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Alaska hunting!

You can plan and organize your Alaska hunt with the resources on this website and the links provided.

Introduction to Alaska hunting (this page)

Regions General information on what it is like to hunt in various regions of the state.  
General information and links Other sources of Alaska hunting information

Alaska hunting forums This is a huge repository of Alaska hunting information with tens of thousands of messages.  Read ideas from other hunters and post your questions.  We also host other Alaska outdoors forums, including fishing, hiking, outdoors photography, boating, bush flying and more.

Alaska Outdoors Wiki This resource is a community generated encyclopedia of the Alaska Outdoors.

Alaska hunting directory An extensive listing of hundreds of businesses that provide services you will need for your hunting trip. The directory includes Alaska hunting guides, Alaska air taxis, Alaska hunting lodges, transporters, and much more

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An Introduction to Alaska hunting

By David Johnson

I am deeply grateful for my Alaska hunting experiences: moose in the foothills amid the colors, sounds and smells of fall; caribou on mountain ridgetops, deer in the coastal rainforest, waterfowl on the flats….and more. If you dream of hunting Alaska, don’t miss it. Even if your hunt is unsuccessful in terms of taking game, you will have some powerful memories of hunting Alaska’s wilderness.

But be sure your expectations of Alaska hunting are realistic. There is not game behind every bush in Alaska. Regulations and land ownership are complex in some areas. Highway vehicles are rarely a great way to get to hunting areas. Even the very act of hunting Alaska can be hazardous because of dangerous game, early winter weather, and distance from help.

But don’t let that stop you!

Here’s the good news: hunting can be spectacularly good in Alaska. Some caribou herds number in the hundreds of thousands and contain impressively large animals. Moose populations are dense in some areas. Moose racks larger than 70 inches are not unheard of. Coastal Alaska habitats produce large numbers of brown and black bears. Dall sheep or goats populate most mountain ranges. Yes, it can be very good.


Alaska hunting can best be described by regions (see clickable map at right). Hunting opportunities throughout the state vary from deer hunting Southeast Alaska's coastal rainforest, to muskox hunting on the windswept tundra of western Alaska, to hunting for moose in the hills of the Interior, to high mountain Dall sheep hunting in Southcentral, to brown bear hunting world-famous Kodiak....and much more. If you are interested in hunting Alaska, your task is to find the combination of the species you want to hunt, the kind of country you want to hunt in, and how you want to hunt. The resources of are designed to help you do that. Let's look first at Alaska's regions and what they are like. Follow the links within the regional descriptions to find more specific information.

Southeast Alaska’s geography and climate provide conditions for good habitat for a variety of big game. Sitka black-tailed deer are found throughout the region, but in best numbers on the "ABC islands" – Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof. The ABC’s are also the home of the largest populations of brown bears in the region. Black bears are particularly abundant on Prince of Wales and the islands in the central portion of the region. Goats are indigenous to the coast mountains and transplanted to Baranof Island. A late 1980’s transplant brought elk to Southeast, and a limited hunting season opened in 1997. Moose are not numerous in Southeast Alaska, although reasonable populations are found on the Yakutat Forelands, in the Haines area, and smaller populations near Juneau, Petersburg and Ketchikan. Wolves are found throughout Southeast Alaska except on the ABC islands. Much of the guided big game hunting in this region is by boat. Boat rentals are available in some communities for hunters wanting to roll their own. A variety of air charter services with float planes also provide an important transportation alternative.

More Southeast Alaska regional hunting information Geography, weather, transportation, species, seasons, & RealAudio (tm) interviews

Sitka area Best known for brown bear and deer hunting
Petersburg area Black bear numbers are good here; also deer
Ketchikan area Also good for black bear and deer hunting as well as mountain goat.
Juneau area The region's best moose hunting is found in this area; also some deer and goats

Southeast Alaska species information from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Notebook Series and other sources

Black bears | Brown bears | Goats | Moose
Sitka black-tailed deer | Wolves

For general Southeast Alaska hunting information and regulations information, contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Wildlife Conservation, PO Box 240020, Douglas, AK 99824-0020. Tel. (907) 465-4265, FAX: (907) 465-4272.

