I was in Fairbanks this weekend to join my family for my grandfather's memorial. It was bittersweet, being he was 82 and had health trouble, but difficult to accept his passing. But it offered some time to catch up with one of my favorite people in the world: my great-uncle Charles Gray and his wonderful wife. My wife and I stayed in their mother-in-law apartment. Between the memorial service and staying at his house, I got to sit and listen to stories about Alaska from someone who moved to Fairbanks in 1943 and has lived there ever since. That has to be one of my favorite things to do. I would prefer to sit and listen to my grandfather, but with his passing, his brother was the next best thing.
I had no internet access while I was there, but this forum came to mind while we were chatting about hunting. Uncle Chuck became a licensed big game guide in 1953 and actively guided until 1994. He owns 5 acres in the Brooks Range with an airstrip and has spent over 40 seasons there guiding for sheep primarily, but with brown bear, moose and caribou thrown in there. I had to ask him about his rifles and what he used. His answer, a 270 and a 30-06. He liked the 270 for caribou and sheep but used the 30-06 for everything bigger. He used it to guide for brown bear, and stopped more than one in DLP with it. He's hunted Kodiak and Hinchinbrook and used the trusty old 30-06. He was one of the last white men to shoot a polar bear in Alaska before they listed them as protected. I asked him what he used for it. "The same one, yeah." Yep, a .30-06.
As we were talking and I remembered all the caliber threads over time, I baited him for a good quote regarding the need for big super magnums. I asked if he ever used anything bigger. His answer "Well, I've shot some bigger ones like a 375 H&H. They're good. I just never used one in the field. No need."
So there it is. The final word on whether a .30-06 is plenty enough for AK. Apparently its good enough for polar bear and some people go into the field for 41 years professionally with it and never feel the need for more.
I'm sure it wont take but a week before someone asks the same question again, by I thought of this forum and felt like sharing this. It sure is something special when someone from that generation, with that sort of life experience opens up and tells you what it was like then. They didn't buy new guns every two years back then like some of us do now. If they had something good, they kept it and used it as long as possible. Before I left, he read my mind and opened up his gun safe and showed the same rifle he had used since 1953. It looked brand new. It was amazing to hold such a piece of history, responsible for keeping my Uncle Chuck alive before Alaska was even a state.
My Uncle Chuck's advice: "Buy a good .30-06. Shoot it. Keep it."