Opinions Please - Guided Brown Bear Hunt
I have been offered a guided brown bear hunt for this year. It is on what I have been told is private "native corp" land around the Tatitlek area (at least that is where I would fly into). Would be 1x1 and another hunter/guide there at the same time (Oct 15-26th 2006). The hunt has been described as, per the guide: "A slow hunt where we wait on tide and wind conditions to allow us to access the fish streams without disturbing the country. Accommodations are temporary all weather, heated shelter (a 10x20 tent) on a floating platform nestled in a small cove of an island. You could expect to see bears in the 8 to 9 ft. class. There are a few 10 ft. bears here but they are smart and pretty nocturnal. I have not hunted brown bear from this private land area for the past two years and have the only land use authorization issued for most of the land we hunt. This means that there has been no legal guiding on these lands for the past two years." Price is $11,000 + license and flights, which sounds like a lot given the accommodations and my uncertainty of the area, but the prices for bear hunts keep going up....
Opinions/cautions? What does it mean to hunt "native corporation land", and is the particular area important to know? Feel free to email me. Thanks.
I recently put together a list of over fifty guides looking for a brown bear hunt. Did a ton of research. Almost every guide w/o exception described spike camp conditions similar to yours. I don't think the brown bears come out to play near the luxury hunting lodges. Also, $11,000 seems about right.
Most land in Alaska is in some form of public land, state or federal. Most/all of the FEDERAL [public] lands have super-exclusive guide area's...this means that only 1 guide/outfitter can offer guided hunting trips in that area, however the area is still open to the public for hunting also; this is mainly applicable to resident hunters, espesially for Brown/Grizzly Bear. In your case, as a non-resident, you are required to be on a guided hunt as a non-resident.
What little "private" land there is in Alaska, the larger tracts are generally held by one of the many native corporations. It is common practice for some guide/outfitter to make an arangment with the [private] land owner, i.e native corp, to lease the hunting rights for a guided hunting operation. This esentially gives the guide/outfiter a different form of a super-exclusive guide area. Sometimes the lease arangment with the native corp can be even better, for the guide operation, than a Super-exclusive Federal [public] land guide area because NO one else can hunt the area, including residents. In other words the guide/outfitter has leased "truly" exclusive hunting rights to the property. The going rate for leased hunting rights is about $1,000-$2,000 per hunter with a set number of hunters per year which can vary greatly, but use 6 as rough figure. Regardless if the hunter harvest's a Bear or not the lease fee is still paid for each client.. If you think about this from the guide/outfitters perspective, he wouldn't pay the lease if the area wasn't a really good hunting. I don't know the outfitter you're consdiering booking the hunt with, but taking everything into consideration I'd venture to say that because he has a vested interest, its probably a great Bear hunting area.
I like the part of your quote where the outfitter says a reasonable trophy expectation for a mature Brown bear in his area is 8-9 foot. This shows honesty and knowledge of Bears in his area. Too many people, outfitter, stretch the truth about Bear sizes, which is in inocent enough....like a fish story. However it sets the stage for disapointment if the outfitter makes a lot of wild claims about 10 or 11 foot Bears and then client comes on the hunt and harvest's a NICE 8 1/2' Bear. Cause then the client may feel like he shot a small one. Which is not the case, a true 8 1/2 foot Bear is a very nice [big] Alaska Brown Bear. Different people have different ways to measure and square a Bear hide, and some people stretch them more than others.
Interestingly enough after a Bear hide as been fleshed & salted, ussally done in camp, it can NEVER be "squared" accuratly again because the salt shrink the hide. A lot of the 10, 11 and 12 foot Bear that you hear about we're "squared" in camp, by the guide, and can never be varified by any other person. This is the specific reason that Bear skulls are recorded and NOT the hide size. Lastly, don't let the human male ego determine the "trophy" of the overall hunting experince.....mine is bigger than yours.
When you go on the trip keep an open mind and be flexible. Let the guide/outfitter do his job. Keep in mind that different regions may have different customs & conditions than what you're used to at home or hunting a different region for a different spieces. Remote tent camps, driving rain, wind in excess of 50 mph, long days spent behind the spotting scope not seeing much game activity are all normal in some of the better Brown Bear hunting area's of Alaska. Be happy to eat whatever they have to throw down your neck, it'll fill you're belly. The weather in that part of the world is well known for harshness. You're probably not going to see a lot of volume of Bears, obviously they are not a herd animal, however the ones you see are apt to be on the large side of "average".
The price sounds fair to me. Book the trip, go and have fun!
Good Hunting..>Byron Lamb
PS...kindly provide a hunt report to this forum when you get back. Everyone likes to read about hunting story's.