The year was 1970. I got a call from Memphis, Tennessee. The man identified himself as Lloyd Ward. His statement went something like this, “I’m Lloyd Ward and I live in Memphis. Do you all hunt Polar Bear and Brown Bear?”. I told him we did. He went on to say he’d talked to Barry Brooks, who had told him stories of his Alaska hunts. He said, “I want to get one of those record Polar and Brown Bears”. We made arrangements for his hunt to start on April 10th for Polar Bear, on the ice pack between Kotzebue,Alaska and the Eastern province of Russia, then go with us in our super cub aircraft from Polar Bear country to the Alaskan Peninsula. These areas are about a thousand miles apart from Kotzebue, Alaska to Wildman Lake Lodge on the Alaskan Peninsula, near Port Moller, Alaska.
Lloyd arrived in Kotzebue on April 9, 1971. He was a big man, about 6’1″, 225 pounds, with the goldest blonde hair one can imagine. To top this off, he sported a grey goatee beard. Needless to say, he looked completely out of place, all dressed up – golden hair shining – everyone else walking around with heavy down and fur parkas. Lloyd was a standout amongst the Eskimos of the region. He was a good example of the Southern Gentleman. He had the smoothest manner of action and speech. “Hi y’all, I’m Lloyd Ward from Memphis”. We headed for our cabin on the beach of the frozen ocean at Kotzebue, Alaska. He surprised us once he started unpacking. Lloyd had the best equipment. He was ready for the Arctic. He had good Eddie Bauer down clothing plus all the outdoor and hunting gear needed, and he was shooting a well worn pre-64 model 70 Winchester 375 H&H magnum. We knew then that there was more to Lloyd than met the eye. Little did we know what this relationship would develop into.
We winterized1 Lloyds rifle We also had a custom made pair of Mukluks2 and mittens made for him, plus the Eskimo lady who sewed for us attached a big Wolverine fur ruff3 to Lloyds down parka. We were about ready to go Polar Bear hunting.
Polar Bear hunting was done with two Super Cub aircraft and is better explained in one of my stories titled “I walked off the Arctic Ice Pack”. My flying partner at the time wasChris Anderson, who was also my wife Beverly’s step father. We headed out over the ice pack with two Super Cubs, a client hunter in each plane.
About twenty miles off the Russian coast, near Cape Smidt area we spotted a huge track which we referred to as a scoop shovel4. We tracked him for several minutes through some of the meanest, roughest ice pack imaginable. Had we caught up with him in that area all we could do was admire him. There was no place to land without completely wrecking a plane.
After more than an hour of flying we finally got out of the bad ice and had the scoop shovel tracks lined out on a straight line and far as the eye could see. The client who’s turn it was to take the first bear today was a Louis Mussato of Glendale, Arizona. Lloyd would take the second bear if we were lucky and good enough to find two big males.
Another half hour and we came upon a sight we never encountered before. There were two airplanes setting on the ice ahead of us and the bear track stopped there. It was a team of two other Polar Bear guides. They had already killed the bear and were skinning it when we came upon them. They had beat us to the scoop shovel track. He looked like a monster. They had a real trophy. We later learned the bear was a new world record, which still stands today.
The veteran team of Walker and Swiss were the guides who took the Mexican hunter Shelby Long ora to the bear. There are thousands of square miles on the Arctic ice pack.We rarely encounter another team of guides but we did that day and we missed the world record Polar Bear. Nelson Walker has been dead a few years but his son, John Walker,is carrying on the tradition of Arctic Guide.
John Swiss, at this writing, is still alive. His son carried on with his guiding business for GIANT Brown Bear on the Alaska Peninsula. Swiss and Walker were one of the first teams to hunt the Polar Bear for trophies. These two men were seasoned Arctic guides. They took hundreds of successful hunters, many famous people know Swiss and Walker. This team of Swiss and Walker were the best in the business.
After a couple of circles we lined out to find another track and hopefully get our bear that day. We finally came upon another great track and after following him through several feeding areas and getting him mixed up with other bear tracks, we got him lined out. He was hunting a female and might and did many times go in a straight line for a hundred miles or more. This one was no exception. We followed him over an hour in the same general direction, Northwest, parallel to the Russian coast. If we didn’t find him in another hour he would run us low on gas. We’d have to quit the track and head for home, which was at least three hours East.
It’s a sight that is hard to describe. You’re flying along two hundred feet high, following this bear track. You can see the track at least a half mile out ahead of you. Then all of a sudden a Polar Bear is walking at the end of the track. The great white magnificent animal kingdom of this world, just walking along on the scent of a female. Little does he realize that we’ve come to take his life. It’s times like this I’m not proud of my past profession. Those great bears were not bothering anyone. They lived far away from man in their own world – the Arctic ice pack.
