Planning a Kodiak Bear Hunt: Everything You Need to Know

April 5, 2024

Connor Merritt

Connor Merritt

Brown bears are one of the greatest challenges hunters can face in America, and there’s perhaps no greater subspecies of grizzly than the Kodiak bear. If you’re already familiar with them then you already know what makes them so formidable, but if not don’t worry: We have you covered. Read on to learn everything you need to know to plan your very own Kodiak bear hunt this year.

Kodiak Bear Hunt Preparation

Kodiak bear hunt

Where to Hunt

First up, you need to know where you’re going. Their name is self-explanatory: This amazing breed of bear is only found on the beautiful Kodiak Archipelago in Alaska. Check out this article for more information on the unique environment these bears call home.

Paperwork and Regulations

To go on a Kodiak bear hunt, you need a few pieces of paperwork first; plus, you might also be required to use a guide depending on your circumstances.

  1. Alaska Hunting License: First thing first, you must obtain a valid Alaska hunting license if you want to hunt Kodiak bears.
  2. Big Game Tag Record: Next up, you need a big game tag record (and you also need to make sure you submit it properly with all the details of your hunt when you’re done).
  3. Brown Bear Locking Tag: This is a special tag just for hunting brown bears. You’ll need to get this, effectively announcing your intention to hunt Kodiak brown bears specifically.
  4. Area-Specific Permits: These permits may be necessary depending on where you go on your Kodiak bear hunt. There are two broad types: registration permits, which can be obtained in person and cover specific areas and seasons; and drawing permits, which enter hunters into a lottery after completing an application.
  5. Guide Requirements: If you’re a non-resident hunter, then you either need to use a guide, or be accompanied by a resident relative no more than two degrees away in kindred.

Understanding Permits

  • Registration Permits: Issued for specific hunting areas and seasons, registration permits are obtained in person at designated ADF&G offices. These permits have no limit on the number issued and are available to both residents and non-residents.
  • Drawing Permits: Covering various hunting areas within Game Management Unit 8, drawing permits are limited in number and allocated through a lottery system. These permits are typically issued for non-resident hunters and require application during specific periods.

Tips for Your Kodiak Bear Hunt

Kodiak bear hunt

Research and Prep

  • This should go without saying, but study up on the behavior and habitat of Kodiak bears. Before going on your hunt you need to be able to understand their movements, feeding patterns, and other behaviors.
  • Familiarize yourself with the environment. Most likely, the Kodiak Archipelago is unlike any place you’ve ever hunted; so, take extra care when studying the terrain and topography of the area, and plan your hunt meticulously.
  • Part of preparation is making sure you’re physically capable for the tough terrain. Practice hiking with a loaded backpack, and do your best to simulate the types of environments you’ll encounter when you make the trek to Alaska.

Gear for a Kodiak Bear Hunt

  • You’re going to be in one of the most difficult environments in the country, so make sure you pick high-quality, durable gear for your entire ensemble. Waterproof, breathable clothing is best, combined with insulated layers and sturdy footwear and you should be good to go.

Safety Precautions for a Kodiak Bear Hunt

  • “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”
  • Prioritize safety at all times — whether that’s from the animals you’ll encounter (including the Kodiak bear you’re after) or the actual environment you’ll be hiking through. Don’t take unnecessary risks.
  • Carry defensive tools designed for bears like bear spray and noise makers, and use them to respond to aggressive or defensive bears. Don’t surprise them at close range, approach carcasses carefully, and most of all: stay vigilant.

Learn Kodiak Bear Identification

  • Kodiak bears are one of the largest subspecies of grizzlies in the world: males can weigh anywhere from 600-1400 lbs., and females can come in between 300-700 lbs.
  • They have stocky builds and massive shoulders. One of their defining features is a pronounced hump of muscle on their backs. As for fur, the colors tend to stay in the range of light brown to dark brown.
  • Additionally, you can identify Kodiak bears by their short, rounded ears; broad, dish-shaped face; and distinctive concave facial profile. For their claws, look for long, curved and blunt-tipped unguis.

Bear Behavior

  • Kodiak bears are primarily found on Kodiak Island and adjacent islands in southwestern Alaska, where they inhabit a diverse range of habitats, including forests, mountains, tundra, and coastal areas.
  • They are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders, consuming a varied diet that includes salmon, berries, grasses, roots, carrion, and small mammals. During the salmon spawning season, Kodiak bears congregate along rivers and streams to feed on migrating fish.
  • Their behavior varies seasonally, with periods of intense feeding and foraging activity during the spring and summer months, followed by increased denning and reduced activity during the winter.

Bear Sealing and Documentation

  • If you successfully harvest a Kodiak brown bear, follow proper procedures for hide and skull preservation. Bears harvested on Kodiak Island must be sealed at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office before leaving the island. Complete all necessary documentation and reporting requirements in accordance with hunting regulations.

Enjoy Your Kodiak Bear Hunt!

Hunting Kodiak brown bears might seem like an insurmountable challenge, but that’s what will make it all the more rewarding when you finally succeed. Follow this guide, make your preparations and you’ll be on the way to the Alaskan wilderness in no time. Happy hunting!

Read more about bears on iSportsmanUSA!


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