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Reader Comments

“I have spent a lifetime in this state, hunting all species of big game. Quite frankly I have had my fill of authors printing hype, and lots of speculation. Was a welcome change to pick up your book full of first-hand knowledge, accurate knowledge. Normally when reading books on Alaska hunting I find lots I don’t agree with. You NAILED this book. You did an absolutely outstanding job, and you can spend the rest of your life being very proud of it. WELL DONE.”    Regards, Mark Whitmire

“I just finished reading your book Bear Hunting in Alaska. It should be mandatory reading for anyone that guides clients for Brown bears.  I know I wish the guide I went with had read it before I spent the money to come up to Alaska to hunt Brown bears. Jack – January 2006

“Tony, I live in Wasilla as well and just received my Bear Hunting In Alaska book today. First of all, outstanding book so far from what I read! I will be reading it more than a few times. But what really got me was, is that you were generous and honest enough to send me some of my own money back ($3) because the shipping wasn’t that much since I’m in Wasilla as well. Once again, I’d just like to say thanks and that I will being buying more books from you in the near future. If we ever meet, coffee or lunch is on me. God Bless!” -Matt – January 2005

In thirty years of Alaska hunting, I never had the opportunity to take a coastal brown bear. So when I finally drew that coveted Kodiak permit, my search for an Alaskan specific how-to manual was intense. It was by the kindest stroke of providence that I came into possession of the excellent (and only) comprehensive treatment of the subject: Bear Hunting in Alaska: The Brown & Grizzly Bear Hunter’s Guide by noted hunting authority Tony Russ. His entire take on mountain grizzlies dovetails so well with my own experience, that I am totally convinced this book is the real deal. Combining anecdotal material from his own considerable experience as a professional guide and hunter with a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of every aspect of the subject, Tony puts together a practical and understandable foundation for successfully accomplishing the ultimate Alaskan dangerous game hunting adventure. He stresses the significance and particulars of physical conditioning, diet, and the all important where, is laced with advice and lists for weapons, gear and clothing. But I found the pithiest sections to be those devoted to the actual hunting of bears; from selecting camp and spotting sites to identifying, stalking, and shooting.

It is obvious that his enviable history of involvement with this fascinating type of hunting has resulted from Tony Russ’s passion for it. His clear writing style infuses the reader with this passion as it instructs us in the particulars. I would recommend his book without reservation to anyone, novice or expert, seeking the last word on brown & grizzly bear hunting in Alaska. -Tim Shine – February 2004

Tony Russ’ Bear Hunting in Alaska is a great compliment to the Alaskana library. This book covers everything from planning to pursuit of Alaska bears. His take on judging a quality bear, stalking, shooting, and field care of a trophy sets the reader’s mind at ease by providing the essentials: Why, when, where, and how to hunt bears in Alaska! I’m impressed with the knowledge shared in this guidebook. Bravo, Tony!” –Larry Bartlett, Author / Wilderness Guide

“You’ve been advised to “Come loaded for bear!” — Well, if you are armed with this extremely complete book, detailing the bear hunting experience and knowledge of Tony Russ, then you, my friend, are “armed to the teeth”!–Marc Taylor,Author of Hunting Hard…In Alaska!

“…this book is great.  No one should hunt the big bears until they have read this book. I have read, enjoyed and garnered a great deal of useful information from Tony Russ’s previous books. Even though I have worked around, shared fishing holes with, and hunted bears for more than 30 years, I expected to pick up a few useful tips from Bear Hunting in Alaska. The surprise was that I learned just how much I don’t know about brown bears. This book is a must read for anyone who contemplates a hunt for Brown or Grizzly Bear. It is accurate, complete and I predict it will become the bible on Brown Bear hunting in Alaska.”

“I want to take one more bear in Alaska, a good brown bear with a long bow. This hunter will read and reread this book before I go on another bear hunting trip. Tony has attained a reputation as the expert on sheep and Sheep Hunting in Alaska. This book will make him the definitive authority on hunting Alaska’s big bears.” –George McCoy, Ph.D.

“I would highly encourage anyone interested in bear hunting to first read Bear Hunting In Alaska. This purely captivating, easy to discern, power-packed book should be considered the encyclopedia of bear hunting in Alaska with extraordinary information from one of Alaska’s foremost experts. The abundance of detailed “how-to” secret tips will immensely increase your hunting savvy immediately. Tony Russ’ Bear Hunting In Alaska delivers the immensely successful techniques and intrigue you won’t find anywhere else. And wow, the close encounter hunting action will have you on the edge of your seat with your heart racing, as it did mine.” –Rich Hackenberg, Author of Becoming A Great Moose Hunter and Moose Hunting In Alaska: The Secrets To Success.

“Just finished your new book on hunting Brown Bear. You have written the finest book on big bears I have ever read. I, like you have spent a life time in this state, hunting all species of big game. Quite frankly I have had my fill of authors printing hype, and lost of speculation. Was a welcome change to pick up your book full of first hand knowlegde, accurate knowledge. Normally when reading books on Alaska hunting I find lots I don’t agree with. You NAILED this book.” 