The Government did the correct thing when they closed the season on Polar Bear in 1972. However, the Eskimo still are allowed to hunt them and many females are killed by them. The Arctic Guide very rarely killed a female since all the client hunters wanted a big one. Hence, we tracked only to big tracks which were always males.
We landed the planes right on the female’s track a mile ahead of the big Bear and hid the planes behind some huge pressure ridges. He would soon come along since he was following the female track. There was no reason for us to move except to stay out of sight and always downwind. He would come walking right by us.
Louis the hunter shooting, was all ready. He had a good rest on a pressure ridge and his rifle was ready. The big male came ambling by about seventy-five yards distant. He didn’t know what hit him when Louis shot him through the neck with his 300 Weatherby Magnum. The bear dropped in his tracks. He was another monster. It took us about forty-five minutes to skin the bear. We loaded the skin in a big rubberized bag and loaded up the planes and headed for Kotzebue about three hundred twenty five miles distant.
After arriving back in Kotzebue that evening, the Fish & Game representative, Lee Miller, met us to take some samples from the bear skull – a tooth to age him and some meat to test for trichinosis and measure the skull and hide for their records. We learned from Lee that the Swiss and Walker team’s bear was a new world record. We also learned that our bear, which Louis Missoto had taken, was the new #2 world record. Both #1 and #2 world record bears taken within a few hours of each other. Both of these bears stand today as the existing #1 and #2 world record Polar Bear.
It was Lloyd’s turn to shoot the next day. He was anxious to go. We gassed up our super cubs and headed Northwest. We had twelve hours fuel supply. We were carrying more weight inside our planes than the plane itself weighed. We carried thirty-six gallons in our wing tanks, sixty gallons in a belly tank and four 5 gallon cans in the baggage compartment of the plane, a total of one hundred sixteen gallons of fuel. This weighed in at six hundred ninety six pounds of fuel, almost thirteen hours flying time at nine gallons an hour. In addition to the fuel we had myself and a client at four hundred pounds and emergency gear at ninety-five pounds. It was standard procedure to fly very gentle and level for the first two or three hours, at which time we landed and poured the four cans from the baggage compartment into the wing tanks.
We finally saw the Russian coast which was about twenty miles distant. We then started to fly parallel to the coast, searching for a big bear track. All the time we were talkingto each other on our radios. All of a sudden there it was – a big track – one that we needed to follow and find the bear that was making it.
We got him sorted out and lined out. We noticed the pack ice leeds5 were working – the ice was beginning to move. The bear track would come to a leed six foot wide and the track on the other side of the leed would be one hundred feet to the right or left. The pack ice was moving – NOT a good thing! We tracked him for about an hour and a half andwe came upon him. He was a big male. He was alone – there was no female with him nor was there a female track around.
We decided to try for him by having Chris land his plane downwind about a mile away, since he was following a leed he would continue if we didn’t molest him. I would stay in the air and watch. Chris landed on a smooth spot, put the engine cover on the plane. He and Lloyd walked out to take a stand behind a pressure ridge. I would circle the bear.Flying high (about a thousand feet), I noticed the bear swat the air every time I got close to him. I knew this bear had a bad temper and might be trouble. I hoped Chris was ready.
When the bear got about a hundred yards from Chris and Lloyd he spotted them (Polar Bears have sharp eyes). Normally, they will turn and run or walk away when they see people. Although Polar Bears are accustomed to killing most things they see, such as a seal and Walrus, they are usually afraid of man. This one wasn’t. He no more than saw Chris and Lloyd than he literally started scratching the ice, charging at them! Lloyd, of course, started shooting. He’d knock the bear down only to have him pop right back upon his feet and continue to charge. By this time Lloyd had shot three times and was aiming for the fourth shot when Chris also started opening up with his 375. Now this bear is about thirty yards from them and Lloyd shot his last cartridge and missed. Chris shot and broke the front shoulder but the bear barely slowed down. Now the bear is on them.
Why the bear stood up I’ll never know since they almost always attack on all fours. But this bear reared up on Lloyd and when he did Lloyd stuck his rifle sideways in his mouth and Chris wheeled around and shot the bear in the mouth. He still didn’t kill him but he lunged completely over Lloyd and kept right on going, at which time Chris shot his last shell and killed him.
This entire episode took place in less than one minute. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had a birds eye view of the entire sequence. A very close call for Lloyd. I couldn’t wait to land and hear their story. I’d seen it all but I knew there must have been some terrible thoughts going through these guys heads.
When I landed my plane the small, flat landing area had a crack running across it about three hundred feet from the end. There was about one hundred feet left of the landing area where Chris’s plane was setting. I taxied over the crack, which was a foot wide. The crack extended the entire width of our landing area. We were on ski equipped planes.The six foot long Ski easily taxied over the crack but I knew it might widen because the pack was moving everywhere. I parked my plane beside Chris’s and walked over to the guys. They were both still shaking and shook up. They were simply sitting on an ice chunk, silently thinking.
