This hard-working outfitter is based out of southeast Alaska, but most of his hunting is done out of either Kotzebue in far northern Alaska or on the Alaska Peninsula. The outfitter excels on brown bear hunts at Cold Bay and Port Heiden for giant brownies to well over 10 feet, and some over 11 feet!
He offers hunts for brown bears, black bears, grizzly, caribou (guided and unguided drops), big moose and goats. The outfitter is a registered fishing guide and hunting guide, plus is an excellent bush pilot that owns his own plane. He is personable, friendly, easy to get along with, and he has been quietly producing some outstanding trophies of all his species for his clients with very high success rates. The outfitter’s clients have taken brown bear to 11 feet 7 inches; moose to over 70 inches; and many black bears with skulls consistently in the 20-inch range. One measured 8’2”! His Arctic grizzly tend to be blondish and make awesome mounts. He also runs an excellent charter fishing service for salmon and halibut around Ketchikan in SE Alaska.
There is also VERY good caribou hunting in this area. The outfitter hunts along the migration route of the Western Arctic Herd, Alaska’s largest caribou herd.
GRIZZLY BEAR HUNTS: Formerly you needed to apply and go into the draw. NO MORE! Yes, it is a draw permit but clients do not need to put in for the draw BECAUSE over the past few years many things have changed with this situation. The number of permits available have been more than doubled and this Outfitter is the only one in the entire unit. This means the bear permits have lots of leftovers available over the counter to all his clients. Around July or August the clients can call him and he will help them secure a permit. Clients do however need to buy a hunting license in August. You must have that to get a griz permit. We will then contact Kotzebue fish and game to secure a permit and have it held at the Kotzebue office for him to pick up for you, when he gets there in late August or September.
Way too many bears here, and some caribou hunters have seen as many as 30 or more! High odds for a solid grizzly! For example in Sept of 2018, he had taken 9 grizzly in the first few days of the season! We had some very happy clients. And he personally took a giant! Only 1/16th of an inch off the world record!
This is a good area to take a mixed bag of trophy class species. WE ENCOURAGE HUNTERS TO APPLY FOR A GRIZZLY TAG. THE GRIZZLY POPULATION IS EXTREMELY HIGH IN THIS AREA. YOU MUST HAVE PURCHASED A HUNTING LICENSE TO SECURE THE BEAR TAG!
He offers a 7 day Arctic grizzly hunt; a 10 day combo griz/caribou hunt; a 10 day moose/grizzly hunt; a 10 day Moose, Caribou and Grizzly hunt. Prices are at the end of this writeup.
Approximate DATES: First hunt is September 1 – 10, Second hunt is September 11 – 20
Transportation: Alaska Airlines flight # 151 into Kotzebue from Anchorage. Depart Kotzebue on Alaska Airlines flight #153.
License: Moose tags no longer available., Brown/Grizzly $1000, Caribou $650, Non-resident hunting license $160. License and tags should be purchased online prior to arrival in Alaska. All moose hunts are in GMU # 23. http://wildlife.alaska.gov/license_form/permit/spring_supp.pdf
Includes: 1x 1 professional guide service, in-field transportation, trophy preparation, in-field accommodations and meals, transportation of meat, cape, and antlers back to Kotzebue.
Not Included: Expediting of antlers, capes and meat beyond Kotzebue, lodging and meals in Kotzebue before or after your hunt, or due to the inability to fly due to bad weather, gratuities.
Camp: Camps are remote spike camps with outfitter-style tents for cooking, dining, and storage, and with dome tents used for sleeping quarters equipped with cots. Basic but adequate, and you will see game from your tent. Bike, hike and train for this hunt. You will find waking very difficult.
ASK FOR BUTCH’S SUGGESTED EQUIPMENT LIST FOR THESE KOTZEBUE HUNTS!
The outfitter hunts brownies from three locations: Port Heiden, Iliamna, and Cold Bay. On the Peninsula, the Outfitter offers fall hunts in the ODD numbered years and spring hunts in the EVEN numbered years. Bears stretch from 9’ to 11’ 7”! In 2018 Cold Bay will be hunted; and in 2019 Port Heiden will be hunted. Cold Bay is about 200 miles south west of Port Heiden. Both are on the Peninsula.
Based upon the client’s physical abilities, trophy expectations, and financial means, we try hard to place them on a hunt that will surpass their expectations but be within their physical limits as described to us. Be honest about your conditioning! Don’t set yourself up to fail by being unrealistic.
