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Thread: Hunting Bears on the Knik

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    Post Hunting Bears on the Knik

    Hi everyone,

    I'm wanting to get the family into some bears this fall and have heard/read the Knik river valley is full of them. I've had my maps out and have been researching Google earth, but I'm having a hard time telling where the trails really are and how far they go back into the valley. We do not have ATVs nor do we have a boat, everything would be hiking in. I'm also open to other thoughts and suggestions as well, not looking for anyone's hot spot, but a general beginning point would be much appreciated. Also looking for any pointers on Moose and Caribou, went out this last year for moose in the valley, but can't compete with the vast distance others can cover with ATVs . Feel free to post, PM or email me direct.

    Thanks in advance!

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    http://dnr.alaska.gov/mlw/planning/mgtplans/krpuamp/

    There are some good maps of the Knik Public Use Area in the management plan.

    There are trails all the way to the ice depending on how far the ice is down the river. There also are many trails in there, with only a few of them being officially mapped and permitted.

    For bear hunting you need to get to a spot to glass some of the hillside meadows between Jim Lake and Friday creek. You will be sharing the same spots with moose hunters on ATVs.

    Other bear hunting spots are long the Seward highway with spot and stalk methods.

    As for not being able to cover as much ground as those ATV moose hunters. Consider that several friends have been hunting near the road after the stampeed had gone through and they drop legal moose with 1/4 mile of camp. This happens every year in any hunt unit with a road through it. It just takes time and determination along with some luck. And the desire to not need to hang antlers on the wall. Three of my friends still ended up with some nice 54" to 60" antlers from mid season right next to a roadway. They just use the ATV to haul the meat the 1/4 mile back to the road.

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    Thanks for the information AK Ray. I'd really like my son to have a chance at his first bear (or big game period), he just finished hunters ed and is excited to hit the field. I remember someone posting last year they had counted 6 bears one afternoon near Wolf Pt. so I figured it was worth a shot. I've only seen two blacks since being in Alaska over the last 2 years, one was at the tailrace during silver season and the other was while moose hunting in Hatcher's Pass more on the Willow side. Watched that one for awhile and would have taken her but finally saw she had two cubs with her .... got the adrenaline going though! Contacted ADF&G biologist last year and he also said that Unit 16 was heavy in bears (both brown and black), but again these units cover much more land than what I'm used too.

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    I would be out looking right around the 1st of September. It's incredible how active the bears are right around this time period. They know winter is on the way and they are constantly on the move.
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

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    Good call and most likely GREAT timing. That timing corresponds pretty close to when I saw the sow with cubs last year and even though they stayed above us the entire day they continued feeding around and around the top of the ridge line.

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    I'd be out looking now. I saw two nice black bears feeding up on a hillside north of Palmer. Probably should have killed one of them, or both, as they both had good hides still.

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    I've never been out there, but have heard there is A LOT of people out and about in that area, especially this time of year (even more so with Jim Creek?). I would imagine the area would be pretty good about now through the fall with the salmon runs through the area .... am I thinking the right way? Coming from Idaho, most of our bears were taken as incidentals at higher mountain elevations. Looking at a map of the area it seems there are a couple ways in; one through Maud Rd (Jim Creek?) and another near the butte airstrip? I know I'm probably "digging" more than I should to exact locations but if anyone has coordinates to a bear that would be helpful too . Thanks for all the insight so far!!

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    To find access info for Jim Creek you need to review posts on duckhunting, not fishing or big game. You drive to the end of Maud Road and then start hiking and hiking and hiking. There are two ATV trails that head out from the end of the road. They both go in about the same places once you get past Jim Lake.

    In September you will find lots of duck hunters down on the lakes, and moose hunters there as well as further up the valley in the lower elevations. Most folks that go far back take the Jim Creek trail from the parking pavillion near the race track and go along the Knik rather than Maud road. They don't have to deal with all the hills and swamps and their rig is slightly safer being parked with a large number of other rigs.

    For a fall bear you do not want to take one that is feeding on fish.

    For a fall bear you want to head to the berry patch. I would go out Petersville road and check out the hillsides that are open. Do not shoot a bear across a canyon since you will likely never live through the climb down and back up. A bear that has been feeding on berries is really good eating. There are lots of mining claims at the end of the road and sometimes the road washes out at the various stream crossings. To the north of the road are many open areas that you can climb up to and glass.