Chris said, “The Bear didn’t slow down and was on us by the time we could each shoot three times. Lloyd was out of shells. I had two left when he attacked us. It was so close I had to shoot from the waist. I didn’t aim – it was just an automatic reflex. It hit him in the teeth. I saw some teeth fly out. When he bowled Lloyd over I got my last shot in as he went by. It was the killing shot”.
We always do an autopsy if we have time. When we did I found one bullet had struck his foot, one low through the front shoulder, two in the belly area, one went sideways through the bears mouth, one bullet through the chest and heart. They had shot eight times. They obviously missed twice.
We skinned him out and drug the skin back to the airplane.. When we got back to the plane I walked over and looked at the crack in our landing area. It had widened to about two feet wide. I told Chris that we better shag our ass and get the hell outta here. That leed is getting wider and we don’t want to get stuck on the short side of that crack.
After we loaded the bear hide I jumped in my plane and gunned the hell out of that cub so I could jump the crack and not let a ski fall into it. I got airborne and looked down.Chris was meticulously folding his engine cover. I was pulling my hair out. When I went across the leed it was at least three fee wide and it looked wider now. Chris finally got started. He gunned it up and started sliding down the ice pack towards the leed. His speed was not fast enough to be light. He hit the crack at about thirty mph. Both skis fell into the crack. They stayed there. The plane continued along on it’s belly. At least he was across on the long side of the crack.
I landed again and we inspected his plane. Both gear legs were torn off. The prop was bent, the carb air box was broken. Otherwise the plane wasn’t damaged. If we had the parts we could have it running and flying in a couple hours. But we didn’t have any parts. We carried one reversible gear leg with us but we needed two. We had no choice – leave the plane and everyone go home in my plane. Of course, the first thing that had to go was the bear hide, which weighed about two hundred pounds. The four of us piled into my cub and headed for Kotzebue, Alaska, about three hundred miles away. It hadn’t been a good day. Lloyd lost his bear skin, Chris lost his airplane, I’m trying to make home with four people and sixty gallons of gas in a crowded beyond description Super Cub.
We arrived back in Kotzebue with heavy hearts. But that’s the life of an Alaskan Guide. There are many hazard filled times. The elements of the Arctic are very unforgiving. The moving ice we had seen meant the wind was blowing hard father North and a storm was near.
The next morning and the next four days we were grounded with extreme winds, blowing snow with visibility of less than one mile. The airlines weren’t even flying. It was bad, bad, bad. The 5th day Chris and I loaded my Super Cub with two landing gear, a carburetor air box and propeller and started out to find Chris’s plane. We had left an ELT6 in it under the cowling along with a thermax heater. All this was wrapped with the engine cover but we knew the ELT was only good for about twenty-four to forty hours in above freezing temperatures and the thermax heater was only good for sixteen to eighteen hours. It was twenty below zero today. We didn’t have much hope of the ELT guiding me to Chris’s plane.
We ran a grid search the best I could without any guidance, except the low frequency beacon at Kotzebue and the medium frequency beacon at Kamen, Russia. I searched for ten hours a day for three days without a sight of Chris’s cub. We were beginning to believe the ice had broken so badly it crushed the plane and went into the ocean. The entire ocean was a mass of broken ice, open leeds and huge pressure ridges. We gave up when the next storm arrived making it impossible to fly.
Chris had lost his plane. Lloyd had lost his bear hide and since he had tagged the skin as the law required. Lloyd no longer had a bear tag. If we took him out again and he got a bear it wouldn’t be tagged and it would be illegal. In the meantime, Chris left for Anchorage to buy another cub and return later in the week.
I had some time to wait for Chris so I took Lloyd and went to Little Diomede Island. This is the home of some famous ivory carvers. I had been asked by Charlie Impana of Kotzebue to bring him back some walrus ivory tusks. Charlie sold some of his ivory carvings to our clients. Charlie asked me to buy the tusks from his brother and he would pay us back with finished carvings. We spent an enjoyable day with the people of Diomede. The village sits on a steep cliff overlooking the Bearing Sea. It’s on Little Diomede Island, three miles away is Big Diomede Island, which is Russian Territory. These people lived very primitive in the past and even in the seventies they lacked most things we took for granted.
I got ten big walrus tusks from Charlie’s brother on Diomede Island. These I flew back to Kotzebue for Charlie. I gave Charlie four of the tusks and kept six for security since he owed me for all ten. I was only handling the deal for Charlie. I didn’t want to buy and sell raw ivory since it’s against the law for a non coastal native to deal in raw ivory. It was a shaky deal at best but Charlie promised he would state we were only transporting the raw tusks for him. I had several hundred dollars out of pocket and all I wanted was to get my money back for bringing in the tusks to him. As usual, Charlie didn’t have the money to pay me and we would be leaving Kotzebue as soon as Chris got back with a new plane and we could then take Lloyd out for another bear. So I held on to six of the tusks for security.
