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A Trip To Alaska, the Last Frontier

Which reference is likely to present you with the better suggestions about where you’re thinking of going? Content from local area writers generally offer good understanding for tourists focused on area detailed info. By my count there are not enough articles that include complete content. This opinion is related to ideas to remember for tourists taking a look at going to the state of Alaska.

Loaded For Bear – Choosing the Best Bear Rifle

was written by Marty Moffat , 2019-09-16 13:03:30

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The Perfect Alaska Bear Rifle

By: Michael Rogers

There is perhaps no other category of hunting accoutrement that will spur more interest or throw more gasoline on a proverbial fire than discussing the idealized bear rifle for an Alaskan hunter. Alaska has a rather significant population of all three bear species found in North America. The 49th State is home to more than 100,000 black bears, roughly 80% of the grizzly bears on the continent and a healthy number of polar bears. The white bears we can dispense with right away. As a marine mammal they’re limited to hunting by Native populations and that is likely too much of a niche for a publication such as this. It would be pure speculation on my part since I’ve never hunted a polar bear and will be unlikely to ever do so.

Photo Credit: Terry Debruyne/USFWS

Alaskan bears are common quarry for hunters and often are the target of visiting sportsmen and women- many of whom have saved and dreamed their whole life for a close encounter with one of the denizens of the North. While a moose is far more dangerous statistically, bears represent one of the only truly dangerous game species on this side of the Atlantic. It is perhaps their reputation as an apex predator that generates the anxiety about the right rifle to shoot one with. Or perhaps it’s that being eaten is a primal fear that all humans have to some degree; regardless, when you talk about bear guns…Alaskan hunters generally take interest. 

In previous pieces we talked about rifles to pursue moose and caribou. This one will follow the same sort of format with a caveat. While black bears and grizzly bears are both bears, they are fairly different in regards to hunting them. Even with grizzlies, there are Interior grizzlies and “brown bears” who are genetically identical but vastly different in behavior and appearance. A typical Interior grizzly will be somewhere between 5 and 7 feet and live a hard life in the mountains. They can get a bit bigger than that, but their sparse diet miles away from the coastal plenty dictates that it’s unusual. So we’ll treat the three bears to three different rifles. 

Black bears are plentiful here and make for good eating when not feeding on fish. An alpine bear shot in a berry patch is perhaps the finest piece of wild game I’ve yet to eat. They typically are residents of mature forests although they are occasionally seen at higher elevations during the fall berry season. An average one will be about 5 feet and weigh something just over 200 pounds with coastal specimens and those in the Southeast panhandle of the state a bit bigger on average. A six foot black bear at 300 pounds is getting on the big side of big for type. Despite their reputation and the regularity with which black bears tend to predate on humans, they simply aren’t all that tough. Any reasonable deer rifle will cleanly take a black bear.

Wild black bear at Anan Bear Observatory near Wrangell, Alaska.
Photo by: Andrew E. Russell

Given their forest dwelling proclivity, even mild rounds like the 30-30 and 35 Remington do just fine on black bears because the ranges tend to be short in many black bear hunting situations. Basically, any center-fire rifle from .243 on up to the .30-06 will be just fine if you shoot straight. If you like a scope sighted rifle, a scope with a lower power range and good light gathering is essential. My favorite is one of the 1-4x or 1-5x models with a 30mm tube. This is one category of Alaska game that the lever guns are well suited for since you aren’t generally working with long ranges and many Alaskans favor the 45-70 for anchoring black bears in thick forests.

Interior grizzlies live over a wide swath of the state but I tend to associate them with the mountains and they tend to be hunted in a bit more open country than black bears. Smaller than coastal brown bears, grizzlies tend to be more aggressive and often are hunted spot and stalk from greater distance. While I would go with a heavier rifle than I would for a black bear, there’s no need for going to a truly large rifle. While theres’s certainly no argument against the .270 or .30-06 with modern ammunition, I think the 7mm Remington magnum or any of the .300s make a lot more sense with grizzly bears. You might want a bit more power, but you’re more likely to want a bit more reach instead. I’d probably top out the perfect grizzly rifle at the .338 Winchester Magnum. For resident hunters, the .300 and the .338 magnums likely represent a huge percentage of rifles used on grizzly hunts or as “all around” choices, and for good reason. They work.

Grizzly Bear by Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith

Coastal brown bears have a much easier life than their Interior cousins, with milder winters and a protein heavy diet of abundant salmon, they can grow to truly massive proportions. A “ten foot” bear seems to be the standard for a very large bear, although from the ground in proximity to one, an “8 foot” or “9 foot” bear seems pretty darn impressive. These bears aren’t just large but heavy as well, with many specimens going north of 800 pounds with regularity in the fall. Any way you slice it, a brown bear is just a lot bigger animal than either a grizzly or black bear is. 

