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A Sportsman's Tale: Alaska, a bear, and a Lancaster hunter's dream fulfilled

A Sportsman's Tale / From Joe Famiglietti

I have been an avid bowhunter for 50 years, taking deer, elk, moose, antelope, caribou, muskox and various African big game animals. As a teenager, I watched Fred Bear on television bowhunt for large bears, which inspired me to get involved in archery hunting. This year I finally was able to travel to Alaska for my dream hunt, to bowhunt for a large bear.

My adventure started in Willow, Alaska, where I flew to a remote wilderness lake and stayed in a rustic cabin for the next nine days. I had hunting tags for both brown and black bears. Each day my guide and I traveled to various hunting areas. We primarily focused on hunting around streams that were loaded with salmon, a favorite food of bears. We typically hunted all night long, as it never gets totally dark in Alaska during that time of the year. It was a difficult hunt as we experienced cold nights, rain and flying insects.

We had numerous close encounters with bears early during the hunt but had no success. We encountered mother bears with young cubs and yearling cubs. On the seventh day, a large black bear approached in our direction along a river. Eventually the bear stopped in front of me at 30 yards. I drew my bow and released my arrow tipped with a razor sharp broadhead. The bear traveled only 25 yards before he dropped. My guide and I cautiously approached the downed animal, at which time I realized my trophy was an almost 400-pound black bear. My dream hunt had finally come true.

After a brief celebration, we contacted the outfitter, who flew a plane to the site and transported me and the bear back to our camp.

I am having a bear rug made and brought home a cooler full of bear meat for a summer cookout for friends and family. This was a trip I will always remember as I have prepared for it over most of my adult life. I would like to encourage young people out there to set goals for themselves in any area they are interested in, and work hard to make their dreams come true.

Joe Famiglietti lives in Lancaster

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