Hunters are keenly aware of what occurs in our environment — we hunt to feel alive, participate in the life cycle, share our stories and eat well. In Alaska, the beauty of the country is best experienced through the eyes of a hunter. Here are 7 places you must hunt from Alaskan bucket list hunts that go beyond the landscape and offer a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience the beauty of Alaska.
Sheep hunt the Wrangell Mountains
Kaasan Braendel, on a sheep hunt in the Wrangell Mountains, poses in a photo similar to one taken of her father at close to the same age. Kaasan works for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in the summer, is a licensed helicopter pilot and assists her father, Alaska registered guide Karl Braendel of Nin Ridge Guides, in packing out game. She is proud of the hard work that goes into sheep hunting and it’s her favorite meat.
Hunt Information: Nonresident hunters may take 1 ram with full-curl horn or larger using a registered guide in Game Management Unit 11. Season dates are Aug. 10 through Sept. 20. Hunt requires a harvest ticket; ram horns must be sealed and horns must accompany meat from the field.
Black bear hunt in Petersburg
Jana Waller, host and producer at Skull Bound TV, witnessed the beauty of Alaska through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl on a black bear hunt she mentored in Petersburg, Alaska. Not only were they successful in their hunt, but they also took in the wildlife and scenery, watched a humpback whale and gathered crab pots for a “feast fit for a king.”
Moose float hunt in Remote Wilderness
Ruth Cusack, winner of the 2012 Próis Award, is known for going on some of the toughest self-guided, remote wilderness hunts with her husband, Louis. The Adventures of Louis & Ruth Cusack epitomizes the Alaska lifestyle, one that is as difficult as rewarding. Their remote hunts often start with a trip to air cargo weeks in advance to ship gear, then a plane flight, followed by portaging or packing gear in some of the wildest country on earth.
Hunt Information: Depending on the sub-unit, nonresident hunters may take 1 bull moose in Game Management Unit 19 and may be required to attend an approved hunter orientation course or be accompanied in the field by a registered guide or resident family member. Season dates are Sept. 1 or 5 (depending on unit) through Sept.20. Hunt requires a harvest ticket.
Brown bear hunt on the Alaska Peninsula
Alaska hunter Emily Schock has done more than a fair share of packing out game and is part of the crew that operates Silvertip Aviation, a certified air taxi based on the Ivishak River. Emily works year-round, flying adventurers to their destinations, whether they are backcountry skiers, river rafters or big game hunters. Her own hunts take place in some of the most beautiful country on earth, which she captures in breathtaking photos.
Caribou hunt on the north slope of the Brooks Range
Photo from Emily Schock, whose fly-in hunts often include her black lab, Oscar.
Hunt Information: Nonresident hunters may take 5 caribou per day and are not required to use a registered guide in Game Management Unit 26. Hunt requires a harvest ticket. Depending on the sub-unit, there is no closed season or the season dates vary – usually around June 23 through May 15.
Kodiak Island surf-and-turf
Ruth Cusack, with a Sitka blacktail deer and Dungeness crab, shows a combination of the near lifetime of surf-and-turf possibilities available to hunters and fisherman in Alaska. Ruth and Louis also have had black bear and shrimp out of Whittier and moose and grayling on 1 of their many remote float trips, to name just a few. And, Louis knows how to cook!
Hunt Information: Nonresident hunters may take 3 deer in the remainder of the area, not included in the Kodiak Road System Management Area within Game Management Unit 8. Depending on the sub-unit and sex of deer, the season dates vary – from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. Hunt requires a harvest ticket.
Waterfowl hunt Cold Bay
Jeff Pelayo, owner and operator of AWA Waterfowling, snapped this photo in one of his favorite places to hunt, Izembek Lagoon, Cold Bay, Alaska. Jeff, a waterfowl research biologist by trade, considers Izembek, “The gateway to the Aleutian Islands,” and one of the most important wetlands in the world. He hopes to offer future guided hunts in Cold Bay and encourages and supports female hunters as the future of hunting.
Hunt Information: Nonresidents must purchase a small game hunting license, and all waterfowl hunters 16 years of age or older must have a current federal Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp. An Alaska Waterfowl Conservation Stamp also is required. The waterfowl season in Game Management Unit 9 is Sept. 1 through Dec. 16.