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Bear Hunting Explained

Aug 28, 2007
There is no other experience like the experience of bear hunting. If you like an adrenaline rush, nothing beats tracking down a grizzly, brown, or black bear. While it can be dangerous, with safety first, the experience can be thrilling and successful.

Grizzly bear hunting is most commonly done in Alaska. Management Units 9 and 21 are dominated primarily by grizzlies, and these are good places to go to ensure a successful hunt. Grizzlies are considered to be one of the most dangerous, unpredictable bears in the world, so great caution must be taken when roaming in their territory.

Some outfitters and guides will argue that grizzlies and brown bears are different species, but genetically speaking, they are the same. Their differences come down to only a difference in color. Grizzlies tend to hang to the interior of the land, eating mostly vegetation and berries, and they are usually smaller than the brown bear for this reason.

Brown bears hang towards the shore, hunting for fish and fattening up on the protein rich salmon. Their climate also tends to be more temperate which allows them to outgrow the grizzlies. Brown bear, despite their name, can vary greatly in color, from blonde, to brown, to even black. Brown bears, especially with cubs, can be just as dangerous as grizzlies, so give them room and respect to guarantee a safe hunt.

Black bears, the smaller, much more popular cousin of the browns, are found in 40 of the 50 states. While hunting any bear can be dangerous, black bears have a more laid back attitude and are less likely to attack. The greatest threat for the black bear is poaching, or hunting without a license. Licenses are required for hunting the bear so the Department of Natural Resources can manage their populations; if the bear are overpopulated, more licenses will be given out, if the population is lagging, less licenses will be available.

Choosing a gun for the bear hunt is an important part of the planning. The best choice is a .30 calibre or higher, with a barrel that is channel glass bedded. Choose one that will shoot consistently in all weather. When packing you will need ammunition, sleeping bags, personal items, and your firearm permit- this must stay with you at all times. Alcohol is permitted at camp, but only in moderation, firearms and excessive drinking never mix. Also know the tagging system of the area you plan to hunt in. Some tags will allow you to hunt other game while in search for the bear.

If the bear hunt is successful, it is likely that you'll need to bring your kill to an outfitter. By law, the outfitter is required to salvage any meat you don't take, and food banks become the recipient of harvested meat.
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