Chris got back with his plane. We took Lloyd hunting. He got a big bear which we kept out of sight. We hid it in a snow bank, out of town about ten miles. It was going to be a problem until I got the skin to Anchorage at which time I’d have someone else claim it. A resident could take a Bear every year if he wanted. A guide could not claim a Bear. All Bear hides had to be tagged and sealed by the Game Department before they could be exported from Alaska.
It came time to leave Kotzebue. I still had those six walrus tusks since Charlie hadn’t paid me. I was holding them for security for the $1,000.00 that I’d paid his brother for ten tusks. I knew it was risky to hold them even for security so I just took all six of them over to Marge Baker and told her to hold them and if I called her later, she was to give them to Charlie. Marge Baker was qualified to have them. She was an Alaska Eskimo. We packed up, loaded our cubs up, piled Lloyd in on top of everything and headed to Anchorage, six hundred fifty miles South, stopping to pick up Lloyd’s bear that we’d hidden in a snow drift, on the way out of Kotzebue.
We were then going to the Alaska Peninsula to hunt Brown Bear. Lloyd would be our first hunter. We’d flown about half way to Anchorage when the weather got bad. It looked like rainy pass would be closed so at Galena we turned East and headed up the Yukon River. We would follow the Yukon River East to the Tanana River into Fairbanks for gas, then on South to Anchorage through Windy Pass. This route would keep us out of the high areas of the notoriously nasty Rainy Pass in the Alaska Range.
We were scud running7 all the way from Galena to Fairbanks. It’s the Alaska Bush Pilot definition of IFR but instead of Instrument Flight Rules, it’s I Follow Rivers. We finally crawled into Fairbanks only to face another crisis. We no more than touched down on the airport when two state trooper cars pulled alongside our taxing Super Cubs. I thought, holy shit, these guys are going to nail us for Lloyd’s bear that was behind the regular baggage compartment in the fuselage of our planes. I noticed the district director of Alaska Fish & Wildlife protection was riding in the front seat of the State Troopers car. I knew Don real well and for the benefit of further embarrassment we’ll just call him Don.
We stopped the planes. Don got out and came over with the State Trooper, who said, “Just stay where you are. Don’t take anything out of that plane. Get out one at a time and don’t touch anything”. Hell, I knew we were dead ducks. I asked Don, “What’s going on?”. He replied, “Ron, we know you’ve got six pair of walrus tusks in that plane. We’re going to search it”. Don had gotten a call from his agent in Kotzebue that we’d left town and had taken six raw ivory tusks that belonged to Charlie Ipana. I guess they had an all points bulletin out for us. We weren’t even scheduled to go through Fairbanks.
The thought running through my mind was, he’s going to find that Bear skin. I knew he wouldn’t find any walrus tusks because knowing full well it would be real trouble for me to get caught with raw ivory, me being a white man and not an Alaskan Native from the Northern Coast of Alaska. I said to Don, “Listen, Don, I can save you a lot of trouble. I haven’t got those walrus tusks. I left them with Marge Baker in Kotzebue. We can go over to the terminal building where we can call your agent in Kotzebue. He can go over to Marge’s house and get the tusks and I’ll be out $1,000.00. But if Charlie reported me for having the tusks, he’s wrong. I left them with Marge. I know better than to deal in raw ivory.”
I convinced Don to call. He left the troopers at the plane with instructions that nothing could be removed from the planes. But he did allow Lloyd to get out and stretch his legs but nothing was to be touched or removed. Don and I walked to the terminal. He called the agent in Kotzebue and gave him instructions to go to Marge’s house and recover the tusks, if they were in fact there and report back immediately. We sat and had some coffee and a snack and had a nice visit. We had a lot in common although on opposite sides. About thirty minutes later the agent called back and said he had six large walrus tusks and that Charlie Ipana was claiming them as his. Don told him to give Charlie the tusks since he was the one who complained to the Kotzebue agent that I’d stolen the tusks from him.
Don had worked for the old Fish and Game Department. Our relationship went back several years. Although we were well acquainted he followed the rule of law and would have busted me given any opportunity. Don had worked the field many times and was thoroughly familiar with all aspects of hunting. He knew all about the sneaky methods some of us guides used, all for the want of the dollar. If you pull one over on him you had be thankful, not much got by him. He was a likeable guy and under other circumstances could have been a best friend. He was now a district director in the new Department of Public Safety, Division of Fish and Wildlife. As we ambled back towards my plane I was still really apprehensive about that damn Bear skin of Lloyd’s in the back fuselage.
