Few experiences in a hunter’s lifetime compare to an Alaska bear hunt. Putting your skills to the test in the rugged and beautiful Alaskan wilderness is an exciting way to spend time away from your day-to-day life. However, bear hunting in Alaska carries with it many dangers; novice hunters must travel with more experienced guides in order to be safe. Both novice and experienced hunters should learn all they can about bears in Alaska before they venture out into the wild. One thing that makes Alaska such a prime-hunting locale is that all three species of North American bears flourish in the state. Alaska is bear country and you will find brown bears (including the infamous grizzly), black bears, or polar bears. Brown bears, large is size and fierce, are well known for their fishing abilities. On Kodiak Island, with few predators and an ample supply of salmon to eat, these animals can weigh in excess of 1,200 pounds. These brown bears are widely distributed across the state. If they live inland and/or in the northern lands, such as Denali National Park, they are grizzlies. Black bears are smaller than browns and their range is also across the state. Despite their name, these bears vary in color from black to brown to cinnamon. Weighing upwards of 240 pounds, these animals are common in urban environments, causing problems for humans in Juneau, Seward, and even Anchorage. Polar bears are restricted to the northern coastline, living on pack ice much of the year. They feed primarily on ringed seals and a mature male can weigh in at 1,200 pounds. Since Alaska is bear country, human habitants develop strategies to reduce conflict with these animals. Most of the bear problems that arise happen because of the way household trash is stored or thrown away. Bears have a strong sense of smell and a natural sensibility to associate an easy food source with homes and campsites. Precautions such as keeping garbage secure at home or maintaining a clean campsite while outdoors are important so that bears and humans can live safely together. Though through continuous exposure, bears begin to lose their “natural fear” of humans and become more dangerous as a result. Therefore, it is unwise to feed bears intentionally. With proper planning and respect for space, people and bears can coexist peacefully.
As a camper or hunter in Alaska, you must prepare for an encounter with a bear. Bears live almost everywhere in the state and while they generally avoid people, they will attack if they feel threatened. The best ways to avoid any kind of threats and lower your chances of harm with bears would be to follow some basic guidelines.
Study bear behavior to learn what kind of environment they live in, what they hunt, where they sleep and also what they eat. Become familiar of their natural habits, especially during the same time of your visit. Learn to distinguish their track and their droppings as well.
Bears tend to avoid humans and if one hears you coming, it will likely move away. However, despite this tendency, always be on the lookout. You want to avoid startling a bear. If you do startle a bear, do not run away. Instead talk slow and loud while raising and moving your arms around your head.
Game Meat Management
Ironically, many bear encounters come about after a successful hunt for another animal. Since you are packing the meat from the kill site in multiple trips, each return visit increases the chances of confronting a bear. After a kill, as soon as possible field dress the animal and remove edible meat before opening the gut cavity. Pack your meat to load out and store remaining meat in game bags hung from trees. Leave the guts for the bears and be sure to flag the area to warn other hunters.
Once you bring fresh meat back to camp, store it a substantial distance from camp. If possible, hang the meat in trees at least 15 feet above the ground. Stash blood-soaked clothing in a plastic bag at the same location. If a bear wanders into your camp, make loud noises, yell at the bear, and bang pots and pans together to try driving the bear off.
Avoid camping in an area or near trails that are being frequented by bears. Cook and eat well downwind from your sleeping tent, wash the dishes, and burn the trash. When you breakdown camp, leave it cleaner than when you arrived. Burn what you can, but pack out remaining refuse in airtight containers for in-town disposal.
Follow these above guidelines and enjoy your time in Alaska.
The grizzly bear is the same species of bear as the brown bear, but the name grizzly is taken from it’s “grizzled” fur – gray hairs mixed into the brown. They’ve also been called “silvertip bears.”
Above the Arctic Circle where we hunt the Grizzly’s – an adult male Alaska grizzly bear can get up to 1500 pounds and stand 8-10 feet tall. They are considerably smaller than the brown bear that are hunted in lower Alaska, but still provide that “fear factor” when you see one in the field and remain a sought after trophy for many of our hunters.
The brown bear and the grizzly bear are considered to be the same bear by scientists and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
An adult male Alaska brown bear can get up to 1500 pounds and stand 8-12 feet tall. The Alaska brown bear hunting license is good for either type of bear. This Alaska Brown Bear to the left was taken in the Spring season ou of Cold Bay, AK and was measured out at approximately 11’2″ – imagine the adrenaline rush you have when you meet up with this guy in the willows!!
An adult male black bear can stand 6-7 feet tall on it’s hind legs and weigh in at 500-700 pounds. As we said, “small” is a relative term.
Many hunters consider the meat from a black bear to be better tasting than that of the brown or grizzly bear.
What could be more adrenaline pumping than facing down a 10 foot tall Alaska grizzly bear in the wilds of Alaska? We’ve got more types of bear than anyplace else on earth and you can most of them. We’ve got pictures that prove just how big these giants get up here.