Planning a Year in Advance for Brown Bear in Kamchatka
To hunt Brown Bear in Kamchatka, it all starts out by planning at least a year in advance.
Preparing paperwork to transport a rifle and ammo in and out of Russia.
Obtaining the required visa and passing through airport check-ins on arrival and departure.
Sending my Leupold VX-3 3.5 – 10X50 MM in for conversion to a Custom Dial System (CDS), calibrated for a Weatherby 300 mag rifle and 200 grain partition ammo with a 0.481 ballistic coefficient.
Traveling to Kamchatka for Brown Bear
The flight from Dulles International Airport on Lufthansa to Frankfurt to Moscow went as planned. Overnighting in Moscow afforded time to visit Red Square and city sights before we took off for the 8 hour Aeroflot flight to Petropavlovsk in the Kamchatka Peninsula. Arriving in Petropavlovsk, we met our interpreter. She got us through the airport check-in and retrieved our rifles and ammo. Then she delivered us to our helicopter for the 1 1/2 hour flight to the southern end of the Kamchatka Peninsula.
As we flew south it became noticeable there was no sign of any roads or activity on the ground. Just snow covered valleys, mountains and volcanoes. Flying closer to our destination camp, the North Pacific Ocean came into view. Our helicopter landed at the cabin. It was several hundred yards from the ocean, separated only by the river feeding it.
Settling in for the First Nights in Kamchatka
Arriving at the cabin, we met our Russian guide, Eddie who spoke limited English. He helped unload the gear from our chopper. Soon, the wind picked up, gusting to 30 mph. Heavy clouds moved in and we could barely see the North Pacific Ocean, even though it was a short distance away through blowing snow.
That night, the cook prepared a hearty dinner of borscht, fried Arctic Char caught earlier in the day by our helicopter pilots, and dark bread. After dinner, we were advised that the weather was not going to get any better for at least 48 hours. Consequently, we would not be hunting until it cleared. The bears are just getting out of hibernation. The weather will keep them in their dens until it clears. As predicted, the weather did not improve the next day. So, we enjoyed sharing stories and eating hearty meals.
The Hunt is On for Russian Brown Bear
On the third day after our arrival at the Kamchatka camp to hunt Russian Brown Bear, the weather broke and after breakfast, our group of four hunters took off. Boarding a 20 foot Jon boat, we traveled upriver to a rendezvous point with the snowmobiles and sleds. We traveled for hours, sledding across snow covered lowlands, through forests and valleys looking for bear tracks, stopping to glass the ridges with our binoculars. During our stop for food, we discussed that the days of bad weather had kept the bears in their dens, but that the warm sun at 25 deg. F. should have them out.
For the next several days we covered many miles, looking for bears or tracks, to no avail. One of my fellow hunters was more fortunate and did find tracks. After a lengthy pursuit, he tagged out with an 8 foot 6 inch Russian Brown Bear.
Then the bad weather hit again, snowing heavily and limiting visibility, so we held up a day to let it clear. Finally the weather cleared and we were off. We set out for higher elevations. Ascending the side of the mountain, we reached the ridge to view the cliffs and valleys below. During that day we found bear tracks but they were not fresh. So after covering about 70 miles, we headed back to our cabin.
Next morning, it was cold but sunny. We packed out for the high country where the rippled snowpack looked like a sand-blown desert.
Reaching the ridge after several hours of stopping and glassing, my guide,
Eddie, pointed to a “spot” down a slope in the valley that seemed to be a couple miles away. He said it was a bear and we were going to check it out.
The Chase is On for Russian Brown Bear
After a 15 minute rapid descent down the mountain, we came to within 1000 yards. Eddie stopped the snowmobile and said to “get ready” in case he’s a good size. Then we started hauling ass, to catch up to a running brown bear. We finally got within a couple hundred yards and stopped. Eddie says ‘big bear” and “…be ready”.
I’m sitting in a sled drawn by a snowmobile over rough snow pack, being bounced around, and in no way able to get ready. Eddie gains on the bear by cutting across rugged snow packed terrain, temporarily losing sight of the bear, racing over ground and even going airborne a couple times. Then sighting him again…we stop within 75 to 80 yards of the bear.
Closing on the Russian Brown Bear
Eddie says again “big bear” and “shoot” and I understand he means before the bear bolts for his den or hiding place. I reached for my rifle, loaded the ammo in the chamber, and took a quick look through my Zeiss binocular range finder to determine distance. I set my Leupold CDS for 120 yards. It is a quartering away shot with the brown bear running. I position my rifle on my backpack which is resting on the back of the snowmobile for stability. I focused my shot with a slight lead for the hind quarter through the far shoulder mid area, centering for the vital organs.
Taking the Russian Brown Bear
I take the shot, and still looking through the scope start to reload, but do not see the bear. Eddie stopped me from reloading by saying “bear down”. Still not seeing the bear, we got back on the snowmobile sled and traveled parallel to the snow berm. we came around the end of the berm, and in the distance saw the bear lying on the other side of the hill. We waited about 20 minutes before approaching the bear. He was dead. He was indeed a big bear at 8 foot 8 inches. Wow, that’s all I could say. One shot with my Weatherby 300 mag, Weatherby 200 grain partition ammo.