We had changed the plane from skis to big tundra tires before leaving Kotzebue. Don had one foot up on the tire, standing there three feet from our illegal Bear hide, watching the blood drip out of the belly of my plane. He said, “Looks like that blood from all those Bear hides you hauled off the ice pack are finally melting (all season any blood that escapes from the bear bags freeze into ice in the aircraft belly. It stays frozen the entire three month season spent hunting Polar Bear. After leaving the Arctic and getting into warmer weather at Fairbanks, the ice blood melted and drained out the fuselage). Don was seeing this blood drip but what he didn’t know was there was a fresh, illegal Bearhide in there also leaking blood. I said, “Yeah, it’s finally thawing out”. Boy, he had us cold turkey and we slipped right through his fingers. That was the second time Don almost had me. I gassed up, got in my plane and headed to Anchorage.
I turned the skin over to the local rep of a famous Seattle taxidermy.
When we arrived in Anchorage Lloyd was meeting his wife, Shirley. They were spending a couple days together while we made preparations to go to our Brown Bear camp at Wildman Lake on the Alaskan Peninsula, about four hundred seventy five miles Southwest of Anchorage. I’d built this small lodge in 1960. It was all flown in with my SuperCub, a slow and costly project. However, the area around Wildman Lake has the best Brown Bear population of any area in Alaska. Even today, the Fish and Game stated in an article in the Anchorage Daily News that there more Bear per square mile in the Chignik, Black Lake area than anywhere else in Alaska. Wildman Lake is in that area.
Wildman Lake Lodge started as a twelve by twelve cabin, increasing in size to twelve by forty-four, then a couple years later a twenty by twenty-four room was added. Every stick flown in by myself on a super cub aircraft from Port Moller, Alaska, a salmon cannery that belonged to Peter Pan Seafood. Population: three in the winter and over one hundred in the summer. Port Moller was forty miles distant from Wildman Lake Lodge. It was near Port Moller that the Douglas Aircraft World Cruiser, piloted by Major Frederick Martin, went down with his crew on the around the world flight in 19248. I’ve been to the wreck and have killed a monster Brown Bear very near by. The wreck, what’s left of it, sits in the Aviation Museum in Anchorage, Alaska. If you go to see it, notice the crankshaft has hack saw marks on it where a friend of mine tried to get the prop for a souvenir but after breaking three hacksaw blades, gave up. That would of been in the late 50’s.
We had made all our plans and were going to leave Anchorage the next day. Meantime, Shirley, Lloyd’s wife, had arrived the day before. Lloyd and she were shopping and partying in Anchorage. Shirley was a platinum blonde, very beautiful. She struck me as pretty much a party girl. Lloyd said she used to be a Ziegfried Follies girl dancing in Chicago. Lloyd and Shirley had invited my guide Jeff Graham and myself down to the Westward Hotel for dinner and drinks. We showed up about 7:30. Lloyd and Shirley were well on their way. It was obvious they were both feeling no pain. We had a fine dinner, after which those two started some serious drinking. In a period of a couple hours I went from hunting guide to referee as Lloyd and Shirley started getting rowdy.
Lloyd and Shirley wanted to go drinking where we hung out. We went from the upper class atmosphere of the Westward to a guide hangout on fourth avenue. The Montana Club was a low class bar where one could find anything. The place was always packed – guides, outfitters, commercial fishermen – bums and lots of Native Alaskans from remote villages. I knew most of them. Lloyd and Shirley stuck out like a sore thumb among all us rowdy people. They were slumming big time. Shirley was basking in all the attention, seems like every Eskimo in the place was ganged around our table.
I finally got them out of the bar and up to their room in the Westward on the tenth floor, where they continued to drink and get wilder. Shirley was getting looser and Lloyd was getting more argumentative. Lloyd was very drunk. Shirley was on the prowl, a real problem for me, especially since some of her advances were directed my way. Shirley finally completely went off the deep end and started tearing off clothing. She was down to her panties when she decided to go downstairs. Lloyd was saying, “Hell, let her go. She’ll be back”. And out the door she went. She ran down the hall and jumped into the elevator. Lloyd’s out in the hall screaming at her. I’m standing there with my mouthopen.
Shirley goes to the lobby and runs out. A Bellman runs up and throws an overcoat on her, saying, “Madame, please madame!”. I came up on the scene at that time and told the bellman where their room was. He’s trying his best to control Shirley and she’s saying, “Go AWAY!”. The bellman took Shirley back to her room. Lloyd’s in the hall cussing him for bringing her back. The house security shows up. Lloyd hollers at him. Shirley’s trying to undress. I’m still staring open mouthed. The security guy calls the cops. The police appear and take them both away.
