Archery Alaskan Brown Bear Hunt

We all run into people who become mentors in our lives. I’d never call it envy, but we want to to learn to be like them. I’ve made several friends while I’ve been on the Four Corners Safari Club board of directors. One now serves as president of the Pope and Young Club. He has taken the passion of archery hunting to the next level. He’s quite an accomplished bow hunter. We hope to have such grand accomplishments in our hunting years.

Jim Willems lives “the life”. As a bow hunter he is always out and about having adventures of a lifetime. This fall, he’s had a successful one with his recurve bow he harvested a beautiful bull elk in Utah and a Shiras Bull Moose in Colorado. In the share you’ll see below, he adds an even more exciting close encounter with his compound bow to his year of hunting.


I recently returned from a 2 week Kodiak brown bear hunt with Afognak Wilderness Lodge on Afognak and Shuyak Islands. They have some really big bears on the islands which is why I chose to hunt there. After much consideration I decided my 57# recurve bow might not be enough, so I settled on the 80# Hoyt compound I bought a while back for cape buffalo. They had video of a really good bear a few days before I got there, so I was very excited about my chances to get something really special. We hunted for that bear for a few days and never found him. I was able to get close to a few boars that were not quite big enough before we found a dead whale on an island on day 5. We found a huge track there and watched 16 different bears feed on the whale that day. The big one didn’t show up so we figured he was going to be mostly nocturnal. We set up before daylight the next morning and could see he was there alone. There was a nice 9’ boar walking around waiting his turn which made the stalk more interesting. We snuck up on the beast and I shot him at 28 yards. The first shot was a little low but still in the chest. He never ran but instead started walking away on the beach which took him right past me at 15 yards. My second shot was perfect and now he was really hurting. The other bear on the beach was causing him some concern so he turned and walked up the hill toward us. He walked by at about 8 yards and stumbled like he was going down. At this point he caught our wind and turned and lunged right toward us. My guide had to shoot him at 10’ which was the right thing to do but was such a heart breaker. He was within seconds of dying from the arrow wounds.

Jim Wellims with his Alaskan brown bear.
Jim Willems with his Alaskan brown bear.

They kept saying it could be the biggest bear they had ever taken; so we figured out a way to get it loaded whole and took it back to the lodge. They flew in a hanging scale so we could weigh him. After gallons of blood loss he weighed 1,417 pounds. He would have been close to 1,450 pounds while alive. His hide squared 10’4”. He was 7’10” around the belly and 9’1” nose to tail.

Amber joined me just hours after I shot the bear and she was able to take a nice sitka blacktail deer as well as some great foxes and waterfowl. What a great time.

I booked the hunt through Bowhunting Safari Consulants. They are always on the lookout for hunts that work for bow hunters. Luke Randall was my guide and is great to hunt with. I highly recommend Afognak Wilderness Lodge. Luke claims his father sometimes worked for the outfitter that guided Fred Bear on his famous brown bear hunt where he shoots from behind the rock back in 1960. They say that Fred actually shot his bear on Shuyak Island not far from where I shot this bear. I kept looking for that rock but I’m not sure I found it. It was another hunt of a lifetime and by now I’ve had more than I deserve.


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Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast. 

Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.

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Mia Anstine
MAC Outdoors LLC
PO Box 31
Ignacio, CO 81137-0031

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