Southcentral Alaska is more varied. This region begins at Icy Bay on the Gulf of Alaska coast, and generally is comprised of the lands draining into the Gulf and Bristol Bay. Climate ranges from wet along the coast to dry inland. Deer are currently abundant on Kodiak Island and are found in good numbers on the islands of Prince William Sound. These are transplanted deer originating from Southeast Alaska, and as is the case in Alaska, annual abundance depends much on winter snowpack. Kodiak and the Alaska Peninsula are famous for their brown bear populations. Further inland, many Alaskans refer to these bears as grizzlies. There are some size and color distinctions but no clear line divides the populations.

Moose in parts of Southcentral are currently among the most numerous in Alaska, especially in the Matanuska and Susitna valleys. Good populations exist in suitable habitat throughout the region. There are good numbers of caribou in parts of the region, although access is not always easy. Regulations limit the harvest of the most easily accessible population to Alaska residents. Dall sheep are found in the drier mountains in the region, and mountain goats nearer the coast, although there is some overlap. Black bears are not as numerous as in Southeast, but they are widespread.

Wolf and wolverine are present. In fact, wolves tend to be numerous where there are good numbers of moose and caribou.

Waterfowl hunting can be quite good here, although the effective season is short as birds are moving south. Bird hunters will be pleased to see growing ruffed grouse populations from recent transplants to the Matanuska and Susitna valleys and to the Kenai Peninsula.

Southcentral Alaska species information from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Notebook Series and other sources:

Black bears | Brown bears | Caribou | Dall sheep
Goats | Moose | Sitka black-tailed deer | Wolves

For more general Southcentral Alaska hunting information and regulations contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Wildlife Conservation, 333 Raspberry Rd, Anchorage, AK 99518-1599. Tel (907) 267-2347 FAX (907) 267-2433.

Moose and caribou are the most visible big game in Interior, Arctic and Western Alaska. This region encompasses the huge area drained by the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers and draining into the Bering Sea, Kotzebue Sound and the Arctic Ocean. This is relatively dry country, and habitats vary from the forested Interior to the western and arctic treeless tundra.

A very nice Interior Alaska bullmooseRegulations in some parts of the state require up to four brow tines on at least one side or 50" antler spread. The regulation allows more opportunity, but hunters must look very carefully before shooting. Photo by Steve DuBois

Caribou exist in more or less discrete herds, and some of these herds are huge. Moose are most abundant in western Alaska, but are found in good numbers throughout the region, except on the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta, where they are just becoming established.

There are black and grizzly bears throughout the region, but bear populations here are not as dense as in the coastal regions. There are populations of wild bison, transplanted earlier in the century from Montana. Dall sheep are found in most of the mountain ranges.

Interior Alaska subalpine moose hunting countryFour wheelers have made much more of Alaska accessible to moose hunters, although care must be taken to avoid long lasting damage to the land. Photo by Mike Rawalt

Muskox, extirpated from Alaska in the late 1800's. are now present in good numbers in some areas of coastal western and arctic Alaska.

Wolves are also numerous in places in this region. It is not uncommon to hear wolves howling on fall evening while sitting around the hunting campfire.  Wolverine are distributed across the region.

Waterfowl hunting is locally good, but again, only for a short time. Waterfowl begin moving out of the Interior as early as mid-August, several weeks before the beginning of the hunting season.

Duck hunting on the Minto Flats west of FairbanksSome of the best Interior waterfowl hunting occurs on broad river flats, like the Minto Flats west of Fairbanks, shown here. Photo by David M. Johnson

There is a wide variety of game birds here, and populations can be quite good at the high point of their cycle of abundance. Grouse species include ruffed, spruce and sharptail. In the hills and mountains, hunters may find willow, rock and whitetail ptarmigan.


