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Hunting in Alaska: Which Rifle to Bring?

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May 09, 2013

Hunting in Alaska: Which Rifle to Bring?

By David E. Petzal

The question is not so much what you’ll be hunting as, will you be in bear country? I have hunted caribou in Alaska with a .270, .270 WSM, and 7mm Weatherby Magnum, and all three did fine. Except that, on the hunt where I had the 7mm, I was checked out by a young boar grizzly, who seemed to find the guide, my friend, and me mildly disappointing and wandered away. If he had been a mature boar grizzly, I might have wished for a much bigger rifle.

I’ve known, personally, two guides who had to kill bears (one a brown, the other a grizzly) who were trying to do the same to them. One guide did the job himself with a .416 wildcat. The other guide had a .44 Magnum revolver, and the attack took place very suddenly over the disputed carcass of a caribou. The guide told me that if his client had not stood his ground and shot very quickly and very accurately with a .338, he might not be there to tell me the story.

So, my solution to Alaska rifle question (unless you’re way up in sheep and goat country where the chances of a bear encounter are fairly small) is to take something like a .338 loaded with 200- or 210-grain bullets for whatever you’re after, and stick a half-dozen 250-grain loads where you can get at them very quickly if you have to. This is if you’re hunting the non-dangerous stuff.

If you’re after any of the three types of bears, I would go with a .338, .340 Weatherby, .338 RUM, or .375 H&H, and use nothing lighter than 250-grain bullets in the .33-calibers, and 300s in the H&H. And strong bullets, too, like Swift A-Frames. For moose, same thing. Alaska moose are very, very big, and while you can kill them perfectly dead with a smaller rifle, bigger is better.

I’d add one other gun to that list: If you have a .45/70 lever gun like the Marlin 1895 Guide Gun, and can lay hands on the souped-up .45/70 ammo that’s available, it is an excellent choice. The odds that you’ll get a long shot are very small, and the handy length of the Guide Gun is a bonus when you’re clawing your way through the alder hells.

Bring an extra scope. You will not be near a sporting-goods store if yours breaks. Bring a rifle that doesn’t mind rain. There’s plenty of that where you’re going.

Comments (63)

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from VAHunter540 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Walk softly and carry a big stick.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Safado wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Mr. Petzal,
With a .338 Win Mag. what are your recommendations for barrel length and contour?

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from Happy Myles wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Have successfully hunted the big Alaskan bears, both Grizzly and Alaskan Brown, with a 338 and a 375. Even though bears were the main focus took other animals with no problem. Those days we did not have the wide variety of fine bullets we have now, so I used the 250s in the 338 and 300 grain in the 375 and they worked dandy. Even though bullet choices are wider today, think I would use one weight, saves confusion when one is old like me.
Alaskan hunting for other animals than bears, though they were around, have carried 280, 06, 300 Win Mag with no concerns. Kindest Regards

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

To Safado: You can do just fine with 22, 23, or 24 inches. I've used all three and they all work well. It depends on whether you a slightly handier rifle or a little more velocity. Barrel contour, nothing smaller than #2, and I would personally favor #3. I like a .338 to come in around 9 pounds, with scope, and be somewhat muzzle heavy.

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from RJ Arena wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Would it not be a good idea to have a detailed conversation with your outfitter/guide on what they want you to bring when you are in the initial stages of setting up the hunt? I would also want to know what the outfitter/guide is going to carry.

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from RPeterson wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Mr Petzal, I am currently waiting for a Montana Summit Alaskan rifle in .338 win mag. Would you suggest keeping the express sights or losing them? The rifle will be used with scope for hunting bears and moose in Canada. Thanks kindly.

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from RPeterson wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Mr Petzal, sorry second question. I once read in an older post of yours where you said something to the effect of "...dare I say a 200 grain in a 30-06 will do anything a .338 can do." Do you still hold this to be true? And how effective or how comfortable would you be hunting a grizzly or Alaskan moose with 30-06 loaded with 200 grainers? Thanks again.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

More than a few guides carry (or used to).35 Whelen rifles of the bolt or Remington pump variety. At bear-close range, the 250 grain bullets have plenty of gas. I procured mine for hunting bear country in Montana years ago when the only other centerfire rifle I owned was a .308 Win. The Big Sky bears are not nearly as big as the Alaska brown bears. Not a bear expert or bear hunter either...

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from crm3006 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

I would feel comfortable with my .338 Win Mag. Bears, moose, whatever, and plenty of gas for anything else.

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from Del in KS wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

When I lived in the 49th state all my hunting was with 2 rifles a WW mdl 70 300 wby bolt gun and a Rem 700 classic in 350 Rem mag. I shot my own reloads 200 gr Nosler partitions in the 300 and 250 gr Speer hot cores in the 350. While I certainly do not have the experience of Dave or Mr. Myles My moose, both bears (griz and black) and a caribou all dropped like a dynamited bridge with one bullet in the boiler room. I did have Leupold VXIII scopes in solid rings and bases. The only thing I shot up there that moved was a blacktailed deer on Afognak. One of the guys on that hunt carried a 6mm Rem. I told him he was crazy to hunt the land of big bears with a pop gun.

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from Ol Krusty wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

There's nothing wrong using a 338 for all big game hunting, a hunter would always have enough gun here in the states.

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from Mark-1 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Good Post, DP. Bears seem to be all over Alaska, in the wilds and in town. First Experience: I saw 12-grizzly/browns when caribou hunting. Surprised every bear looks different. All smelled the caribou meat, but didn’t press matters upon smelling us.

Think the real potential danger comes from fishing Alaska…and Montana. Hiking along those paths to water a fisherman can suddenly find himself in thick brush and 10’ visibility. Don’t know what long arm is handy to carry in those circumstances. Handgun is better than nothing, but not something I’d want to bet my life on.

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from z41 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Dave, way off the topic, but can you tell about this 3D gun you can make from your home printer? Calibers, actions, and a AR 15 as I saw in one picture. Thanks

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from nc30-06 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Also off topic but, rest in peace Tom Knapp. You will be greatly missed.

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

To RPeterson: Definitely keep the iron sights, but tell Jeff Sipe that you want a fiber-optic front and a SINGLE-BLADE rear sight, regulated for 25 yards.I like the one made by New England Custom Gun Works. If you're mounting the scope yourself, you want QD rings. I favor Talley's. If you're not putting on the scope, tell Montana that's what you want.

About .30/06 with 200-grain bullets vs. .338. I haven't had nearly the experience with them that I have with the .338, but I suspect that you could shoot a great many animals with both and not be able to tell the difference. I think the only way it might show up is if you specialized in really big critters and stuck strictly to 250-grainers in the .338, or the 275-grain Swift A-Frame.

I would not want to hunt a grizzly with a .30/06, even though a great many griz have been killed with that cartridge. A moose, even an Alaska moose, fine. It would not be my first choice, but I'd use it.

