Summer Bear News 2010 – Munsey’s Bear Camp
You sit on a riverbank crouched behind a log. All is quiet except for the running river and the distant mewing of gulls. The surface of the water ripples as salmon swim upstream to their spawning grounds, and you marvel at one of nature’s most incredible displays. Suddenly your serenity is shattered by an explosion as a nine-hundred-pound Kodiak bear rushes out of the woods, down the bank opposite from where you are sitting and bounds across the river. For a moment, you think the bear is charging directly at you, but then he pounces, sticks his head under water and emerges with a squirming pink salmon hanging from his mouth. You hear bones crunch as his powerful jaws clamp down on his catch, and as he shakes the water from his fur, you remember to breathe and focus your camera on him. Except for your five companions and your guide, there are no other humans within miles. You are not sitting on a manmade platform watching bears that have become habituated to humans. You are in a corner of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge watching how wild Kodiak bears live and behave in their natural habitat. Welcome to Munsey’s Bear Camp, where every adventure is unique.
We began our 2010 season on July 10th with the arrival of Mel and Blanche Tune from Texas and Alden and Carolyn Kautz from Colorado. On their first day, this group watched several bears feed on grass and interact with each other, including one that stood on his hind legs 40 yds. from them. On another day, they watched three bears feed, often as close as 30 yds. This group saw Stellar sea lions, were thrilled by the sight of huge fin whales surfacing near our boat, and enjoyed the first day of what was to be an excellent summer of salmon fishing in Brown’s Lagoon. They caught 10 pink salmon and 14 Dolly Varden, and Mel can testify that the river is cold!
On July 15th, we welcomed back good friends Jerry Burblis from Alaska and Jo-Anne Antalik from Florida. Jerry and Jo-Anne were joined by Dawn Good and her aunt, Nancy Ruhmel, both from Pennsylvania. On their first morning, this group watched two bears fight and growl over a salmon. Next, they watched a sleepy bear nap for two hours and then got great photos of a young sow while she ate grass near them. On another morning, we had three fin whales surface near our boat and saw a sea otter with a baby on her stomach. Bob and Sherry Shepardson from Florida joined this group on July 17th. On their final day of bear viewing, Bob, Sherry, and Dawn had bears within photographic range all day, while Jerry and Jo-Anne enjoyed the thrill of halibut fishing in shallow water, and Jo-Anne had no trouble landing a 50-lb. fish.
On July 20th, we greeted newlyweds Wendy Turner and Yathin Shivanappa Krishnappa from California, Tom and Jeanine Patrick, also from California, Heather Grierson from Maine, and Mike McWherter from Mississippi. This group watched a bear catch a salmon and then flee into the woods with three bears chasing him, hoping to steal his catch. Later in the day a curious, young bear walked to within 50 ft. of them. Awhile later, another young bear walked over to the first bear, and they began playing and swatting each other. In just four hours of fishing in Brown’s Lagoon, this group kept 24 and released 40 salmon. On their last day at the head of the bay, Wendy and Yathin watched several bears, and Yathin snapped a photo of a bear that stood on his hind legs 30 yds. from them. Meanwhile on the Mary Beth, Heather caught a 53 lb. and a 44 lb. halibut.
On July 25th, we greeted Paul Schmucker from Alaska and Paul’s two friends, Jim Alexander and Kurt Grosser, from Colorado. We enjoyed three relaxing days with these delightful guys. On their first afternoon, they saw several fin whales, a humpback whale, Dall’s porpoises, harbor seals, and a large bear walking the beach. The next day, they watched several bears fish on the tide flats, and two of the bears walked to within 50 ft. of them. The following day, several single bears, a sow with a two-year-old cub and a large boar fished in front of them for two hours. Each evening as we cruised back to our lodge with this group, we encountered two fin whales.
On July 30th, we were happy to welcome back Ken and Summer Groves and their friends, Ken and Harriet Mooney, all from Florida. Also joining us was our dear friend, Cyndi Geisen from Kansas. On their first day of bear viewing, a young, blonde bear ran up to this group, and on another day, they watched several bears fish on the tide flats, including a sow with three newborn cubs. The cubs cried when their mother headed out to fish and they were forced to follow her into the cold water. They climbed onto a boulder to watch their mom, but when she wandered away from them, they bravely dove into the water and followed her. This group enjoyed a beautiful, sunny afternoon of salmon fishing in Brown’s Lagoon, and they saw whales every day during their stay with us.
