National Geographic : 1965 Jun
Mayor Pete Deveau, who runs one < ak's eight canneries, greeted us on tl He likes _to make sure that newcom out what a king crab is. "Until after the war, not many fi, the king. Now it's our biggest mone: next to salmon-and after what hapi us on Good Friday, we need the moi Pete talked about plans to rebuild town Kodiak with a covered-arcade s] center behind a new small-boat harb "Lonely sunsets flare forlorn"-as poet Service wrote-over the Barren Islands, of ten swept by Alaska storms. Clouds hover like halos over island peaks in this moment of calm. Currents, tides, and winds meet between Kodiak Island and the Alaska mainland, often producing some of the most turbulent water in the Pacific. Rolling and pitching in an 18-foot swell off the Barren Islands, the ferry Tustumena demonstrates why some dub her the "Dram amine Express." The first mate secures the gangway with extra lashings in the stinging spray. The 240-foot vessel carries 200 pas sengers and 58 cars on the sometimes blus tery run connecting Kodiak Island with the Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage. Alaskan Brown Bear Is World's Bi gest The crab may taste better, but the symbol of Kodiak is still its huge brown bear. The hunting season hadn't opened yet, so Alf Mad sen, most famous of Kodiak's bear guides, offered us the use of one of his camps for a few days to get pictures. As Alf flew us to the Uganik Lake camp, he speculated that the great bears on Kodiak may have descended from migrating bears of the Ice Age. Stranded when the ice retreated and the sea returned, and with plentiful food and good climate (for bears), they became true giants of the bear family. Trophy hunters, eager for a shot at the largest carnivorous mammal on land, bring about $2,000 into the island's economy for each bear they take out. "The bears aren't as large as the writers say," Alf warned. "They just look big when you meet them in the woods. The largest I ever weighed went 1,320 pounds; the males average about 900 pounds." Alf loaned me his .30-06 rifle in case of an unexpected attack. It seemed to me tbo small to stop an angry bear, but the big guide had been hunting them for 30 years, and this was his only weapon. "Of course," he warned, "if you just wound a big one and he gets his adrenalin up, by golly, he's hard to stop. We put 18 shots in one before he fell." I asked Alf what his closest call h d been. "It happened when I was helping a fellow from Hollywood. We shot a sow-a female by mistake. The man wanted to get to the bottom of a cliff, set up his camera, and have me roll her off so he could shoot her tumbling down. We got her to the edge. I leaned my gun against a tree and sat on the cld bear while he set up. He got his camera re dy and looked up but didn't say anything-seemed to be staring past me. I turned just in time to see the sow's mate standing 15 feet away. "I dived for the gun and had a bullet in the chamber almost before I hit the ground. I got him just below the eye as he lun ed. He 813 )f Kodi le dock. ers find hed for 7-maker ,ened to ley." Sdown iopping or.