Alaska offers some of the world’s best hunting opportunities. However, a lot of work goes in to a successful hunt. Planning and preparation are critical.
- Do your homework to determine the best areas and times to hunt a particular species.
- Purchase reliable equipment and practice with it ahead of time.
- Be physically and mentally prepared for poor weather, rough terrain, isolation, and weather delays.
This is an introductory guide orienting you to hunting in Alaska. This guide does not supplement the official Alaska Hunting Regulations. In this guide you will find information on Alaska game animals, hunting equipment, accessing hunting lands, selecting a guide, and references for additional information.
Remember: Every hunter has the responsibility to know the current year’s regulations. Do not depend on anyone else but yourself to know the regulations. You are personally responsible for knowing and following all the regulations affecting your hunt. Hunting regulations are available online at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game Hunting Regulations and at local outfitters. Please help preserve Alaska’s hunting heritage by practicing safe, respectful and responsible hunting techniques.
Jump-start Your Plan
The first step in preparing for a hunt in Alaska is to look at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s current hunting regulations. The regulation handbook contains information on general seasons, registration and drawing permit hunts, and bag limits, and game tags. In the handbook you will be able to find information for both resident and nonresident hunting. The handbook has everything you need to make your hunt a legal hunt.
When planning a hunt, you should ask yourself the following questions and be certain you understand the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s definition of each.
- Who is going to hunt? (Are you considered a resident, nonresident, or nonresident alien, a youth hunter, or disabled?)
- Where do you plan to hunt? (Which unit, which subunit? Is your hunt in a restricted area?)
- How are you going to hunt? (Are there weapons restrictions or access restrictions?)
- What species do you want to hunt? (Is there an open season for that species in the area you wish to hunt?)
- When do you plan to hunt? (Seasons)
- What is the legal animal? (bull, cow, horn or antler restrictions?)
Vast areas of Alaska can look the same, causing a hunter’s sense of direction to be impaired. When visibility is impaired during poor weather, most humans lose their sense of direction. Even when visibility is good, hills, valleys, and forests may confuse a hunter whose attention is concentrated on finding or tracking a game animal. Hunting in Alaska requires navigational skills to find your way to and from camp. Therefore, it is important to learn basic map and compass skills before venturing into the Alaska wilderness.
When hunting in any area of the state, it is important to know and understand the terrain that surrounds you. Every hunting party should carry a detailed topographical map of the area (a common scale map for hunting is 1:63,360, where one inch equals one mile. Topographic maps can be obtained from the US Geological Survey (USGS) and Bureau of Land Management Spatial Data Managment System. Some Alaska sporting goods or outdoor stores stock high-demand maps. In Fairbanks, hunters may obtain maps at the Geophysical Institute’s Map Office.
Every hunter should also carry a quality liquid-filled compass and know how to use it to lay out a base line and navigate to and from camp. A hunter skilled with map and compass use can safely navigate to and from camp, even in fog, rain, or snow.
Firearms in Alaska
In Alaska, hunters may generally possess and use firearms with few restrictions. State law prohibits the following:
- Fully Automatic firearms
- Rifles with a barrel less than 16”
- Shotguns with a barrel less than 18”, and
- Rifles or shotguns less than 26” in total length.
Rifles, shotguns and handguns are legal for hunting in Alaska. Rimfire cartridges generally may be used only for small game. See the Alaska Hunting Regulations for details.
Handguns may be carried concealed, but the carrier must abide by all state carrying laws, both for Alaska and the state the handgun was purchased in. This statutory exemption recognizes the necessity for protecting firearms from rain or extreme cold.
Firearms being transported in a vehicle must either be in plain sight or, if concealed, out of reach of vehicle occupants. As a precautionary safety, firearms being transported to and from the field should be unloaded.
State law prohibits shooting on, from or across a road. As a matter of safety and courtesy, hunters should discharge firearms well away from roads.
When planning your hunt, be aware of possible rules and regulations regarding transportation of firearms. Firearm regulations vary depending on whether you are on state or federal land.
There are firearm restrictions in certain federal units. For current information about firearms in these areas, contact the specific park unit.
Safe and responsible hunters can find assistance in mastering hunting skills by calling the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Hunter Information and Training Program. More information can be found at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Hunting Information.
Accessing Hunting Areas
Land status maps can be obtained at the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources Interactive Maps or the Bureau of Land Management Spatial Data System. The Alaska Bureau of Land Management can also be contacted at (907) 271-5960.
Hunting on Public Lands
Alaska has large areas of public land that are open to hunting, managed by the state and federal governments. Most national parks are closed to hunting, although national preserve areas are open to hunting. Some Alaska national parks are open to hunting by qualified rural Alaska residents. Nearly all National Wildlife Refuge, National Forest, and Bureau of Land Management lands are open to hunting.
Hunting on Private Lands
Much of the land located next to Alaska’s road system is privately owned. If you intend to hunt on private lands in Alaska, make sure you have permission from the land owner. Be aware that some native corporation-owned lands may have associated entrance or usage fees.
Selecting a Guide
Please note that all guides are required to have a guiding license through the State of Alaska and should have a good working knowledge of land ownership in the area where you will be hunting.
When hunting brown/grizzly bears, Dall sheep, or mountain goats, hunters who are not Alaska residents must be accompanied by a licensed Alaskan guide or they must hunt with close relatives within the second degree of kindred who are Alaska residents. Check the Alaska Hunting regulations for specific information.
Additional Types of Hunting in Alaska
Separate Alaska Trapping Regulations and Alaska Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations handbooks are available through any licensing outlet and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices.
Trapping is most common when pursuing fur bearing animals such as fox, lynx, snowshoe hare, beaver, etc. Typically, trapping animals occurs in the winter, when the animal’s fur coat is full and thick. A trapping license is generally needed when you are setting traps. Read the regulations for more information.
Along with the mandatory hunting license, all waterfowl hunters 16 years of age or older must have a current federal Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp. An Alaska Waterfowl Conservation Stamp is also required unless you meet specified qualifications (see Alaska Waterfowl Hunting Regulations).