Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bear Dens






  My wife's co-worker was showing Jan these photos and when Jan mentioned them I thought it would be great to do a blog on something different. These are some of the neatest photos I've ever seen. They were taken by Johan Hinchman when he and a family friend, Bill Veeler, were out on a hunting excursion three or four weeks ago. They hiked up to Elephant Mountain and somewhere near the top ran across these caves. Obviously it was before the snow started to fall. Johan said it was readily apparent that the bears had been utilizing these caves in years gone by. The snow hadn't started falling yet or they might have been occupied. That's a scary thought. I wouldn't want to walk up on a sleeping bear in it's den. Some  years back one of the local fellows, I think it was Karl Greenewald, was doing some cleaning up on Graveyard Island, right across from town, when he came across a bear that had denned up on the island. I can't recall if the bear had taken over an old grave site or what, but it runs in my mind it had. Fortunately for Karl, it ran away. Johan was saying that when he came upon these caves, the hair on the back of  his neck stood up. It's possible that the occupant was observing the intrusion into his space from a distance. As you  can  see, there are a lot of sticks piled around the entrance to the dens. I guess that serves as a mattress for the bears. Not exactly a Sealy Posture-pedic, but if you're content to sleep in a cave all winter, I guess sticks are comfortable enough.
  The man holding the rifle in front of the cave is Bill Veeler. He's the owner/captain of the F/V Donna Ann, a steel seiner. Apparently he's in good enough shape to be able to climb mountains still. I'm a little jealous. I'm afraid I'll never make it to the  top of Elephant to get a first hand view.
  I wanted to thank Johan for sharing these photos. A little background here-Johan is a Tlingit native and hunting has been a part of his culture, I guess since time began. Though we have stores and access to groceries, hunting and fishing are an important part of life here. Both natives and non-natives alike supplement their incomes with what we can catch or shoot. Though there is a certain amount of enjoyment derived from a successful hunt, there is an immense satisfaction in knowing that you've been able to provide for your family from nature's bounty.  Anyway, thanks again for sharing.

6 comments:

  1. And there is no better tasting meat then the Sitka Blacktail Deer... Man, I miss having that.

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    1. Hi Todd- I have to agree. I shot a forked horn last Friday. It was a good thing I got it when I did. It's snowing a bloody blizzard right now and I suspect the roads will be impassable going towards Whitestone Harbor or Freshwater Bay. I made some roasts out of part of the meat. I love to make a venison/ vegetable soup with it, or even just potatoes, carrots and onions, yum.

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  2. That's neat that they shared the pics! Never seen a bear den first hand. Probably a good thing, there would be remnants of Autumn scat if I did! ;)

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    1. Hey Autumn- I thought it was pretty cool myself. I really don't want to have any more up close and personal accounts with bears any more. The few I had were enough. I'm glad Johan shared the pics though or I might never have seen a den.

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  3. WOW that is so creepy yet so cool.

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  4. Hey Camille- I couldn't agree more!

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