Afognak Island is a small land mass about 20 miles long and 40 miles wide off the coast of Alaska in the Kodiak archipelago. There aren't many reasons to visit this place and even fewer motivations for someone to take up residence on the island. In fact, there are only 39 permanent human residents today, most of which are workers at a state-run salmon hatchery. There are no roads, bars, grocery stores or shopping malls on Afognak, but there is a large population of Kodiak brown bears and a few healthy herds of Roosevelt elk.
It's a harsh place that defines the environment of coastal Alaska. Wild swings in weather produce a climate that can feel like a rainforest in the summer and a despotic tundra when winter arrives. This place is no tourist destination, and it doesn't suffer fools. It's an unpredictable domain that calls for preparedness and as such, attracts some of the most dedicated hunters to its shores.
Brad Jameson is one of those hunters. He's an experienced outdoorsman well-versed in wilderness medicine and survival. He'd hunted the island before without a hint of trouble, bringing home hundreds of pounds of venison and avoiding even a casual run-in with a brown bear.
On Oct. 23, he boarded a boat with four hunting buddies to head back to Afognak. It was a normal trip for the Alaska residents, and they were looking forward to a tough-as-hell hunt.
Three days later everything would change. Brad suddenly found himself five yards from an old sow with nowhere to run and only a moment to prepare himself for what was to come next.
Be sure to listen to my entire podcast with Brad to hear his jarring story of grit and survival and how he made it out alive.
Ben on Instagram
Shop MeatEater Merch