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

To Z41: I know only a little bit about computer-built guns, and the only thing I can tell you is this: The many hysterical claims by the news media that they work means they definitely do not work.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gunny Bob wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Your bear defense advice has saved me on two occasions now, SFC Petzal. The first came while fly fishing the Ocean River at Wildman Lake Lodge in the company of my accomplice, Steve "Skeet" King, whom I have known since our errant, if not felonious childhoods in Thomaston, Maine in the 1960s. A 10-foot brown bear attempted to liberate a coho I was catching alongside guide Mitch "Wild Thing" Coe, who was going to drill the perpetrator with his .454 wheel gun when I beat him to the draw by poking the offender in the eye with my St. Croix Legend Ultra 8-weight, a tactic you told me you once employed while being overrun by angry pygmies near Kisangani in the Congo. The creature did, as you had predicted, run off. Yes, the rod was fine after the encounter, thank goodness.

The second time just happened last week in the Hindu Kush in northern Afghanistan, my current exciting location. One of them crafty Talibaners, who might in fact have been the one that got away that time you and I were off Kure Atoll using him as tiger shark bait (the one you incessantly berated to "splash about more, you infernal savage!"), had disguised himself as a bear with the carcass of just such a creature he had found dead in the mountains. Sort of a scavenged ghillie suit, if you will. Anyway, sure enough he charged and I dumped him with my .270 WSM with a 140-grain Failsafe, after first poking him in the eye with a St. Croix Legend Ultra 8-weight.

Thanks. I owe you yet again. Susan sends her disgust.

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from tom warner wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

WA Mtnhunter: While Alaska Browns no doubt average larger than Montana Grizzlies, I have seen a couple of really HUGE bears in the Bob Marshall. Extremely impressive!!

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

To Gunny Bob: Glad to hear that the God of the Righteous has not yet yanked you to his bosom. Personally, I think an 8 wt is a trifle heavy for eye-poking, but then you Jarheads tend toward overkill, don't you? My best to Susan.

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from smokey0347 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Dave, I have an 1895 Marlin in 45-70. Although it's not the 'Guide Gun', I have taken just about most critters here in Arizona with it as well as an Alaskan moose and a big Brown while on the same hunt in Alaska. While in Alaska, I used my own handloads of 53.5 grains of 3031 pushing a Hornady 300 grain Hollow Point on the moose and the same charge pushing a Hornady 350 grain Round Nose Soft Point. I will take that Marlin over any of the big magnums any day and feel mighty safe in bear country. If Teddy Roosevelt can use a 45-70 on big elephants, it's plenty of gun for me.

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from smokey0347 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Dave, I have an 1895 Marlin in 45-70. Although it's not the 'Guide Gun', I have taken just about most critters here in Arizona with it as well as an Alaskan moose and a big Brown while on the same hunt in Alaska. While in Alaska, I used my own handloads of 53.5 grains of 3031 pushing a Hornady 300 grain Hollow Point on the moose and the same charge pushing a Hornady 350 grain Round Nose Soft Point. I will take that Marlin over any of the big magnums any day and feel mighty safe in bear country. If Teddy Roosevelt can use a 45-70 on big elephants, it's plenty of gun for me.

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from Gunny Bob wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

SFC Petzal, you say "Jarheads tend toward overkill" as if it is a bad thing.

Susan says to come back to Colorado and take her to that all-you-can-eat Italian joint. Bring an 8-weight.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

tom warner,
Very true. There are some blackies in those parts that get pretty darn big, too.

I maintain my peace treaty with the Ursus clan. They don't mess with me and I leave them alone. Has been an amenable arrangement for years, but the Boy Scout Motto always applies.

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Good piece and good info. Thankfully, we don't face this challenge here in the Old Dominion, although we are having more and more black bear encounters on our lease each year, including a very large one that I initially thought was a cow.

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from Safado wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Dave,
Great Post!
Gunny Bob,
Please post more often. You appear to be a rascal of the highest order with a sense of humor to match!

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from Gunny Bob wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Safado, thank you. Sorry to hear about your derangement. I trust the mule that kicked you in the brain-housing group was not injured.

My dementia is entirely the fault of this Petzal fellow, in whose company I have repeated found myself over these many decades, usually after strong drink, in untoward circumstances from the remotes climes of the central Pacific (60 miles east of Midway in little more than a palm-bark canoe; no birch thereabouts) and the screaming jungles of Costa Rica (it was he who was screaming, truth be told) to the grayling-infested (and mosquito-laden) rapids of the glorious Kazan River in the Northwest Territories and the elk-ridden forests surrounding the teeming metropolis of Parshal, Colorado. I will endeavor (Petzal says I should use "try") to post more often, but my copious free time is frustratingly dependent upon the explosive whims of the Taliban and other uncouth ruffians in these parts.

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from Mark-1 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

I hunted the big stuff [bigger than deer] with a 35 Whelen for years. The 250-grain bullet mows ‘em down although I found for 80% hunting I used 225-grain boat tails loaded using old Speer data. Will’d the 35 Whelen to son so I use a 30-06 and the 458 now. For the hairy mean stuff I use the 458 exclusively given time for prep.

Think what DP is getting at with 250-grain bullets and my comment on 458 is we both want bullets that hold together and penetrate reliably. My main concern with big, mean creatures with light bullets is light bullets may not hold together at uncomfortable,*short* ranges. Had good luck with 35 Whelen, 30-06 in 200 Speer & 220-grain Remington bullets & seen 338 mags do their magic; but my 458 is the real deal in this work. I KNOW the bullet will hold together and make the beast go loose all over.

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from Happy Myles wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

I used the 35 Whelen primarily on elk and a couple of deer. I liked it so well had a 358 Norma custom built, it too was a fine rifle which I used on elk and one trip to Africa were it worked great on animals big and small.

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from 2804Penn wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Dave,

Great piece and have always enjoyed your writing style. I have to chime in regarding the hunting up high and bears. While living in AK for 10 or so years, I think I saw more bears (all kinds) while hunting sheep and goat, than in the lowlands. The only exception would be salmon choked rivers. The closect call I ever had was while skinning a billy on a peak in the Kenai penn. I was quite suprised when I turned around to a bear 25 yds away, who eventually moved on. Having said all that, I wouldnt feel undergunned if carrying a .270, 280, .30-06, etc. and a grizzly came about. The benefit of the high country is you can spot the bears before they are right on top of you...most of the time.

BTW- Excellent article on the old gun writers in the "old school" issue.

