Survey Says: You Want to Hunt in Alaska
“If money wasn't an object, where is the first place you would travel, and what would you hunt?”
We asked that simple question of our social media audience, and the overwhelming winner was Alaska. As for the type of game, just about everything the land has to offer was suggested. For the average person, the frigid temperatures and long nights are best endured from a safe distance with some nice filmography on the National Geographic channel, perhaps. But for an avid hunter, conquering the vast and brutal wilderness of Alaskan can put your hunting skills up to the ultimate challenge.
The question should really be, “Why not Alaska?” Of the 50 U.S. states, it is the final frontier and offers almost unlimited opportunities to hunt, including game you can't hunt anywhere else in the states:
- Brown Bear
- Sitka Black-tailed Deer
- Dall Sheep
Sure, you can find moose in states like New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota, but only Alaska claims it as the official state animal. And the Alaska-Yukon species grows bigger than any other.
Perhaps the best part about hunting Alaska is the fact that you can do a variety of combo hunts, and lots of outdoorsmen do combo hunting/fishing trips that include salmon, trout and halibut fishing. Hunters who hunt Kodiak or the Aleutian Islands often stay on boats, where crab pots and rods and reels provide the surf portion of dinners, and the hunters provide the black-tailed backstraps for the turf part.
So, really, why not?
Well, there is a reason the phrase “if money wasn't an object…” is a consideration for hunting in Alaska. A non-resident annual hunting license will cost you $85, and $250 for a non-resident annual hunting/trapping license. Various non-resident annual hunting license/sport fishing license combos are $105 to $230. Non-resident tags for big game range in price from $30 for a wolf tag, up to $1,100 for a muskox bull, including $400 for a moose and $500 for a brown/grizzly bear tag. So far you’re saying, “Hey, I could save up for a while and do this!”
While you're saving, consider the one major cost that almost everyone will want to choose: a guided hunt. Alaska is a huge state, and the game isn't standing shoulder to shoulder by the highways — even if the game is plentiful. Do-it-yourself hunters are mostly limited to driving the highways and making day trips from the road as far as possible and back during daylight. But, they're competing with plenty of hunters in similar situations, and their odds of success are not good — especially on mature or trophy-sized animals. Guide services can fly you or transport you by boat or horseback to prime hunting country, and your guides will know the habits and patterns of each animal you're after. And, most importantly, guide services will know the very detailed hunting regulations in Alaska by heart, which is important to staying on the right side of the law.
Your better odds of success come with a price. You could be looking at $1,500 for a deer hunt, up to $15,000 for a prime brown bear hunt. You can trim costs by using one guide for two hunters, or by opting for sparse tent accommodations and foot power over four-star lodging and float planes. No matter what, though, saving up for a guided hunt is recommended on your first hunt. After that, if you’re the bold kind, you might venture out with a friend and try to save some change. You're probably going to need it for plane tickets, shipping costs for your meat and trophies, and taxidermy costs when you get home!
Nothing makes sure that you follow up on a dream like having resources around to constantly remind you: magazines, a notebook with ideas and packing lists, etc. So, we put together a few links that you can bookmark and refer to when — not if — you start planning your Alaska hunt of a lifetime.
Do you have experience hunting in Alaska and want to share your tips? We'd love to hear from you! Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.