Alaska Adventure Journal



Previous Page< 1 2 3

Prince William Sound Black Bear Hunt

June 2005


Back at camp with two bears and all the work comleted.  This is the first night I let the boat go dry.  I slept sound for the first time seeing it dry on the beach.

Back in camp for a little celebration of a completely successful hunt.  It's 1:00 AM in this photo.  The tide was so high it was reaching for our tents and the boat was almost in camp with us.   We were able to break camp down one day early, just as the rain was starting and the seas began to build.

IMG_0966_1_1_1.JPG (31466 bytes)

This photo is a thumbnail, if you're not squeamish click on the photo to see the aftermath of my surgery.

This story isn't over yet.  About five days after I had cut myself,  Shanna saw my hand.  The poke on my little finger had healed over, but the finger was red and slightly swollen.  She made an appointment and I went to the doctor that afternoon and started a regimen of antibiotic pills.  Three days later, instead of improvement, the red area was growing, including the cut on my index finger.  I decided it was time to go to the emergency room, so off to Soldotna we went.  We left the hospital with a hypodermic needle stuck into a vein in my arm and instructions to give myself a balloon's worth of antibiotics straight into my vein every 6 hours.  24 hours later Shanna was cutting up the last quarter of bear and grinding it into burger as I watched.  I announced that when she was done, we needed to drive to the biggest hospital we could find in Alaska, Providence in Anchorage.  My little finger was now swollen like a sausage and very tender.  In Anchorage, the emergency room Dr. immediately diagnosed my problem as tenosynovitis (which is an infection in the tendon sheath).   She called  an orthopedic surgeon who said he wouldn't touch it.  He said, "get a hand surgeon and if you can't find one, fly him to Seattle."  Nine hours later I was in surgery to clean the infection out.  This was followed by 2 1/2 months off work for recovery and physical therapy.  Not such a bad way to spend a summer in Alaska.  I quickly learned to fish one-handed and beach red salmon without reeling.  I later found out that my experience with a cut while skinning a bear wasn't unique and heard from other hunters who have had the same problem, some of them without full recovery of the use of their finger; some people have lost fingers.  I was told that some people refer to this ailment as "bear hand".

John's hand in brace

The tendons had to be held in place for their protection.



Previous Page  < 1 2 3