One Last Cast
From Alaska Outdoors Radio Magazine
By Evan Swensen
Morning was well underway when Lynn Dean met Charlie’s pilot at Lake Hood Airstrip. Yesterday had been a long, hard day. They’d put in most of a day’s work and then field-dressed and packed out half a moose. Lynn decided to take his rifle with him, saying, “Maybe there’ll be a bear on the kill, and we’ll need an argument to get our moose.”
Charlie’s engine started on the first crank and the tower cleared Charlie for taxi. At the end of the runway, Charlie’s pilot went through a run-up tested the mags, prop, and control surfaces. “Lake Hood Tower, this is 857 Charlie ready for takeoff.”
“Roger, 857 Charlie, hold short. Traffic on final.”
In just a moment, a red and white Supercub cleared the runway threshold and turned off the runway at the first taxiway.
“Eight-five-seven Charlie. Cleared for takeoff.”
“Eight-five-seven Charlie. Straight-out departure requested.”
“Straight-out departure approved. Have a nice flight.”
Charlie came about into the wind as the prop turned to 3,400 rpm, and the old red Stinson picked up speed and jumped into the air. By the time Charlie reached the runway’s end, 800 feet of altitude registered on the altimeter, and Charlie leveled off for the short hop across Knik Arm.
It wasn’t difficult finding the sandbar selected for the day’s landing. Before landing, Charlie’s pilot circled the moose kill to make sure it hadn’t been bothered during the night.
Standing over the gut pile, which it had dragged about 20 feet from where the hunters had left it, a black bear watched Charlie circle and land. “I’m grateful we brought our rifles,” Lynn observed. “Looks like we may need them.”
By the time Lynn and Charlie’s pilot reached the kill site, the black bear had left. The gut pile had been moved, but the meat was undisturbed. “You watch while I put the meat on the packs. We don’t want any surprises by a mad black bear.”
Charlie’s pilot stood guard while Lynn loaded up the packs. Then, when they were ready, they slipped away down the trail back to the sandbar. It wasn’t long before the moose was loaded into Charlie, and the hunters were taking off the sandbar airfield.
“Look, the bear’s back on the gut pile,” Lynn shouted over the roar of Charlie’s engine. “I’d like a bear, what do you think. Think I could get him?”
“I don’t know, but you can try.”
Charlie returned to the sandbar, and Lynn gathered up his hunting gear and gun. This time he slipped quietly along the trail, looking for his sought-after trophy. Charlie’s pilot gave Lynn a few minutes and decided to watch the action from above. Circling over the hunter and quarry, Charlie’s pilot watched as the hunter and bear played a cat-and-mouse game of hide-and-seek. Finally, the bear tired of the game and decided to make a move. He crouched behind a log until Lynn had walked past. Then, with Lynn’s back to the bear, the bear came over the log and charged the hunter.
Lynn turned at just the right moment, brought his rifle up, and fired. The bear went down, and Lynn had his trophy. Lynn was still shaking when Charlie’s pilot arrived to help dress out the bear. A charging bear leaves an incredible impression. Just ask Lynn Dean.