A Guide to Hunting the Alaska Peninsula Brown Bear

Big male bear walking in the bog at sunset.

With magnificent scenery, fantastic fresh air, and a terrain that ranges from river valleys teeming with spawning salmon, to a shoreline full of whales and walrus, Alaska Peninsula brown bear hunting is one of the best hunting experiences in the world.

The Alaskan Brown Bear

The Alaskan brown bear looks and acts just like the North American grizzly (Ursus arctos horribilis). In fact, most scientists consider both grizzlies and brown bears to be the same species. However, because of their environment, the management of the area, and the abundant food source, the Alaskan brown bear can be considerably larger than the average American grizzly. Ranging up to 10 ft and weighing in excess of 1,000 Ib, nowhere else will a hunter get such a monstrous trophy than on an Alaska peninsula brown bear hunting trip.

With an abundant brown bear population, the Alaska Peninsula is a great place for coastal brown bear hunts. The State of Alaska carefully manages the Peninsula region and neighboring Kodiak Island for trophy quality, and most hunters are amazed at the size of some of the animals that come meandering along the shoreline. And as long as Alaskan brown bear hunting guides are followed, there should be no reason to return from the Peninsula disappointed.

The Alaska brown bear is no easy game animal, though.

He has keen senses and can pick up human scent from miles away. As with most bears, the Alaska brown bear is generally nocturnal, so the best time to hunt is early morning and late afternoon. Hunters need also to be wary of such large predators. The brown bear’s strength and agility are incredible. They are proficient climbers and with a running speed far exceeding even the fastest human sprinter, surprising or facing an injured bear is not something many hunters live to talk about, so it’s essential that attention is paid to the Alaska brown bear hunting guides accompanying most organized hunts.

When and Where to Hunt

The State of Alaska manages the Peninsula with a reduced hunting season. Hunts are yearly and last two weeks, with a spring hunt held in May in even numbered years (2012, 2014, 2016 etc), and a fall hunt held in October in odd numbered years (2012, 2015, 2017 etc). A restricted number of hunters are permitted on Kodiak Island, but as with most of Alaska, each hunter may take only one brown bear every four years, which often leads hunters into difficult decisions when it comes to shooting, such as deciding whether to take a seven-footer, or wait and hope for something larger to come along.

The Alaska Peninsula is also a tricky place to get to. It covers in excess of 40,000 square miles from the Kuskokwim Valley on the Pacific coast to the Revelation Mountains in the east. Choosing a good hunting organization is crucial because of the logistics and the need for an Alaskan bear guide to ensure success.

Hunting Brown Bears on the Peninsula

During the spring, Outfitters normally set up camps ready for when the bears come down from the mountains looking for food. Alaska Peninsula brown bear hunting involves a lot of glassing with good optics. Once a potential trophy is spotted, the bear is stalked and intercepted on his way down the mountain. Things are a little different in the fall as the bears spend the time traveling from one salmon hole to another. More often than not, camps have to be moved to accommodate the movement of the bears.

Because of the ferocity of brown bears, injuring one is not something any hunter wants to do. Shooting the best caliber for brown bears with quality ammunition is essential for hunting on the Alaska Peninsula. At a minimum, most Alaskan brown bear hunting guides recommend a .338  cartridge, although some hunt organizers insist on .375 Holland & Holland Magnum. Besides the ammunition, good, warm clothing is needed in both fall and spring as the weather on the Peninsula can be awful, but the hunting certainly more than makes up for it.

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