When it comes to the sheer variety of hunts available, few places in the United States even come close to Alaska. The Department of Fish and Game lists 15 big game animals, and a veritable truckload of small game, birds, unclassified game, and what the state calls “Deleterious Exotic Wildlife.”
This hunter’s paradise is twice as big as Texas, nearly 1/5 the size of the rest of the United States, and also home to some extremely unforgiving weather. Hunting trips are regularly accessible only by seaplane or a plane with runners instead of wheels for landing on a snowpack. The combination means hiring an Alaska hunting guide is smart from a survival point of view and from the perspective of getting your best chance at bringing home what you’re after.
The northernmost state has plenty of game in the Boone & Crockett, Pope & Young, and Safari Club International books. Field and Stream reports the state has three world records for North American big game animals.
Getting a license to hunt some of the game is a matter of winning a ticket in a draw. Other permits are over-the-counter.
The state’s official “big game” list includes black bear, brown and grizzly bear, caribou (also known as reindeer), Dall sheep, Sitka black-tailed deer, moose, mountain goat, muskox, wolf, and wolverine. Most hunters add Plains bison, mule deer, elk, and wolf to the list of big game species. Many of these hunts are draw permits and open to residents and nonresidents.
Most hunters look to three Alaska native species for big game hunts: bear, caribou and moose. Moose and bear might well be classified as dangerous game. A full-grown grizzly boar is capable of taking out any animal in Alaska with the exception of another bear or a grown bull moose. In a grizzly v. moose matchup, either one could come out ahead. Professional backup when hunting these big animals is just a good idea.
Smart hunters also look to kill bear and moose near the boat or the plane. Shooting a moose especially along the rivers is highly recommended. It is much easier to pack out the trophy and meat when transportation is nearby.
Alaska flatly says, “a nonresident who hunts brown/grizzly bear, Dall sheep, or mountain goat must be personally accompanied by an Alaska-licensed guide OR by an Alaska resident 19 years of age or older who is within the ‘second degree of kindred.’” The website, link just above, includes instructions on how to have a guide apply for a draw permit for one of the big game animals.
Non-U.S. citizens who come to Alaska to hunt are required to have a guide for even more species.
A guide is not required to hunt caribou, but you will want one. These animals are constantly on the move. Guides know where the herds are and can take hunters to them. Without a guide, you are at the mercy of the wandering herds. Caribou hunting success rates with guides are almost always 100 percent for those who use rifles. Bowhunters with guides have very high success rates too; bowhunting is far more challenging than using a rifle.
From the rest of the big game category, Dall sheep, mountain goat, and wolverine are considered the hardest to hunt. The sheep and goats are incredibly wary and can pick up a hunter’s movement before the hunter even knows one is in the area. Expect to spend a lot of time glassing the mountains and then taking long shots. Wolverines are just simply hard to find.
For visitors, grouse and ptarmigan are the top picks for small game. Alaska has the ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, spruce grouse, blue grouse, and three ptarmigans: willow, rock and whitetail. A good reason to hire a guide to hunt these birds is the guide has dogs. Dogs make finding and retrieving birds much easier. And you don’t have to worry about putting your dogs on a plane or making the drive through Canada with them and a gun.
The small game, unclassified, and the exotics add more than 30 animals to the list of animals hunters may take. Some of the exotics have an open season and no bag limits. In what will surprise many hunters in the lower 48, wild turkey, quail, pheasant, chukar, and partridge are “unclassified” game. It’s open season on these birds and no bag limits. Just don’t expect the hunting to be on par with other places in the United States.
Where the exotics are concerned, the state’s game managers are just happy to see these critters gone. If you see one on the pest list, feel free to kill it. For a complete list, small and exotic game seasons, and bag limits, visit the small game regulations web page. Some of these animals are rare in Alaska and the game department wants to keep it that way.
The state does set special regulations for Unit 14 C, even for exotics.
Waterfowl hunting in the nation’s largest state is also amazing. The state lists more than 15 different species of goose and duck and tundra swan. An Alaska hunting guide can put you on the birds even when hunting in the middle of bays and lakes.
Alaska Hunting Trips
If you kept count, that is more than 60 different huntable animals in The Last Frontier state. HuntAnywhere.com has the guides who can get you there and back – reserve your Alaska hunting trip today!