Depending on the year (even or odd) unit 9 is set up on an odd year fall season and an even year spring season, to ensure trophy brown bear management. Spring hunting season on even years starts May 10th and ends May 30th, and fall season starts October 1 and ends October 25. It helps to be in shape for these hunts- they can be relatively strenuous- or sometimes easy- no way to tell in advance- so be ready.
“Butch -I enthusiastically recommend you and this outfitter to anyone who wants to actively stalk the planet’s biggest bears in their best habitat with a very successful, well-equipped outfit that gets up and goes after the game!”
There were lots of beaming faces in this bear camp. You need to be in shape. You may face tundra with treacherous footing on muskeg and mud. Sometimes snow and climbing is involved. You will spot the bears and then stalk the mountain to reach them. The outfitter has multiple spike camps, and will fly you to another camp if your area is not producing sightings. It is a very reasonable expectation to kill a bear in the 9- to 10-foot range, with some hitting 11 feet. Cold Bay and Port Heiden are big bear country!
Cold Bay, Alaska Brown bear hunts: Spring
The Alaska Peninsula near Cold bay is his premier brown bear hunting area. This is an area they only hunt on even numbered spring years. It is probably the best location for trophy brown bear in Alaska. This region is as good if not better than Kodiak Island for huge coastal brown bear.
The Aleutian Range with its 4000-foot peaks rising from the ocean’s edge makes the perfect backdrop for glassing giant coastal brown bear. This is truly Alaska’s trophy brown bear area. Brown Bear in these two units (9E and D) can grow to more than 11 feet square, with skulls measuring over 30 inches. More SCI record book brown bear have been taken from these two units than any others in Alaska. His clients’ largest brown bear taken from here in 2008 measured 11.6 feet squared, with a skull measurement of 30.5 inches.
Ten foot brown bear are taken each spring by his clients on this hunt, and most brown bear taken will measure over 9 feet! Many outfitters have never taken a true ten foot bear.
Hunting is done from a spike camp, only accessed by a Super Cub with large tundra tires. He and his pilots are continually checking on their camps and moving them as conditions change. As winter looses its grip and snow melts, the big boars bears will emerge from their dens. They are continually looking for such activity and place camps accordingly. With his base camp closely located to the Bering Sea, they are also searching the beaches looking for dead whales and walrus that have washed up on shore. Brown bear, wolves, and wolverine will come to these carcasses to feed. Camps will be placed near these locations as well.
Glassing mountainsides you will see brown bear, moose, caribou, wolves and wolverine. Brown bear will move off the mountains to the lower elevations looking for food and females. Quite often you will see large boars chasing both smaller boars and adult sows up and down the mountains. Sows with young cubs are at high risk. Large males will kill and eat young cubs for food, and to bring the female back into heat. This has been witnessed first hand over the years while hunting for both brown bear and grizzly bear in the spring.
Most brown bear are taken less than 2 miles from our spike camps. Spring hunting is more physically demanding than fall hunting. Hunters will need to be able to climb the hills or mountains to go after brown bear emerging from their dens high up in the mountains. Quite often you will see bear laying down high up in the mountains basking in the sun. Brown bear will remain close to the den for days before they move off any great distance. This is the ideal situation to find a big brown bear that has just dug itself out from the den and to remain close by for days allowing hunters to make a successful stalk.
Brown bear will go back in the den to sleep during the cool spring nights, and once again emerge mid day as the sun warms the hill or mountain side causing the den to fill with water from the melting spring snow. Depending on the snow conditions it may require snowshoes to travel up the valleys to the bear, but the good thing is, often the alders are still covered with snow allowing for easier and faster travel. The biggest difference between spring versus fall brown bear is that the male brown bear are more active during the spring due to the breeding season.
SPRING – COLD BAY ALASKAN PENINSULA- GIANT COLD BAY BROWNIES!
Cold Bay has been written up a number of times in the outdoor magzines. It produces MANY huge bears. This outfitter’s best to date was an 11’ 7” and an 11′ 2″!! Giants!!!
PRICE: Dates are approximate. Prices subject to change due to aviation fuel costs.
DATES: BROWN BEAR- COLD BAY: Availability for SPRING 2020 Hunts are in May. DATES APPROX.
