The largest bears tend to be found on the Alaska Peninsula and the Kodiak Archipelago.
Biggest of the big, but not necessarily baddest of the bad, Brown Bears (as we hunters refer to them) except for Kodiak Brown Bears, are technically classified as the same species as Grizzlies, even though Brown Bears tend to grow substantially larger, live in closer proximity to one another and in general have a less ornery disposition than their interior cousins the Grizzly. However, this doesn’t mean that a Brown Bear still won’t attack people, as we have all seen and heard the stories, but generally they are less inclined to take aggressive action towards people than Grizzlies. Kodiak Brown Bears however are considered their own unique sub-species of bear as a result of their having been separated from the mainland for the last 12,000 years.
For those of you looking to hunt brown bears, there are a few things to keep in mind. The largest bears tend to be found on the Alaska Peninsula and the Kodiak Archipelago. This is mainly due to milder weather overall, longer feeding season, and access to high quality food (claims, sedge grass and salmon). But for us as hunters, these larger bears, truly come with a price as usually hunts on the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak tend to be more expensive. There are also other restrictions and regulations when hunting Kodiak Brown Bears and Peninsula Brown Bears.
The Alaska Peninsula on average produces about 500 plus or minus of the approximately 1500 brown bears harvested every year in Alaska. To ensure the continued stable population levels on the peninsula, Alaska alternates between spring and fall seasons, so in odd years they have a fall brown bear season and on even years they have a spring brown bear season. One of the benefits to hunting the Peninsula is that they are guaranteed tags, meaning you don’t have to put in for the draw.
Kodiak on the other hand issues most of its permits by way of the lottery. Depending on which hunt you draw, it may be a fall hunt (Oct 25-Nov 30) or a spring hunt (April 1 – May 15). They also separate the tags into resident versus non-resident, and only give out a total of 496 tags.So if you want to hunt Kodiak and are a non-resident you will need to book a hunt with an outfitter and then put in for the draw, as you cannot submit an application for the draw as a non-resident unless you can show you have a contract with a guide/outfitter. In addition, both Kodiak and the Peninsula limit how often a hunter can harvest a bear with current limits being 1 bear every 4 years.
I had the chance to hunt the Peninsula with my dad back in 2005 and it was truly a great adventure. Between the salmon fishing, the ptarmigan, wolf hunting and getting a great bear it remains one of my favorite hunts I have done with my dad. Not to mention my dad took an absolute giant that went about 10’4”. But let’s not forget, there are lots of great coastal brown bear hunts on the mainland as well.
So, if a Brown Bear hunt is on your list, stop waiting and saying someday give us a call and let us help you develop a plan and get you on your adventure of a lifetime.