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    It would be a heck of a hike to get in there. I would do it without a second thought for sheep but not somewhere I would take the kids in search of a black bear. My recommendation for that area if you decide to try it is to get high and stay there. Just walk the ridges and glass berry patches. I would have to take another look at the regs but pioneer peak trail may get you above tree line and on to some bears. It is 14C though and there may be weapons restrictions... A bike ride (or sucker a friend into dropping you with wheelers) to bold ridge trail up Elklutna should allow you to hike across into hunter creek. Some pretty rugged areas in there depending on where you go from the top but the tril up is not technical and the country is beautiful + there are bears in there.

    One note on hunting pressure. If you go to the top and hit the berry patches you will likely be all alone. Myself and a few buddies will hunt way up top on foot for moose but most stick to wheeler trails or lowland swamps in SC. There are some serious tanks pushing high 60's+ WAY UP HIGH up Knik River Valley and the adjoining drainages and many have seen them. I only know of one person crazy enough to go up and take one and he gave that up back in the late 80's. He could probably still do it but now days none of his friends answer the phone when they know he went out moose hunting...

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    I have been back as far as the glacier(by boat) and have seen several full size trucks almost back that far. I would not try with a new truck, but if you have a older one that you don't mind getting scratched up a bit, go for it. A winch would be handy also, or at lease have another truck with you. I think they mostly follow the shoreline along the river, crossing several creeks. Bud

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    You've all given some great advice. AK Ray I'm going to attempt a PM to you rather than clogging up more of my "newbie" questions on the board here. Since I've never been out to the kink river area it's hard to get a feel for the landscape, but it seems it would be approx. a 7 mile hike back in there. I've looked at topos for the area and can see the ridges and peaks and have looked at Google Earth which has a large portion of that area "colored" in (fake filled in). It may be just my wife and I this fall if we take a run out there, that way we can scope the terrain and use our judgement regarding the kids from there for next year. We were out Petersville way last year, which was after the biologist told us 16 was heavy in bear population.

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    If you are going to hike in to hunt moose make sure you take into consideration how far you will have to pack your meat BEFORE you pull the trigger. It might be a good idea to try and get some promises from friends with wheelers PRIOR to hunting regarding possible assistance in hauling meat out. One to two miles is about as far as most folks are willing to backpack out moose meat - and for good reason! Hiking rough terrain is difficult enough without a heavy pack - difficulty and probability of possible injury significantly inc lease as the distance and weight increase. Good Luck!
    "Actions speak louder than words - 'nough said"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atdymoke2 View Post
    You've all given some great advice. AK Ray I'm going to attempt a PM to you rather than clogging up more of my "newbie" questions on the board here.
    You will have to wait a while and have more posts before the PM function works for you. Its part of the anti spammer settings they came up with. So keep up with the questions to get your post count above 20 sooner. Post down on the forum tips and questions section that you are not a spammer and want to be unlocked and a moderator like BrianM will respond.

    16 is a funny area. The bears go down low to get the fish from June to late August, and then by mid September head up the hills to get the berries. However, if there are lots of cranberries down low they will stay down low. Last year was a great berry crop down low along the Skwentna and further down river. Up river from Skwentna there were few berries. So Skwentna was full of bears well into September. Made walking to the work site in the early morning kind of twitchy, walking around all the fresh piles of berry pie in the road.

    For figuring out the Knik area you might want to spend some time on the ATV forum and reviewing "all things Jim Creek" sticky. Lots of photos of the trails and creek crossings down along the river.

    I duck hunt so most of my knowledge of the area is out in the marshes. But I have spent many mornings watching the hillside wake up with the sunrise. Goats, sheep, moose, and even a few bears viewed over the years. The wolves "own" from Friday creek back to the glacier and the coyotes own from Friday creek to Palmer based on their howls just before dawn.

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    Shphtr, funny you said that. My wife and I went out last year for moose and as we hiked back a couple miles to sit and glass the nearby hillsides that's exactly what was going through my mind. A part of me wanted to see something and a BIG part of me just wanted to enjoy the scenery in hopes of NOT seeing a legal moose (thankfully we did not). I think that's great advice though and something we sometimes forget. I used to pack elk out about 6 miles when I hunted in Idaho, but nothing as large as a moose!

