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The Great Alaskan Outdoor Series: Big Game Hunting

Alaska is famous for offering a variety of plentiful and unparalleled world-class big game hunting opportunities. As part of the traditional way of life in the Great Land, Alaska residents often rely on successful hunting to feed their family throughout the long, cold winter. In a state that spreads across nearly one-fifth the size of the continental United States combined, it is essential that hunters seeking big game plan ahead and learn the state regulations for hunting to ensure the best big game hunting experience possible.

Big Game Hunting in Anchorage AK
by Bernard Pollack

Alaska Big Game Species

If marine mammals are included, Alaska is home to more than a dozen species of big game animals spread across its vast 365,000,000 acres. Some of the species that can be found roaming through the Last Frontier include:

  • Bison
  • Black Bears
  • Brown/Grizzly Bears
  • Caribou
  • Dall Sheep
  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Moose
  • Mountain Goats
  • Musk Ox
  • Wolves
  • Wolverines

Although there are many native species in Alaska, it is important to remember that the densities of these big game animals will generally be less than those found in more southern states. Since big game species are required to migrate during seasonal ranges, it is recommended that you research about the best locations and times to hunt for particular species. [View Alaska’s Hunting Maps & Area Information]

A Hunter’s Calendar for Alaska

  • New hunting licenses, bear tags, nonresident big game tags needed.
  • Plan your hunting trip. Call for information. Drawing and Tier II permits awarded.
  • Alaska Board of Game prepares regulations for the next hunting season.
  • Most spring bear seasons open.
  • Regulatory year begins.
  • New hunting regulations booklets available.
  • New harvest tickets for the regulatory year.
  • Most fall hunting seasons begin.
  • Some Dall sheep, caribou, deer, and moose seasons open.
  • Obtain harvest tickets and/or registration permits for big game before hunting.
  • Turn in harvest reports within 15 days of the close of the season.
  • Drawing and Tier II permit materials available.
  • Some late winter moose hunts open.
  • Drawing and Tier II permit applications accepted November 1-mid-December only.

Big Game Hunting Licenses and Permits

Like other states, a license is required in Alaska to participate in any hunting or trapping activities. Residents who are under 16 years old do not need to purchase a hunting license, but non-residents under the age of 16 are required to carry a license. Hunting licenses are also not required for residents who are 60 years of age or older. Licenses can be purchased online or through mail-in order form.

After receiving a hunting license, hunters need to apply for general season harvest tickets for big game as well. General season harvest tickets for moose, caribou, black bear, deer, and sheep can be applied for online or at local license vendors in Anchorage. Harvest tickets may be applied for at any time, and will be valid until June 30th.

In addition, Alaska Hunting regulations for big game hunting mandate the use of locking tags in specific circumstances. Locking tags are placed onto the animal immediately following the kill, and must remain on the animal until it is processed or exported. All non-resident hunters are always required to purchase proper locking tags for big game hunting. Resident hunters will also need to buy locking tags when hunting brown grizzly bears or musk ox species.

Big Game Guide Requirements

Although residents with a hunting license are not required to have a guide, nonresident and nonresident military licensees must be accompanied by a guide when hunting certain big game species. When planning to hunt for brown bear, sheep, or goats, nonresident licensees need to complete an affidavit form that proves a qualified guide will be joining on the hunting trip.

For nonresident alien licensees, or individuals who are not a citizen of the United States, there are stricter regulations that must be followed to the letter. When planning to hunt for brown bear, black bear, bison, caribou, deer, elk, goat, moose, musk ox, sheep, wolf, or wolverine, nonresident alien license holders need to be accompanied by a qualified guide. If the alien hunter does not file the appropriate affidavit and hunts big game without a guide, it is considered a Class A misdemeanor.

Overall, the surrounding area around Anchorage offers many hunting trails accessible by foot or all-terrain vehicles. Other big game hunting adventures can be found by flying to remote back-country locations or boating inland along the waterways. After the successful hunt, savor the thrill by processing the big game into gourmet sausage, jerky, steak, or more at the various specialty shops around Anchorage.

Learn More About Living in Anchorage

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