I have always been fascinated with wolves, which is one of the animals I want to see when I visit Alaska. We have a few where I live, but they are rare. I did almost hit one in my car early one morning as it ran across the highway. It was huge.
I heard that the 2008 total was 18 but I cannot seem to verify that. Of course "maulings" mean that the dainty little brown bear did not win..... While searching for one lost plane the rescue team found two rifles leaning against trees on Admiralty Island which has the densest bear population in the world. A teacher had been mauled there the Thursday before the plane disappeared. This past March a school teacher was killed and eaten by wolves. There is a fair chance that wolves kill more people and are just so efficient (that is the word that best describes them) we just do not find evidence in such a huge state.
Every search & rescue that I have taken part in or have first hand knowledge of we were notified by a relative. No flight or float plans were filed. A lot of people here do not have relatives in state. There is a common expression: "Guess he got tired of the cold and moved south." We can only guess how many people really disappear here every year.
I was at Laird Hot Springs (Yukon) the day that a 98# mangy black bear maimed a boy and killed two adults knocking the man's head off. I have had too many close calls with bears and at least two black bears were fixated on me not incidental food. So far brown bears just keep putting on shows and marking territory for my benefit. It is almost funny enough to laugh at one of these monsters hiding in the brush and absolutely tearing up a 12" tree because it is afraid of me. I have turned around and found tracks where a brown bear was tracking me less than 100 yds away. The point to these stories (beside entertainment) is that I do not trust bears. It is not my responsibility to guess whether or not a bear is making a false charge. I might use bear spray in a situation but I trust metallic bear sprays a bit more and no gun has ever seemed too big when you have a bear's attention. I do not make fun of people for carrying what might be a compensation gun in other parts of the world.
I almost forgot a black bear ninjaed a mountain goat head off my enclosed porch not 50 feet from me in broad daylight (which is memorable because we get so little of that in Juneau)! I do not like that something that big and potentially dangerous can be a sneaky and quiet as a stray cat. Sorry, I am just on my too practiced bear rant. No, I do not think that bears or wolves need exterminated (unlike coyotes) here anyu more than cars need outlawed for killing people but we might have to help manage them since a caribou or moose has one calf and wolves have six pups.
Dave - I do not envy you packing a moose out. We do not have any locally and I would like to haggle for some course ground moose for chili. It is the best chili meat that I have had.
It is supposed to be a .600 that someone custom built. It has become sort of a joke gun that folks recognize here from the pictures. I am not 110% sure that it is real like the .50 cal auto that I hear was just a fake:
Seriously though the best gun to carry is the biggest that you are comfortable shooting and packing. It is hard to fish or work with a 12 ga in hand all of the time so pistols can be better. Near town I carry a concealed pistol just to be polite and past the road system either a buscadero rig or my inherited Marlin .444. I actually have one guide giving me a hard time for not carrying more gun like his .45-70. There aren't many places where a .444 Marlin would be called too light. One of the other guides seems to have something to do with making these .450 Bushmasters which he talks up all of the time: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.450_Bushmaster
Even this guide who helped make the .450 bushmaster highly recommended shooting one before buying it. The ballistics look pretty good compared to a .223 but still pretty mediocre compared to my .444 ( I think that it will do the trick too). The biggest downside to the .444 is the outrageous price of ammo. I am glad that I found reloading dies for this one even if I do not shoot it all that often. Living in a rain forest I wish that it was stainless like the Marlin .45-70 guide guns.
I do not own a .41 but I read good things about the round and the .41 seems to have been a popular caliber here about a century ago. The notorious con-man "Soapy Smith" carried one. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soapy_Smith Apparently these were a relatively hot pre-magnum round though.
Juneau also has one of Wyatt Earp's and Poncho Villa's revolvers on display.
If I had remembered to bring my .41 Magnum I would have pulled it instead. I was just making it known that a bear seeing or smelling human does not mean it will think to itself, "Easy food" and the person having the only two options of killing the bear or being killed.
To add to the endless bear stories here is a recent news item:
Associated Press - May 26, 2010 12:34 PM ET
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Park rangers are asking campers and picnickers to be careful after a bear shredded an empty tent at Chena Lake Recreation Area and later rocked a small RV back and forth while a person was inside.
Borough recreation area manager Matt Steffy says rangers have posted signs at campgrounds, on trails and other areas of the park warning visitors of the bear.
Steffy isn't sure if it was a black bear or a grizzly.
State wildlife biologist Don Young says it was likely a black bear because witnesses saw it climb a tree.
As one of the other guides likes to sign his letters: "I spend a lot of time recommending guns and ammo to my clients based on what they are hunting, I choose my guns based on what's hunting my clients."
"As one of the other guides likes to sign his letters: "I spend a lot of time recommending guns and ammo to my clients based on what they are hunting, I choose my guns based on what's hunting my clients."
I have wanted to go ever since my father in law went and returned with a grizzly, caribou, elk, and lots of trout. But he also spent 96 hours straight in his tent b/c it was storming so hard they couldn't hunt and the plane couldn't land to pick them up.