WHAT TO HUNT AND WHERE: Alaska is a hunter's paradise. Hunting here can provide the full scope of experiences- from caribou to deer and moose, from grizzly and brown bears to wolves, from Dall sheep and mountain goats to muskox, from waterfowl to ptarmigan and several grouse species. Diverse Alaska geographic areas offer adventure for everyone, give us various choices:
Interior Alaska. From mountains and rolling hills, river valleys covered with forests to the vast spaces of treeless tundra at higher altitudes and in the far north. Temperaure varies greatly throughout the year, from -50 Celsius (-58 Fahrenheit) in the winter months to +30 Celsius (+86 Fahrenheit) during summers. There are just a few highways in the interior part of Alaska. Most of the area can only be reached by plane, boat or by foot. Summer is warm but short. Climate and landscape conditions provide variety of big game: moose and cariboo, Dall sheep in the mountains, some wild bison, muskox in the arctic Alaska, wolves, black and grizzly bears, waterfowl, some grouse and ptarmigan.
Southeast (the narrow and long part between the Pacific ocean and Canada). Consists of mainland and many treed mountainous islands along the coast. The main hunting trophies here are brown and black bears, moose and mountain goats, black-tailed deer and wolves . Guided hunting is done mostly by boat, the most popular hunting spots are on the islands in the central part of the area.
South and Southwest (to the south and west of the Yukon river). Mountainous inland with many rivers and lakes, ragged coastal line dotted with numerous islands. The region offers a wide variety of game: deer, Dall sheep, caribou, moose, wolves, wolverine, brown and black bear, waterfowl, grouse species.
ALASKA GENERAL HUNTING REGULATIONS:
If you hunt in a general season, which is open to an unlimited number of hunters, you will need a harvest ticket. Harvest tickets are available at no cost where hunting licenses are sold. Non-residents are required to have a big game tag for the species they are hunting. Some remote rural areas may not have licenses available or the vendor may run out of harvest tickets. Be sure to purchase your license, game tags, and pick up harvest tickets before you leave home or a population center. When a population of animals is too small and/or the potential number of hunters too large to allow a general season or a registration hunt, the Department may offer drawing permits. A Drawing Permit Hunt Supplement is published every May. The drawing for permit hunts is held in early summer, and everyone who applies will be notified of the results by mail or can locate the results on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's website. The Supplement contains all of the drawing hunts by number for all big game species. Most of the drawing permit hunts are open to both resident and nonresident hunters. A hunter may apply for three drawing permit hunts for each species. A fee is charged for each separate hunt. You can pick up a Supplement at any Fish and Game office, on the website, or at license vendors.
Hunting permit applications and forms can be downloaded off the Internet and printed out. You can also purchase hunting licences, duck stamps, big game tags online, print them at home and you may go hunting or trapping right away. Complete Alaska Hunting Regulations Guide can be found here. The basic non-resident hunting licence costs $85 plus some extra fees for big game tags.
HUNTING GUIDES: Nonresidents may hunt moose, caribou, deer, and black bear without a guide. Hunters who are not Alaska residents must be accompanied by a registered Alaskan guide or they must hunt with close relatives within the second-degree of kindred who are Alaska residents when hunting brown or grizzly bears, Dall sheep or mountain goats. You can search online for licenced big game guides in your area. The best guides deliver 80-100 percent for most big game species. In addition, guides are familiar with their areas and possess equipment that the average hunter might not care to purchase for one time use. However, a guide's knowledge, experience and equipment do not come cheaply. Although figures vary from guide to guide, expect to spend $8,000-$12,000 for a brown/grizzly bear hunt, $4,000-$6,000 for a sheep hunt and $1,500-$3,000 for a goat hunt. Moose and caribou are often part of a mixed-bag hunt and prices vary considerably. The best way to find a reliable guide is by references.
AIRCRAFT CHARTERS: Many hunters choose an air charter service to fly in to prime hunting areas to hunt these species. The air charter operator is licensed by the state to charge for flying hunters and their game meat. The drop-off hunt is less expensive than a guided or outfitted hunt because the air charter takes care of transportation and may throw in some planning tips. The hunter provides all of the camp gear and performs all other functions on his own. Before you contract with an air charter operator, you should have a clear understanding of the costs of services and know exactly which services to expect. Prices and services vary considerably. Air charter operators may charge a flat rate or by the hour for flight time. When calculating costs on an hourly rate, you have to take into account "dead-head" time, the time a pilot spends flying back to base after dropping you off and the time spent flying out to pick you up. Again, be sure to ask whether the package includes flying out the meat and antlers. Some package deals also include being checked on at least once during the hunt to bring out game or move you if you haven't been successful. The cost of air charters also depends on the size of the plane and the number of hunters sharing the cost. Make sure you explain the number of hunters in your group and the amount of gear you will have. You can search online for licenced transporters in your area. Check also this extensive list of Alaska Aircraft Charters, Bush Pilots, Air Taxis.
WEATHER: Alaskan summers are cool, the average temperature is +14 deg.C (58 F) in summer and -12 deg.C (11 F) in winter but it can vary greatly between different regions of the state. Winters are cold and dark. Early spring can be cold, but often days warm to above freezing with a lot of sunshine. It receives midnight sunshine during the part of summer and goes into 24-hour darkness during the part of winter. Summers are the wettest time of the year, south regions are well known for their dampness. You can check next week weather forecast for Anchorage here.
GETTING THERE: You can fly to Anchorage direct or one-stop from most major US cities. From there Alaska Aircraft Charters, Bush Pilots, Air Taxis will help you to explore America's greatest playground. Many small villages and towns have all weather airports and served daily by small air carriers.
LODGING: Depending on your preferences it can be a small camping tent or a luxurious hunting lodge with all modern conveniences and comfort. There are also some primitive cabins for private use maintained by government. These can accommodate 4 to 8 people, cost from $20 to $50 (USD) per night and have to be reserved in advance, usually- a month. You need to contact the proper agency directly to book a cabin.
TRAVEL TIPS: Northern weather can be unpredictable. Consider taking with you and wearing multiple layers of clothes in response to a wide variety of temperatures and weather conditions. Obtain detailed maps of the area beforehand. Do not forget to pack first-aid and survival kits as well as bear repellents. Be sure you check available information, understand all the guidelines for hunting in Alaska before you leave home.
We wish you a successful and safe trip!