At the station, Lloyd says, “I want to call my attorney”. The police allow him to make a call and he calls Senator Fullbright of Arkansas, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Fullbright asked the police to speak with the Chief of Police, after which the police brought Lloyd and Shirley back to the hotel. Their parting comment, “Have a nice stay in Alaska”. Lloyd mumbled, “I am”. Shirley finally went into her room – we left and went home. One hell of an evening. Looking forward togetting out of town and going to Wildman Lake.
The spring Bear season ran from May 7 to May 25th in Unit 9 of the Alaska Peninsula. We were going down a little early. If Lloyd happened to take a Bear before May 7th we’d salt it down and hide it until season opened.
This was Fish and Wildlife Protection agent Wayne Fleek’s country and one couldn’t be too careful. Wayne would arrest his own mother for any infraction of the law. When Wayne wasn’t around, it was Joe Brantley and he was even more dangerous than Wayne. Which reminds me of a story about Wayne back in 1969 or ’70. I and Jeff Graham, my guide, crawled into a Wolf den at Sandy Lake. We had been seeing this female Wolf going to this little knob in a brush pile and figured she had a den there, so one day in June after all the Bear hunters went home Jeff and I decided to go over and investigate.
Sure enough, there was a den. The female was off howling about two hundred yards away. We got a shovel and started digging holes down to meet the tunnel. After about thethird hole we located the pups. There were eight of them, their eyes were still closed. I had only the month before been talking to Bob Roush of the Arctic Health Research lab.He told me if I ever ran into some wolf pups they wanted them badly. They wanted to raise the pups to adulthood and study them throughout their life span. I told Jeff weshould try and keep them and take them to Bob at the lab on Post Road in Anchorage. We had lots of Caribou meat at the lodge so we sacked six of them up and took themback to the lodge, leaving two in the den. It was no more than thirty minutes after we left the Den, watching through a spotting scope, we watched the female come back to the den and take each pup and move them toanother den she had more than half a mile away.
We got the pups to the lodge and started to feed them chunks of caribou meat. The pups growled and fought over the meat and if you left your hand before their face they wouldtry and eat your fingers. They didn’t identify the difference between human fingers to eat and caribou meat.
One of the pups I took a special liking to. I didn’t want to give it up to the lab. I knew I was asking for trouble keeping it but the little female took to me and came to me whenthe others shied away. I lived with the little wolf. She was constantly at my side. I remember one time visiting and staying a couple days with a girlfriend who lived in anapartment in Fairbanks. I kept my wolf leashed to the bed at night. Needless to say the girl didn’t think much of that wolf.
As the wolf grew older the word got out that Hayes had a wild, tamed wolf (which was illegal). Every time I landed my plane in King Salmon I had to hide wolf out in thenearby brush. On several occasions I heard and seen Wayne Fleek looking for the wolf. He never did find her. When I leashed her out in the brush near where I parked my planeeither on floats or wheels the wolf never made a sound, even if someone walked within a few feet of her. As she grew older she became very protective and would not allowanyone but me to touch her. She was very shy and would try to hide rather than be aggressive unless someone tried to handle her. Then she would snarl and bite.
I kept Wolf for over a year. She was a good friend and companion. Wayne tried his best to catch me in possession with Wolf but he never did. I saw him one time snoopingaround my parked super cub on floats on the Naknek River at King Salmon. He looked all around and even beat the bushes near the plane. He was within five feet of Wolf oncebut he never found her.
I intended to use Wolf in a new film I was planning to make. She was trained the best I knew how and would obey my commands. Several times I lost her temporarily, one timefor two days up on the Yukon River. But she always turned up if I stayed and didn’t run off and leave her. After Wayne had chased us around for more than a year withoutsuccess he finally won. It was while I was gone on a safari to Africa, filming part of a picture I’d made for American National Enterprises. The film was to be about huntingaround the world in Alaska, Africa and India. It was a great hit when we released it in 1970. The name was “World Safari”. While I was in Africa filming I’d left Wolf in thecare of a friend in Eagle River, Alaska.
Somehow Wayne found out and sent or went himself and got the Wolf. They destroyed her. My friend, Tiny, said they shot her. I’ve never forgiven Fleek for that. I’ll alwaysremember him for killing my friend Wolf. We were heading into Wayne’s country, the Alaska Peninsula. He was stationed at King Salmon, Alaska, which was about half wayto Wildman Lake, where Lloyd, my guide Jeff and myself were going. We would no doubt be seeing Wayne in the next few days.
Lloyd shot a very large boar Brown Bear in the west fork of the Chignik River. The hide was so heavy and bulky even Jeff, a mountain of a man, had trouble packing it back towhere I could land the plane and pick it up. This alder patches were drifted with heavy spring snow making walking impossible. Only on snow shoes could one negotiate thearea. It took us a half day to walk and stalk and shoot the big boar Bear. He was cruising the high country, going from den to den, trying to sniff out females with cubs, afavorite habit of these big males when they first come out of hibernation. They travel, trying to find another smaller Bear den, especially females with cubs. They kill and eatthe cubs after fighting off the female. If she stays and tries to defend herself she, too, will be killed and eaten. Only the truly big old trophy males do this.
