Anderson: Albert Lea hunter gets a grizzly on return trip to Alaska

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 6, 2013 - 12:32 PM

A determined hunter spent months getting in shape to achieve his dream.

hide

Bob Ball, of Albert Lea, Minn., posed with the grizzly bear he shot in Alaska last month.

Photo: Submitted photo,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Beginning last spring, every morning at 3 Bob Ball climbed out of bed in his Albert Lea, Minn., home, gathered up his Labrador retriever, Eleanor, and stepped outside, walking at first, then running, 2 miles in all.

“I wanted to get in shape for the hunt,’’ Ball said. “I didn’t want to go all the way to Alaska and be too tired to move around.’’

Booking an adventure that in its primitiveness wasn’t much different from if it had been taken a century ago, Ball returned to Alaska in August for the second consecutive year.

“Last year, I had moose, caribou and grizzly tags, and I only filled my moose tag,’’ Ball said. “When I left, I was determined to get back up there. I had dreamed about bear hunting since I was a kid, and when I didn’t get a bear in Alaska last year, I felt empty. So I went back.’’

It’s not uncommon to spend as much as $25,000 on Alaskan big game hunts, depending on length of outing and number of species pursued.

To raise money for his return trip, Ball clocked overtime last winter at his job as a power company line foreman. As a bonus, his wife, Laura, was supportive of his effort.

So it was that on a recent morning — Aug. 26 — Ball found himself in a spike camp in the middle of nowhere, Alaska, accompanied by a single guide, 32-year-old Dave Doxey.

“He cooked; I did dishes and chopped wood,’’ Ball said. “This was an old-school hunt. We didn’t have generators or any of that stuff. We did things the hard way, the same way guys did them in the 1940s.’’

Glassing from a ridge not far from camp, Ball saw moose and caribou on his first day of hunting. But no bears.

He held a caribou permit, and would take one if the opportunity arose.

But he had come for a bear, and in that respect this pilgrimage north was a different kind of trip, with broader significance.

Accomplishment was the trophy he sought as much as any, and toward that end, he was of sound body, in big country and, not incidentally, dead-on with a .300 Win Mag.

Now he needed a bear.

First, a nice caribou

“On our third day, we climbed a mountain east of camp and found a nice caribou just shedding its velvet,’’ Ball said.

Hours later, the animal, downed with a single discharge, had been caped and its meat deboned, so that everything fit into two backpacks.

Clambering down the mountain, back to camp, Ball and Doxey were eager to cover the bottom of a frying pan with the caribou’s back straps.

“The trip wasn’t all hunting,’’ Ball said. “At night around the campfire we played cribbage.’’

Then, the elusive grizzly

The next day, Doxey spotted a grizzly, a legal boar.

Aided by a favorable wind, the two hunters quickly closed the distance between themselves and the big animal.

This was in brushy, alder country, and the men were able to hide their presence from the bear.

But so, too, did the foliage create cover for the bear, which alternately appeared and disappeared.

“When we reached an opening, a meadow, the guide said, ‘Can you take that shot?’ ’’ Ball said. “The bear was about 300 yards out, and I couldn’t even see it. When I did, it was only briefly. Then the bear left.’’

Moving more or less parallel with the animal, with the bear higher in elevation, Ball and Doxey abandoned their packs as they attempted to keep abreast of their quarry, which had no clue the two were present.

A few hundred yards later, the bear stepped into an opening, giving Ball a shot.

This was about 100 yards out.

Off went the rifle’s safety as the scope’s cross hairs were settled behind the big animal’s shoulder.

In a flash, a 180-grain bullet was sent on its way.

“I hit him in the boiler room,’’ Ball said.

Still, the bear spun like a bull and lumbered downhill, toward the two men.

“Shoot again,’’ Doxey said. “And again. And again.’’

Ball connected with each volley, and a lifetime later, the bear, which would measure almost 8 feet by 8 feet, stumbled a last time, falling 20 yards from the hunters.

Everyone has different ambitions, and Ball had realized his.

“It was a lifelong dream come true,’’ he said.

 

Dennis Anderson • 612-673-4424

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
FIU 2 FINAL
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 108 4th Qtr 0:33
Minnesota 104
New Orleans 76 4th Qtr 8:47
Dallas 87
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 0 3rd Prd 16:22
Chicago 4
Montreal 0 1st Prd 6:23
San Jose 1
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 72 2nd Half 4:51
Alabama A&M 61
Prairie View 50 2nd Half 8:31
Alabama State 46
Oklahoma 48 2nd Half 10:57
Iowa State 45
Grambling St 50 2nd Half 7:41
Miss Valley St 45
Boston College 54 2nd Half 9:11
Virginia Tech 44
Jackson State 30 2nd Half
Ark-Pine Bluff 39
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
UCF 57 FINAL
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
Sacred Heart 75 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
SMU 60 FINAL
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close