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from pcspecht wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

As an Alaskan resident and hunter I gotta say that there are two general calibers for hunting in the Great White North that will cover just about any kind of hunt to be found here. They are the .300 WBM and the .338 WBM. Without question there are others but these will get the job done quite well. I hunt using BarneX munitions generally the 168 ga in the .300 and the 180 ga in the .338. One can go heavier if they feel the need but the nature of the BarnsX solid construction seem to make up for a heavier traditional bullet. There are those who will have other opinions and they can't be discounted, there is no real right or wrong here but from the viewpoint of 54 years of hunting the north these are the calibers to go into the bush with.
I would further suggest that you invest in something along the lines of either a Tika T3 or a Mosseburg 4x4 in either caliber ( both of these platforms are ultra-light, SS, composite stocks) , they must have muzzle breaks and I would suggest Burris 3x9 40. With a Multi-Plex retical. I would also suggest that whatever you get be magazine feed and that you carry one or two extras with you. Zero the crosshairs at 250 yards/meters and one can make very competent shots for 100 to 600 yards.
These are what have worked for me over the years. The platforms have changed but the calibers have stayed the same. Yes, I also carry a .41 mag or .454 Causell pistol as a backup but I rely on my rifle. In all the hunting years the pistol has only been used twice both times with Southeast Brownies and just to scare them. My long gun has accounted for three bears over the years, one Kodiak years ago, and to SE Browns more recently. I try to scare them away and most times they will run which is fine cause I don't like shooting them for any reason but you can never be sure.
That's what this Alaska bush hunter suggest for what its worth. Hope it was helpful to some of you. Look forward to seeing you in a hunting camp in AK in the future.

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from pcspecht wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

I would add to my post the following....
I have seen more Bear hunting Sheep or Goat than anywhere else except durning a Salmon run on a creek or river. Just saying......
Barrel leant is good at 26 to 28 inches for the .300 or .338.

Regards, Pete sends .....

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from Clay Cooper wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Well by'golley, David dead on!

For Caribou a 270 with 130 grain Hornady's work fantastic.

30-06 with 180 grain Nosler Partitions work very well.

The #1 choice of Alaska Natives when I wuz up dar was a 338 Win Mag loaded with 210gr Nosler Partitions.

Sight your rifle in at 200 yards, the average shot is at 150 yards or less.

Bullet choice, try to keep the price down so you can get in plenty of trigger time popping rocks at various ranges especially at 300ish yards and if your capable of doing so out to 400-500, perhaps 600-700 yards.

I'll 2nd the extra scope, Leupold VXII 3x9x40 Dual-X is Alaskan proven with rings presighted ready to install and to go with a check sighting or two.

As the old saying goes, when in Rome, do what the Romans do!

For you Hand Howitzer shooters, State and Federal Law requires you to remove the front sight off your cannon. Why? Glad you asked! When you piss that Locomotive off, it's going to swipe that hog leg out of your hand and implant it where the sun doesn't shine and it's hell on the hemorrhoids!

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from RPeterson wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Mr Petzal, thank you for your reply. Do you have a recommendation for a scope to use on the Summit Alaskan .338? I have an extra Bushnell 4200 2.5-10 or a VX-6 2x12 that I was considering using.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

For you 35,375, 416 and larger, the #1 complaint on the range of returning Hunters, they needed that extra range the 338 Win Mag would have provided

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from pcspecht wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Hey Dave,
Just one more thought(s) an I think I'm done for awhile! This getting older stuff taxes the gray matter ......
Forgot to tell you what a great post this was. Always enjoyed your writing! By the way, what's wrong with an 8 weight eye poker........that's a nice light Alaska river rod ya know!

Thanks for your contributions! Pete sends . . .

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

To RPeterson: Both scopes are way too powerful. I think something on the order of 1.5X-6X, or 2.5X-8X would be better. You'll be using the bottom end a lot more than the top end. Whatever you use, get a scope with one of the rain-beading coatings. You'll need it.

I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce my friend Gunny Bob Newman, a failed human being (which made him an ideal Marine) and the best fly fisherman I've ever seen. He has indeed dragged me all over the western hemisphere trying to teach me the art.

Gunny Bob gave up dual careers as an author and radio talk shot host in Colorado (Inhuman Newman's Anger Management Hour) to go back to Shooting People and Blowing Up Stuff, which is what he enjoys most.

I hope he gets to chime in often when he is not pulling the trigger.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Gunny Bob,

Godspeed in Shooting People and Blowing Up Stuff in Azzcrackistan and other worthwhile taints of the world. Goodness knows it's a target rich environment. Take care and Semper Fi.

RLTW

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from swatjob357 wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

.416! .416!
Nothing smaller if it will bite you back!
I know placement is everything and a .22 will work (sometime) but the .416 will BACK UP your placement and back it up well!

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from Tim Platt wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

The 30-06 is capable of taking any North American game animal.

Remington has 180 grain Swift A frames, and 220 grain soft point Core-lokts. Federal will supply you with 180 grain Nosler Partitions and Trophy Coppers, and 200 grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claws. Winchester has the 180 grain Power Max Bonded ..

Okay given my druthers I would carry a Browning BAR Safari 338 Win Mag with the BOSS system and some 200 grain Ballistic Silvertips or 225 grain Accubonds.

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from Del in KS wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Gunny Bob I second everything my good friend WAMtnhunter said. Whack a few of those bazzterds for us old farts that can't get in on the fun. BTW we are both Vietnam vets retired from active duty. WAM those animals don't qualify as people, but I digress. Good luck and good hunting Gunny Bob.
On another note I have joined the truly retired so may have a little more time to spend arguing guns and ammo on this site.

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from Del in KS wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

First Bob Mundan and now Tom Knapp, two of the greats are gone in less than a year. Sorry I missed Bob when he gave a show at our local gun club a few years ago.

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from Gunny Bob wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

SFC Petzal:

Ah, the olden days on the Gunny Bob Show (850 KOA) and Inhuman Newman's Anger Management Hour (630 KHOW). Stirring those pots on Denver talk radio was beyond amusing. I had nearly forgotten, given my repeated head trauma, also for which I blame my being follicly challenged. My crowning glory was when Keith Olbermann named me the Worst Person in the World before they fired him at MSNBC. Heh.

Everyone should know how easy Dave Petzal is to teach how to fly fish. His patience is his primary weapon and he never gives up. That patience is one of the tools he has used to slaughter deserving and skittish critters from Maine to Africa. He is handy with a spinning rod as well and I have a photo of he and me (I? Whatever...) each holding twin 85-pound uluas (giant trevally) off Kure Atoll. He also gave me my start in outdoor writing, which I note actually takes place indoors, when he hired me to write a piece in F&S on how to build a fire. 21 books and thousands of articles later in dozens of magazines, I still stink at it. Oh, SFC Petzal: please give my regards to Colonel Umbulu.

WA Mtnhunter:

Thank you so much. My team (we are all civilian pukes now) is clever and dedicated and we are doing good things for our men and women of the armed services. These Marines, soldiers and sailors are truly amazing, bright and courageous.

From the edge of the empire, at the tip of the spear...

Gunny, out

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from Gunny Bob wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Del in KS:

Thank you as well.

Didn't I recently see your photo on the post office wall? Don't the NVN and VC still have bounties out for your scalp?

Shoot to maim,

Gunny

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from Gunny Bob wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Given the similarities of Alaska and Afghanistan (both have mountains, snow and things at which to shoot), I am hoping SFC Petzal will regale us with guidance on caliber selection here from a sporting arms angle, as well as advice on what to carry in whatever the next festering pustule on the sphincter of earth we are sent to in order to sort someone out who has become unruly and otherwise misbehaving. I mean, do we need a .458 Lott in Syria or Mali, or will a .458 WinMag suffice?

