beach. The bear fed towards us, flipping over rocks and driftwood looking for food.

I shot the bear squarely in the front shoulder with hand-loaded 270-grain Barnes TSX from my .375 H&H. Hit hard with the first shot, it spun and snapped a few times. I followed up with a second shot and the bear dropped on the beach within 40 yards.

I feel extremely fortunate to have had an opportunity to harvest such a majestic animal like this. Walking up to this bear was like a dream. I was in shock at the sheer size of the animal. The hide was spectacular, heavy and thick. Its head was massive.

My guide Josh was as excited as I was. We were able to get the main boat to the beach and winch the bear onto the front of the boat to return to camp for skinning, which was an all-day affair.

The hide was not stretched and had been salted when the hide measurements were taken. The bear squared 10 feet 7 inches claw to claw wide, and was 9 feet 6 inches nose to tail, putting it just over the magical 10-foot squared mark.  Alaska game and fish biologists measured the skull at 27 9/16, which will qualify it for Boone & Crockett awards. It was tentatively aged by the biologist at approximately 25 years old. Nearly all the bear’s teeth were either broken or rotten.–Sam Fullerton

Tech notes: Sam Fullerton is a well-traveled big game hunter and hand-loader. Sam reports that while skinning the bear, he recovered the first Barnes TSX bullet, which had entered the front shoulder at a slightly quartering-to angle; it was bulging under the hide just in front of the opposite side rear hip. “Perfect bullet performance with nearly 100% weight retention,” he says. Sam has also used the Barnes TSX in both 270- and 300-grain on a variety of African big game with the same impressive results.

What To Do If A Rattlesnake Bites You

timber rattlerAccording to government statistics, about 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States each year, resulting in 10 to 15 deaths. While odds are you will not be bitten by a rattlesnake, it could happen, so here’s what you need to do, and what you don’t want to do.

–Stay calm as you can

–Call  911

–Wash the bite area gently with soap and water if available

–Remove watches, rings, etc., which may constrict swelling

–Immobilize the affected area

–Keep the bite below the heart if possible

–Transport the bite victim to the nearest medical facility immediately. If a doctor is more than 30 minutes away, keep the bite below the heart, and get there quick as you can.

DO NOT*

–Do not make incisions over the bite wound.

–Do not restrict blood flow by applying a tourniquet.

–Do not ice the wound.

–Do not try to suck the poison out with your mouth.

*According to the USDA paper on Snake Safety, these methods can cause additional harm; most amputations or other serious results of a rattlesnake bite are a result of icing or applying a tourniquet.

Future Of Deer Hunting: USDA TO Revise Standards for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

cwd map

As I’ve said on the Blog and on BIG DEER TV, CWD is the biggest issue and threat that we’ve faced in the last 50 years, and maybe ever. We need to stay on top of this and learn all we can about this disease.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is currently revising their standards for CWD, and they need to hear from deer hunters from across the country. To that end, TRCP put out this message which I wholeheartedly agree with and support:

Deer hunting is the single most popular form of hunting in the United States, with 9.2 million Americans participating each year, contributing more than $20 billion in economic activity, state and local taxes, and wildlife restoration trust fund excise taxes. Deer hunters play an essential role in the “user pays, public benefits” framework of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Reductions in deer hunting and the number of deer hunters have reverberating impacts that extend far beyond deer and deer hunting directly, including state fish and wildlife agency budgets and their broader fish and wildlife management work, and rural economic health.

Deer populations represent one of the great success stories of American wildlife conservation, and deer hunters have led the way; but the continued spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) across the country represents a stark threat to the future of deer populations, deer hunting, and more broadly, the public’s wildlife resources. Once again, hunters stand ready to take the steps necessary to address this worrisome issue, but we cannot do it alone. Significant progress must also be made by the deer farming industry.

As the lead federal agency tasked with slowing and ultimately ending the further spread of CWD, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) must take proactive and meaningful steps, including:

1. Reducing the spread of CWD to levels low enough that new cases are extremely rare.
2. Including all effective disease control options, to include improved fencing for deer farms and stronger requirements for disease monitoring, surveillance, and decontamination.
3. Covering all native and farmed deer species in North America.
4. Requiring mandatory testing of all dead animals from captive herds.
5. Eliminating the movement of CWD-infected deer from all sources.
6. Recommending a third-party review of the APHIS Herd Certification and Interstate Movement program and Program Standards due to continued detection of CWD in herds monitored beyond five years, largely due to flaws with the program.

TRCP encourages all of us to take action and weigh in on the CWD threat. Fill out the form found here to send a letter to decision makers at the USDA APHIS.

Minn: Rare Two-Headed Fawn

minn 2 headed fawnFrom Fox News: A mushroom hunter’s discovery of a conjoined white-tailed fawn in a Minnesota forest two years ago is being hailed by researchers as a landmark case among oddities in nature.

The fawns, which were stillborn, are believed to have been the first recorded case of a conjoined two-headed deer to have reached full term and born by their mother, according to a study recently published in the science journal American Midland Naturalist.

“It’s never been described before,” Lou Cornicelli, co-author of the study and a wildlife research manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, told FOX9. “There are a few reported cases of two-headed ungulate fetuses, but nothing delivered to term. So, the uniqueness made it special.”

Laboratory tests and scans performed on the carcass, which had been preserved and frozen for study, revealed the fawns had two head-neck regions joined along the spine. The fur, heads, and legs were normal, but the animals had a shared liver, extra spleens, and gastrointestinal tracts. Scientists said that with that anatomy they could never have survived.

Another example of how amazing and awesome nature is: The mushroom hunter found the two-headed fawn just hours after it/they were stillborn. As you can clearly see in the picture, they were in a serene and natural state and groomed, indicating the mother doe had tried to care for them after delivery.

When Are Deer Fawns Born?

fawns 1When will whitetail fawns start showing up this spring?

A Pennsylvania study found that more than 80% of adult does are bred during a 6-week period from late October through the first week of December, with most of them conceiving in mid-November.

From conception date, the whitetail deer has a gestation period of 200 days.

Fast forward to the next spring and do the math. According to my calculations, in regions where the deer breeding season occurs from late October through early December (most of the country), more than 80% of fawns will be born from approximately May 12 through June 25, with the vast majority of little deer being dropped from May 29 through June 10, give or take a few days.

In late May and early June, there is plenty of food in the woods, which allows does and fawns to pack on pounds quickly. After 10 weeks, fawns are responsible for feeding themselves.

The Pennsylvania researchers point out that in an area with a late October to mid-December breeding season, the probability of a fawn being born after August 2 is 2%; after August 13 it drops to 1%. Two of every 100 fawns were conceived very late and are born very late the following summer.