Hunting in Alaska provides a great wilderness adventure, which is why hunters travel from around the globe to Alaska to hunt. The great attractions are bear, moose, sheep, and mountain goats as well as other big game targets. Alaskans take their hunting seriously. For many it is a way of life, and for some, it is still a primary source of sustenance. As demand has outpaced the supply of game, regulations have been necessary to maintain a healthy, balanced ecosystem. Gone are the days when an Ernest Hemingway type could arrive in the bush and begin stalking game. Now he or she (yes, she: there are scores of outdoors women in Alaska!) must first read up on the most current regulations, secure the necessary permits, and enlist the services of a resident guide. Once hunting has commenced, a successful hunter must register the harvest with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), a government body the avid hunter will come to know well.
Hunting in Alaska is also big business to the local and state economies. Resident hunting along contributed over $132 million in 2006, with that number increasing significantly when taking nonresident hunters into account. Successfully getting the quarry is only half of hunting in Alaska. Getting it home is the other half and just as important. Alaska state regulations make it the hunter's responsibility to salvage all edible meat off a killed animal. In addition, state regulations require all meat be packed out before removing any antlers, hides or horns from the field.
When it comes to bringing home as much of your prize as possible, there is one simple mantra to follow: keep meat cool, clean and dry. High temperatures are the greatest threat to spoiling meat. The animal's hide is the biggest deterrent to cooling the meat off. Therefore, removing the hide and internal organs should be done as soon as possible. Temperatures reaching more than 65 degrees will quickly cause meat to spoil, so a hunter must turn to whatever resources are available to keep it cool. Placing the meat in cool water for half an hour or elevating it to allow for a breeze to cool it is two excellent options. Since moisture will hasten spoilage, dry the meat once it is out of the water if that method is chosen.
While removing all the meat from the bone will reduce shipping costs, it will also make it more difficult to stay cool. Some areas of Alaska actually do not allow hunters to remove meat from the bone in the field.
Every Alaskan hunter planning on a successful hunt should have a healthy supply of cotton meat bags and citric acid. The bags allow for good air circulation and cleanliness while transporting the meat from the field to cap or the lodge. A citric acid and water mixture should be used to clean the meat once the bags are removed to retard bacteria growth and reduce the impact of flies.
A hunter's personal safety should also be taken into account once a kill is made, as the site will be a big draw for bears in Alaska. Immediately field dress the animal after the kill and be on the lookout for bears. Leave the gut pile and remaining carcass with some sort of marker for other hunters to be aware of. While returning to the camp or lodge, make sure to make lots of noise by talking loudly to keep from surprising any bears. They do not respond favorably to being surprised by humans, especially one carrying a huge load of freshly killed meat. If all the meat cannot be packed out in one trip, try to hang the remainder in an easily viewable area as state regulations prohibit the killing of a bear to retrieve meat from a previous kill.
Much of what a hunter needs to research and learn about hunting in Alaska, such as regulations, pictures and other information can be found online to help plan a trip.
LICENSES AND HUNTING PERMITS
- See the ADF&G to purchase licenses and permits in Alaska online.
GENERAL ALASKA HUNTING INFORMATION
HUNTING IN ALASKA
- Alaska Department of Fish and Game
- Outdoor Heritage Foundation
- Alaska Professional Hunter's Association
Additionally, there are no shortage of Alaska hunting books and DVDs.
ALASKA HUNTING BOOKS
- A Complete Guide To Float Hunting Alaska by Larry Bartlett
- Hunting Big Whitetails: Tactics Guaranteed to Make You a More Successful Whitetail Hunter by Bruce L. Nelson
- Alaska: A Novel by James Michener
- Bear Hunting in Alaska: The Brown & Grizzly Bear Hunter's Guide by Tony Russ
- Hunting Hard...In Alaska! Book Two by Marc Jacobs
- Hunting in Alaska: A Comprehensive Guide by Christopher M. Batin
- The Bear Hunter by Hart Isley James
- Upland Hunting in Alaska, The Bird Hunter's Guide by Jim McCann
ALASKA HUNTING DVDs
- Alaska Hunting Adventure: 700 Miles Alone by Backpack and Raft by Bruce L. Nelson
- Love, Thunder & Bull 2, in Alaska. A Video Guide to Moose Hunting and Calling by Wayne Kubat