John’s Note: Springtime has arrived on Kodiak Island in Alaska. The giant brown bears are coming out of hibernation and searching for food. Big-game hunters from all over the world are headed to Kodiak Island for their brown bear hunts of a lifetime. Often, hunters plan 1 – 3 years in advance to have an opportunity to take these majestic, dangerous bears. Cole Kramer lives and guides in Kodiak, Alaska. He’s been guiding for brown bears for 13 years, and his hunters have taken more than 50 of these dangerous, giant bears.
Use a Binocular and a Riflescope:
I use a 1.5×5 power Leupold scope, when I’m guiding for brown bears. However this year, I’ll be using a 1×6 bx 730mm, which will give me a bigger field of view through my scope. I’ll have this scope mounted and sighted in on my .375 rifle. I don’t recommend taking a scope to hunt brown bears with a larger magnification than 6X. Generally, we won’t be shooting very far. So you don’t need a lot of magnification on big-game dangerous hunts. When we’re scouting for bears, following up on bears that go into the brush or hiking, we always set our riflescope at 1X. If a bear comes running out of the brush, all you need in your scope is crosshairs to take an accurate shot. If you have your scope on a higher power than 1, all you’ll see is a big blob of brown. You won’t be able to shoot as accurately as you need to shoot to take a fast-moving brown bear. Even if a bear is out farther than 100 yards, you still can make the shot with the riflescope on 1X. Brown bears present large targets, so you don’t need a lot of magnification in your riflescope. Many brown bear guides here at Kodiak don’t even put scopes on their rifles. Instead, they prefer open sights. If the bear is out at 150 to 200 yards, you’re much more likely to miss with open sights than you are with a variable scope. Here’s another reason I suggest that my hunters scope their custom rifles. I know for certain that a hunter can shoot far more accurately with a scope than he can with open sights. I want my hunter to make the very best shot he can when we’re in position to take a brown bear.
Quality binoculars are critical when you’re hunting brown bears. You’ll spend more time glassing and trying to find bears to hunt than you will by stalking the bears. Much brown bear hunting is done from boats. Some of the guides who hunt from boats prefer 8X binoculars, because these binoculars give you a wider field of view. Since the boats are riding the waves, a wider field of view is preferred. Then every time the boat moves, you don’t lose the ability to see the bear in your binoculars. If you’re glassing long distances, some guides prefer 12X optics or even 15X optics. The binoculars I use are the Leica 10×42 Trinovid with the range finder built into the binoculars.
Shoot Through the Shoulder:
If I have a hunter who is using a .375 caliber rifle, I tell my hunter to shoot through the shoulder of the bear. Once when that big bullet hits the bear’s shoulder, the bear will be immobilized. If you shoot for the heart and lungs, the bear can travel a long way before he finally realizes that he is dead. But when you break the shoulder, the bear cannot get away very quickly. Too, all those bone fragments will create more damage than just the bullet alone. When that .375 bullet hits the shoulder, I’ve observed that the bear usually starts spinning around in a circle trying to determine what’s just hit him in the shoulder instead of running off. This reason is why I prefer my hunters to shoot for the shoulder of a bear.
I guide and book hunts for Kodiak Outdoor Adventures and Alaska Outfitters. My personal guide service is Kramer’s Kodiak Guide Service, 907-539-6447, [email protected]. I guide both bowhunters and gun hunters, and I’ve had some really exciting hunts. Spring brown bear season is in April and May with fall hunts in October and November. I also guide for Dall sheep in August and mountain sheep in September and October. Sitka blacktail deer hunts are typically in November and December. I guide too for desert sheep in Mexico and in other countries all year long.
To get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks, “Bowhunting the Dangerous Bears of Alaska and The Most Dangerous Game with a Bow: Secrets of the PSE Pros,” click here.