Honestly, Chisana had Spring this year. For about six days. We completely skipped the slow melt, the mud and the yuck, much to my undying thrill. It feels as if we went from Winter to Summer, in less than a week’s time.
The bears are showing themselves and the game is on!
(Note to my sassy friend, Miss RockHot. This is, yes, another post about my favorite subject. Ready?)
Winter to Summer ~ Grizzly Bears Now!
Grizzly Bears now!
With the coming of the new ice age, which is how convinced we really were; Spring Grizzly Hunts were put off and on hold. Below zero temperatures, heavy snow and thick ice kept the bears in their dens and out of sight.
Everyone is pretty excited now, (as long as no one pauses to think of the fact that it is the end of May) about the beautiful days, the ice melting fast and the best point of all ~ the horses are all home.
It’s time! Grizzly Bears Now!
My favorite topic, Grizzly Bears.
Bears are half human, some Indians say; “humans without fire,” say others. “Ursus Arctos Horribilis” Grizzly bear, also known as the Silvertip and North American Brown bear is a subspecies of the Brown bear.
The Interior Mountain Grizzly are normally solitary, active animals. Most females, sows, can weigh between 300-700 pounds, a male, boar, can weigh between 400-900 pounds. When born, a grizzly bear cub weighs between 8-10 ounces.
The Interior Mountain Grizzly Bears that live in the Chisana Valley, generally stay within the area and are fairly predictable for locating and observing.
Grizzlies tend to like the hillsides and the glacier merrains for the berries, roots and ground squirrels. A grizzly’s diet is 80%-90% plants and berries. Often assumed to be a carnivore, they are omnivores. (that means they eat meat and plants)
Alaska contains about 98% of the United States brown bear population, and most brown bears in Alaska are grizzly bears.
The question is oft asked, “what is the difference between a brown bear and a grizzly?”.
The difference is that, Brown bears live on or near the coast and their diet is made up largely of fish, Grizzly bears live in-land.
Pioneer Outfitters made it’s own home in the Wrangell Mountains where the Grizzly had lived long before us two-legs arrived. Hunting Big Game is what Bud and Lou did, hunting Big Game is what we do.
The regulations specifically state, “Nonresident brown/grizzly bear hunters must be accompanied in the field by a guide / outfitter to a resident relative within second-degree of kindred.”
There is no lottery-system for Grizzly Bears, and in most areas of Alaska a Grizzly may be harvested one every four years.
There are some Units that a bear can be harvested every two years and we are located in Unit 12, in which a Grizzly may be harvested every year by a hunter. A metal locking tag can be bought with your hunting license at anyplace that sells Alaska Hunting Licenses.
With an area of 55 by 65 miles, our Bear population supports this harvest.
Alaska has an estimated 30,000 Grizzly bears statewide.
Our Grizzlies never leave the Chisana Valley ~ they are true Mountain Grizzlies. The cold breeze that is always blowing off the glacier ice makes the Grizzly’s coats prime, thick and silky, no matter what season.
Spring Grizzly Bear Hunting gives you the advantages of a denser coat with thick long hair and sharper claws that haven’t been worn by digging, resulting in a gorgeous trophy for any hunter.
Grizzly Bears Now!
Winter to Summer ~ Grizzly Bears Now!
As there are different Units and Grizzlies allowed to be harvested, every year, every two years or every four years, there are differences in when the hunts are allowed to take place.
Here, in Chisana and in Unit 12, we are legally allowed to hunt Grizzlies during the Spring and Fall Seasons.
I was recently asked a new question about the different hunting seasons. The question was angled at the protective instincts of Mother Bears. How much more dangerous would it be to be out and about with Momma Bears and her brand new babies?
Dangers and worries hunting Grizzly do not differ from Spring to Fall.
Most often, from a distance, a Grizzly Bear is a fine subject to observe and photograph.
Something to remember however, is a sow will feel threatened and attack if she has a cub or cubs with her, stay alert and stay back.
This, in my own personal experience (which I have had …umm, lots of), doesn’t change not only from Spring to Fall, but neither from brand new babies to the two and three year-olds you may encounter still with the sow, any time, any where.
Grizzlies are not out to get the “human” as some may be led to believe although they are indeed curious, from a distance.
