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Pat Reeve Explains When a Brown Bear Hunt Is More Than a Brown Bear Hunt


Editor’s Note: Mossy Oak pros Pat Reeve and his wife Nicole have hosted “Driven with Pat and Nicole,” a TV show on the Outdoor Channel for the past 10 seasons. The biggest news from Pat and Nicole is that during the 2014-2015 season Nicole was with child. 

I decided to give up the entire month of November to go to Kodiak Island in Alaska to hunt brown bear with a bow. I wanted to hunt the brown bears fishing in the salmon streams. To my way of thinking, this is a classic brown bear hunt. I was hunting with Cole Kramer (907-539-6447) and Paul Chervenak. I never had hunted Kodiak Island, yet I knew this island off the Alaskan Peninsula was where most of the giant brown bear were taken. Nicole already had taken a big brown bear on the Alaskan Peninsula. I knew that the fall of the year when the bears were feeding on the salmon was a great time to try and take a giant brown bear. I’d been dreaming about this hunt for quite some time. 

Brown bear hunting is one of the greatest adventures a bow hunter can have. But as fate would have it, when we arrived at Kodiak Island, a typhoon had moved into the region, and we had 3 consecutive weeks of driving rain. We were delayed in Anchorage for 5 days before we could fly to Kodiak Island. When we finally reached the island, we weren’t able to get out into the field for 4 more days. So, I lost 9 days of hunting time before my hunt even started, but this wasn’t really the bad news. 

ReeveMemorable4_llOnce we were finally able to hunt, we hunted in the rain for the next 9 days. I hunted in wet clothes every day. This hunt involved lots and lots of hiking, and we lived in our waders. We were dropped off on the south end of the island and then had a 10-mile hike to get to our base camp. I saw two 10-foot bears I would’ve shot, if I could’ve gotten within range, but they vanished before I could get within bow range. Also, I saw some smaller bears that I didn’t want to shoot. To save the hunt, we shot two very-nice blacktails. My cameraman, Ryan Lempke, and I both took nice blacktails with our Thompson/Center muzzleloaders. 

This was such a memorable hunt, because my expectations were very high, and the weather was bad, but this still is one of my greatest adventures ever, One day we were flown in to the middle of the island, and then we pumped up a raft and floated for 15 miles. Just the adventure of seeing the salmon running upstream and stacking up like cordwood in these little tributaries was a sight I’ll never forget. We were able to watch bears eat salmon, and eagles catch and eat salmon and then the salmon die. Watching the little yearling fry swimming past the dead salmon headed for the ocean was worth the trip, even though I didn’t take a brown bear. I wanted to share this hunt, because not all the hunts we go on result in the taking of an animal or the animal we’re hunting.  We always hunt for the joy, the excitement and the adventure of every hunt. On this brown bear hunt, the adventure was the trophy. The brown bear I would’ve taken survived for another year. The adventure, the rain and the float trip became in my memory as one of the greatest hunts I'd ever been on, even though I didn’t take a brown bear. 

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