MAY 10 – 20, 2020
MAY 11, 12 & 13 (AS STAND-BYS FOR OPENING DAY HUNTS)
MAY 21 – 31 EVEN YEARS ONLY FOR SPRING ON THE PENINSULA
TRANSPORTATION: Illiamna Air Taxi from Anchorage to Illiamna, or Penn Air to Cold Bay from Anchorage. Outfitter will meet you at Illiamna or Cold Bay, Alaska.
INCLUDES: 1X1 Professional Guide service, In-field accommodations and meals, trophy care, and all in-field transportation.
NOT INCLUDED: In-town lodging before or after your hunt, or due to the inability to fly due to bad weather. Commercial airfare to Illiamna or Cold Bay, shipping or hauling of trophies beyond Illiamna or Cold Bay. Licenses or tags, gratuities.
License: Brown bear tags are $1000, and the non-resident hunting license is $160. Both should be purchased online before arrival in Alaska.
CAMP: Base camp will be made up of wall tents for cooking, eating, and storage with 6-man dome tents used for sleeping. Spike camps are made up of 6-man dome tents with cots.
Port Heiden, Alaska Brown Bear Hunts: Fall
If you prefer hunting in the fall and are truly after a ten-foot brown bear you may want to consider this outfitter’s fall brown bear hunting area in unit 9E near Port Heiden. Success at this location runs 90 to 100% normally. For this hunt you will fly from Anchorage to Port Heiden with Pen Air. Season dates for this area are from October 1st through the 25th in odd numbered years. This part of the Alaska Peninsula is managed by the state of Alaska to ensure trophy-sized brown bear. Only one brown bear per four years is the limit for hunters in this unit. Over the years, many of the outfitter’s clients have taken record book brown bear on this hunt. A 9-foot plus brown bear can weigh as much as 1,400 pounds. Each year the outfitter’s clients take brown bears that qualify for SCI and Boone and Crockett. Hides can square 10.5 feet plus from this area. Hunting is done from spike camps that are only accessed by a super cub airplane equipped with large tundra tires.
He will move you if you are not seeing bears. Fall hunting at Port Heiden is primarily done in the low areas along the streams and rivers that are full of returning sockeye and silver salmon. Brown bears will be feeding on salmon to put on the necessary weight needed to go into hibernation. After feeding, bears will lie in the thick alders.
This is another location where they place camps, as the bedding areas have been very productive for them over the years as brown bears move off the rivers, many times shortly after daylight. You will move toward these bedding areas and wait along the many deeply-worn trails, waiting and glassing for big brown bears to return to the brush. The larger older bears are most often the first to take cover in the dense alders, often returning right at daylight. Hunters will be intercepting bears to and from their feeding grounds. The average day is spent sitting along the river glassing for bears feeding on salmon. When doing so, scent control is a MUST! It will make the hair stand up on your neck when you hear the water splashing from a large bear chasing salmon in the river as he is about to round the bend that you are sitting at!
Bowhunting for brown bears can be very effective in this area, as most of the streams start from an underground spring. As salmon move up these systems, they reach a dead end in the stream, and begin to pool up by the hundreds. This makes for a perfect area to bowhunt. They have had numerous clients take record book brown bears with a bow in this area.
The fall hunt is generally less strenuous than the spring hunt, which can be physically demanding. You will not be climbing the mountains, not likely have snow, and spend more time glassing and watching.
Port Heiden Fall 2019 10-day hunt
Approximate Dates: Oct 1st-10th Oct 11th-21st of odd years.
Transportation: Fly to Anchorage. Penn Air to King Salmon and the Grant Aviation into Port Heiden.
Includes: 1X1 Professional Guide service, In-field accommodations and meals, trophy care, and all in field transportation.
Not Included: In town lodging before or after your hunt, or due to the inability to fly due to bad weather. Commercial airfare to Port Heiden, shipping or hauling of trophies beyond Port Heiden. Licenses or tags, gratuities.
License: Brown bear tags are $1000, and the non-resident hunting license is $160. Both should be purchased online before arrival in Alaska.
Camp: Base camp will be made up of wall tents for cooking, eating, and storage with 6-man dome tents used for sleeping. Spike camps are made up of 6-man dome tents with cots.
GRIZZLY BEAR HUNTS:
He hunts two different areas (Kotzebue and Illiamna), for two different sorts of griz!
