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Thread: Advice on Unit 17B for brown bear

  1. #1
    New member
    Join Date
    Jul 2012

    Default Advice on Unit 17B for brown bear


    First post here and a belated thanks for all the info I've gathered on these pages over the last couple years!! You guys are a wealth of knowledge!

    We are booked for a family trip to Port Alsworth in August, during which my wife will hunt black bear, and then I'll stay from the 20th to the 28th to hunt brown bear. Having lived in Bethel for a couple years back in the 80s, and 4 or 5 trips up since then to other parts of the state, I'm fairly familiar with the weather and terrain, and although my outfitter has been great in providing information, I'd love some unbiased recommendations. We will be hunting the Nushagak river area where the King Salmon comes in.

    So here we go:

    • Anybody with any first hand experience with that specific area? I understand there's a lot of bears in that unit but what sizes can I reasonably expect?
    • What type of hunting---up close and personal or can I expect shots over 200 yds?
    • I have a pair of Lowa Extremes and a pair of Lowa Tibets.....which pair?
    • Outfitter says hip boots are optional. I wear a size 14 and don't want to lug a pair all the way up and out if I don't really need them.
    • If the guide has a spotting scope do I need one too? I'm taking my Leica Geovids in 10x42.
    • I wear mostly KUIU gear. Do I need an insulated pant like the Guide pant or will the regular Attack pants work?
    • I tried to check out the Women's gear section but it won't let me. I sent an email to Julia but what I'm looking for is good quality technical hunting clothes for women. KUIU nor Sitka offer small sizes and while Patagonia has some options that might work, I don't know what the material will be like for hunting...will it be noisy?

    Please don't hesitate to chime in with any recommendations you might have!
    Thanks for the help guys!


  2. #2


    My info is dated, as I hunted the the Nush and the KingSalmon back in 2002. Saw a nice browniethe first couple of days in camp, but I was hunting moose and caribou, so wejust watched him forage on berries up on the hillside. The King Salmon had a fair number of brownbears back then, I gotta believe the population is even better today.

    If youíre hunting right down along the river, itís prettythick and the shots would be up close and personal. We walked down a little creek and didnít seeany bears, but I could smell them in there, and we saw a nice track where oneslipped out on us. If youíre above theriver on the hillsides, you could have a shot up to 200 yards, but most guidestry to get the hunter within 75-125 yards for the first shot. Bears donít always die easily, you might needto shoot the bear a few more times before itís done.

    If youíre hunting along the river, hip boots will help youmore than the Lowas. There are plenty ofsloughs along the King Salmon, you might need to cross one or more to put astalk on a bear. You canít easily crossthe Nush in hip boots in a lot of places, would probably use a boat for that.

    If the guide has a spotting scope you donít need to bringone, you can spot bears several miles away with a good pair of binoculars.

    If youíre hunting in late August and wearing hip boots, you wonítneed insulated pants, and probably wonít need long underwear either. Your legs will get pretty warm in aninsulated pair of hip boots, I always wore just a thin pair of pants and wasplenty warm.

    I wouldnít worry so much about technical hunting wear Ė I donítown any, and it hasnít seemed to be a shortfall over the course of 6-7 remoteAlaska hunts. Just get her quality woolor fleece clothing, they donít make a lot of noise.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2009
    Los Anchorage


    I did a bear hunt in that unit with my dad a couple years ago in the fall. We were not in one of the drainages you mentioned but I can't imagine the terrain changing too much from where I was. Lots of open rolling hills, with willows or alders in the bottoms, and nothing much else over 8" high.

    We saw bears everyday we were there with the exception of the day we stayed weathered in most of the time. We didn't see any really big bears with the biggest being around 8 foot or a shade over. We ended up filling our tags with a 7 footer and another that went 7 1/2.
    I used a pair of Geovids just like yours, while Dad and his buddy both had 10X Leupolds. We didn't have a spotter and never really felt the need for one to be honest. I wore my Cabelas Bogbuster hipboots the entire time and would not have it any other way. They are tight fitting, comfortable, not overly warm, and help keep your pants dry when kneeling on the tundra. Also there were a number of small streams that were just over the tops of a pair of hunting boots deep, as my dad found out one day when he decided to forgo the waders.
    The shots on our bears were on the longish side for bears IMO, Dad's was taken at 154yds while mine was 173 when the hammer fell. I would have liked to have been closer but in both cases the lack of cover prevented us from closing the distance. I had set my personal maximum shot distance at 150yds but ended up breaking my own rule on the last day at last light. Luckily I had a solid rest from the prone, using my daypack as a rest. I guess my max distance for grizzly bears is now 173yds .

    I will also suggest a bug net, as if you didn't already know that, but the year we were there the bugs were the worst I have ever seen, literally clouds swarming out of the moss with each step.

    Have fun and be patient, I'm sure you'll get to look over plenty of bears if the weather cooperates.

    P.S. If your outfitter will allow it take a shotgun to camp with you, after you tag out you can go shoot ptarmigan, I've never seen more of them in my life than out there.

  4. #4
    New member
    Join Date
    Jul 2012


    Good info here!! Thanks guys!

    Sounds like hip boots are a must.
    Hadn't thought of a bug net....figured the mosquitos would be gone by then.

  5. #5


    I have only hunted that unit for caribou but will agree with all of the info above. The weather will likely be nice and it probably won't get down to freezing at night. It was years back when I was there and I believe caribou hunting in that area is very limited or shut down now since the herd numbers crashed. We did see atleast one grizzly there everyday and while none of them were giant there were a couple that were large boars probably 8ftish and they had nice thick silver tipped coats. We saw them everywhere from down in the tag alders to the mountain peaks and I imagine you could run into one anywhere in between. As far as bugs the mosquitoes will not be the problem it will be the white-sox flies which are like a gnat that travels in large swarms. They are mostly just annoying, but if you get blood on you when skinning an animal they can and will bite. After cleaning my first caribou my arms were not covered and I got bitten enough times by them that both of my forearms swelled up for a week so I would recommend the long field dressing gloves. Even if it gets below freezing at night the white sox flies will return as soon as the temp rises back up into the mid to high 30s. Definitely a lot of ptarmigan in that area and possibly some great fishing that time of year as well. Have a great trip!


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