Type “Kodiak Island” into Google Images and see what the majority of top hits return…bears, bears, and more bears. It’s no secret – Kodiak Island has a bunch of big bears. It’s also no secret that haphazard and foolish behavior can get someone into a heap of trouble pronto. Though it’s less prominently advertised (news media doesn’t report on the 99.99% outdoors folks who keep a clean camp, give bears their due respect, and come home in 1 piece), spending time in bear country shouldn’t be avoided or terrifying or something to cause dread and a sense of impending doom.
First off, have realistic expectations. Expect to encounter a bear. That way when you do, you hopefully won’t be A) panicked and B) unprepared. Either of those options are not good recipes for a close bear encounter.
There are plenty of resources out there that describe how you should respond behaviorally to a close-up bear encounter. When to make yourself large, when to hope they haven’t seen you yet, when to run…NEVER. I’ll outline just a few of the basic principles we plan to employ to guard against the unthinkable and point you in the direction of a couple resources/supplies that will help you on your own adventure into bear country.
Hunt in pairs. Skin and quarter deer in pairs – one person acting as sentry, the other working carefully and quickly. Have your camera kit and processing kit organized and ready to go when you recover your game. If possible, move your downed game to an open area to make surveillance easier. NEVER return to the spot of a kill the next day if you can help it. If that is unavoidable, place meat and horns and cape and whatever else in an open area and flag the area well so you can know what you are walking into before you get there. Carry bear spray. ALWAYS. Keep a clean camp. All these things and lots more that I could type out are mostly common sense. Unfortunately, most scenarios that end up with a dead DLP bear (Defense of Life and Property) or mauling can be traced back to a seriously violated principle of common sense. Sure, true freak accidents happen but those are statistically up there with lightning strikes, shark bites, and the like.
Finally, a prominent feature of camp will be a portable electric fence. Fence set-ups can be DIYed or rented on Kodiak Island from KodiakKamps. It appears as if they sell and rent their products based on premium customer service. For our fence rental, they will have it already delivered to our air transporter’s hangar and they will pick everything up again after we return to town. Can’t beat that.