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Thread: When do Kenai Pen. Bears start hibernating?

  1. #1
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    Default When do Kenai Pen. Bears start hibernating?

    When do K.Pen Black and Browns “generally” start hibernation?

    What’s the latest you guys might head out and realistically think that it’s not a waste of time?

  2. #2

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    I have several that den on the hillside/mountain back of the cabin. I watch them go in and exit in the spring. Mid November most are in for good. The sows with this years cub den first, starting around mid October'ish. There is nothing about this denning or exiting the den process that is cast in concrete, it is all very flexible. The monster Brown Bears come off the mountain in very late February (sometimes) but generally the first ten days of March.

    By March 20'th all the big Brown Bears are heading for the Six Mile Creek. Strangely the Big Brownies seem to come off the mountain in the dark of night. Somehow they come down through snow 6-8-10 or 12 feet deep. And they come pretty much straight down. It seems to not matter how deep the snow or how dark. When then decide to be down here, they somehow just point their nose and plow down. They are not running, they are walking.

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    Member cod's Avatar
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    I often see brownie tracks in November.
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    Sow and cub black bear above my house yesterday. I originally taught I had found a nice large bear. Club was next to mom and then moved.

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    For black bears I would say for the most part as soon as the food is gone, which comes shortly after the first snow fall. Brown bears usually are denned by the end of November. But, bears can and do stick their head out of a den any time they get a notion to.

    On the Kenai some one has been attacked by a brown bear on each of the 12 months in a year. Long ago me and my son were bunny hunting down Swan Lake Road on November 11 and it just started to snow. I saw fresh tracks in the new snow where the bears had just come out of the brush and walked down the road. It was a brown bear sow and two cubs.

    We each had a .22 and I had a .44 S&W and my son could easily out run me so I called and end to the bunny hunt. Enjoy your bunny hunts guys.

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    The bio who is in charge of the bear tagging on Esther Island that caught the poachers last year is a friend of mine. He recently posted this about those bears. I was surprised it was so early.

    " Black Bears are preparing to hibernate, and by late September, some of our radio-collared bears have already entered their dens. Others may stay active into November."

    and this... "About 2/3 of our black bears have been in their dens by mid October with others lingering until mid November. Funny, but the largest male we collared was usually one of the first to den"
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    From my personal observations it can be even later. I spent a couple winters on Afognak in the 80s and once in a while you'd come across fresh bear tracks in the snow in Dec. Depends on if there is a food source, I think. Maybe deer/elk gutpiles?
    An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.
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    Thanks for all the replies! Super Helpful!!

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    I've cut fresh brown bears tracks by Egumen lake in February in below zero weather.

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    Personally I believe like's been said, that most bears will be denned by the end of Nov.. I once observed what appeared to be a dry sow brownie sitting on her haunches in about 4 feet of snow just chowing down like crazy at the end of the first week of Nov. I also believe however, that it all depends on how comfortable they feel in their dens from how fat they've gotten before denning as to weather they actually stay denned up or have to leave in search of food. Friend of mine killed a blackie hanging around a cabin once toward the end of Dec. that looked to be starving to death. They have to be warm and comfortable for them to maintain hibernation. Just because they den up doesn't mean they'll stay denned all winter. Their current health will determine that.

    I've often wondered how many bears actually die in their dens possibly due to being too weak, waited too long, and are physically unable to leave their dens? I would imagine that some old bears that are about to die from old age anyway, never make it out in the spring? Has anybody here ever read anything pertaining to this?
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  11. #11

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    Hey 4merguide,

    I also suspect dome bears die in their dens and become food for other bears and other meat eating critters. Maybe fish and game could tell if they had a tracking collar on a bear.

    I also wonder if brown bears prey on black bear that den up in late September and early October. I will probably never know. Maybe fish and game or a guide that spends many days in the field would know about that.

  12. #12

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    There is a wide range of time they enter from year to year (if they enter) den in the fall or winter. But the exiting, can be dialed in close, and is consistent, and not dependent on the weather or depth of snow. I notice some exit the den and go straight down, and do not loiter even a day. Others will hang out near the den for days or weeks.

    Side note: I once found 16 dens altogether on fairly steep hill side, at he very head of the Dog Salmon River, on the Alaska Peninsula.

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