Lloyd had jumped the season a couple days, which meant we had to be careful and not let Brantly or Fleek catch us with a bear hide. We would take the hide back to WildmanLake camp, flesh it, salt it down and hide it in a vault we had dug out and boxed in under the bedroom floor of the lodge. We sometimes had three of four Bear in the vault,waiting for the season to open so we could tag and have them sealed by Fish and Game.
One time a couple years previously I had let a couple of hunters from Chicago kill a Bear early. I had them in the vault. I was busy building some bunk beds in the bedroomwhen this Super Cub landed out in the yard at Wildman Lodge. At the time I only had the Kitchen and small bedroom. I was just putting the finishing touches on the bunk bedswhen in walked Don, the same guy who had confronted me in Fairbanks about the walrus tusks. We stood there and visited awhile. I told him the clients had come in and werejust waiting for season to open. After visiting awhile we went on into the kitchen and sat. I wanted him to get away from the trap door he was standing on in the bedroom.There was two bear hides in it and he was standing right on top of them.
That was the first time Don let us slip through his fingers. This story may be the first time Don will be aware of how close he came to nailing me. I’m sure some of his othergame warden friends will read this and let him know. I’ve gotten some negative feedback from one of my other stories but I am only telling it like it was. If the shoe fits, it’syours.
Lloyd went home after getting two big bears with us. I didn’t see him again until the next spring when he booked a walrus hunt with me. I was going to fly to Nunivak Islandand team up with Ed Shavings, an Arctic guide who conducts walrus and musk ox hunts out of Mekoyuk on Nunivak Island. I flew over to Nunivak Island early and madepreparations for Lloyds arrival. We would be hunting walrus on the open ocean amongst scattered ice floes where pods of Walrus might haul up to rest after feeding on clamsand mussels.
Lloyd said he was going to bring Shirley. I expected trouble. Lloyd charted an airplane to fly him to Nunivak from Bethel, Alaska. I was there to meet the plane along with halfthe village of Mekoyuk. Lloyd and Shirley stepped off that plane and every man present jaws dropped as Shirley stepped down in the cold, drizzling mist of Nunivak Island,wearing a pair of white hot pants and half knee length black leather boots. These guys couldn’t believe their eyes. I wouldn’t have either except I knew Shirley and nothing shedid surprised me. I wish many times that I had taken a picture that day. All those Eskimos crowded around very white, platinum blonde Shirley.
Surprisingly enough Shirley got on well while Lloyd and I were out on the ice hunting walrus. Hunting these walrus is a very dangerous game. It’s not that the walrus is dangerous – it’s the ocean with about fifty percent covered with ice floes using only a small sixteen foot boat with an outboard motor to cruise amongst the floes. Sometimes one finds himself on the open ocean with no ice in site. If the wind comes up it could swamp these small boats. As long as one cruises amongst the ice floes the ocean remains quite calm.
Walrus feed on the bottom using their whiskers to find mussels and clams which they suck out of the shell. After they feed to their fill an entire pod may haul up on an ice floe who’s size could be from as small as a football field to as large as a mile across. There could be as many as two hundred walrus or typically twenty to thirty animals. The hunter is looking for the trophy determined by tusk size – thirty-two inches long is a good one. Males are chosen since another trophy is the penis bone, called an Oosik, which is abone eighteen to twenty inches long and one to one and a half inches in diameter. Many clients who are displaying their trophies in a museum setting want the entire hide,which weighs in at four to six hundred pounds skinned rough. A big male walrus weights thirty-eight hundred to forty-five hundred pounds.
Lloyd only wanted a head mount which meant we would cape the walrus taking only the tusks and skull and hide down to the front flippers. We came upon a good pod of about a hundred walrus. We crawled around on the floe and got in position to make the brain shot. If the walrus is only wounded he will immediately go into the water and possibly sink. It was imperative we get into a position to make a brain shot. One can crawl very close amongst the walrus without spooking them but if they do spook the entire pod will bolt for the water and possibly running over us, throwing us in the water. We move very slow. When the biggest one is located we prepare for the brain shot.
Lloyd is an expert shot and the walrus simply dropped his head after Lloyd shot. It was a perfect brain shot. Now the work begins. First we open up the stomach. An Eskimo custom is to get the fresh clams and mussels if the walrus have just recently eaten. These clams are dipped in the ocean and popped into the mouth and eaten again by theEskimo and if the hunter client and his guide don’t do likewise you will loose the Eskimo’s respect. Next we cut out the liver. Walrus liver is one of the most delicious and mild tasting morsels I have ever eaten. It has a very mild liver taste and the texture is somewhat like well prepared abalone. It reminds me and tastes somewhat like the big red abalone of Northern California.
