New to AK / What Firearm to Look for..

Deer Brook Farm

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Hi All,

I am brand-new to Alaska; I landed in Anchorage on Saturday. I'm looking for any advice for getting started hunting up here. I'm fresh out of school, so I'm thinking big game tags are out of the question for me until I can claim residency next year.

Back in my home state I used hunt deer, turkey, coyote, bear, waterfowl, etc. Any tips on what the best route is to go until I can start chasing the big stuff up here? I've heard there are coyotes up here now and that's interested me a bit (I love knockin' down song dogs!). I also was thinking about waterfowl hunting..

Are there any groups or people (other than this forum) that I should reach out to? I don't want to be a free-loader, but if there was anyone that could kind of show me the ropes I wouldn't complain! I normally hunt everyday during deer season, so I have the itch to hunt pretty bad..

Also, I am looking to purchase a firearm of some sort up here soon. It will only be one for the time being (I need to buy a vehicle, rent a house, etc.). I guess it depends on what I'll be chasing, but what is a good all around caliber / firearm for up here?

Thanks for your help,
Tony
 

Deer Brook Farm

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Thanks, Mike.

How is the small game / waterfowl hunting up here? I never really though of it until I looked at the Fish and Game regs..
 

Brian M

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Focus on small game over the next year, as that will scratch your hunting itch while also helping you learn the lay of the land. Grouse and ptarmigan hunting can be excellent. Hare hunting can be great at times, but we seem to be just past the low end of their population cycle. It doesn't hurt to get out and look, but don't expect much in the way of action if solely targeting hares. As for coyote, it's a different game up here. Very skilled hunters might only call in one every 10+ stands - expect nothing like the success rates you read of elsewhere. They're not the top of the food chain here, so they are very, very wary. Still, it's a fun way to get out during the winter, and you also have a chance of calling in a lynx, fox, or even a wolf (which you would have to pass on if you only had a small game license - not likely to bring one in, anyhow).

I'd get a 12 gauge, 20 gauge, or a .22 to get started with small game, then save up for a 30-06 as an all-around big game rifle.

Welcome aboard! Good luck in your new endeavors!
 

mike h

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Thanks, Mike.

How is the small game / waterfowl hunting up here? I never really though of it until I looked at the Fish and Game regs..


There are forums sections on both. Waterfowl is huge. Small game depends on shooting vs trapping.

Definitely shooting for bunnies, grouse, ptarmigan, fox, and predators.

Big game seasons for caribou, moose, bear. Blacktail deer in some locations (southeast, Price William Sound). Other more exotic and hard to find (or hard to get tags for) stuff like sheep, goats, musk ox, bison.

Some people sound like they do it all, most people probably carve out a niche or two.
 

limon32

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If you can only afford one gun right now, go get a Rem 870 or Mossberg 500 12ga. buy a couple boxes of Brenneke slugs for bears and a box of #6 bird shot and start your scouting for next year NOW. While your scouting for next year you'll run across bunnies and grouse, should keep you busy until March!
 

aktatts

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I don't know about the anchorage area as I'm about 300 miles west in the bush. My main guns are a 45/70, 30-30, .223, .22, and a 44.

The rabbits my way are great but I mostly snare them. Same with Wolves and wolverine I usually trap them. Grouse I generally go out just before dark when they go back into the trees and shoot them with a .17

If you plan on doing any brown bear hunting you will need a guide for non res.
 

tyrex13

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I would start with a 10/22 and a 12 ga. 500 or 870. When you come across a steal on a .308 or .30-06 I would pick up one of those as well.
 

Deer Brook Farm

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It sounds like I should send my guns up from the states.. 870, 30-06, etc.

Question:

I know it doesn't happen often, but when hunting for small game is it super important to have something (pistol / revolver) for bears, too? I could bring slugs for the 12 but I won't swap loads fast enough..
 

Brian M

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It sounds like I should send my guns up from the states.. 870, 30-06, etc.

Question:

I know it doesn't happen often, but when hunting for small game is it super important to have something (pistol / revolver) for bears, too? I could bring slugs for the 12 but I won't swap loads fast enough..

An 870 and a 30-06 will serve you well in Alaska for 90% of the game we have to hunt.

As for bears, don't stress it. Bears can be a risk, but your best defense is a cool and collected mind. I do carry a 44 magnum at times, but statistically speaking, bear spray is a more effective defense than a firearm. Learn some basics about bear behavior, then go enjoy yourself and do as much as exploring as possible.
 

Yukon Cornelius

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It sounds like I should send my guns up from the states.. 870, 30-06, etc.

Question:

I know it doesn't happen often, but when hunting for small game is it super important to have something (pistol / revolver) for bears, too? I could bring slugs for the 12 but I won't swap loads fast enough..
I think you'd be fine with your 870 and 06. You can mail them from yourself to yourself via usps. Mine made the journey from GA to here. I came up with just my 357. I eventually went to town and bought a cheap 12 ga and a 22 for smaller game and spring birds.
Bears...respect them. Though I'm wanting to get a handgun for this purpose, I don't carry any bear protection when bird or rabbit hunting.
 

willphish4food

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It sounds like I should send my guns up from the states.. 870, 30-06, etc.

Question:

I know it doesn't happen often, but when hunting for small game is it super important to have something (pistol / revolver) for bears, too? I could bring slugs for the 12 but I won't swap loads fast enough..
A bear will drop like a sack of bricks if you hit it with birdshot from 10 feet away. The shot is still encapsulated in the wad, load is carrying full energy, and is in effect a slug. It won't have as much penetration, perhaps, but will take a big chunk out of him.
 

Yukon Cornelius

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A bear will drop like a sack of bricks if you hit it with birdshot from 10 feet away. The shot is still encapsulated in the wad, load is carrying full energy, and is in effect a slug. It won't have as much penetration, perhaps, but will take a big chunk out of him.

We had this conversation this year at moose camp. We were playing the what if...game and I was asked what I'd do in a bear encounter with my shotgun and just bird rounds. My response was aim for the face. I had never thought about the effects of bird shot at even closer range. My have to conduct a science experiment.
 

Tearbear

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Personally, I really wouldn't want to wait till the bear gets that close, ten feet away...
 

Deer Brook Farm

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I know that many people recommend a 12 gauge loaded with 6 or 8 shot as an in home self defense weapon because it packs a punch and the human body, couch, drywall, etc. can stop it. You might have luck blinding it but I can't see it blasting through a skull.. Hopefully, I won't have to find out..

In regards to the small game hunting - most people hunt public land, right?

Also, I left most of my gear (clothing and what not) back in the states. Any recommendations for adequate boots, pants and shirts / jackets? I kind of assumed that clothing needs to be a bit more rugged up here.
 

limon32

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I'll clarify my recommendation, since I think I brought it up, but to be clear I don't want to turn this guys thread Ito a bear defense debate.

The way I carry a 12 gauge when small game hunting that makes ME comfortable is with birdshot chambered and slugs in the tube. My UNTESTED thought process is if I happen to get a follow up shot at a bear I'd like it to be slugs. I'm so slow at shooting birds that I don't ever get a follow up shot at them so birdshot in the tube is wasted space for ME.


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