I thought I would introduce folks interested in Big Game hunting in Alaska, to Alaska in this post. Until the last few years, the majority of the folks we met, were from the Sport Shows many of us in this industry frequent. Now with the world getting so much bigger, thanks to the internet, many more people come into our lives, meet us here, first.
Alaska, The Last Frontier. Alaska’s hunting reputation is justly deserved. One-fifth the size of the entire United States, Alaska offers wilderness hunting opportunities. Alaska, with over a dozen species of big game animals, found in few other locations in the world. Planning and preparation are the keys to a successful hunt, no matter how you define it.
- The weather and you.
The weather is typically cool and occasionally cold. Precipitation is not great, but August and September are among the rainiest months.
Weather plays a major role and must be factored into any plans. You must be self-reliant, capable of remaining in the field longer than expected under difficult circumstances. Services and creature comforts are few. Inadequate planning, poor preparation or underestimating the wilderness can lead to a miserable or even fatal hunt.
Snow is possible in September. Most likely at the end of the month. Temperatures range from below freezing at night to highs in the 60s late in the season.
The sky is typically clear with the Northern Lights to keep you company in the chilly dark nights. Snow is always possible, especially at higher elevations. Forest cover is extensive in the river valleys, but gives way, with increasing altitude to sub-alpine and alpine vegetation.
Possibly the most important first aid skill for hunters and their guides, is to be able to determine when an illness or an injury is serious enough to end the hunt and evacuate the patient.
You are in a survival situation when anything happens that places your life or health, or a partner’s life or health, in danger. Survival is the result of having enough knowledge and training to make the right decisions. Poor judgment and poor preparation are the main causes of people getting into survival situations. Take the time to prepare yourself physically and mentally to survive.
Big Game Hunting in Alaska is a big deal.
Big enough to spend time talking to Outfitters and asking a lot of questions.
Securing the services of a guide might seem expensive, but the chances of a successful, safe and enjoyable hunt are higher.
Hunters who lack precise knowledge of game distribution, access points, and Alaska geography, yet attempt to put together hunts themselves may face frustration, danger, and disappointment.
Experienced Alaskan hunters say that the work really begins once an animal is killed. (This is where a good guide comes in handy!) Big Game is a BIG job.
- Firearms, marksmanship and you.
There are no simple answers when it comes to selecting a firearm and accompanying ammunition. How accurately you shoot is far more important than the type of rifle, cartridge, and bullet you choose. The bore size, bullet weight, and velocity are of secondary importance to precise bullet placement in the vital heart-lung area.
The two most common complaints of professional Alaska guides are hunters who are not in good physical condition and hunters who cannot accurately shoot their rifles.
It is obvious, but this point bears repeating: practice, practice, practice! Your Alaska hunt may provide one shot, in a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure that your marksmanship is up to the challenge.
- Alaska logistics, terrain and you.
A hunter must be physically able to hunt responsibly. In Alaska, hunting demands intense physical preparation. More than twice as large as Texas, Alaska has fewer road miles than Delaware.
As a result, most big game hunting in Alaska is more along the lines of an expedition than the type of hunting to which most people are accustomed. With the exception of large river flats with many small lakes, much of the area is dominated by hills, which grow to high peaks in the Alaska Range, the Brooks Range and other lesser ranges.
Given the uncertainty of weather and animal movement patterns, any additional days you are able to spend in a particular hunting area can really increase your odds of success. Alaska doesn’t lend itself well to day hunts or short weekend hunts for most big game species.
Besides physical conditioning, hunting in Alaska demands far more logistical planning than almost anywhere else.
- Realistic expectations and you.
You also must have realistic expectations. When hunting big game in Alaska, success is not guaranteed.
Hunting here can be tremendously rewarding or immensely disappointing: The extent to which you are well prepared for contingencies, together with your approach to defining success, will have a large bearing on which it will be for you.