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Thread: Big Bear Judging what do you do

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    Member jkb's Avatar
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    Default Big Bear Judging what do you do

    I'm going to Uganik Island this fall to hunt Kodiak Bears. Interior bears I've hunted, I take the first legal bear I see. Since I probably will never hunt these bears again I would like to take a larger bear. They all look big in the field to me. Can anyone give me some tips on judging a bigger bear on Kodiak. Thanks in advance.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Best way is to only shoot them under 100yards,fifty is better. Then you can tell its a big bear.If it totters back and forth as it walks you at least know its fat.Check how tall the average bushes are in the area for height.

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    APHA has a great video on judging bears. As I recall it was made by the CPHA, and filmed at McNeil.

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    If I find 'em in Spring, out on the tundra with snow about , I just put my size 11 against their print and figure 'em from there.
    If the print is as big as my boot, well, its BIG.

    Most "Big" Bears are rather fat as they are successfull, and 'roll' as they walk, like fat puppys.

    Look for silvery colored hairs about the face and back side with a Brown and an older Black will have white and silver hairs about their muzzel, with Broken/worn teeth and and are the most likely to run off with out waiting to get a good look at you.

    Good luck.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopeak View Post
    APHA has a great video on judging bears. As I recall it was made by the CPHA, and filmed at McNeil.
    Yep, good video. I believe it is available at ADF&G as well. A few points I recall from the video in differeniating between a big male and smaller male or female was 1) look at the ears (if they look big compared to the head, it is likely a young bear), 2) front profile big and blocky (likely an older male), 3) head seems to blend into front quarters (bigger bear) vs. distinct longer, thinner neck between head and front shoulders (younger bear), and 4) matted down, heavy coat (older bear) versus light, fluffy coat appearance (young bear). I realize these are just generalities and without experience looking at lots of bears it is probably difficult to tell.

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    Member Valley Trash's Avatar
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    Tony Russ talks quite a bit about that in his bear hunting book. Good book, I enjoyed reading it, twice.

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default Bears size...

    I agree that the AK Dept Of Fish & Game video is good.

    At first glance, all (or most) bears appear biggish to most observers. They all, well, the vast majority, have four legs, one head, and two ears. And they are BEARS, as in lions and tigers and BEARS, oh my!

    Most casual observers overestimate the size of bears. In my discussions with coworkers and hikers I seldom hear someone say "I saw a small bear on the trail last week". But everybody has said "I saw a huge bear, a real monster, on the trail last week".

    I look at several factors. While head and ear size and proportion is not the first thing I look at, it is one of the best indicators of the size of a bear. Bear ears are generally the same size. A young "kickout" will have the same size ears as a 23 year old magnum monster. But a "kickouts" ears will appear large, as compared to the size of the head. And a young bears ears will be up on top of its head, like Micky Mouse ears. A large bears ears will appear very small as compared to its huge hear, and the ears will have migrated outward towards the sides of its head. Also, a mature boar will have that "furrow" down the middle of its forehead.

    Also, bears are kind-of like humans. Big, old bears- like big, old humans-often have a large hanging belly. Even in the springtime a big bear will have a big belly hanging down so that it appears that there isn't much space between the belly and the ground. Younger bears have a belly that is flat across between the front and hind legs, and there appears to be alot of space between the ground and that flat belly. Also, big bears have legs that are spaced wide apart, and little guys have no space between their legs.

    A former mentor told me that little bears "walk with only their legs moving, but big bears walk as though their entire body rotates forward with each forward step". Imagine a skinny human crawling, while using only his arms and legs...thats little bear. Imagine a huge, rotund, obese human crawling, where each forward leg movement is accompanied by a giant forward rolly-polly shoulder or hip rotation...thats a big guy.

    Many guys use the "head length methed", where a bears size is estimated by the number of "head lengths". Where a bear 5 or 6 head-lengths long equals a 8 foot square bear, or whatever. I'm not good with this method, but perhaps somebody else will explain it better. Plenty of guys use it.

    Small bears also often look larger just because the length of their hair. I often refer to a small, young bear as a "puffball". Again, think of humans. A young human always has thick, flowing hair. Older dudes have thinner, shorter hair, often.

    The items I have mentioned help me judge the size of both brown/grizz bears and black bears. To me, the hardest bear to judge is a medium to large size black bear....is he 5'6", or 6', or 6'6"?? The easiest to judge is a truely giant brown bear.

