Kodiak Bear Hunts

Hunting a trophy Kodiak brown bear is one of the most rewarding hunts a hunter can ever experience. On the remote south end of Kodiak Island, the abundance of Salmon, the long growing seasons due to mild winters and the endless miles of ideal habitat has resulted in some of the highest concentrations of Brown bears in the world, Kodiak is truly a bear hunters paradise.

Our exclusive guide area Halibut Bay, is located on the South West tip of the Island within the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. The habitat in Halibut bay is perfect for Brown bears to live and grow in. The large open valleys are interspersed with Salmon spawning streams that flow from the many smaller valleys. The mountains in Halibut Bay are gentle when compared to the rest of the island and the brush on the creaks and mountain hillsides is sparse when compared to most of the island. This terrain is ideal for spotting game animals from long distances and provides perfect conditions for the spot and stalk hunter.

The weather on the south end of Kodiak Island is generally milder than the Islands interior. However, like all weather in Alaska, it can be unpredictable and at times Sevier. It is not uncommon on a Kodiak hunt to lose some hunting time waiting for the weather to let up. That is the reason we allow 12 full days of hunting on each hunt. Vary rarely does the weather have an impact on the overall success of a hunt. Typical spring temperatures are in the high 20s at night and in the 40s to 50s during the day. Fall temperatures are typically in the 20s at night and 30s to 40s during the day. Rain or snow squalls can be expected at some time during most hunts. For this reason, good quality rain gear and a comfortable warm camp are necessary for a successful hunt.

The Kodiak brown bear like the Kodiak weather can be unpredictable. It is the ultimate fair chase hunting challenge to be at the right place, at the right time, with the right animal. On most hunts, patients, persistence, hard work and some luck are all required to harvest a trophy Bear. A hunter can expect to see bears almost every hunting day and should come with the expectation of harvesting a mature male bear. Although in our hunting area, it is legal to harvest any bear not accompanied with cubs. We concentrate on harvesting mature males with good hides. Most of the bears we harvest square well over 9 foot with 27+inch skulls.

A typical hunting day starts early with the smell of hot coffee and bacon cooking on the stove. After a big breakfast and preparations for the day, a brisk hike or a short boat ride will take us to a good location to start searching for bears. The terrain in Halibut Bay allows for good walking conditions and great visibility. Most days are spent glassing from several locations, concentrating on specific valleys that are frequented by bears. Clients should come to camp mentally prepared to spend long days out in the field searching for their trophy in potentially nasty weather, and physically prepared to hike 2 to 5 miles on a daily basis. After a long day of hunting returning to a warm camp, a home cooked meal and a comfortable bed is the best way to get recharged for the next day of hunting. 

When a bear or bears are spotted the size, sex and hide quality is evaluated to determine the trophy potential. When a trophy size bear is located, we make a plan for a stalk. Many factors are taken into consideration when attempting to get within bow or gun range of a mature Brown Bear. The wind direction, terrain, distance, remaining daylight and movement of the bear are all important factors in determining how to get close enough for a safe ethical shot. We always try to get as close as possible, most gun shots are less than 100 yards. Most bow shots are less than 25 yards. When asked what caliber of firearm or style of bow a client should bring on a Kodiak bear hunt, my answer is always the same. Bring the gun or bow that you hunt with the most. If you practice with and hunt with a 30-06 , that should be your firearm of choice. If you practice and hunt with a long bow and wood shafts, that is what you should bring. I have found that it is more important that a client is familiar with their weapon than having a large caliber weapon that they are not familiar with. An accurate first shot and a quick follow up shot is more lethal than an inaccurate large caliber shot.

What paperwork do I need to hunt Kodiak Brown bears?

To hunt Kodiak brown bears you need a valid Alaska hunting license, a Big Game Tag Record, a brown bear locking tag, and a registration and/or drawing permit for the area you plan to hunt. If you are not an Alaska resident, you also need proof that you will be guided by a registered guide.

When are the hunting seasons and what are the bag limits?

There are 2 bear hunting seasons each year. The spring season is open from April 1 through May 15. The fall season is from October 25 to November 30. The bag limit is one bear (either sex) every four regulatory years. Cubs, and females accompanied by cubs, may not be taken. Once a bear is hit by a bullet or arrow, the hunter may not pursue another bear in Game Management Unit 8 for the remainder of the regulatory year.

How do I get to Kodiak?

Alaska Airlines and Era Aviation has scheduled flights to and from Anchorage. The State Ferries Tustumena and Kennicott comes to the island from Whittier and Homer several times each week.

Access to Your Hunt Area

Bear hunters on Kodiak are fortunate to have many transportation options depending on what hunt area they choose to hunt. The majority of bear hunters on Kodiak use air charters (float planes) to fly into lakes or protected bays.

Is bear hunting better in the spring or fall?

Spring hunting has the advantage of longer days. Bears are easier to locate because vegetation usually hasn’t leafed out, and hiking is easier before the heavy growth of grass and brush begins. In some years you may need snowshoes.
Spring hides have longer hair, but are more likely to be rubbed than fall hides. The chances of taking a large male bear are somewhat better in the spring, whereas during the fall there are more lone females and recently weaned young bears.

In the fall bears usually have more lustrous, uniform coats. Hunting time is shorter due to reduced daylight in the fall, but open seasons for deer, reindeer, and small game hunting offers opportunities for combination hunts.

What is bear sealing, and what do I need to do before leaving Kodiak Island after my hunt?

If you harvest a brown bear on the Kodiak archipelago, the bear hide and skull must be sealed at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office in Kodiak before it leaves the island. Sealing means having an authorized ADF&G representative place a plastic locking seal on an animal’s hide and skull. Resident hunters must personally bring the bear hide and skull to the Kodiak office. Non-resident hunters may bring the hide in person, or fill out a Temporary Sealing Form and have their registered guide bring in their bear hide and skull for sealing. The sealing officer asks questions about when, where, and how the animal was taken, and will measure the skull and take a small premolar tooth for age determination. The seal must remain attached until the hide and skull have been preserved by a taxidermist.

If you’re not successful, you don’t need to report back in person, but you must call the ADF&G office (486-1880) to let us know you have finished hunting. Please fill out the hunt report card, which provides us with information about your hunt, and mail it back.