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from Del in KS wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Gunny Bob, So glad you asked about cartridges. A couple years ago I came up with a great new cartridge. It's called the 1mm-Browning 50 cal. Just neck a Ma Deuce case down to fit a phonograph needle. Fill the case with Bullseye and viola! Just think about the velocity you could get with that sucker. Another idea that just didn't get off the ground for lack of funds was the salt bullet. Imagine a long range bullet made of salt to keep the meat from spoiling before you get there to do the field dressing chores. Heck I offered to let my buddies WAM, Beekeeper, Happy, 007, Carney and DEPretzel in on the ground floor. Somehow all their checks got lost in the mail. Guess the old USPS ain't what it used to be. What are the odds so many letters would get lost. Anyway, I could have really used that new cartridge in mountains of I Corps near Phu Bai. Maybe you could break the record for longest sniper kill shot. You know that Canuck record holder was just lucky using our ammo no less.

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from Safado wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Gunny Bob,
Stay safe and give 'em H$LL.
Remember, 'When the going gets weird the weird get going'.

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from cbanks wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

Dave: Just a clarification about that "young boar grizzly" that you say found us mildly disappointing as we sat together on that peak in the NW Territories, I don't remember him being 'young', but, to me, he was a full-grown monster, with the added scary factor that some other boar had torn off half his face in a fight.

He was a sight to behold. My disappointment occurred when our guide became so frightened that he tried to scare the bear off, and the bear showed his total indifference to us and wandered away.

I didn't remember that you were armed with a 7mm Wby, but I think I had a .270, my usual caribou medicine.

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from 99explorer wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

On the subject of charging bears, I have it on reliable authority that a shooter should aim for the bear's nose, and not the skull.
The nose hole is a large cavern just above the teeth. A bullet driven straight into the nose will be guided by the skull cavities directly into the brain. But a shot striking high can glance from the sloping skull.
In most cases, if a bear is charging, his nose will be pointed directly at you. So unless the bear's nose is down, it is best to avoid that sloping skull.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

Concerning Alaska, I remember an article in this magizine saying that the old .30/06 is a very popular Guide caliber used; While I already have rifles in .45/70 and .35 Whelen, I would feel well armed with either caliber.

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

To cbanks: He was a small grizz, although, as you say, half his face had been torn off and he was probably leery of coming over and introducing himself because of his disfigurement. I had my Ultra Light Arms 7mm WBY Magnum along, the one with the unattractive camo stock. You are quite correct about the guide, though. He looked like he was about to poop a ptarmigan.

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from Rocaphilla wrote 48 weeks 23 hours ago

Once again, bad advice from Petzal. Here's some actual, good advice straight from the horse's mouth:

www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hunting.firearms

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from Safado wrote 48 weeks 20 hours ago

Rocaphilla,
You listen to your advice and I'll listen to Dave, Happy Myles and the other guys on here that know hwat they're doing from actual experience. Dave has been pretty consistent in that he likes .338s or bigger for elk and big bears...if you want to try with a pea shooter go ahead. I've seen pictures of what a grizzly can do to a human; I don't want to be that guy!

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from Drew McClure wrote 48 weeks 14 hours ago

I really like my Marlin SBL...now if I could just file the right amount of metal off of the 1/32nd Williams front sight so that I could slide it on the dovetail base without breaking the head off the base screws (again) I will be set. Personally, I just like to get close to my quarry and put a big hole through them that a blind man can follow the blood trail that is why I like the 45-70 with Hornady 325 FTX's instead of the only other centerfire rifle I own which is a A-bolt 243 that I shoot 80 grain Hornady GMX's and is a very flat shooting load. If I went brown bear hunting MY max range I would want to shoot is 125 yards or so. Cheers to hard cast souped up bullets for up close wet work.

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from Gunny Bob wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

Having time on safaris where dangerous game like buffalo, elephant and lion are in the area, including Botswana and Zimbabwe, with very seasoned PHs like Don Price and John Kingsley-Heath, and in Alaska in and among huge brown bears with master guides with vast experience, I have learned the difference between an opinion and a truly substantiated opinion backed up by numerous cortisol-enhanced encounters. I choose to go with the opinions of pros, none of whom I have ever seen carry what amounts to a deer rifle to end a rapidly developing and robust battle with a merciless and well-armed beast bent on graphic murder. Can you kill a large brown bear with a light rifle? Of course. All else being equal, can you kill it deader, in a manner of speaking, with a more substantial caliber, especially when the creature is pumped up on a combat cocktail, as DP recommends? Of course. If this were not the case, PHs would carry an impala-class rifle when in the bush among dangerous game.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

Mouse gunners unite! What say you light in the ass riflemen to that? Ha!

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from Rocaphilla wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

A .270 and bear spray is, honestly, all you need.

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from Drew McClure wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

To be clear, I wouldn't use a 243 on Browns, I would use a 415 grain Garrett SuperHardCast bullet, the only reason I mention the 243 is that it IS the only other centerfire rifle I own, and I would consider another caliber for shore hunting Brown's in longer ranges, perhaps a 375, or 338. Either way friend Cory Knowlton (from "the professionals"on facebook) and check out his gigantic Brown bear which from any angle looks like a 1,200lber. Cheers.

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from Happy Myles wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

Obviously shot placement is more important than caliber or bullet weight and one should not shoot a rifle one is not comfortable with. In fact, if one is not comfortable with their rifle or confident in his or her ability they should not hunt at all. This is a responsibility we all must feel prepared to accept. Good marksmen,who practice their craft, can handle,larger calibers and get by with smaller calibers when hunting dangerous game. When trouble happens, and it will, if you hunt dangerous game long, and hard enough, those who bring the sad situation to conclusion will be guides or professional hunters carrying larger calibers.

A common occurrence I have noticed throughout the world during sixty five years of serious big game hunting is individuals attempting to compensate for lack of rifle practice and marksmanship skills by using on one extreme a rifle of lessor recoil and at the, other extreme greater caliber. When hunting dangerous game these can be risky shortcuts

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from davidpetzal wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

To rocaphilla: I have no idea who wrote what you cited, so I have no idea whether they've ever seen a bear in the wild, much less shot one. Their point is a sensible one--you're better off with a .30/06 you can shoot than a .338 that you can't, but that doesn't mean that the '06 is the best tool for the job. The bear-country guides I've met carried .338s, .375 H&Hs, .416s, and .458s. Not .30/06s.

There is also the example of a famous Alaska guide named Hosea Sarber who carried a .270 and killed grizzlies with it. Hosea Sarber turned up missing. No trace of him was ever found.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

David Petzal,

Exactly! Just because some bureaucrat wrote something on the AK F&G website doesn't make it true. May have been some hairy-legged granola type with a biology degree from S. Florida A&M from the comfort of her Anchorage office or a state trooper that chases hunters, not game.

