|Over 40 years experience guiding in Alaska.
|KODIAK BEAR HUNTING
NEWS & FORECAST
|John Todd (Dawson Creek, B.C.)
took a high-scoring bear, and it had
one of the largest body sizes of any
bear we have ever taken. We took
three other very large boars and a
medium sized bear for a five for five
We are only conducting hunts that
we feel will give the hunter an
excellent chance at a big boar
Kodiak bear. That's what we love
and that's what we do.
Confirm that you are going to the
right place at the right time. There
are many variables, and you must
ascertain the integrity of your guide.
METHODS OF HUNTING:
Trophy Kodiak coastal grizzly bears like to be as far away from
any human activity as possible. This usually means that we
need to spike camp far back in the canyons to find the big
bears. In some areas you can travel from one canyon to the
next by boat or Zodiac, and in other areas, you need to travel
over land carrying a backpack, from one canyon to the next.
Once you are in the area, the least amount of movement as
possible is the best way to hunt. You need to find a prominent
hill to get a good view of the surrounding mountains to glass
from, and then you need to glass from dawn until dark. You
can look at a mountainside for hours with no activity, and
then all of a sudden, seemingly from nowhere, a bear will be
feeding on the mountainside. Once a bear is spotted, several
things need to be determined before you go after the bear.
It is generally very difficult from a glimpse or two to judge the
size of a bear. If a guide gets a good view of the bear, he can
usually tell if it is a small or large bear fairly rapidly. It is
important to take time to study the hide. Hopefully you will
get a good view of both sides of the bear to judge the quality
of the hide. A badly rubbed bear could look just fine to the
Also you need to wait to get an idea of what the bear might
do. After the bear feeds for awhile and then lies down in a
place that you can find on the stalk up the mountain, and if it
looks like he is content to lay there for a few hours, you can
plan your stalk. At that point you will need enough time left to
get to the bear before dark. Sometimes when a bear is
spotted late in the evening, all you can do is hope you can
find him again the next morning.
Another factor that is of critical importance is the wind
direction. If the wind is switching back and forth, or blowing in
a direction that makes it impossible to make an upwind stalk,
it is better to hope you can find him again the next day than
run him out of the country. Your chance of getting a bear
down wind is absolutely zero.
We always attempt to get with 100 yards of the bear. Big
bears are hard to bring down, and it is just not ethical to shoot
at them at a distance much greater than 100 yards.
Confirm that you are trophy hunting
for a male bear, no the first bear that
Make sure that your personal guide
has the training and experience to
guide you relative to judging bear
sex, size, hide quality, etc.
Is your personal guide a match for
Ascertain the physical demands of
Confirm the gear needed such as
gun, caliber, bullet, rain gear, boots,
Secure the transportation, living
conditions, and food for the various
phases of your hunt.
Verify all costs of the trip.
Learn all the safety precautions of
Confirm that the reference list is
complete and current, and be sure
to check the references.
Individual hunts vary a lot because bears are very weather sensitive. They Don't
move much and are hard to find in poor weather, but the opportunities to take a
very good Kodiak bear are high. We conduct varied types of hunts in different
areas so it is important that you book well in advance so you can hunt in an area
that matches the style of hunting that you like.
In one area we hunt primarily by boat and skiff, glassing for bears. This the least
physical, but still one must be able to climb. In other areas we use skiffs and
backpack up canyons. This is the most physical of the hunts. In two of the areas
we hunt, we have places that the best strategy is to wait and glass. This is good for
someone in less than perfect physical condition, but not good for someone who
cannot tolerate sitting in one place for any length of time.
Even in similar areas, there is a
radical difference in the size of bears
that different guides bag. It is
extremely important that your
personal guide has the ambition to
turn down an easy small or even a
medium-sized bear, and hold out for
a big boar.
Your personal guide needs
experience and training to identify
boars from sows, to determine the size
of the bear, and to determine the
quality of the bear hide.
Your guide needs to know when and
when not to stalk a bear so that he
doesn't wear everyone out
unnecessarily and reduce the
chance of being out there the next
day for a high-percentage stalk.
Tremendous advances have been
made in clothing and rain gear in
the past 30 years. Study our
recommend gear list and take
advantage of these new advances.
Patience is probably the most
important virtue on a bear hunt.
Many long Hours of glassing are
required to find a big boar.
Make sure your gun shoots well; that
is a two-inch group at 100 yards off a
Practice shots kneeling, sitting, and
leaning on a brace are important.