On August 9th, we greeted our good friend Dick Zander from Maryland. Also arriving were René Bär from Switzerland and John and Julie Marsden from England. This group watched a large boar and a smaller bear slap each other and growl over rightful ownership of a salmon. Later, they watched two bears eat grass, and one bear walked to within 10 yds. of them. The following morning, we enjoyed the best whale experience of a summer filled with great whale watching. As a special 25th Anniversary salute to John and Julie, two fin whales escorted us for several minutes and seemed to be playing with us as they swam alongside and dove underneath the boat several times. A few minutes later, Mike spotted a pod of Orcas, our only Orca sighting of the summer.
On August 12th, Dick and René were joined by our friends Mary and Lida Hihn and Mary’s son and daughter-in-law, Doug and Kathryn, all from South Carolina. On their first day, this group watched sixteen bears fish, argue, and chase each other on the tide flats. Later that day, they watched a very tolerant bear feed near them. She was so curious that Mike had to talk to her to convince her to detour around them when she was only 20 ft. away. Another day, they sat on a riverbank and watched bears fish and walk past them all afternoon. On the Mary Beth, this group caught seven and released eight halibut one day, and no one was surprised when Lida landed a 50 lb. halibut, the biggest fish of the day.
On August 16th, Dick and René were joined by returning guests David and Pam Slaughter from Colorado and Mike’s Mom, Pat, and her husband, Wally Engstrom, from Hawaii. On their first day, this group photographed several bears on a small side stream. On the following day, René, David, and Pam walked up a river and were thrilled by the sight of two extremely large boars and a smaller bear that played on a log and posed for photos. On the Mary Beth, Dick cauught a 45-lb. halibut in 20 ft. of water, and we enjoyed two beautiful, sunny days of fishing at Greenbanks. We caught 14 silver salmon each day, and David caught his limit of both salmon and halibut one day (5 salmon and 2 halibut).
On August 21st, Dick was joined by our good friend Andy Erickson from Rhode Island, Andy’s nephew, Carl Erickson, from Florida, and returning guests Thomas and Inge Hartke from Switzerland. This group enjoyed a great first day of bear viewing. They saw a sow with three cubs of the year and watched several single bears catch fish in front of them. One bear even tried to join them on the riverbank where they sat, but he then decided to stretch out on a sandbar and rest. On another day, they watched ten bears fish and interact on the tide flats, and on a beautiful, sunny day at the mouth of the bay, we watched fin whales and caught halibut and salmon.
On August 26th, we welcomed back friends Dan Robertson from Nevada, and Gene Fanucchi, Howard Hancock, Gordy Sexton, Frank Oclassen, and John Mendoza, all from California. As always, these guys had serious fishing on their minds, and they didn’t disappoint us. On their first day at Greenbanks, they caught 16 salmon. Both Gordy and Howard caught their limits, and John caught a 17 lb. silver, the largest of the summer. On the following day, Dan, Gene, and John walked up a river with Mike, where they watched several bears catch fish in front of them, including two very large boars. Meanwhile, Gordy, Howard, and Frank enjoyed a good afternoon of halibut fishing, and each guy caught his limit. On our next trip to Greenbanks, this group caught 27 silver salmon, and another day of halibut fishing produced 7 halibut.
On September 4th, we welcomed back Carl Pirro from Minnesota and Sheila Gauthier from Washington. Also arriving were David and Bina Rattenbach from Israel. On the first afternoon, this group saw fin whales, puffins, sea otters, and a 10 ft. salmon shark that cruised near our boat for several minutes. They watched several bears fish in a river, and one very large male caught a fish right in front of them and tore it apart with his powerful jaws. This group spent a rainy but enjoyable day sitting on a small hill, where they watched seven bears fish near them all afternoon. On their last day of bear viewing, Sheila and Carl watched bears parade in front of them all day but were most charmed by a bear bathing in the river.
On September 14th, we greeted Henk and Jeannet Albronda from Holland, and Keith Barker and Kate Samways From England. This group enjoyed our best weather of the summer. They experienced family day on the main river at the head of the bay, where a procession of sows with small cubs walked past and fished near them all day. One bear caught a salmon in front of them and then turned toward them holding his prize in the air while the cameras whirred. On another day, this group snapped photos of a very old bear with beautiful, white claws and watched a sow with cubs interact with a large boar. The last day of our summer was the perfect ending to a fantastic season. We cruised to the mouth of the bay on a calm, sunny day where we saw sea otters, several with babies on their stomachs, and watched huge fin whales surface and feed near us.
We were very happy to have Marcia Messier back with us again this summer as part of our team. She is the best, and I suspect one of the main reasons many of our guests return so often. Nearly half of our guests this summer were returnees, and they would be the first to tell you that each one of their visits has been unique. Mike and I can testify that each day of our summer trips is unique. Nature is unpredictable and this is what makes our jobs fun and yes, sometimes frustrating. The one thing we can predict is that if you book a trip with us, you will have an adventure unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced.
Thanks again to all of our guests for making our summer great!