Alaska: The very word conjures up images of abundant big game, beautiful scenery, solitude and rugged outdoor adventure. For many hunters, Alaska is a dream destination and a hunt in the “Last Frontier” will likely exceed even the highest of expectations.
The nation’s largest state also contains the largest wildlife refuges. Here, refuges span hundreds of thousands, even millions of acres that are home to some of the most challenging big game — Dall sheep, Alaskan brown bear, mountain goat, caribou, moose and musk ox.
Hunting Alaskan refuges requires a different level of preparation than other refuges.
Many people choose a guided hunt for their first Alaskan experience. Guides are permitted on all Alaska national wildlife refuges. Indeed, for brown bear, Dall sheep and mountain goat, guides are required for all nonresident hunters.
Unguided hunting offers great adventure but hunters must be prepared for changing weather conditions, difficult meat packing of large mammals, the presence of bears, and many other challenges. Self-reliance is a must; if an unguided hunter gets in trouble, help is often hundreds of miles away. Unguided hunters most often pursue moose, which can be hunted by floating rivers in many refuges. Caribou are also popular quarry, and on Kodiak Island, sitka black-tailed deer provide memorable big-game hunting.
In many cases, hunters access hunting areas via an air taxi. Road access is limited. Despite the challenges, an unguided hunt to Alaska is one of the great experiences available to American hunters.
While few go to Alaska for bird hunting, the state indeed offers some of the finest waterfowl and upland bird hunting. Some of the nation’s most unusual duck species can be hunted here, including harlequin, Barrow’s goldeneye, eider and Pacific brant. A waterfowler looking to hunt new species could have an incredible—and affordable—hunt on national wildlife refuges. Similarly, ptarmigan on some refuges are abundant.