Randy Newberg explains, in detail, how he does an Alaskan black bear hunt every year for less than $2,000. There's no reason that you can't do the exact same thing.
Would you like to go on an Alaskan black bear hunt? Well who wouldn't? Randy Newberg lays out the details for doing a bear hunt for under $2,000. It's really not that difficult, but does take a lot of preparation and planning.
The hunt begins around 18 months in advance. In order to be a candidate for the bear season, which runs from August 1st of the following year through June 30th of the succeeding year, you will have to apply for a tag by December 10th of the current year.
So, as an example, Newberg applied for his mid-May, 2016 (August 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 season) bear hunt in December of 2014. These tags are on a drawing system for self-guided non-residents. This is step number one in the process. Apply well before the season; up to a year and a half in advance.
"Before you come up here, if I could give one strong piece of advice," Newberg says, "It's make certain where you go is the best place you can think of." He recommends talking to biologists, hunters, taxidermists, anyone with information.
He's got a lot of hours - approximately 40 hours - of time invested in researching the spot he's chosen. The bays, the camp location, low tides, high tides, wind, and where can he secure fresh water. The first consideration is campsite location. Newberg's campsite determines where and how he'll be able to hunt. You have three options: rent a Forest Service cabin, tent camp, or hunt out of one of the small towns or villages.
Newberg prefers to tent camp, because it offers him more flexibility and the ability to hunt in a place with less pressure. The next step is figuring out how to get to the actual place you want to hunt. He flies out to his camp location and sets up camp. Then he flies back and rents a skiff, which he motors back to his campsite. Then he uses that skiff to take him to and from his hunting location. But you've got to be comfortable and able to fix things when they go wrong, because, says Newberg, "When stuff goes wrong here in Alaska, it goes wrong."
If you're not comfortable with doing it yourself, then hire a guide. There are trade-offs with renting a skiff. Flying an inflatable up with you is another option. Your other major concern is how and what you're going to do to save and secure your hide and meat should you kill a bear.
He offers a couple tips on hide prep, and on handling the meat. He makes arrangements well ahead of time for a freezer, so that when he does fly home he is able to do so with chilled meat. In the field he uses game bags and a two to three day window of time for keeping everything as cool as possible before getting flown out.
Now then, for the cost Newberg starts by suggesting splitting everything up between three hunters.
- AK Hunting License: $80 x 3 = $240
- Black Bear Tags: $220 x 3 = $660 (note: tags and fees have increased for 2017)
- Airline Flight: $500-$800 x 3 = $2400
- Charter Flight to island campsite: $1200-$1500
- Skiff Rental: $800-$1500
- Total Cost for 3 People: $4400-$6300 or around $2000 apiece
That's not bad. Of course there are your other necessary costs such as food and supplies. But the actual hunt costs are pretty darn reasonable. But again, it requires plenty of preplanning. You can do it.
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