Keep your field gear to 75lbs per person. This means total weight of everything not on your body. Hard cases and anything to be left in town before heading to the field does not count.
Kodiak can be brutal weather – wet, cold, and windy. It can also be hot and sunny. Good quality clothing layers that can be adapted to climate changes are the key to staying comfortable and hunting hard. When deciding what to bring, remember you may be spending up to 16 hours a day or more in the elements. Bring 2 long underwear, 3 SYNTHETIC liner socks, 3 wool socks (Darn Tough are excellent), 2 pair pants, 2 light shirt, 2 heavy shirt or pullover, 1 vest or light jacket, 1 warm jacket or coat, 2 pair gloves, 1 warm hat, 1 baseball cap or equivalent for sun protection. Cotton and down are terrible fabrics for our climate, bringing such is highly discouraged. Wool and synthetics are recommended. Also bring one set town/travel clothing. These can be left in town before heading to the field. Kodiak has some excellent retailers. If you prefer to shop for some gear when you get here, that can be arranged.
Rain gear is so important in Kodiak it deserves its own mention! Don’t go cheap on rain gear. Really good quality Goretex can work good, but the Walmart version does not. Simms is a good example of quality Goretex gear. Otherwise a good quality rubber type gear works good but remember you will be walking in your rain gear so don’t go to heavy. Helly Hansen ‘impertech’ is my choice, though I can no longer find it on their website. I’m sure there are plenty of other good manufacturers, I have simply recommended the brands I use.
During bear hunts, much of the time will be spent in wet areas, so hip boots or waders are required. Simms pant waders are the choice of most guides nowadays. I generally wear Lacross hip boots. Depending upon conditions, waterproof knee boots or hiking boots with gators may be an option. These style of boots are also recommended for deer hunts as they are conducted in a much drier area. Again, you will be relying upon this equipment every day, so don’t skimp on quality.
Bring a synthetic sleeping bag rated to 0 degrees or colder. Do not bring a down bag as when they get wet they loose insulative value badly.
Besides your clothing, you will use your optics more than any other piece of equipment on your hunt. It would be much better to bring a $200 Rifle and $2000 binoculars than the other way around. To effectively hunt trophy bear, you will spend hours upon hours looking though your binoculars. Bring ones that you like and can spend plenty of time looking through without getting a headache. Also make sure they are waterproof. You may bring a spotting scope if you have one you like to use and can fit it in without exceeding your gear limit. Your guide will have one that he is used to using and has seen a lot of big bears through.
Whether you bring a rifle, handgun, or bow – bring one you are familiar with and can shoot well. Know your limitations and respect them. A wounded game animal will count against your tag.
Cartridges and draw weight – Any cartridge from 270 up will work for bear. More important than exact cartridge and ballistics is bullet construction and performance. Bears are heavily built large animals. A stoutly constructed bullet that will penetrate to the vitals is vital! Use a heavy for caliber or stoutly constructed premium bullet. We have had good luck with Barnes X, Nosler Partitions and Accubonds, North Fork, Hornady GMX, Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, Swift A-Frame, Speer Grand Slam, and Remington Cor-Loct. For bears, stay away from Nosler Ballistic Tips, Hornady SST, and any bullets designed for varmints or quick kills on small game. There is nothing inherently wrong with these bullets, big bears just are not the game for them.
Any centerfire cartridge from 223 up will work adequately on blacktailed deer. However, smaller calibers do require better bullet construction. Cartridges from 270 are less critical of bullet weight and construction.
Upon reaching Kodiak you will have an opportunity to re-sight you rifle, just in case the zero was affected by travel or climate change. One box of shells is generally sufficient for all needs. Two boxes is always sufficient.
For archery, a draw weight of 50 pounds for bear, 40 for deer. Arrows must be at least 20 inches long and fixed with an un-barbed, fixed, replaceable, or mechanical broadhead of at least 300grs.
For more information, check out the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website – http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hunting.general
Cases and Bags
Hunting areas will be accessed by small bush plane. Pack in soft bags, not hard suitcases. Multiple small bags are easier to load in a small plane than one large one. Any hard or large luggage items can be left in the City of Kodiak along with your hard gun cases before traveling to the field.
Headlamp, camera, spare batteries. Bring your favorite hunting knife if you like but your guide will have sufficient knives to get the job done. Havalon Pirantas are excellent. Also bring your toiletries and don’t forget plenty of any medications you may need. DO NOT PACK YOUR MEDICATION IN YOUR CHECKED LUGGAGE. Alaska is notorious for having lost or delayed bags. We can replace most things on short notice, but getting a doctor to sign your prescription can be problematic. A good book to pass bad weather days can be handy.