Interior, Arctic and Western Alaska species information from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Notebook Series and other sources

Black bears | Brown bears | Caribou | Dall sheep
Goats | Moose | Muskox | Wolves

An Interior Alaska ruffed grouseRuffed grouse, like this Interior Alaska bird, and other game birds, including spruce, sharp-tailed, and blue grouse, as well as willow, rock and white-tail ptarmigan are cyclically abundant in Alaska. Photo by David M. Johnson.

For more Interior Alaska information contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Wildlife Conservation, 1300 College Rd, Fairbanks, AK 99701-1599. Tel (907) 459-7313 FAX (907) 452-6410.

For more Western and Arctic Alaska information contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Wildlife Conservation, Pouch 1148, Nome, AK 99762, Tel. (907) 443-2271 FAX (907) 443-5893.

More Alaska Hunting Information

The hunter's rewardMany hunters like to take large antlered moose, but smaller bulls are more portable and often more tender. Photo by David M. Johnson.

The Anchorage ADF&G Wildlife Office has an automated telephone that provides information about a variety of wildlife and hunting related topics. The main access number for this system is (907) 267-2347. You can break out of the automated system to speak to a real person during normal state office hours if you don’t find what you need.

The Alaska Hunting Bulletin was published by the Division of Wildlife Conservation for several years in the late 1990's as a tabloid newsletter for hunters.  10 issues are still available on the internet.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has begun seasonally providing caribou hunting information via recorded "hot lines." Click here to read more about some Alaska caribou hunting opportunities, and for the telephone numbers.

Fish and Game has also put together a number of small publications on various hunting topics. Here are a few that are available on the web:

An Introduction to Big Game Hunting in Alaska
An Introduction to Moose Hunting in Alaska
Black Bear Meat Care & Preparation

Care of meat in the field is an important issue for hunters. Doug Drum of Indian Valley Meats (Anchorage area), an experienced hunter and long-time meat processor has prepared an excellent summary of how to preserve the table quality of meat between the time the animal dies and its eventual processing.

Hunters with more meat than they can use can donate to two Alaska programs that provide game meat for needy families. Alaskan hunters fighting hunger in Anchorage and Hunters for the Hungry in Fairbanks provide opportunities to share meat within the community.

If you have an interest in Dall sheep hunting, don't miss Chris Conway's Alaska Sheep Hunting. Chris is an experienced Alaska sheep hunter and wildlife conservationist.  We have also included the first chapter of Tony Russ' excellent Sheep Hunting in AlaskaTony is a passionate sheep hunter and a fine writer.  I am impressed with what he knows about sheep and sheep hunting.  You can buy the book at less than retail on-line on this website.  Tony now has a second book about North American hunting techniques.  It's called Manual for Successful Hunters.  He did a nice job with it.  I think you will find it a helpful addition to your hunting library. 

Bear Attacks: Their Causes and AvoidanceBeing in the field with bears makes Alaska hunting and fishing much more....well.... interesting. The Department of Fish and Game's "Bear Facts" tells how to improve the odds for keeping the peace.   A book that you may find helpful is Steve Herrero's Bear Attacks: Their Causes and AvoidanceHerrero is a biologist and one of the continent's best experts on this subject.

An Alaska Hunting Bibliography was originally compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. We try to keep this up to date so you will have a good listing of what is available on the subject, as well as older books.

The Alaska Hunting Forum is an exceptional source of Alaska hunting information.   The forum is quite busy, and boasts several guides who regularly post high quality information.  If you are looking for answers, we suggest you check out these resources.  You can search all of the forum messages with either our in-house search system, or Google.

Click here for more information about the MilepostFinally, as you plan your travel to Alaska, one of the handiest books out there is The Milepost.  I have bought numerous editions of this book during the 30+ years we have lived in Alaska because it has in one spot all the travel information we need.  The Milepost started out as a guidepost to the Alaska Highway, but it has grown to encompass nearly everything you need to know about traveling in the North country.  Click here to order a copy.

Click here for a list of additional  hunting-related links that you may find helpful.


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