Growing up in Alaska I’ve had the fortune to hunt and guide hunters for bears in almost every region of the state. From the Alaska Penninsula, Kodiak Island, Southcentral Alaska, Western Alaska, South East Alaska, Prince Willian Sound, Interior, and Alaska’s Brooks Range, my self and my hunters have successfully harvested 114 Brown and Grizzly bears (as of 2017).
My favorite of all the bears I’ve hunted in Alaska are the grizzlies of Alaska’s Arctic Region. More specifically, the Brooks Range. Most of my hunting for the Arctic Grizzlies has taken place in the South Central Brooks Range where I conduct my Dall Sheep hunts.
The Arctic Grizzly tend to be smaller than the bears in most other regions of Alaska, but they also tend to have more brilliant coloring than many of the bigger bears further to the south. Most mature bears from this region square between 6 and 7 feet, and range in colors from silver or blonde to almost black.
During the month of August most of these bears can be found above timberline feeding primarily among berry patches. As temps cool towards the end of August and September they can often be seen digging roots along the many rivers in the area. Parka squirrels make up the bulk of the protein in their diets. They do not have the luxury of protein rich salmon streams or high moose densities that their cousins have to the south.
These bears have to make a living the hard way, and there personalities tend to show it. They will turn and run 200 yards at the squeak of a parka squirrel, and proceed to excavate a hole the size of a Volkswagen. All for a one pound meal that their cousins to the south would stick their nose up to.
Hunting them can be challenging at times as there is no major food source to concentrate them. In most cases it will be more like a sheep hunt than a bear hunt. No sitting over a salmon stream for these bears. You’re going to have to lace up your boots, and put on some miles!
I’ve tried predator calling in most all regions of the state and by far had the best luck on the Arctic bears. There aren’t to many free meals in the North country and they don’t seam to want to pass up an opportunity for one. This can make for a very exciting and interesting encounter for a bowhunter!
I have found that unlike most other bear hunts, it is extremely important to cut the distance on these bears very fast. They seem to always be on the move. If you think you’re going to watch him for a half hour and see what he does, most of the time he’s gong to walk out of your life forever. Occasionally, if you find a really good berry patch you will see the same bear or different bears in it daily, but this is not the norm.
Bears in general are far easier to stalk than most other species of game, as they do not have the same sense of fear being at the top of the food chain. Do not mistake this for being dumb. They are as smart as any whitetail, can smell better than anything you will ever hunt, and if they do smell you often times you will never see them again. They simply leave the country and find a new place to call home.
Arctic Grizzly hunts are typically done as a backpack hunt but may also be done as a basecamp day hunt in certain areas. Either way it requires many hours of glassing and usually a fair amount of boot leather in order to be successful.
If you are needing a grizzly bear for your slam, or just want a chance to hunt Alaska’s beautiful Brooks Range, give us a shout and come see what it’s all about!