Brown Bear

Fall Alaska Brown Bear Hunt

Fall Alaska Brown Bear Hunt: Guided rifle fall brown bear hunts! These hunts are based on my experiences in Dillingham Alaska. Not all hunts are the same and not all outfitters do the same process. The ultimate Alaska bear camp! Whack and stack!

Brown Bear

Every big game hunter fantasizes about going to hunt the great Alaskan brown bear. Looking for the best brown bear hunts Alaska.

I have been traveling to Alaska for some time now.  I have learned so much from my many journeys to the bush of Alaska. I want to offer the process from my experience from start to finish. There will be many posts within this post linked to helping you through the who, what, when, and where.

Many lessons are learned by first-hand experience but learning from those before you can save time and money. No matter what, always remember you go for an experience… and making a kill is just a bonus.

Starting the plan

Here is the process of making your experience of brown bear hunting in Alaska amazing.

Know What Type of Hunt You Prefer

So what will it be? River, Lake?

Knowing a few of these things will help you make that decision. Let’s discuss it!

River Hunts

First and foremost all Alaskan brown bear hunts have to be guided. It is extremely dangerous and you should want to have a professional helping you through the journey! This can be a butt-puckering experience!

If you are looking for a wild experience in the bush with some of the best guides possible me included my favorite hunt is the river hunt. These are usually very limited in availability because they are a 10 day float down a wild river seeing all kinds of game and country in the bush.

This is a combination of a floating park and camp and hike and spot. Many of the brown bears will be spotted on the river but the equal opportunity to get out and hike into the tundra and spot and stalk these brownies!

You will want to enjoy camping and floating to want this trip. These floats can average 60-70 miles of the ultimate adventure. I will discuss the actual hunts further in the post!

Physical fitness requirements: Get in and out of a boat. Have the ability to hike short distances in different terranes. I have taken guys in their late 60s this is a hunt for all ages! You will have to be 100% honest with your guide about your physical limitations. The last thing you want to do is put yourself and others in a bad situation. We are used to all walks of life we will push based on what your ability is!

Dangerous would be a safe word to use for this hunt. Although you have the best guides on earth we are navigating rivers and it’s different from a lake! We can’t call in the plane to get us out. We are traveling from lake to lake so we are at the mercy of the river and the weather. You will learn about sweepers and drag on a river hunt! With all that said we have never had a hunter hurt on our trips. We practice safety!


Lake hunts

Lake hunting Alaskan brown bear hunting is an experience that many find to be the best! You have the ability to cover lots of ground and water with more ease. The difference between the two hunts is you have a base camp that more than likely wouldn’t move on the lake vs traveling down a river and breaking camp every few days. On a lake hunt, you would have a jet boat to cruise around the lake looking for giant brown bears!

The fun on the lake hunt is you can literally be sitting in camp and spot a bear on the shore snatching salmon. Glassing is super important watching the shoreline. The guide will also take you to areas off the lake “high points” to glass and get on brownies spot and stalk!

I can’t explain the peacefulness of being on a lake it’s a view that will stay with you. Nothing better than catching an artic char and cooking it in the pan!

Physical fitness requirements: Climbing out of planes, boats, and hiking. We will hike at your pace or at least until a giant brown bear is around the corner then we will drag you to the spot! only kidding…. well we have been known.

Brown Bear

The process

Let me take you on an adventure in brown bears hunting Alaska. Let’s use the river hunt for a trip. SO I am going to climb into your head and pretend I am planning this journey all the way to getting my mount back.

You start out with your interest by finding an outfitter in Alaska how do you find this person or company? Start looking at reviews. Call outfitters and look for references.

Ask around it will not take long to find a reputable outfitter. That’s how I found Brian Donovan with Nushagak Guides. I called Brian he answered his phone with a deep growly voice almost like a brown bear. You could tell within a few moments this guy has been hunting Alaskan Brown Bears for many years.

I asked Brian how long have you been guiding he said since 1995 he definitely has a few years under his belt. You can tell talking to Brian he is the real deal. He gave me the opportunity to guide for him so I have spent a lot of hours with Brian. His success rate is unmatched.

