Preparing for Brown Bears - June 16th

The next couple of blogs I will be discussing my preparation for an Alaskan Brown Bear hunt this August. I will be discussing a few of my equipment choices and analyzing my training and preparation for this hunt of a lifetime.

The first step for me in any hunt is learning as much about my target animal as possible. The more you know about an animal, the more you can value and appreciate the hunt for it – especially, when it’s animal that you don’t have in your home state and that you have to be guided to hunt. In Alaska, and everywhere else it is legal to hunt brown/grizzly bears, you legally have to have a guide.

I will be hunting with a partner of Bear Hunting Magazine, Clifford Smith of Triple C Outfitters Alaska.  Clifford offers coastal brown bear hunts on the Alaskan Peninsula and in zone 16B in south central Alaska. I will be hunting in zone 16B. The region is south of the 62nd parallel so these bears are classified as Alaska Brown Bears or Coastal Brown Bears. The Boone and Crockett Club has differentiated between ‘brown bears’ and ‘grizzly bears’ for the purposes of record keeping, though the bears are biologically the same species. Bears along the coastal regions grow much larger because of the (more) temperate climates and a significant diet of salmon. Coastal bears gorge themselves every fall on salmon, allowing them grow much larger than the interior grizzlies that live off insects, berries, roots and carrion most of the year.

Any line drawn through a region to separate the same species might be somewhat arbitrary, but the 62nd parallel is used to differentiate the two types of bears. This line roughly indicates the regions where the salmon run affects the diets of the bears enough to increase their size.  The club decided that it wouldn’t be fair to categorize the larger bears with the smaller interior bears because the skull size would always lean towards the coastal bears.  It wouldn’t be an ‘apples to apples’ comparison. Grizzly, or interior bears, can be found in Alaska, the Yukon Territories, British Columbia and Alberta. As well as Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and even Washington state in the lower 48 states. These bears live away from the coasts, except for the coastal regions north of the 62nd parallel in Alaska. As I understand it, these bears on the northern coasts of Alaska aren’t influenced by the salmon runs and thus aren’t as big. Thus they are classified as Grizzly bears.

In Zone 16B bear densities are high, but the bears typically aren’t as big as Kodiak or peninsula bears. The average adult boar in the region is in the eight-and-half-foot range, however, nine-foot bears are harvested every year – even 10-footers.

We will be targeting bears on salmon streams in mid-August. Myself, along with another friend, will be hunting on two-on-one with Clifford. We will be bowhunting, but will be carrying a long-range firearm if needed. Our first choice is our bows and we are going to give 100% effort in making it happen, but neither of us are too proud to shoot one with a rifle. In my next blog I will be discussing my choice of weapon on this hunt. You might be surprised what I’ve decided to take to the last Frontier.

Good hunting,

Clay Newcomb, publisher BHM