Being aware of your surroundings and showing these great animals the respect they deserve will keep you out of most situations that people find themselves in (and you hear about later).
There is also the fact that I do not pack my own seasonings (pepper spray) and instead always pack my 45-70… just in case.
Grizzly Bears Now!
Spring Grizzly is best the entire month of May thru June.
Spring is a really good time for our Interior Mountain Grizzly Bears.
We gain so much light and the warm temperatures make for enjoyable and comfortable days hunting.
An 8.5 foot is a big Grizzly, 7 foot to 8 foot is a good possibility, and I was even lucky enough to be with Pioneer Outfitters the year we took a 9 foot 2 inch Grizzly Bear. (Disclaimer!! THIS was NOT normal.)
We may guide anywhere between 6 and 8 Big Game Hunters a year, specifically after a Grizzly Bear. We may harvest anywhere between none and eight of those bears. We average on a yearly basis, of 3-5 bears a year.
What keeps the percentage from being higher? Momma Bears and cubs. Not only the new cuddly fur-balls, but the two and even three year old bears that are still with their Mommas. We have a LOT of bears. Finding the one you (the hunter) wants (and is legal = not with cubs) is the trick!
The color phases of a grizzly bear are between very light blond to black.
The toklat color phase is my favorite, a pure blond bear with a chocolate face and feet.
The phrase “color phase” is used here, in Alaska anyhow, to describe the fact that these animals come in definite different colors… and we have them all in the Chisana Valley.
Grizzly Bears Now!
Grizzly Bear is available to us in Unit 12 from August 10th to June 30th.
You are allowed to harvest one Grizzly Bear, every regulatory year.
For Black Bear, there is no closed season and you may harvest three bears, every regulatory year. (Regulatory year means July 1st through the following year to June 30th.)
We welcome rifle and bow hunters at Pioneer Outfitters.
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.
Because these hunters do not practice enough they cannot shoot accurately enough. They miss their best chance at taking their dream animal or worse yet, they wound and lose an animal.
Most experienced guides prefer that a hunter come to camp with a .270 or .30-06 rifle they can shoot well rather than a shiny new magnum that has been fired just enough to get sighted-in.
A .30-06 loaded with 200- or 220-grain Nosler® or similar premium bullet will do the job with good shot placement.
Only consider using a .300, .338 or larger magnum if you can shoot it as well as you can the .30-06.
The bore size, bullet weight, and velocity are of secondary importance to precise bullet placement in the vital heart-lung area.
To correctly place a shot for a quick and humane kill you must:
- Use a rifle or bow that has been carefully sighted in so that you know that your hunting tool is capable of placing a shot in the vital zone.
- Study big game anatomy and learn what organs or bones your bullet or arrow may hit from various angles.
- Learn about bullet drop and wind drift.
- Study how distance and wind will affect your bullet or arrow.
This knowledge must be gained by actual practice.
There are specific laws that Alaska requires for Archery Hunters.
- A peak draw weight of at least 50 lbs. for mountain goat, moose, elk, musk ox, bison, and brown/Grizzly bear.
- All of these species require a fixed or replaceable blade type broadhead (not retractable).
- With a 20″ arrow, weighing at least 300 grains total.
We prefer our Grizzly bear hunters be proficient with a bow of 75lbs and higher draw weight.
Bow hunters for Grizzly bear should be aware of the increased danger with this choice of weapon in comparison to a rifle.
The average distance of a shot for a Grizzly Bear is actually anywhere from 35 to 200 yards!
I’ve personally snuck up on Bears sleeping. Close enough to make the toughest of hunters pee their pants and have never had a client harvest a Grizzly Bear at more than 180 yards.
During the Spring, our Spring Grizzly Hunts are actually Spring Grizzly & Black Bear Hunts.
You may take a Black Bear at no extra cost to your hunt. You will have to buy the appropriate tag.
Grizzly Bears Now!
Are you ready?
From now until the end of June, we will be hunting Grizzly Bear with only a few who call on this amazing opportunity to hunt, spot, stalk and harvest.
There is room for two, possibly three, people who would like to experience hunting for this predator, right now.
Grab your spot. Your horse is waiting. So are we.