Alright, you have picked your outfitter what’s next you need dates! This is a fall hunt so Mid August -September 15th we need to plan out your 10-day hunt! You then book my plane ticket into Dilliamham Alaska it flys a 737 twice a day into Dillingham AK.

Setting up your gear list. This is another post that is Bear Hunting Gear. Alright, you have my gear and bags ready. Your weapon is set up and packed. Really spend time on the equipment list it’s key!

Float Plane

Time to go! you will fly into Dillingham and be met by Brian or another guide for pick up we gather your bags and gear and head to the lodge you will either be there one night or take off to the bush immediately after you shoot our rifles and make sure it’s dialed in.

Checking your tags and information are in a plastic bag in your pack! Our air taxi comes and picks us up we will either go out with the guide and packer or we meet them at the lake.

Flying an air taxi is a wild ride these pilots are flying in the most dangerous situations! I really like flying with Wood Tikchik Air Mark is a breeze to fly with!

After your gear check we load the plane to take off into the bush. I keep my gear bag at 50 lbs along with my rifle. You packed light knowing the major gear will be in camp when you get there provided by your outfitter.

You fly this amazing journey and view to camp landing on the water and finally taking Your first breath. Seeing the guide and packer waiting on the shore tents set up. Meeting you with a smile and a handshake.

The plane unloads and takes off…. this is when you realize this is it… no one is coming for me.

The guide loads up in the morning and breaks down camp. The guides and packers make it look easy! You load into the boat and the guide starts paddling toward the mouth of the river. The 60-mile float begins.

The rain and wind are blowing as you are going down the river you are starting to see the remanence of Salmon floating around bites taken out of them by something massive.

The Hunt

Glassing for bears

As you round a corner there is a massive Alaskan Brown bear staring off into the bush with zero clue you existed he’s standing 200 yards away.

The guide slides out of the boat you prop yourself on the pack at the front of the boat. You watched this bear with your heart pounding it seemed for 30 minutes… in reality, it was 45 seconds.

The big boy stands looks at you then disappears into the alders! He wasn’t big enough. You are looking for bears that are 8ft plus. After a few days and seeing numerous bears. The time came you got out and hiked into the bush immediately seeing the one he was 800 yards away.

You had the wind right so began the stalk. He was feeding along on some wild blueberries not having a clue we were in pursuit. You get 200 yards away and set up.

He realizes you are there and turns and stops the perfect shot the guide gives you the go-ahead and hammers right through the pipe he spins and two more shots his way to finish a quick death.

The work for the packer and guide begins skinning the 9’6″ brown bear making quick work of it. Lots of flys buzzing my head net is my best friend!

One of the guides for Donnavan is Stefan Ziolkwski who is also a taxidermist is a master at skinning and prepping the bear for taxidermy. See my post about aftercare of killing a bear.

After the kill

hauling bear

After you kill out the float continues you want to get down the river and get the bear to a tannery and sealed! The guide and packer are cooking great pre-made frozen meals that everyone is thankful for and delicious!

The guides are communicating with the lodge on an estimated arrival on the lake for the plane to pick up. One important thing to remember. This is not LAX.. planes are not ready on a dime they need notice and conditions have to be safe.

So just plan on buckling down for a day if the weather is questionable. The old pilot saying is “you die in the rain and are buried in the sunshine”! Have patients!

Rifle on cooler

Back at the lodge

Getting back to the lodge is a mixed emotion part of you doesn’t want to leave part of you missed the running water! The guide will get your hide into a freezer usually a celebration of the kill and lots of stories from others will be shared.

The outfitter will get your bear to the shipping co at the airport and get it sent to the tannery for sealing. This cost is on you but will be facilitated by the outfitter.

You will want to make contact with your taxidermist and let them know your success and what you want! I have a post on taxidermy talk! This will give you insight to what to expect and who could you use!

Helping The Cause

We are the last line of defense for conservation. If you had a great experience please share your pictures and lift up the ones who provided the service.

It goes a long way to make sure you tip 10-20% to your guides and packers and smile and be friendly to these guys. We need to keep the industry strong we need these guys to keep conservation alive!

If you are interested in Alaska brown bear hunts, email me at [email protected]

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