The bear was a female, as we had supposed, but judging from what my natives said, only of medium size. She measured 6 feet 4 inches in a straight line between the nose and the end of the vertebrae, and 44-5/8 inches at the shoulders. The fur was in prime condition, and of an average length of 4-1/2 inches, but over the shoulders the mane was two inches longer. Unfortunately, as in many of the spring skins, there was a large patch over the rump apparently much rubbed. The general belief is that these worn patches are made by the bears sliding down hill on their haunches on the snow; but my natives have a theory that this is caused by the bears’ pelt freezing to their dens and being torn off when they wake from their winter’s sleep.
Although this female was not large for a Kadiak bear, as was proved by one I shot later in the season, I was much pleased with my final success, and our camp that night was quite a merry one.
Shortly after killing this bear, Blake and I returned to the trading post at Wood Island to prepare for a new hunt, this time to the Alaska Peninsula.
BEAR HUNTING ON THE ALASKA PENINSULA
The year before I had chanced to meet an old pilot who had the reputation of knowing every nook and corner of the Alaskan coast. He told me several times of the great numbers of bears that he had often seen in a certain bay on the Alaska Peninsula, and advised me most strongly to try this place. We now determined to visit this bay in a good sized schooner we had chartered from the North American Commercial Company.
There were numerous delays in getting started, but finally, on May 31, we set sail, and in two days were landed at our new shooting grounds. Rarely in modern days does it fall to the lot of amateurs to meet with better sport than we had for the next month.
The schooner landed us with our natives, two baidarkas, and all our provisions, near the mouth of the harbor. Here we made our base of supplies, and the next morning in our two canoes started with our hunters to explore this wonderful bay. At high tide Chinitna Bay extends inland some fifteen miles, but at low water is one vast bog of glacial deposit. Rugged mountains rise on all sides, and at the base of these mountains there are long meadows which extend out to the high water mark. In these meadows during the month of June the bears come to feed upon the young and tender salt grass.
There was a long swell breaking on the beach as we left our base of supplies, but we passed safely through the line of breakers to the smooth waters beyond, and now headed for the upper bay. The two baidarkas kept side by side, and Blake and I chatted together, but all the while kept the glasses constantly fixed upon the hillsides. We had hardly gone a mile before a small black bear was sighted; but the wind was unfavorable, and he got our scent before we could