Happy Myles,

The "compensators" may be trying to compensate for more than their shooting prowess or lack thereof! LOL!

Kind regards
WAM

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from Rocaphilla wrote 47 weeks 3 days ago

No trace of him, eh? Bear must have snacked oh his boots, jacket, extra ammo, and belt for dessert, huh? Must have cleared the guys trail so as to ensure no one would ever find him. If only the gun he was carrying had bullets that were .2 inches wider, he might have made it back alive. Please.

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from jmeerpohl wrote 47 weeks 2 days ago

My recent purchase for Alaska Brown Bear is a Savage Model 111 in 375 Ruger. This firearm has a 22" barrel, but no open sights. Do you like this caliber, rifle and should i spend the extra $ to install Williams Fire Sights and recoil reduction via the internal recoil dampers, RAD, Bumpbuster, Gracoil ? Thanks

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from Robert Dawson wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

Among the list of cartridges for Bear include the 9.3x62mm. CZ-USA imports several versions of their excellent CZ550 rifles so chambered

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

More than a few guides carry (or used to).35 Whelen rifles of the bolt or Remington pump variety. At bear-close range, the 250 grain bullets have plenty of gas. I procured mine for hunting bear country in Montana years ago when the only other centerfire rifle I owned was a .308 Win. The Big Sky bears are not nearly as big as the Alaska brown bears. Not a bear expert or bear hunter either...

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from Gunny Bob wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Your bear defense advice has saved me on two occasions now, SFC Petzal. The first came while fly fishing the Ocean River at Wildman Lake Lodge in the company of my accomplice, Steve "Skeet" King, whom I have known since our errant, if not felonious childhoods in Thomaston, Maine in the 1960s. A 10-foot brown bear attempted to liberate a coho I was catching alongside guide Mitch "Wild Thing" Coe, who was going to drill the perpetrator with his .454 wheel gun when I beat him to the draw by poking the offender in the eye with my St. Croix Legend Ultra 8-weight, a tactic you told me you once employed while being overrun by angry pygmies near Kisangani in the Congo. The creature did, as you had predicted, run off. Yes, the rod was fine after the encounter, thank goodness.

The second time just happened last week in the Hindu Kush in northern Afghanistan, my current exciting location. One of them crafty Talibaners, who might in fact have been the one that got away that time you and I were off Kure Atoll using him as tiger shark bait (the one you incessantly berated to "splash about more, you infernal savage!"), had disguised himself as a bear with the carcass of just such a creature he had found dead in the mountains. Sort of a scavenged ghillie suit, if you will. Anyway, sure enough he charged and I dumped him with my .270 WSM with a 140-grain Failsafe, after first poking him in the eye with a St. Croix Legend Ultra 8-weight.

Thanks. I owe you yet again. Susan sends her disgust.

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from Happy Myles wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

I used the 35 Whelen primarily on elk and a couple of deer. I liked it so well had a 358 Norma custom built, it too was a fine rifle which I used on elk and one trip to Africa were it worked great on animals big and small.

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from Safado wrote 48 weeks 20 hours ago

Rocaphilla,
You listen to your advice and I'll listen to Dave, Happy Myles and the other guys on here that know hwat they're doing from actual experience. Dave has been pretty consistent in that he likes .338s or bigger for elk and big bears...if you want to try with a pea shooter go ahead. I've seen pictures of what a grizzly can do to a human; I don't want to be that guy!

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from davidpetzal wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

To rocaphilla: I have no idea who wrote what you cited, so I have no idea whether they've ever seen a bear in the wild, much less shot one. Their point is a sensible one--you're better off with a .30/06 you can shoot than a .338 that you can't, but that doesn't mean that the '06 is the best tool for the job. The bear-country guides I've met carried .338s, .375 H&Hs, .416s, and .458s. Not .30/06s.

There is also the example of a famous Alaska guide named Hosea Sarber who carried a .270 and killed grizzlies with it. Hosea Sarber turned up missing. No trace of him was ever found.

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from Happy Myles wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Have successfully hunted the big Alaskan bears, both Grizzly and Alaskan Brown, with a 338 and a 375. Even though bears were the main focus took other animals with no problem. Those days we did not have the wide variety of fine bullets we have now, so I used the 250s in the 338 and 300 grain in the 375 and they worked dandy. Even though bullet choices are wider today, think I would use one weight, saves confusion when one is old like me.
Alaskan hunting for other animals than bears, though they were around, have carried 280, 06, 300 Win Mag with no concerns. Kindest Regards

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from Mark-1 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Good Post, DP. Bears seem to be all over Alaska, in the wilds and in town. First Experience: I saw 12-grizzly/browns when caribou hunting. Surprised every bear looks different. All smelled the caribou meat, but didn’t press matters upon smelling us.

Think the real potential danger comes from fishing Alaska…and Montana. Hiking along those paths to water a fisherman can suddenly find himself in thick brush and 10’ visibility. Don’t know what long arm is handy to carry in those circumstances. Handgun is better than nothing, but not something I’d want to bet my life on.

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

To Z41: I know only a little bit about computer-built guns, and the only thing I can tell you is this: The many hysterical claims by the news media that they work means they definitely do not work.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

tom warner,
Very true. There are some blackies in those parts that get pretty darn big, too.

I maintain my peace treaty with the Ursus clan. They don't mess with me and I leave them alone. Has been an amenable arrangement for years, but the Boy Scout Motto always applies.

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from Gunny Bob wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Safado, thank you. Sorry to hear about your derangement. I trust the mule that kicked you in the brain-housing group was not injured.

My dementia is entirely the fault of this Petzal fellow, in whose company I have repeated found myself over these many decades, usually after strong drink, in untoward circumstances from the remotes climes of the central Pacific (60 miles east of Midway in little more than a palm-bark canoe; no birch thereabouts) and the screaming jungles of Costa Rica (it was he who was screaming, truth be told) to the grayling-infested (and mosquito-laden) rapids of the glorious Kazan River in the Northwest Territories and the elk-ridden forests surrounding the teeming metropolis of Parshal, Colorado. I will endeavor (Petzal says I should use "try") to post more often, but my copious free time is frustratingly dependent upon the explosive whims of the Taliban and other uncouth ruffians in these parts.

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from 2804Penn wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Dave,

Great piece and have always enjoyed your writing style. I have to chime in regarding the hunting up high and bears. While living in AK for 10 or so years, I think I saw more bears (all kinds) while hunting sheep and goat, than in the lowlands. The only exception would be salmon choked rivers. The closect call I ever had was while skinning a billy on a peak in the Kenai penn. I was quite suprised when I turned around to a bear 25 yds away, who eventually moved on. Having said all that, I wouldnt feel undergunned if carrying a .270, 280, .30-06, etc. and a grizzly came about. The benefit of the high country is you can spot the bears before they are right on top of you...most of the time.

BTW- Excellent article on the old gun writers in the "old school" issue.

