Oral History Interviews:

Ben Forbes

Ben Forbes was born in Wisconsin in 1906. When Ben was a boy, his family moved to Louisiana, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Washington state in search of a better life.

Forbes came to Alaska during World War II as a foreman on a crew building runways for the military. After the war ended, Ben obtained a huge surplus log raft from the military and converted it into a floating marine repair shop based in Sitka.

A few years later, the local game warden approached Forbes and offered to help Ben become a hunting guide. That fateful encounter would change the course of Forbes' life. Ben became one of the best known and most successful bear guides in all of Southeast Alaska.

Ben shares many tales of his hunting adventures, including an unplanned stalk to within 20 feet of a large brown bear. Forbes readily explains his hunting methods and equipment. When describing the various boats he used as hunting camps over the years, Ben's love of the ocean is clearly evident.

Forbes explains his views on growth of individual bears, as well as factors which influence the increase or decrease in the overall bear population. He also relates interesting bear behavior unrelated to the hunting experience.

Ben continued to guide hunters well into his nineties. When his eyesight began to fail, Forbes felt compelled to step back from the job that had become his way of life. He poignantly describes how much he missed guiding for the bears, which he knew so well.

Ben Forbes died in 2006, shortly after his 100th birthday.

Click here for excerpt from Forbes interview (MP3)

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