Al Gilliam of Alaska Cross Country Guiding looks out from the wilderness to the water below.
Al Gilliam of Alaska Cross Country Guiding looks out from the wilderness to the water below.
Alaska Cross Country Guiding
Alaska Cross Country Guiding

Big Game: Alaska Brown Bear - Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Mountain Goat,  and Wolf Hunts

Coastal Brown Bear Photo Album




The majority of our Brown Bear hunts take place within the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, and the surrounding greater Chilkat region near Haines, Alaska. This area is within game management unit-1, subunit 1-D. Subunit 1-D has an abundance of Brown Bears, so it is an over-the-counter registration unit. There are no uncertain draw-hunts for Brown Bears in my Guide-Use-Area. 


Mature male Coastal Brown Bears travel between the Chilkat region and the adjacent, enormous wilderness parklands by established routes across the ice fields and through mountain passes as they navigate their vast home-range. No Brown Bear hunting is permitted in those areas, which include Glacier Bay National Park to the south, and northwest British Colombia to the west. 


This influx of migrating Brown Bears supports a diversified gene pool, and it also provides a ready source of mature male bears which maintains a healthy hunting environment in which to pursue Southeast Alaska’s largest predators.


Our Brown Bears are of a very wide color range, from dark chocolate through a variety of color schemes from blond to multi-colored.  Some bears have such a varied color combination that they are locally referred to as “CALICO” bears, which are most certainly one of the most coveted trophies in all of North America. It is not unusual for a hunter to purposefully harvest a smaller calico bear, because of the striking coloration.


Brown Bears in our hunt area will get up to 10-feet, and we target bears over 8-feet.


In general, bears are not very active during rainy or windy weather, although sows with energetic cubs are often moving about.  


It is not legal to hunt Brown Bears over bait at any time of the year in our hunt area.


Night vision scopes and infra-red devices are not legal for hunting big game animals in Southeast Alaska. However, Master Guide Al Gilliam is well known for harvesting the mature boars that are almost exclusively nocturnal during the short daylight hours of fall. This is accomplished with the use of rifle scopes that have a 56 mm objective lens, and an illuminated reticle. We offer Winchester Model-70 rental rifles in caliber .338 Magnum and .375 H&H that are equipped with such scopes.  



Weapon:  Archery, Hand Gun, or Rifle.  Minimum caliber:  .300 Magnum

Rifle Scope:  Heavy duplex cross-hairs or illuminated reticule.



Hunt Description


The larger boar Brown Bears generally become active earlier in the spring than most sows and younger boars, and we typically hunt them in areas where they travel on dry river channels.  We often attempt to gain elevation above the bear pathways, which may involve a tree-platform, a ladder-stand, or a 24 hour-a-day camp on a nearby bluff or rock slide which overlooks a trail system. 


We also hunt game trails in old-growth evergreen forested areas where we may position a ladder-stand to overlook a trail intersection, which will usually have a bear rub-tree close by.  Typically, every bear using that trail will stop to investigate the rub-tree, offering an exceptional close-range hunting opportunity.


During the long daylight hours of Alaska’s spring-time, Brown Bears travel more than during the fall months.  They will roam a great deal in search of sows in heat, as well as newborn moose calves to prey on.


At times we may use an electronic call with a remote speaker to lure bears into range.   


The long hours associated with Alaska’s spring affords up to 18 hours of daylight.


We sometimes use a 25-foot custom airboat as a covered, mobile hunt camp.  The boat sleeps one hunter and one guide, and it provides quick access to a variety of hunt locations.  In some instances, we may ground the boat on a river bar and use it as a shelter while ambush hunting.


In addition, we have three remote hunting cabins that provide emergency shelter as well as a base of operations from which to day-hunt if we are in that area.



Hunt Description


All of our fall Brown Bear hunts will be conducted at locations where bears are feeding on Salmon. Each species of salmon have their distinctive spawning times, as well as to require certain stream characteristic to spawn in.  We have the capability to start off hunting over spawning channels in mid-September, and still have the ability to be guiding hi-probability hunts over spawning channels in mid-November.


Most fall Brown Bear hunts will be cabin-based, with an occasional tent, or boat camp utilized.


During the fall, we hunt almost exclusively within the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, which has the latest major salmon run in all of Alaska. 


It is the abundance of salmon that attracts the largest concentration of eagles in the world to our permitted hunt area, and it is the same abundance of salmon that also attracts late-season Brown Bears.  I have counted up to 1,200 Bald Eagles from one location during early November.


Most fall bear activity will start in the late afternoon, and it will usually peak after dark.  Activity will usually resume from about 5:00 am until 10:30 am.  However, the heaviest activity will take place in the late evening.  


