What happened on this once-in-a-lifetime bear hunt

One local’s Alaskan hunting trip

Kodiak bear

Most hunters go their whole lives without planning to hunt a brown bear, but Shane Romero is no normal hunter. As a former chairman and longtime committee member of the New Iberia Ducks Unlimited Chapter, Romero began planning this once-in-a-lifetime big game hunting trip over three years ago, waiting patiently for the day to come.

Romero, also a New Iberian attorney, finally landed in Kodiak, Alaska to a snowsquall on a crisp April 25 morning of this year. By that afternoon he found himself boarding a floatplane with his well-trained guides and all the supplies they would need for the big hunt. The next few days would go by with a few hiccups like the sun, winds and rain that would scare any potential prey right away. But Romero and his guides, John Rydeen and Brandon Hamilton, kept faith that with persistence and a bit of luck, the day would come for the hunt.

The morning of April 29 began with a downpour. The prospect of coming across the right bear seemed to slowly leave with the cold Alaskan winds. But finally, a breakthrough came.The team hiked three miles from the comforts of their camp and came to a small basin where they would find the perfect bear for Romero. Hamilton spotted the bear with his scope and called Romero over to him. Finally, it was a bear with potential. The beast laid about three-quarters of the way up the mountain lying down on a ledge. The team signaled to Rydeen to take a look as well. Moments seemed to drag on for hours as they waited for the bear to stand and finally reveal all of itself.

When the bear finally stood, showing it's ivory white claws in full, it was impressive to all three of the men, including Rydeen and Hamilton. They followed the bear through a lovely small canyon filled with alders and salmonberry bushes coming to the other side of the canyon. The men dropped their packs around 270 yards away and set up a shot. Romero breathed as carefully as he could, his fingers firm on his .375 H&H rifle before taking his first shot.

The shot startled the animal, but it still lived. The bear looked around, peering for its hunter before finding Romero and his crew. Romero quickened and began putting another round in his chamber as the creature charged towards them.Only 155 yards separated the man from the charging beast. The bear tore at the plant life around it breaking through all in its path. But luckily for Romero, it paused for the barest of moments allowing for a well-laid shot. The bear showed a bit of a stumble, the wound cutting it deep, and finally stopped about 40 yards out. After a few insurance shots, the group came upon the kill.

"When we walked up, Brandon looked at me with a smile and said 'That's a big bear, a really big bear.'" Romero said.

After stripping the skin from the animal the hunters packed up their gear and began their long journey back to civilization, leaving the chill of the wilds behind them. It was May 1 when the floatplane picked the three back up and brought them back to Kodiak, and back to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for the bear to be entered into their system. This practice is a requirement if you are a non-Alaskan resident hunter hunting brown bears in Alaska.

Romero's bear was a record book size for Boone & Crocket, measuring 9'10" in its hide with a 28 2/16' skull.

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