Jared Crast traveled 3,000 miles with his older brother last fall to hunt deer in Alaska only to have a bear come between them and a potential trophy.
“We saw this beautiful buck in this valley,” said Crast, a member of Syracuse, N.Y., Local 43. But within seconds, he and his brother Jamieson spotted something else – and something big: “A hundred yards in front of us was this trophy black bear.”
Crast shares the story of his adventurous trek to Kodiak Island, and of his close encounters with Alaska’s wilder side, on this week’s episode of “Brotherhood Outdoors,” a presentation of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance.
“I’ve been a hunter since I was able to walk,” he said. “I’ve always been a part of it with my family. My father would put me in a wicker pack and track whitetail on state land and some private pieces, as a way to babysit me.”
Crast has traveled as far away as Ohio and South Dakota to hunt, but this trip marked his first time ever in The Last Frontier. “I’ve never been to a place that remote before,” he said. A 13-hour journey took the brothers first from Syracuse to Anchorage, followed by a bumpy ride in a four-seater bush plane to Old Harbor, a small fishing community of about 200 people on Kodiak Island’s southeast edge.
The rifle hunt was set up as a three-day, do-it-yourself excursion, Crast said. “There was no guide physically with us,” he explained. “We had to come up with our own tactics.”
As it happens, his brother Jamieson is also an executive producer of “Brotherhood Outdoors.” Jamieson had encouraged Jared to apply to be on the show, but “I still had to get chosen,” the younger Crast said – the family connection to the program didn’t garner him special consideration.
Even with Jamieson serving double duty as the outing’s videographer, the brothers managed well on their trip, Jared said, even though it rained a lot. Scrambling up the side of a mountain to about 1,400 feet above sea level, the pair thought their efforts were about to pay off when they saw an impressive Sitka black tail deer down in a valley.
That’s when they also spotted the Kodiak brown bear moving between them and their prize. Although black bears don’t typically attack humans, the brothers decided it was safest to take no chances. “We didn’t go after that buck,” Crast said.
As luck would have it, they were able to take down a second buck that was bigger, although doing so risked piquing the bear’s interest. “Gunshots are like a dinner bell for those brown bears,” Crast said.
The brothers retreated to their camp with their prize and had just settled in to cook up some ramen noodles when they discovered they had a visitor. “It was that bear,” Crast said. “He had worked in about 40 yards away from us.”
Once bears smell food, it becomes really hard to simply shoo them away. “We had to get out of there,” Crast said, but it wasn’t easy. To safely escape, they had to take a route that sent them “down rock faces and one heck of a slope,” he said.
Fortunately, they made it back to safety – and eventually to Syracuse – with a real adventure tale to tell.
Crast said he is drawn to the brotherhood that comes from IBEW membership as well from the hunting community. After high school, he started out studying environmental engineering in college but found irresistible the promise of a union electrical career that came with real hands-on experience. He was eventually accepted as an apprentice with Local 43, a 1,200-member inside local serving central New York.
“I haven’t found my niche yet,” said Crast, who just started his fourth year as an apprentice. He likes the smaller wiring jobs, but he really enjoys working on big projects.
He had hoped to go back to Alaska this fall for another chance to bag a deer there. But travel restrictions in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 have placed those plans on hold indefinitely, so he’s considering a road trip to hunt in Ohio or South Dakota as a consolation.
Crast’s episode of Brotherhood Outdoors debuted on the Sportsman Channel on Sept. 15 at 4 p.m., with repeats showing on Sept. 18 at 11 a.m., Sept. 19 at 1:30 a.m., and Sept. 20 at 11 a.m. (All times Eastern.)
Dish Network and more than 20 other affiliates are offering subscribers a free preview of the Sportsman Channel this month, allowing even more IBEW members and others the chance to catch “Brotherhood Outdoors.”
Find a listing of upcoming episodes at brotherhoodoutdoors.tv. Past episodes are available at myoutdoortv.com.
The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is a union-dedicated, non-profit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills to improve public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habits and mentor and engage youth in the outdoors. The IBEW is one of its charter sponsors.