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from pcspecht wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

As an Alaskan resident and hunter I gotta say that there are two general calibers for hunting in the Great White North that will cover just about any kind of hunt to be found here. They are the .300 WBM and the .338 WBM. Without question there are others but these will get the job done quite well. I hunt using BarneX munitions generally the 168 ga in the .300 and the 180 ga in the .338. One can go heavier if they feel the need but the nature of the BarnsX solid construction seem to make up for a heavier traditional bullet. There are those who will have other opinions and they can't be discounted, there is no real right or wrong here but from the viewpoint of 54 years of hunting the north these are the calibers to go into the bush with.
I would further suggest that you invest in something along the lines of either a Tika T3 or a Mosseburg 4x4 in either caliber ( both of these platforms are ultra-light, SS, composite stocks) , they must have muzzle breaks and I would suggest Burris 3x9 40. With a Multi-Plex retical. I would also suggest that whatever you get be magazine feed and that you carry one or two extras with you. Zero the crosshairs at 250 yards/meters and one can make very competent shots for 100 to 600 yards.
These are what have worked for me over the years. The platforms have changed but the calibers have stayed the same. Yes, I also carry a .41 mag or .454 Causell pistol as a backup but I rely on my rifle. In all the hunting years the pistol has only been used twice both times with Southeast Brownies and just to scare them. My long gun has accounted for three bears over the years, one Kodiak years ago, and to SE Browns more recently. I try to scare them away and most times they will run which is fine cause I don't like shooting them for any reason but you can never be sure.
That's what this Alaska bush hunter suggest for what its worth. Hope it was helpful to some of you. Look forward to seeing you in a hunting camp in AK in the future.

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

To RPeterson: Both scopes are way too powerful. I think something on the order of 1.5X-6X, or 2.5X-8X would be better. You'll be using the bottom end a lot more than the top end. Whatever you use, get a scope with one of the rain-beading coatings. You'll need it.

I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce my friend Gunny Bob Newman, a failed human being (which made him an ideal Marine) and the best fly fisherman I've ever seen. He has indeed dragged me all over the western hemisphere trying to teach me the art.

Gunny Bob gave up dual careers as an author and radio talk shot host in Colorado (Inhuman Newman's Anger Management Hour) to go back to Shooting People and Blowing Up Stuff, which is what he enjoys most.

I hope he gets to chime in often when he is not pulling the trigger.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Gunny Bob,

Godspeed in Shooting People and Blowing Up Stuff in Azzcrackistan and other worthwhile taints of the world. Goodness knows it's a target rich environment. Take care and Semper Fi.

RLTW

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from Gunny Bob wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Given the similarities of Alaska and Afghanistan (both have mountains, snow and things at which to shoot), I am hoping SFC Petzal will regale us with guidance on caliber selection here from a sporting arms angle, as well as advice on what to carry in whatever the next festering pustule on the sphincter of earth we are sent to in order to sort someone out who has become unruly and otherwise misbehaving. I mean, do we need a .458 Lott in Syria or Mali, or will a .458 WinMag suffice?

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from Gunny Bob wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

Having time on safaris where dangerous game like buffalo, elephant and lion are in the area, including Botswana and Zimbabwe, with very seasoned PHs like Don Price and John Kingsley-Heath, and in Alaska in and among huge brown bears with master guides with vast experience, I have learned the difference between an opinion and a truly substantiated opinion backed up by numerous cortisol-enhanced encounters. I choose to go with the opinions of pros, none of whom I have ever seen carry what amounts to a deer rifle to end a rapidly developing and robust battle with a merciless and well-armed beast bent on graphic murder. Can you kill a large brown bear with a light rifle? Of course. All else being equal, can you kill it deader, in a manner of speaking, with a more substantial caliber, especially when the creature is pumped up on a combat cocktail, as DP recommends? Of course. If this were not the case, PHs would carry an impala-class rifle when in the bush among dangerous game.

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from Happy Myles wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

Obviously shot placement is more important than caliber or bullet weight and one should not shoot a rifle one is not comfortable with. In fact, if one is not comfortable with their rifle or confident in his or her ability they should not hunt at all. This is a responsibility we all must feel prepared to accept. Good marksmen,who practice their craft, can handle,larger calibers and get by with smaller calibers when hunting dangerous game. When trouble happens, and it will, if you hunt dangerous game long, and hard enough, those who bring the sad situation to conclusion will be guides or professional hunters carrying larger calibers.

A common occurrence I have noticed throughout the world during sixty five years of serious big game hunting is individuals attempting to compensate for lack of rifle practice and marksmanship skills by using on one extreme a rifle of lessor recoil and at the, other extreme greater caliber. When hunting dangerous game these can be risky shortcuts

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

To Safado: You can do just fine with 22, 23, or 24 inches. I've used all three and they all work well. It depends on whether you a slightly handier rifle or a little more velocity. Barrel contour, nothing smaller than #2, and I would personally favor #3. I like a .338 to come in around 9 pounds, with scope, and be somewhat muzzle heavy.

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from RJ Arena wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Would it not be a good idea to have a detailed conversation with your outfitter/guide on what they want you to bring when you are in the initial stages of setting up the hunt? I would also want to know what the outfitter/guide is going to carry.

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from crm3006 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

I would feel comfortable with my .338 Win Mag. Bears, moose, whatever, and plenty of gas for anything else.

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from Del in KS wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

When I lived in the 49th state all my hunting was with 2 rifles a WW mdl 70 300 wby bolt gun and a Rem 700 classic in 350 Rem mag. I shot my own reloads 200 gr Nosler partitions in the 300 and 250 gr Speer hot cores in the 350. While I certainly do not have the experience of Dave or Mr. Myles My moose, both bears (griz and black) and a caribou all dropped like a dynamited bridge with one bullet in the boiler room. I did have Leupold VXIII scopes in solid rings and bases. The only thing I shot up there that moved was a blacktailed deer on Afognak. One of the guys on that hunt carried a 6mm Rem. I told him he was crazy to hunt the land of big bears with a pop gun.

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from Ol Krusty wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

There's nothing wrong using a 338 for all big game hunting, a hunter would always have enough gun here in the states.

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from nc30-06 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Also off topic but, rest in peace Tom Knapp. You will be greatly missed.

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

To RPeterson: Definitely keep the iron sights, but tell Jeff Sipe that you want a fiber-optic front and a SINGLE-BLADE rear sight, regulated for 25 yards.I like the one made by New England Custom Gun Works. If you're mounting the scope yourself, you want QD rings. I favor Talley's. If you're not putting on the scope, tell Montana that's what you want.

About .30/06 with 200-grain bullets vs. .338. I haven't had nearly the experience with them that I have with the .338, but I suspect that you could shoot a great many animals with both and not be able to tell the difference. I think the only way it might show up is if you specialized in really big critters and stuck strictly to 250-grainers in the .338, or the 275-grain Swift A-Frame.

I would not want to hunt a grizzly with a .30/06, even though a great many griz have been killed with that cartridge. A moose, even an Alaska moose, fine. It would not be my first choice, but I'd use it.