KOTZEBUE: He hunts the so-called Arctic Grizzly near Kotzebue in the fall season. These bears have a very wide color variation, with light blonde being most common. Bears there will average from 7 to 8 feet. Hunts are spot and stalk, glassing mountain sides and river valleys. You can combo with caribou as well, if the timing works out. We normally want our grizzly hunters to start about Sept 1, before bears start wandering. This Kotzebue area as of 2014 now has over the counter and registration grizzly tags! Too many bears, so no draw any more. Hunt April/May or else September. One hunter in fall of 2014, simply sat in camp in his chair and saw 19 bears one day! They walked by at breakfast and at dinner! Needless to say he took a good one, and another they estimated at 9 feet got away. The river necks down in front of camp so bears are forced close. A reasonable expectation is between 7 and 8 feet. Nice thing is, due to the regular Spring flooding, the river valley is almost like walking on a sidewalk- flat and relatively easy! The bears key on the chum salmon that run the river in droves. 1X1 guiding, meals and lodging and includes your charter flight! Tag is over the counter, pick it up in Kotzebue and outfitter assists you.
This outfitter’s third bear area is in Unit 9A at the head of the Alaskan Peninsula, not far from Illiamna. This unit has one of the state’s highest brown bear populations. Most of the outfitter’s camps are along the coast of Cook Inlet. Bears average in the 8’ to 9 1/2’ range with a few bigger. These bears can weigh upwards of 900 pounds or more. The outfitter’s clients boast almost a 100% success on this hunt over the years. The area is mountainous, with thick alders and spruce forest. Due to the high bear density, it is one of the easier brownie hunts around, with clients frequently seeing dozens of bears. Weather and your physical condition of course can play a part. Bears hear go into hibernation in late October, emerging in April. Camps are situated to take advantage of these general patterns, being placed near denning areas or feeding areas.
Date is roughly Sept 1-7, 2019. VERY LIMITED OFFERING!
ILIAMNA AREA SPRING AND FALL BROWN BEAR HUNTS
The griz hunts in the Iliamna area arguably may offer slightly larger bears on average, and they tend to be darker in color. You again hunt via spot and stalk and you can hunt in early spring or in the fall. Spring hunts mean you glass the mountains looking for bears as they come out of hibernation. Fall is glassing the same slopes for bears feeding on berries or working small streams for salmon. Tags for Iliamna area are over the counter. Purchase them online.
On both of these griz hunts, you fly initially to Anchorage, then onward to either Kotzebue or Iliamna. Overnight in Anchorage. All guiding is 1×1 and all in-field transport is included. A bear license is $1000 plus a $160 hunting license.
GUIDED CARIBOU HUNTS:
These hunts are based out of Kotzebue. Kotzebue has almost no services. This means you will need to overnight in Anchorage and fly out the next morning to Kotz. On the way back, plan to fly back to Anchorage the same day you pull out of the hunting location. You will be back to Kotzebue in time to catch the evening flight back to Anchorage. You can then either catch a red eye flight home, or better yet, spend the night in Anchorage.
Hunts start in early September. You will be hunting the largest caribou herd in Alaska, the Western Arctic herd, which numbers around 225,000 caribou. You have some of the highest odds for success by hunting this herd. In 2017 the success rates were again extremely high, and the animals were butter fat, with excellent capes and antlers. While the Mulchatna herd is not doing well, this Western Arctic herd is in great condition with lots of trophy animals. You are allowed to take only one caribou now. Hunter success on guided hunts usually runs between 95% and 100% over the last 30 years or so. But every so often the caribou just do not show up, and that can happen, as the hunt is very weather-dependent. The outfitter’s camps are mobile and he relocates them as the herd moves along its migration route, to ensure you the highest opportunity for success. Over 20 years of experience dictate where they place the camps.
The best odds for taking trophy bulls is on the guided hunt, but big bulls are quite common, and seeing 300 to 500 caribou is not unusual. You need to realize, though, that caribou are vast roamers and caribou here today may disappear tomorrow! And you need to be able to walk a couple miles a day.
You can also take wolves at no extra charge, but they require a $60 tag. During Butch’s 2011 moose hunt, one client took a gorgeous black wolf using a predator call. (HINT!) All prices include airport pickup, and charter transport to the field and back.