A look at the rifles professional guides use for brown bears generally starts at the .338 and goes up from there. The .375 Holland and Holland has been relatively standard for many years and the .416s and .458s make up a smaller but significant percentage. One legendary Kodiak guide even used a .500 Nitro Express. But guiding for bears isn’t the same thing as hunting them. Few people shoot a .458 or .375 really well and good shooting tends to eliminate all the drama that a big rifle needs to clean up. While plenty of residents use a .375 for hunting brown bears, a lot more use a .300 or .338 magnum and do just fine. In many cases, it’s the same .300 that they use for everything else so they have a lot of familiarity with it which tilts the balance in their favor. 

A female Kodiak brown bear pauses while fishing the Dog Salmon River.
Credit: Lisa Hupp/USFWS

If you’re unwillingly or unable to learn to handle a big bore rifle, it will be more of a hindrance than a help. Many professional brown bear guides want a client to use a rifle they’re more comfortable with rather than a new heavy rifle they haven’t shot all that much. I do think when you get to brown bears, a .30 caliber represents the minimum bore for serious consideration. For example, the biggest bear that any of my friends have taken was shot with a .308 Winchester and went over 10 feet square. It died with a single, well placed bullet. While brown bears wouldn’t be something you’d want to pursue casually with a light rifle, straight shooting makes up for a lot. I’d suggest the heaviest cartridge you can still honestly manage. For the fellows, that means after you set your machismo to the side.

Speaking of bullets, any of the bears are best taken with good quality modern hunting bullets. There are so many really good controlled expansion hunting bullets, there’s really no reason to not use one when pursuing Alaska’s great bears. Any of the good quality bullets like the Partition, TSX, Trophy Bonded or similar will be a good investment on a bear hunt.

For more reading on my thoughts surrounding the pursuit of both moose and caribou, the two articles below summarize my thoughts on rifle selection for those animals.

Read Original Loaded For Bear – Choosing the Best Bear Rifle Article Here

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Visiting Alaska, the Last Frontier

Frequently the more enlightening written content are not all encompassing esoteric case studies but anecdotal reviews presenting people and small communities. Conversely, unexpectedly frequently it’s the biggest organizations offering the more interesting and useful stories. Of course there is also a place for tourism and hospitality statistics statements or policy assessment. Posts about traveling to Alaska, the Last Frontier like Loaded For Bear – Choosing the Best Bear Rifle assist us to browse the far reaching potential of sustainable hospitality and travel.

Alaska is a region in which sustainable tourism is mandatory.

Travel consultant recommended places to go for people exploring Alaska is

Denali National Park and Preserve. Originally intended to conserve wildlife, the colors and scenery are nonetheless stunning. Denali incorporates 160 miles of the Alaska Range and dominating this sky line is North America’s biggest peak; 20,320 foot Mount McKinley quite simply one of the most exceptional views in Alaska, if not the world. But it’s not only the mountain that makes Denali National Park an exceptional place. The park is where you can thirty seven species of mammals, which range from lynx, marmots and Dall sheep, to foxes and snowshoe hares, and one hundred thirty different bird species may be seen here, which include the amazing golden eagle. The majority of visitors, however, want to see four animals in particular: moose, caribou, wolf and everybody’s favorite: the grizzly, bear. Denali, unlike the majority of wilderness areas in the country, it’s not necessary to be a backpacker to watch this wildlife, they can be seen right next to the famous Denali Park road. Not surprisingly then, visitors come here in droves; the park is a favorite place, getting 432,000 visitors per year. Over time the National Park Service (NPS) has evolved special visitor-management strategies, including shutting its only road to most vehicles. For that reason Denali National Park is still the fantastic wilderness it was two decades ago. The entrance has changed, but the park itself has not, and a brown bear meandering on the tundra ridge still provide the exact same quiet delight as when the park first opened in 1917. Although generations of Athabascans had wandered through what is now the park, the first permanent settlement was organized in 1905, when a gold miners’ rush established the town of Kantishna. A year later, naturalist and hunter Charles Sheldon was stunned by the beauty of the land and mortified at the careless abandon of the miners and big-game hunters. Sheldon returned in 1907 and traveled the area with guide Harry Karstens in an effort to put in place boundaries for a proposed national park. Sheldon was successful and the area was identified as Mount McKinley National Park in 1917 with Karstens serving as the park’s very first superintendent. As a result of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the park was enlarged to more than 6 million acres and re-named Denali National Park and Preserve. Denali right now comprises an area somewhat larger than the state of Massachusetts and is typically ranked as one of Alaska’s top destinations.

going to Denali National Park in Alaska, the 49th State

Seeing Denali National Park in Alaska, the 49th State