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

To Gunny Bob: Glad to hear that the God of the Righteous has not yet yanked you to his bosom. Personally, I think an 8 wt is a trifle heavy for eye-poking, but then you Jarheads tend toward overkill, don't you? My best to Susan.

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from smokey0347 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Dave, I have an 1895 Marlin in 45-70. Although it's not the 'Guide Gun', I have taken just about most critters here in Arizona with it as well as an Alaskan moose and a big Brown while on the same hunt in Alaska. While in Alaska, I used my own handloads of 53.5 grains of 3031 pushing a Hornady 300 grain Hollow Point on the moose and the same charge pushing a Hornady 350 grain Round Nose Soft Point. I will take that Marlin over any of the big magnums any day and feel mighty safe in bear country. If Teddy Roosevelt can use a 45-70 on big elephants, it's plenty of gun for me.

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from smokey0347 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Dave, I have an 1895 Marlin in 45-70. Although it's not the 'Guide Gun', I have taken just about most critters here in Arizona with it as well as an Alaskan moose and a big Brown while on the same hunt in Alaska. While in Alaska, I used my own handloads of 53.5 grains of 3031 pushing a Hornady 300 grain Hollow Point on the moose and the same charge pushing a Hornady 350 grain Round Nose Soft Point. I will take that Marlin over any of the big magnums any day and feel mighty safe in bear country. If Teddy Roosevelt can use a 45-70 on big elephants, it's plenty of gun for me.

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Good piece and good info. Thankfully, we don't face this challenge here in the Old Dominion, although we are having more and more black bear encounters on our lease each year, including a very large one that I initially thought was a cow.

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from Mark-1 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

I hunted the big stuff [bigger than deer] with a 35 Whelen for years. The 250-grain bullet mows ‘em down although I found for 80% hunting I used 225-grain boat tails loaded using old Speer data. Will’d the 35 Whelen to son so I use a 30-06 and the 458 now. For the hairy mean stuff I use the 458 exclusively given time for prep.

Think what DP is getting at with 250-grain bullets and my comment on 458 is we both want bullets that hold together and penetrate reliably. My main concern with big, mean creatures with light bullets is light bullets may not hold together at uncomfortable,*short* ranges. Had good luck with 35 Whelen, 30-06 in 200 Speer & 220-grain Remington bullets & seen 338 mags do their magic; but my 458 is the real deal in this work. I KNOW the bullet will hold together and make the beast go loose all over.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Well by'golley, David dead on!

For Caribou a 270 with 130 grain Hornady's work fantastic.

30-06 with 180 grain Nosler Partitions work very well.

The #1 choice of Alaska Natives when I wuz up dar was a 338 Win Mag loaded with 210gr Nosler Partitions.

Sight your rifle in at 200 yards, the average shot is at 150 yards or less.

Bullet choice, try to keep the price down so you can get in plenty of trigger time popping rocks at various ranges especially at 300ish yards and if your capable of doing so out to 400-500, perhaps 600-700 yards.

I'll 2nd the extra scope, Leupold VXII 3x9x40 Dual-X is Alaskan proven with rings presighted ready to install and to go with a check sighting or two.

As the old saying goes, when in Rome, do what the Romans do!

For you Hand Howitzer shooters, State and Federal Law requires you to remove the front sight off your cannon. Why? Glad you asked! When you piss that Locomotive off, it's going to swipe that hog leg out of your hand and implant it where the sun doesn't shine and it's hell on the hemorrhoids!

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from swatjob357 wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

.416! .416!
Nothing smaller if it will bite you back!
I know placement is everything and a .22 will work (sometime) but the .416 will BACK UP your placement and back it up well!

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from Tim Platt wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

The 30-06 is capable of taking any North American game animal.

Remington has 180 grain Swift A frames, and 220 grain soft point Core-lokts. Federal will supply you with 180 grain Nosler Partitions and Trophy Coppers, and 200 grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claws. Winchester has the 180 grain Power Max Bonded ..

Okay given my druthers I would carry a Browning BAR Safari 338 Win Mag with the BOSS system and some 200 grain Ballistic Silvertips or 225 grain Accubonds.

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from Del in KS wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Gunny Bob I second everything my good friend WAMtnhunter said. Whack a few of those bazzterds for us old farts that can't get in on the fun. BTW we are both Vietnam vets retired from active duty. WAM those animals don't qualify as people, but I digress. Good luck and good hunting Gunny Bob.
On another note I have joined the truly retired so may have a little more time to spend arguing guns and ammo on this site.

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from Del in KS wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

First Bob Mundan and now Tom Knapp, two of the greats are gone in less than a year. Sorry I missed Bob when he gave a show at our local gun club a few years ago.

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from Gunny Bob wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

SFC Petzal:

Ah, the olden days on the Gunny Bob Show (850 KOA) and Inhuman Newman's Anger Management Hour (630 KHOW). Stirring those pots on Denver talk radio was beyond amusing. I had nearly forgotten, given my repeated head trauma, also for which I blame my being follicly challenged. My crowning glory was when Keith Olbermann named me the Worst Person in the World before they fired him at MSNBC. Heh.

Everyone should know how easy Dave Petzal is to teach how to fly fish. His patience is his primary weapon and he never gives up. That patience is one of the tools he has used to slaughter deserving and skittish critters from Maine to Africa. He is handy with a spinning rod as well and I have a photo of he and me (I? Whatever...) each holding twin 85-pound uluas (giant trevally) off Kure Atoll. He also gave me my start in outdoor writing, which I note actually takes place indoors, when he hired me to write a piece in F&S on how to build a fire. 21 books and thousands of articles later in dozens of magazines, I still stink at it. Oh, SFC Petzal: please give my regards to Colonel Umbulu.

WA Mtnhunter:

Thank you so much. My team (we are all civilian pukes now) is clever and dedicated and we are doing good things for our men and women of the armed services. These Marines, soldiers and sailors are truly amazing, bright and courageous.

From the edge of the empire, at the tip of the spear...

Gunny, out

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

Mouse gunners unite! What say you light in the ass riflemen to that? Ha!

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

David Petzal,

Exactly! Just because some bureaucrat wrote something on the AK F&G website doesn't make it true. May have been some hairy-legged granola type with a biology degree from S. Florida A&M from the comfort of her Anchorage office or a state trooper that chases hunters, not game.

Happy Myles,

The "compensators" may be trying to compensate for more than their shooting prowess or lack thereof! LOL!

Kind regards
WAM

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from VAHunter540 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Walk softly and carry a big stick.

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from RPeterson wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Mr Petzal, I am currently waiting for a Montana Summit Alaskan rifle in .338 win mag. Would you suggest keeping the express sights or losing them? The rifle will be used with scope for hunting bears and moose in Canada. Thanks kindly.

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from RPeterson wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Mr Petzal, sorry second question. I once read in an older post of yours where you said something to the effect of "...dare I say a 200 grain in a 30-06 will do anything a .338 can do." Do you still hold this to be true? And how effective or how comfortable would you be hunting a grizzly or Alaskan moose with 30-06 loaded with 200 grainers? Thanks again.

