Author’s note: George Flournoy has made numerous hunting trips to Canada, Alaska and Africa and is a PSE pro. He also provides information for hunters about hunting in these countries and books trips for hunters.
If you’re a bowhunter, and want to take a brown bear, which is one of the biggest dangerous game animals in the Americas, here are some things you should know about brown bear hunting in Alaska.
- A bear that lives more than 150 miles from the ocean is classified as a grizzly bear (a subspecies of brown bear) in Alaska. If you take a bear within 150 miles of the ocean, it is classified as a brown bear.
- You can divide Alaska almost in half. All the land west of Anchorage is considered western Alaska and is where the largest brown bears are. The bears in this section of the state often will weigh from 900 to 950 pounds and stand 10 to 10-1/2 feet tall. In southeastern Alaska, there are more brown bears than there are in western Alaska. But the bear in this part of the state are quite a bit smaller than the bears in western Alaska, averaging 600 to 750 pounds. Finding a 10-foot-tall brown bear in this part of Alaska will be rare. These two types of brown bear are basically the same animal. They are just in two different sizes.
- The southeastern Alaska brown bear hunts are generally less expensive than the western brown bear hunts. Southeastern brown bear hunts cost about $10,000, and the bear hunts in western Alaska cost between $13,000 and $14,000.
- The opportunity to slip up on and get within range of a brown bear is much greater in southeastern Alaska than in western Alaska. One of the advantages of going through a booking agent is that he can tell you, based on his experience, what size bears are being taken in different areas of Alaska and Canada, and what size bear you may have the opportunity to take with various outfitters.
- The earlier you hunt in the season, the lighter the bears’ hair will be. The later you hunt in the season, the thicker and the longer the hair will be on the bears you hunt.
- Some areas of Alaska only have brown bear hunts every other year.
- You will go to your base camp in western Alaska in a float plane most of the time. Your spike camp probably will be on the top of a mountain or near the mouth of several river drainages, where the bears are feeding on salmon. You will mostly be hunting tundra and clumps of willows.
- The primary way of hunting in southeastern Alaska will be stalking along the river banks in more heavy cover than you’ll encounter in western Alaska. You will be hunting in the mountains and in the timber country.
Usually, there aren’t many hidden expenses on a brown or a grizzly bear hunt. However, make sure before you book that there are no trophy fees involved that vary depending on the size of bear you take. When you’re choosing an outfitter, be sure to go over your contract for the hunt before you sign it, talk to other hunters who have hunted with this outfitter before, and find out if they had to pay for any extras.
Getting your trophy back (your bear skin and skull) is fairly simple. Your bear skin usually goes to a taxidermist in Alaska where it is fleshed, salted and dried, and then can be shipped right to your taxidermist in the United States. The bear skull is usually included with the bear rug and shipped to your taxidermist in the same box. The bear hunt is one of the easiest hunts in Alaska for bringing your trophies back home. If I was booking a brown bear hunt for me or my best friend, I probably would book it for either early or mid-May, when the bears have the thickest and the longest hair. I would also consider booking a late fall hunt, when the salmon are still coming up the rivers. As a bowhunter, I would probably book a September hunt in western Alaska for a spot-and-stalk hunt along the rivers.
For more information, you can contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 1-755-673-5513.
To get the books “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows” and “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros” by John E. Phillips, go to http://www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the names of the books, and download them to your Kindle and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.
Images courtesy John Phillips