Make sure you sight in your gun, and
bring an adequately constructed
bullet. The traditional Nosier partition
bullets are our favorites.
Our favorite caliber gun is a 375 H&H
Magnum, followed by a 338, and
minimum of a 300 Winchester.
One of the biggest secrets to our
success on big bears is first we identify
whether the bear is a boar or sow,
then we judge the size. An old sow
has many characteristics of a huge
bear, but may actually be smaller.
Brown bear guiding requires the abilithy and
ambition to endure a tremendous amount of
hard work and uncomfortable living
conditions, and the hardest of all to learn -
infinite patience. By far the best way to hunt
Kodiak Island is to find a prominent knob and
set up with binoculars and spotting scope,
and glass the area, hour on end. By far the
best way to hunt Kodiak Island is to find a
prominent knob and set up with binoculars
and spotting scope, and glass the area, hours
on end. This method is much more successful
than tramping around the area, as you would
scent the area and chase the bears out.
Bears are one of the toughest animals to
judge size. Almost all perimeters for judging
the size of a bear are relative judgements. For
example, although an old bear has a huge
head, it should be small in relationship to his
massive body. In bears, as in humans, the
head grows more slowly than the rest of their
bodies. One has to take into consideration
the gait at which the walk, the silhouette, the
large hump behind the shoulders, a long
neck, the sway of the belly, and if you are
lucky and can cross the tracks of the bear. A
front track of 8 inches wide indicates a large
A great guide has a desire that is equal or
exceeds that of the client for getting a big
bear. The intense effort and common goal to
get a trophy bear usually results in a strong
bond between the hunter and guide, and
many times lasts a lifetime.
I expect our guides to have a helpful attitude,
and to make the hunt fun as well as a
challenge. it is important that the hunter
realize that his guide is a parnter, however,
and not a servant. for a truly successful
memorable, and fun hunt, it is important that
the hunder be willing to invest a lot of effort in
the hunt, and also have the patience for hous
of glassing mountainsides.
|Alaska Trophy Safaris
Post Office Box 670071 Chugiak, AK 99567 ~ (907) 696-2484 ~ email@example.com
All images copyrighted 2004. Webpage design by Boreal Films, 2004.
|Last spring was the 36th year I have guided in the
mountains of Kodiak Island searching for giant bears.
I saw more big bears this year than ever before. Very
conservative management has contributed to a strong
increase in giant bears. It doesn't mean that it's easy,
but giant bears are there. It takes hard work, skill, and
All I could see was alder brush flattening toward us and I told the hunter to
get read to shoot. The hunter whispered, "Is he big enough? Is he big
enough? Is he big?"
"You're going to have to shoot in a second," I urgently whispered.
The Kodiak bear busted into the open about thirty-five feet away, coming
at us. The hunter made a good hit. It was his good fortune that the bear
was large, old boar. It squared 9' 9". I don't believe that the bear knew that
we were humans. The wind was in our favor. He may have heard us and
thought we were another bear and decided to run us off.
Fortunately, incidents like that rarely happen and one usually gets plenty of
time to judge the size of the bear before a stalk is made, but it still isn't easy.
Whether squinting through a spotting scope at a bear a mile away and a
thousand feet above you, or looking across a grass-covered tidal plain in
Southeastern, Alaska, deciding the size of a bear is tough.
First let's cover cubs. This might sound ridiculous, but more than onece I
have come across a non-experienced hunter that accidentally shot a cub.
It's easier than it might sound.
A three-year-old cub is a rolly-polly
animal with lots of long hair and if
the range is badly mishudged, this
tragic mistake can be made. The
cub's head is almost one-third the
body length. The eas are large in
relationship to the body. There is
frequently a light-colored collar
around the neck.
AS YOU CAN SEE, A CUB'S LENGTH EQUALS ABOUT 3 HEAD LENGTHS.
The next stage isn't as hard to judge. At about four years old, the bear gets
rangy. It gets long in the body and legs, but doesn't have the mass to go
with it yet. The face is still fairly flat and the ears quite prominent. These
bears usually square about seven-foot.
The toughest stage of a bear to
judge is the eith=foot or nine-foot
size. A bear less than eight feet isn't
that impressive, but anything over
nine feet makes a really impressive
standing mount. An old bear,
especially a sow can have many of
the characteristics of a nine-foot
bear and be eight feet long. It takes
careful study of this size range.