    AK Ray, I noticed when I went to send you a PM there was no option available so thank you for the tip. Regarding 16, my wife and I drove up Petersville road quite a ways last year during moose season. We passed a lot of pull off camp sites, lots of ATVs and even some lucky hunters who had harvested some bulls (not a ton, but we saw a couple). Wish I could pinpoint exactly where we ended up, but I would say we drove 10-12 miles, give or take. Just curious how far up one should go to get into some good glassing country that's accessible. We saw a lot of hillside and some prime area, but the drop from the road looked like it could easily break a bone or two going down. Seems that may be the way to go for selection (chance at a moose, good area for bear). I'll have to look more closely at the area to find accessible spots that will offer good opportunity.

    Thanks again for the help everyone ..... keep it coming if you can weigh in!

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    One last things here (at least for the night), I was looking at maps for the Petersville area and it seems that we could have driven quite a few more miles up the road, but I'm not sure how much further it really goes. I've heard that there is a lodge out there as well .... Dollar Creek Lodge? Anyone know anything of this? Am I too far up the road for prime bear opportunity? Is there another lodge or cabins closer? We live in Wasilla, but rather than driving in an out each day I'd like to be a little closer to the hunt site. As for camping ... that's a totally different thread!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atdymoke2 View Post
    my wife and I drove up Petersville road quite a ways last year during moose season. We passed a lot of pull off camp sites, lots of ATVs and even some lucky hunters who had harvested some bulls (not a ton, but we saw a couple). Wish I could pinpoint exactly where we ended up, but I would say we drove 10-12 miles, give or take. Just curious how far up one should go to get into some good glassing country that's accessible.
    10 or 12 miles from the Parks? or 10 or 12 miles from the Roadhouse in Petersville? Last summer I got to know two of the several miners up there at Cache Creek. They mine way at the end of the road system behind the mountain - 30 plus miles from the Parks. This is well past 10 miles from Petersville. Well past the creek washouts, the no tresspassing signs etc. One of them hunts the north side of the mountain. If you look at Google Earth or Maps at the Petersville area and zoom in to see the road, you will see that the road cuts through the mountain that I am talking about. The road condition always varies due to the washouts at the stream crossings. The last time I was back in to the mines was over 15 years ago and in a little D50 4WD. The road was in great shape all the way in. Way too many brown bears for safe bird hunting alone.

    Back in my college days we would come down to Petersville to hunt moose since that unit was open after the units in Fairbanks had closed. Most of our hunting then was between Oil Well road and the road house and to the south. By this time of the year it was just a camping trip due to all the pressure the moose were under. Lots of brown bears around due to the gut piles. Lots of spruce hens too.

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    Looking at the map, I may have been a little off on that distance. We went well past the forks roadhouse, but I don't think we made it as far as Cache Creek trail. I can see where, what looks to be the road goes way back in there. I think we'll need to take a drive up there pretty soon to scope out the area, but it looks like it has everything we need to spot some bears without the 7 mile hike back into the knik river area. Really appreciate the insight and direction with this. Any other thoughts before heading out? I do need to find some cabins or a lodge out there but I see a possible lodge shortly after the turn off from the Parks and then also Cache Creek cabins. Thanks again, HUGE help!

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    Man do yourself a favor and start looking south! If you are driving all the way up there it isn't that much further to the Kenai Mtns. In the past two years I have seen 10-1 the amount of bears in and around those mountains than what I have seen back there on that road. I spent quite a bit of time back there last year and saw one good bear that was already being stalked and one sow with a cub. I have counted 10 bears on one slope in unit 7! Just prepare for the hike after the critters.

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    I've heard that the peninsula is a great bet. Is that unit heavier in brown bears, black bears or is it pretty evenly split? I would love to take a brown bear, but I don't have "back up" just in case (don't have any friends yet to go out with).

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    Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a healthy population of both. Unit 7 is a draw permit for brown. From my limited experience the brown bears are probably still focused on the salmon streams during the months of September and October as I would guess I count 20:1 black to brown bears in the berry patches. You have to hunt HIGH to be successful. I have blown four stalks on very good bears.

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