While browsing through old newspapers I found quite a few references to hunting around Funter Bay. The area has many deer and bear, and has long been an important hunting ground for Tlingit natives. Subsistence hunting was important for local prospectors and fishermen, and sport hunting brought people from elsewhere in Southeast. Here are a few names and hunting stories that I found during my research.
A snarky article in 1907 listed a party of “cannibals, highwaymen, and Indian warriors” hunting at Funter Bay, including “Big Eatmuch of Oshkosh, Sitting Bull of Ohio, and Highbinder of West Virginia” (Highbinder was slang for either a gangster or a corrupt politician). An article a few days later mentioned that “Messers Page and Snyder, the two Skagway nimrods who put in a month at Funter Bay” had an excellent bag of game, this may have been the same party.
Snyder was mentioned again in November 1908, when he along with a Mr. Woodburn and a Mr. Kirmse (all of Skagway) accompanied the famous big game hunter Z.R. Cheney to Funter Bay.
In 1909 the Juneau Record-Miner reported that Abner Murray, E.E. Smith, L. Keist, and Billy Stubbins had gone hunting in the Funter Bay area. Smith wounded a deer, and Keist and Stubbins both shot at an eagle and missed. Others in the party were reported to be Messrs. Hopp, Fox, Judson, McWilliams, Dick McCormick, A. Baritello and A. Reidl.
Fred Hastings and Bob Evans were hunting in the Funter Bay area in 1909. Also in the area were Wm. Geddes “and a party of big game hunters”.
In Nov of 1909, Phil Snyder and Frank Page are mentioned again. Snyder was a Skagway Alderman, and the pair are reported as coming down every year with a pack of hunting dogs to spend a month in the Funter Bay area. They were reportedly after bear on the 1909 trip.
In December of 1909, a soldier from Fort Seward (at Haines) was injured while hunting and sent to St. Ann’s hospital in Juneau. His name is given as John Carr or Karr, and his injury reportedly was from “falling on the edge of an axe”. The unfortunate hunter tripped on a rock and landed neck-first on the axe, but fortunately a trained nurse happened to be at Funter Bay and was able to stitch the wound. Carr’s hunting party was already overdue after a storm, and were thought lost for a time.
In October of 1910 a hunting party consisting of Willie Winters, Geo Rose, Oliver Oleson and Lawrence Erickson became lost between Hawk Inlet and Funter Bay. They were forced to build a fire and spend the night in the woods, but found their bearings the next day.
Peter Williams Sr, a hunter from Sitka, died at Funter Bay in August of 1914 in a hunting accident. He had been carrying a deer and fell off a cliff.
Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Russell and Mr. and Mrs. Ray Stevens spent a week in Sept. of 1915 hunting and fishing at Funter Bay. Ray Stevens worked at the First National Bank.
Funter Bay resident and mine owner Charles Otteson related this story to the Daily Alaska Dispatch in November 1916:
“Shortly after the deer season opened – I was engaged in mining in the Funter Bay section – and one evening about nine o-clock, when a bright moon was shining, I went out to the little garden adjacent to our house on the mining property, accompanied by my wife, and there was a fine, big deer standing erect by the garden. I went within two feet of him and he did not move; I flashed a small search light several times in the animal’s face, and this did not disturb him in the least, he stood there just looking at us. I got my firearms with the intention of laying in a supply of venison, as we needed meat, but upon returning and going up close to the deer again I simply couldn’t muster up courage enough to fire. Who could?” (From “Couldn’t shoot the seemingly pet deer” Daily Alaska Dispatch (Juneau) 14 Nov 1916).
Not every hunter was so kind-hearted, there are stories of several other “pet” deer walking up to people in the woods and ending up in the freezer. Our neighbor Harvey Smith had a deer which learned how to open his door and would sleep inside by the fire. Lassie Ohman had a young deer which lived at their cabin and sometimes on their fish scow. Both of these “pets” later ran afoul of hunters.
“Bud” Walker, a friend of Funter Bay resident Max Dorman, went missing in October of 1942 while hunting grouse. The bears were reported to be “very irritable” that year due to poor salmon runs, and searchers feared the worst. Walker showed up a day later about 15 miles away in Hawk Inlet.