    When you see a bear lumbering through the snow on a mountainside on May 11, or eating hillside berries on Sept 11, you should get a little bit excited. But if you ask yourself "how big is that bear?", then it probably is not a giant. But when you see a true giant-mongo-magnum sized monster...without asking yourself or your hunting partner any questions YOU WILL KNOW IT!

    Hopefully more forum members will contribute their "big bear formula" for this thread.

    Dennis
    Alaska True Adventure Guide Serviced

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    A long time bear guide once told me, large boars are longer then they are wide. Front legs are farther from rear legs than left from right.
    Sow's legs form a square. Distance from front to back is same as left to right.
    He also mentioned the belly thing dennis mentioned.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
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    A sure fire way to judge the bears is to take Brwnbr with you.

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    Default I'm insulted!

    "Big, old bears- like big, old humans-often have a large hanging belly."
    "A young human always has thick, flowing hair. Older dudes have thinner, shorter hair, often."
    Insulted, but appreciate your post!
    Mike
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    There is a faster way off the mountain, might hurt a little though.

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    Default Great advice...

    I'll add one last piece of wisdom...

    I was told that for most hunters the hardest part of killing a truly big bear is passing up all the others. Even if it means going home empty.

    Sure there are the guys who go and shoot the first bear they see - and that bear turns out to be a huge 10ft'r...

    But many, many more hunters spend days, weeks and sometimes even years setting up on 6 ft'r-7 ft'rs over and over again. Sure you could drop the hammer and the hunt would be over.

    But I for one - don't have the room or the desire to fill my house with bears. I want one... A big one!

    I sat for 14 days in Kodiak a few years ago. We spotted "lots" of bears. We actually stalked into a shooting position on 4 different bears on 4 different occasions. Just opted to hold off. It was still one of my favorite hunts EVER!

    The more you see the more you'll know. Watch ever video F&G ever made. Pick up a copy of Brown Bear Hunting Alaska by Tony Russ. Pick up some of the good commercial DVD's out there on Alaska and Kodiak Brown Bear hunting. Swing by AK zoo and visit Jake the Brown Bear. Watch him walk around. The more live bears you see the better you'll be at judging their size.

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    Member jkb's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great advice guys. I am having a ball researching and setting things up for this hunt. I'll get the video and the book. I've been looking a lots of bear pictures and am learning a lot. Now if I can talk the wife into a .375 RUM or .416 rem. mag I'll be set.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
    Unknown author

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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    ya checkin' out jake at the zoo is good, but he kinda don't look like a bear from kodiak, not sure if he grows different but he just looks a little off to me..but i don't see him everyday.

    best thing that makes a bear worth a second look is a TINY head. if the bear looks like he has a huge head, let him walk. wait till you see a bear with a neck at least as long as the head and the head should look small..that means the body is big.

    also, distance between the legs, need to see some space inbetween his front and back legs, long lanky bears are usually big bears. even in the fall some of them will look real lanky.

    wide shoulders and a narrow lookin' head is a good sign as well. square face is nice too and if he's draggin' a whale about a 1/4 mile in off the beach its a good sign he's a shooter.
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
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    Talking are you talking

    beluga or humpback whale?
    Gary

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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    humpback, or gray even...but beluga...not so much.
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
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    The video "Take a Closer Look" is an excellent starting point.
    Track width and shape are excellent for determining size and sex and maturity of the animal in question. What the track represents regarding sex varies between locations, however, size represented is pretty consistent.
    Big ears, little ears; head looks big or small both require accurately evaluating both the physical condition and the condition of the pelt before they really mean anything.
    Other characteristics such potbellied; slow deliberate movements are characteristics of age and not necessarily sex (and by default size).
    Neck length, relative to head length (necker >= head length) is an excellent indicator of a mature boar on Kodiak. In other areas such as the interior the ratio is different.
    There is a big difference (usually) between spring and fall bears both in color and weight so be sure to learn and take into consideration.
    Look at lots of pictures, especially sows with cubs, buy and view the aforementioned video and when you get to the "field" study EVERY animal carefully.
    Good Luck
    Joe (Ak)

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    Member jkb's Avatar
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    Read the Tony Russ book. Got to watch the video's bought a Zodiac, my partner has the motor, booked the cabin, booked air service, just have to buy ferry tickets.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
    Unknown author

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    Member jkb's Avatar
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    I'm off to Kodiak will have pics in 10 days.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
    Unknown author

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    Cool judging bears

    They just look big... like any other animal. If there big and you have seen a few...THEY ARE BIG! Then they are a shooter.

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