There aren't that many ten-foot bears in
even the best bear range in Alaska, You
may not be able to find a ten-footer in
ten or fifteen days of hunting, and you
might be plenty satisfied with an eight
and a half-foot to nine-footer. The really
huge bear isn't that tough to judge. He
has a large hump, swayed back, long
neck, dished face, ears almost
indistinguishable, very long looking body,
If one has time to carefully study a
bear, a study of the relationship
between the head and the body
helps. A six to seven-footer has about
three and a half to four head lengths.
A nine-footer has about five head
lengths and a ten footer has about six
to seven head lengths. So,
paradoxically, the smaller the head
looks in ralation to the body, the
bigger the bear is. The head of a
KODIAK BEAR HUNTING:
One of the great classics of all hunts is a brown bear hunt on
Kodiak Island has one of the largest concentrations of these
large carnivores on earth, and it receives responsible
protection through the Kodiak National
Wildlife Refuge and very conservative
State harvest program.
Kodiak bears are highly intelligent.
Large bears are very secretive and
have the ability to smell a human
at a distance beyond our comprehension.
Large bears' haunts are places
that put them at every advantage.
Hunting these bears on Kodiak Island
is truly a fair chase hunt with the hunter
on foot, trying to outwit an old boar
who has survived earlier encounters
with man and other bears.
A brown bear hunt on Kodiak becomes truly exciting when the
hunter sets his sights on an old boar of nine feet or better. Sows
with cubs are not legal quarry, and young bears do not make
a good trophy. As a bear ages and grows in size, his
intelligence and elusiveness increase.
Hunting an old bear on Kodiak Island is a true hunting
adventure, and a trophy taken there is one to be proud of.
FRONT PAW WIDTH, PLUS 1 INCH EQUALS THE SQUARED SIZE OF THE BEAR
6' - 7' BEAR IS 4 YEARS OLD & ITS LENGHT IS ROUGHLY = TO 3 1/2 HEAD LENGTHS.
AN ADULT BEAR WILL MEASURE 8' AND BE ABOUT 4 1/2 HEADS IN LENGTH.
and he walks vey slowly as if he has arthritis. One saying among Alaskan
guides is "if you have a hard time telling if a bear is large or not, he probably
AN EXCEPTIONAL ADULT WILL MEASURE 9'-10' AND WILL BE 5-6 HEADS IN LENGTH.
large bear is larger than the head of a small bear, but not as much as the
body itself. Long frotn claws that are ivory-tipped indecate an older. One of
the most reliable indicators is the shape of the skull. As the bear gets older, his
fae becomes more dish-shaped.
Be suspicious of bears with extremely long, silky hair. This is a characteristic of
younger bears. A bear that is running around a lot is also probably a young
bear. Older bears more or less plod along. I have used the squared size of the
hide as a reference. It is obtained by measuring the fleshed, unsalted hide,
laid out flat. The length from nose to tail is added to the width from tip of
claws on one front paw to the other front paw. This measurement is divided
by two. A typical nine-foot bear measures ten feet wide and eight feet long.
Most hunters are interested only in body size, but both Safari Club
International and Boone & Crockett score bears using the length and width of
the skull. I have never run into a hunter who would pass up a ten-foot bear
because the skull wouldn't make Boone & Crockett. One would want to look
for a bear with all the characteristics of a ten-foot bear with a massive head
If one can cross the tracks of the bear you are after, this is another indicator
that I find valuable, but as in all other characteristics it is only an indicator and
doesn't hold true one hundred percent. Measure the width of the front track
in inches, add one inch and change it to feet. An eight-inch-wide track
means a nine-foot bear may have made it. I perrsonally like to study the track
for other indicators: length of front claws, mass of toes, and width and length
between tracks. I once had a hunter with me on a snow-covered
mountainside on Kodiak and we came to a huge set of tracks that we could
hardly step from one track to another. The sun had also melted the tracks so
they were about twice their normal size. I studied the tracks and followed
them for a short while and when I turned to the hunter, he had a ghosly white
pallor to his face and he mumbled to himself "what the Hell am I doing here?
Once the decision has been made to stalk the bear, the stalk should be
planned so that a closer look can be taken before you shoot.
When your trophy is down, worrying about the
size of the bear is over. Whether he tapes under
seven feet or over nine feet, he is your trophy and
is a link between you and your experience with
the wilderness. The Alaskan brown bear is too
noble and valuable to depreciate at any size.
A l a s k a T r o p h y S a f a r i s
A l a s k a T r o p h y S a f a r i s