We may take advantage of the full moon phase in order to increase our odds of success during some rifle hunts.


Hunting “Moon Bears” is a very unique style of hunting that involves special considerations.  Of utmost importance is to recognize when there is not enough light available to conduct a safe and ethical hunt.


A low-power rifle scope with heavy duplex cross-hairs or an illuminated reticle is recommended for fall bear hunts, and an illuminated reticule is an essential item for hunting "Moon Bears".

Black Bear Photo Album




There is no other area of Alaska which offers better opportunities to harvest a wide range of color phase Black Bears than in our hunt area.  


Approximately 35% of our Black Bears are of a color phase that ranges from nearly white, to blond, copper, blue, and chocolate.  Occasionally a bear may have darker-colored legs than the body, or have some other unusual color scheme. Some bears are so unique that they are locally called a “line-back cinnamon bear,” because of a distinctive reddish-colored line that runs along the spine of some copper-colored bears.


Spring Black Bear season extends through June.


It is not legal to hunt Black Bears over bait during fall hunts.


Mature Black Bears will commonly reach a size of between 6 and 7.5 feet square.


Weapon: Archery, Hand Gun, or Rifle.  Minimum caliber:  .25-06



Hunt Description


Black Bears can be combo hunted at the same time, and location, where we are hunting spring Brown Bears.


We also conduct spring Black Bear hunts independent from Brown Bear hunts, and while conducting a single species Black Bear hunt, we may hunt south-facing mountain-sides as opposed to the low-land areas where we would normally be concentrating our efforts for combination Brown and Black Bear hunts.



Hunt Description


During fall months many of our Black Bears are at elevations between 2,000 and 3,500 feet where they are primarily feeding on low-bush blueberries.  


The vegetation in those areas is in general very short, and the blueberry bushes are not much over ankle-high.  The Black Bears are usually right out in the open areas where they are feeding on berries during mid-day.  That unique situation provides a prime opportunity for a spot-and-stalk hunt with a very high probability of success.


This hunt can be conducted either as a day hunt or as a back-pack overnight hunt of multiple days in length. We generally access the hunt area on foot, and occasionally by four-wheel drive.


We do have locations in the lowlands where Black Bears are feeding on salmon and berries, but some Black Bears shy away from the fish creeks where Brown Bears are congregated.


In some hunt locations, we can guide a hunter on a high-probability fall combination Black and Brown Bear hunt on a fish creek. But the majority of fall Black Bear hunts will be booked as a single species hunt, or combined with a Goat hunt before mid-October.


After mid-October, most Black Bears are starting to den up for the winter.

Mountain Goat Photo Album




It is a biologically- proven fact that the Mountain Goats of the greater Haines, Alaska area are the largest bodied Mountain Goats in the world.


Over many years of hunting gigantic Billy Goats, my claims of harvesting 400 pound Mountain Goats were dismissed by biologists; until the Alaska Department of Fish and Game instigated a Mountain Goat survey in which they darted and weighed several animals within our permitted Guide Use Area.  Imagine their surprise when they discovered that the mid-summer weight of some Billy Goats exceeded 390 pounds.  I know that we sometimes harvest fall-weight goats that exceeded 400 pounds.


It is a local genetic anomaly that causes our Goats to grow to such immense proportions, and to harvest one of our unique “Gorilla Goats” in fall pelage is to harvest one of North America’s most prestigious trophies.


The horns of our mature Billy Goats have unusually thick bases, and they will commonly reach a length of nine and three-eighths inches, and some Goat horns may occasionally reach a length of ten inches or longer.  We have taken several Billy Goats that qualified for the Boon and Crocket Record Book.


The Goat pelts start to winter-up in late August, and by mid-September, they are very respectable trophies.  Before mid-October, the pelts are fully winter-prime.


Wolf Photo Album




We conduct two wolf hunts during April.


Our hunt style may involve the use of an electronic predator-calling device.


In some instances, we may call wolves directly to the location of our hunting cabin, and at other times we will use a blind, or position ourselves on an elevated ledge that overlooks the hunt area.  


We may sometimes tent-camp directly at the hunt location where it is sometimes to our benefit to use an ambush-style of hunting as opposed to predator calling.


At times, scavenging eagles and ravens may lead us to a wolf-killed moose carcass.


It is legal to bait a wolf, or to use sent if the hunter purchases a trapping license. Presently, game management unit 1 is a predator control area for Wolves, so a tag is not required, and the limit is 5.



Weapon: Archery, Hand Gun or Rifle.  Minimum Caliber:  .25-06


Phone: 907-767-5522

P.O. Box 731, Haines, Alaska 99827

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