Guided hunts (2×1) Meals and camps, etc., are all set up for you. Extra days are $175 per day. No extra fee for charter to camp. These fully guided caribou hunts are for the hunters that are looking for that extra edge in finding a trophy caribou, and who prefer to have help with all the work that Alaska caribou hunting entails. All staff members have had many years working in this area and are very professional and excellent hunters as well as outdoorsmen. They are also first aid and CPR certified, in case of that unexpected emergency. In these camps they have satellite phones for communications and emergency use. Their professional guides will work hard for you both in camp, and in finding a trophy caribou that you will be proud to hang on the wall. Guided caribou hunts are much easier as your guide and packer will do all of the skinning, packing, prepping the hide/cape, cooking and camp chores; allowing you to sit back and enjoy the beautiful arctic scenery and wildlife that draws us to this region. This hunt is a great hunt to combo with moose, grizzly bear and wolf. Many of the Guides also carry video cameras (or will operate yours) to capture your hunt and daily activities for you to have forever to remember your Alaskan hunt. ONE OF OUR 2018 BOW HUNTERS HAD HUNDREDS OF CARIBOU TO CHOOSE FROM!
Do be aware that walking on muskeg and tundra is some of the toughest walking you can do! If you are overweight or out of shape, you’ll likely be worn out in a single day. You do not need to be in excellent shape, but a couch potato will have a very rough time on tundra. Call and discuss this to be sure you are up to the task. It can take most of a day to get a caribou back to camp. But virtually 100% opportunity.
SELF-GUIDED CARIBOU HUNT:
ASK US FOR INFORMATION ON ALASKA #181!
Dates: Mid-August to end of September (about 50% of bulls are hard-horned by end of August)
Licenses: $650 per caribou and $160 for hunting license. Buy online before arrival!
(about 50% of bulls are hard-horned by end of August)
PRICING (subject to change without notice)
50% deposit due in order to reserve hunt date and price. Remaining balance due 60 days prior to hunt.
2019 – 8 day Fall Brown Bear Hunt…Port Heiden Area $22,500
2020 – 8 day Spring Brown Bear Hunt… Cold Bay Area $24,500
7 Day Arctic Grizzly Bear Hunt (inside/outside Refuge) $15,250/ $17,500
10 Day Arctic Grizzly Bear/Caribou (inside/outside Refuge) $20,250/ $22,250
5 Day Guided 2 Hunters w/1 Guide Caribou Hunt $10,250 per person
Observers – 5 day minimum $750/day per person
TYPICAL QUESTIONS WITH ANSWERS BY OUTFITTER:
1. Will you be flying out weather permitting on the DAY WE ARRIVE? Yes. The plan is to fly to camp on the same date you arrive (see contract)
2. What date do you fly back into Kotz? If for example it is a 10 day hunt. If hunt ends on the 20th, fly back on 21st . (See contract)
3. On arrival in Kotz, we will have caribou meat, (bear meat too?). What happens to the meat? We will want to take some home. Do we donate the rest there? Costs if any? We have 50-pound fish boxes for sale for $15 each to put meat in, or donate the meat. We will not allow anyone to take part of the caribou as in quarters, loins, backstrap and donate the rest as in ribs, neck trimming. That does not sit well when someone getting a bag of meat only gets scraps that hunters do not want to take. The policy is, if hunters want partial caribou, they take a full half or entire animal. Can’t just take prime cuts! We will be happy to donate. We have a long list that will be happy to have it. Bear meat we will donate to the other bears for free.
4. Do we de-bone it there in Kotz? We recommend not to de-bone. It will stay cleaner/cooler if you do not. But you can if you wish to, but yes, this will only take place in Kotz.
5. What licenses, tags or metal do we need and how/when to do that and costs? See contract/gear list. You do it online for caribou through F&G, and in Kotz for bear.
6. Do we fly out our capes and horns and meat back to Anchorage? We have custom made boxes for sale for $125 each. Antlers will fit in and you can take them as checked baggage all the way home. Bear hides can go in a good plastic tote.
7. What happens to all of that in Anchorage? Do you suggest a taxidermist or a meat processor? Take everything home. This will save you lots of money.
If you’re coming from the Lower 48 for our Alaska caribou hunting, or Alaska moose hunting, you may be checking on the weather in Kotzebue as an indicator of the kind of weather you’ll see out in the field. Our advice: use it for some guidance, but remember that you may be a
hundred or more miles inland, higher in elevation, and away from the ocean. Generally, expect temperatures to be a little colder and conditions a bit windier, depending on the camp site you end up at for your hunt.