We take some meat but much is wasted and simply pushed into the ocean, a shameful waste for the profit of the guide and the Eskimo who assists just for the pleasure of the hunters getting a trophy. The walrus cannot be hunted as a trophy any longer however some are still shot for the tusks and Oosik. The Eskimo of the arctic continues to hunt them under the subsistence rule.
After the Walrus hunt Lloyd and Shirley chartered a plane and left. I flew back to Anchorage.
The next time I saw Lloyd and Shirley was at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California. For years, Roy Weatherby, the famous magnum rifle maker who invented the 300 Weatherby rifle, held an annual Weatherby Awards banquet and awards affair. This black tie RSVP affair guest list reads like a who’s who of the hunting and sporting world. You’re a nobody if you don’t get invited to a Weatherby Awards dinner. I have posted on this site the 1972 invitation guest list. This tells a better story about this event than I can.
Naturally, Lloyd and Shirley were invited. Most famous guides and hunters of the world attend. There were three governors at this particular affair. There were astronauts, Generals, Heads of State and Country, including the Prince of Iran. It was a grand affair – I had a wonderful time. This was my third one. After dinner we were invited up to Lloyd and Shirley’s suite to have a drink.
Upon reaching the suite we noticed they were both feeling no pain. After we were there about a half hour Shirley came running out of the bedroom yelling to Lloyd some of her jewelry was missing. Lloyd just mumbled, “call the police”. Which Shirley did. The house security came up and wanted to know what was missing. It seems there was a four or five carat ring and another necklace of several carats – Lloyd said about $75,000.00.
I was shaking my head as Lloyd was telling the security people how much the jewelry was worth and adding that if the police didn’t send over Sam Spade he didn’t want anyone. The man wasn’t making any sense. Shirley was crying and Lloyd is demanding they get Sam Spade. I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about except maybe Lloyd had been taking those TV programs too seriously. The security people were beyond themselves but I wasn’t surprised at all after all the past experiences I’d had with Lloyd and Shirley.
I saw them the next day. They didn’t remember much about the entire episode. I never did find out if they actually lost any jewelry or whether Shirley just misplaced it temporarily. It was a few years later that I heard Lloyd finally went through most of his inheritance from one of the large cotton gins his father had left him in Memphis. He and Shirley moved to Cody, Wyoming and started living an almost normal life in a modest home. He and Shirley lived in Cody for several years. I lost touch with him since he no longer hired guides or went on expensive hunts.
Lloyd died in the 80’s, I’m not sure when. I heard Shirley was a waitress in a restaurant in Cody. They certainly had the good life for several years. There wasn’t much they hadn’t done. That’s the Lloyd Ward story – one of the over 2,000 hunter clients I had in my thirty year hunting career.
1 In the extreme cold of the Arctic – twenty to forty below zero – regular oil will harden and cause the firing pin on a rifle to stick and not fall hard enough against the primer ofthe cartridge. The cartridge will not fire.
2 Mukluks are a custom boot made by the Eskimo. They are constructed from seal skin and caribou skin. Caribou skin insoles are used. Caribou hair is hollow and has good insulating qualities.
3 The wolverine fur does not collect moisture and freeze the hairs as bad as some other fur. The ruff is necessary to keep ones face from being frostbitten.
4 All Arctic guides referred to a monster bear track as a scoop shovel, similar to what size of mark one would make if you slapped a big snow scoop shovel down in the snow.Every guide’s dream was to find a scoop shovel track.
5 A leed is a crack in the ice pack caused by high winds and tide currents. These leeds can be anywhere from a one inch crack to several miles wide. They are more prevalent when an Arctic storm is brewing, creating high winds. A storm can be five hundred miles away, and still cause the entire ice pack to move and crack.
6 ELT – Emergency Location Transmitter – transmits a signal on frequency 121.5 which the air rescue can home in on. We could also home in on the signal and do the build and fade method to pinpoint the location. This is all before satellite or GPS.
7 Scud running: Many Alaskan pilots who are experienced know their area like the back of their hand. These guys will fly one hundred foot off the ground going through mountain passes or they might be following a river or shoreline of the ocean or large lake. This requires instant decision making and knowledge of what’s ahead. Never leaving your ace in the hole escape. Instrument flying in and over mountainous terrain in Alaska is pure suicide, especially in a light Super Cub without icing equipment, dual electrical and vacuum instruments and with no place to let down or make an approach.
8 In 1924 the Navy sponsored and arranged to make a flight around the world by four aircraft built by Douglas and called World Cruisers. You can read the complete story in abook named Around the World in 175 Days – The First Round-the-World Flight. There’s also a website with the chronicles of this epic flight at http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/history/dwc/dwcd1.htm.