Local residents bag bears on trip to Alaskan island

For a group of Kingman residents, a spring hunt for bears at Prince-Of-Wales island in Alaska proved to be very successful.

On the trip were Hank Nolte, Troy Nolte, Ray Meins Jr., Steve Neuberger, Loren Christensen, Shane Moline and Jeff Rhodes.

The group flew in stages to the island, which is the third largest is the United States.

Their flights to the northland started out in Las Vegas, with a stopover in Seattle.

Then it was on to Ketchikan, Alaska.

From there they took a two-hour floatplane ride to Coffman Cove on the island.

While the main industry on the island is fishing, the locals have learned that in the spring, bear hunters become a very vital part of their economy.

The group rented a mobile home in Coffman Cove as their base camp.

Groceries had to be brought in by plane and weren't cheap.

For several in the group, including Rhodes and Moline, it was their first out-of-state hunting trip.

While a number of the hunters on the trip decided to use bows and arrows, several of the hunters, including Meins and Rhodes, decided to use centerfire rifles while in search of the big black bruins.

Rhodes and Moline said they saw bears every day.

"I saw big bears, small bears and even cubs," said Rhodes.

Besides the bears, Rhodes saw whales, seals, otters, one wolf, geese, ducks, and even blue herons while on the hunt.

The methods that were used by the hunters varied.

The bowhunters used bait stations to try and lure the always-hungry bears into range.

The rifle hunters tried using varmint calls and glassing with binoculars to find their prey.

Hunters got to their hunting areas by using small skiffs or by pickup trucks.

Then it was hiking into the thick woods that were covered in bear trails.

This time of the year, the days are long.

The sun came up at 4 a.m.

and didn't set until after 9 p.m.

The hunters took advantage of the long days while pursuing the bears.

Everyone one the trip had a chance to bag a bear and most did.

Rhodes said that five bears were taken during the hunt.

The lucky hunters included Hank Nolte, Neuberger, Meins, Moline and Rhodes.

All the bears taken were boars.

Rhodes said that Moline took a bear that Troy Nolte had passed on the last day he was hunting.

That bear turned out to be the second largest taken on the hunt, and may make the prestigious Boone & Crockett record book.

Neuberger got the honors of the largest bear taken, and he bagged that one with a bow.

The bear green-scored 20 inches.

Moline's bear was also taken with a bow.

Moline made a one-shot kill at 44 yards.

His bear green-scored 20-1/8 inches.

Rhodes said that the only bad side of the trip were the bugs.

"There were mosquitoes and black flies everywhere.

They just ate you up, no matter what you put on," he said.

Rhodes said that even though the hides of the bears had been rubbed, he is still going to have a rug made out of his bear.

"That was a trip I'll never forget," Rhodes said.

Moline said that he too enjoyed the trip and was excited about bagging his first bear.

"There is a lot of wildlife up there," he said.