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from z41 wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Dave, way off the topic, but can you tell about this 3D gun you can make from your home printer? Calibers, actions, and a AR 15 as I saw in one picture. Thanks

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from tom warner wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

WA Mtnhunter: While Alaska Browns no doubt average larger than Montana Grizzlies, I have seen a couple of really HUGE bears in the Bob Marshall. Extremely impressive!!

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from Gunny Bob wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

SFC Petzal, you say "Jarheads tend toward overkill" as if it is a bad thing.

Susan says to come back to Colorado and take her to that all-you-can-eat Italian joint. Bring an 8-weight.

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from Safado wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Dave,
Great Post!
Gunny Bob,
Please post more often. You appear to be a rascal of the highest order with a sense of humor to match!

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from pcspecht wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

I would add to my post the following....
I have seen more Bear hunting Sheep or Goat than anywhere else except durning a Salmon run on a creek or river. Just saying......
Barrel leant is good at 26 to 28 inches for the .300 or .338.

Regards, Pete sends .....

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from RPeterson wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Mr Petzal, thank you for your reply. Do you have a recommendation for a scope to use on the Summit Alaskan .338? I have an extra Bushnell 4200 2.5-10 or a VX-6 2x12 that I was considering using.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

For you 35,375, 416 and larger, the #1 complaint on the range of returning Hunters, they needed that extra range the 338 Win Mag would have provided

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from pcspecht wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Hey Dave,
Just one more thought(s) an I think I'm done for awhile! This getting older stuff taxes the gray matter ......
Forgot to tell you what a great post this was. Always enjoyed your writing! By the way, what's wrong with an 8 weight eye poker........that's a nice light Alaska river rod ya know!

Thanks for your contributions! Pete sends . . .

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from Gunny Bob wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Del in KS:

Thank you as well.

Didn't I recently see your photo on the post office wall? Don't the NVN and VC still have bounties out for your scalp?

Shoot to maim,

Gunny

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from Del in KS wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Gunny Bob, So glad you asked about cartridges. A couple years ago I came up with a great new cartridge. It's called the 1mm-Browning 50 cal. Just neck a Ma Deuce case down to fit a phonograph needle. Fill the case with Bullseye and viola! Just think about the velocity you could get with that sucker. Another idea that just didn't get off the ground for lack of funds was the salt bullet. Imagine a long range bullet made of salt to keep the meat from spoiling before you get there to do the field dressing chores. Heck I offered to let my buddies WAM, Beekeeper, Happy, 007, Carney and DEPretzel in on the ground floor. Somehow all their checks got lost in the mail. Guess the old USPS ain't what it used to be. What are the odds so many letters would get lost. Anyway, I could have really used that new cartridge in mountains of I Corps near Phu Bai. Maybe you could break the record for longest sniper kill shot. You know that Canuck record holder was just lucky using our ammo no less.

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from Safado wrote 48 weeks 3 days ago

Gunny Bob,
Stay safe and give 'em H$LL.
Remember, 'When the going gets weird the weird get going'.

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from cbanks wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

Dave: Just a clarification about that "young boar grizzly" that you say found us mildly disappointing as we sat together on that peak in the NW Territories, I don't remember him being 'young', but, to me, he was a full-grown monster, with the added scary factor that some other boar had torn off half his face in a fight.

He was a sight to behold. My disappointment occurred when our guide became so frightened that he tried to scare the bear off, and the bear showed his total indifference to us and wandered away.

I didn't remember that you were armed with a 7mm Wby, but I think I had a .270, my usual caribou medicine.

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from 99explorer wrote 48 weeks 2 days ago

On the subject of charging bears, I have it on reliable authority that a shooter should aim for the bear's nose, and not the skull.
The nose hole is a large cavern just above the teeth. A bullet driven straight into the nose will be guided by the skull cavities directly into the brain. But a shot striking high can glance from the sloping skull.
In most cases, if a bear is charging, his nose will be pointed directly at you. So unless the bear's nose is down, it is best to avoid that sloping skull.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

Concerning Alaska, I remember an article in this magizine saying that the old .30/06 is a very popular Guide caliber used; While I already have rifles in .45/70 and .35 Whelen, I would feel well armed with either caliber.

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

To cbanks: He was a small grizz, although, as you say, half his face had been torn off and he was probably leery of coming over and introducing himself because of his disfigurement. I had my Ultra Light Arms 7mm WBY Magnum along, the one with the unattractive camo stock. You are quite correct about the guide, though. He looked like he was about to poop a ptarmigan.

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from Drew McClure wrote 48 weeks 14 hours ago

I really like my Marlin SBL...now if I could just file the right amount of metal off of the 1/32nd Williams front sight so that I could slide it on the dovetail base without breaking the head off the base screws (again) I will be set. Personally, I just like to get close to my quarry and put a big hole through them that a blind man can follow the blood trail that is why I like the 45-70 with Hornady 325 FTX's instead of the only other centerfire rifle I own which is a A-bolt 243 that I shoot 80 grain Hornady GMX's and is a very flat shooting load. If I went brown bear hunting MY max range I would want to shoot is 125 yards or so. Cheers to hard cast souped up bullets for up close wet work.

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from Drew McClure wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

To be clear, I wouldn't use a 243 on Browns, I would use a 415 grain Garrett SuperHardCast bullet, the only reason I mention the 243 is that it IS the only other centerfire rifle I own, and I would consider another caliber for shore hunting Brown's in longer ranges, perhaps a 375, or 338. Either way friend Cory Knowlton (from "the professionals"on facebook) and check out his gigantic Brown bear which from any angle looks like a 1,200lber. Cheers.

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from jmeerpohl wrote 47 weeks 2 days ago

My recent purchase for Alaska Brown Bear is a Savage Model 111 in 375 Ruger. This firearm has a 22" barrel, but no open sights. Do you like this caliber, rifle and should i spend the extra $ to install Williams Fire Sights and recoil reduction via the internal recoil dampers, RAD, Bumpbuster, Gracoil ? Thanks

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from Robert Dawson wrote 44 weeks 3 days ago

Among the list of cartridges for Bear include the 9.3x62mm. CZ-USA imports several versions of their excellent CZ550 rifles so chambered

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from Safado wrote 48 weeks 4 days ago

Mr. Petzal,
With a .338 Win Mag. what are your recommendations for barrel length and contour?

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from Rocaphilla wrote 48 weeks 23 hours ago

Once again, bad advice from Petzal. Here's some actual, good advice straight from the horse's mouth:

www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hunting.firearms

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from Rocaphilla wrote 47 weeks 3 days ago

No trace of him, eh? Bear must have snacked oh his boots, jacket, extra ammo, and belt for dessert, huh? Must have cleared the guys trail so as to ensure no one would ever find him. If only the gun he was carrying had bullets that were .2 inches wider, he might have made it back alive. Please.

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from Rocaphilla wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

A .270 and bear spray is, honestly, all you need.

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