“You did an absolutely outstanding job, and you can spend the res of your life being very proud of it. WELL DONE.” Regards,  Mark Whitmire, Fairbanks, Alaska


Who is Tony Russ?  Well, not only is he a lifelong Alaskan with 40 + years of outdoor experience, an avid hunter and Registered Guide (now retired), he is also an accomplished and gifted writer, having written 6 books covering a wide range of hunting topics.  The reader of this book is drawn in by Tony’s insightful comments and his clear writing style.  One can tell he loves bear hunting after reading the first two paragraphs of chapter one which is titled, EXCITEMENT.

  In a NOTE TO THE READER, which precedes chapter 1, Tony states the following: “All Alaskan brown and grizzly bears are now recognized by biologists as one species, Ursus arctos.  However, as a lifelong Alaskan, I recognize some differences in hunting coastal brown bears and inland grizzly bears.  So, in this book, I will still use the two terms when different hunting techniques are appropriate for coastal versus inland bears.  I will also refer to Kodiak bears specifically when talking about only this population of bears.”  This “note” portrays Tony’s insightfulness; biologists can prove these bears are “one species,” however, an experienced hunter/guide knows “different hunting techniques are appropriate” for these bears. 

  Tony completely covers the big bear hunting topic, starting with chapters focusing on Hunter Preparation, Bear Hunting Gear, When & Where to Hunt, and Camping in Bear Country.  I found these chapters to be uniquely informative and I would not want to go on an Alaskan bear hunt without first studying these chapters.  The remaining chapters cover all of the aspects of hunting Ursus arctos including bowhunting.  I feel Tony “NAILED” the topic and his book is a definitive work on hunting the big bears of Alaska – Howard Delo – January 1, 2006  –   Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman – Outdoors in Alaska

  ….. asked if I could recommend some good books about hunting in Alaska and about living here. Several of the books which came to mind have a little about both, so I started mentioning some authors and titles…… a couple of these books I have reviewed in previous columns and Casey Ressler, the Frontiersman Valley Life editor, has reviewed a couple others.

I started out by mentioning Tony Russ, his books, and his publishing company located in Wasilla. The first Tony Russ book I read, The Manual for Successful Hunters, is the best pure Alaska hunting how-to book I have ever seen. He provides tips and suggestions based on his own hunting experiences and writes in a very easy-to-read style. I mentioned his Sheep Hunting in Alaska (get the second edition), and his Bear Hunting in Alaska books also. I have read the sheep hunting books (both editions) and have the bear hunting book as the next one on my books-to-be-read pile.  I also mentioned Rich Hackenberg’s book Moose Hunting in Alaska, also published by Russ. Bear Hunting in Alaska, Spring 2005 Issue, Don Muggli 

(This) Book is a must-read for hunters. No bear hunting topic is left uncovered in Wasilla author Tony Russ’ latest book, Bear Hunting in Alaska

For more than 10 years/ Wasilla author Tony Russ’ Sheep Hunting in Alaska has been considered the definitive volume on the subject. Now, Russ is tackling bear hunting in a new book that will likely become the bible of Bear Hunting in Alaska, covering every topic from how a hunter can get into physical shape before a hunt all the way to caring for a trophy in the field. Russ leaves no subject uncovered in the book.

 Frontiersman Tuesday, July 13, 2004, By Casey Ressler – Valley Life editor



Bear Hunting in Alaska

Tony Russ

Bear Hunting in Alaska is the long-awaited, how-to guide for hunters pursuing the largest bears on earth. Retired Registered Guide and accomplished hunter Tony Russ gives away all the secrets of when & where to hunt, stalking bears, judging bears, shooting bears, and trophy care. Along with the basics of hunter preparation, gear selection, camping in bear country, bowhunting bears, and bear safety, this is the definitive work on hunting the big bears of Alaska. Anyone who hunts bears or who spends any time in the Alaskan outdoors will be well-prepared after reading this complete work on these amazing creatures.  -296 pages, 131 photos.





Chapter 1 Excitement

Chapter 2 Bear Biology

Biological Classification, Trophy Classification, Range of Brown Bears, Physical Characteristics, Behavioral Characteristics, Life History, Diet, Kodiak Brown Bears

Chapter 3 Hunter Preparation

Physical Training, Cardiorespiratory Conditioning, Stretching, Strength Training, Stamina, Walking, Eat & Drink Well, Mental Readiness

Chapter 4 Bear Hunting Gear

Optics, Footwear, Clothing, Camping, Hunting, Traveling With Gear, Bear Hunter’s Gear Checklist

Chapter 5 When & Where to Hunt

Alaska Game Regulations, Bear Hunting Seasons, Trophy Quality, Places to Hunt

Chapter 6 Camping in Bear Country

Where to Camp, Pitching Camp, Eating

Chapter 7 Hunting Bears

Spotting Bears, Spring Hunting, Food Sources, Cruising Shorelines, Stand-Hunting, Snowmachine Hunting

Chapter 8 Stalking Bears

Initial Analysis, Make a Plan, Bears’ Eyesight, Fooling Their Ears, Beach Stalks, Remain Alert, Recovery and Refueling

Chapter 9 Judging Bears

Bear Sizes, Judging Size, Sex Determination, Other Trophy Considerations

Chapter 10 Shooting Bears

Sixteen Reasons to Keep Shooting, Calibers & Bullets for Bears, Shooting Bears, After the Shot

Chapter 11 Bowhunting Bears

Alaska’s Bowhunting Laws, Hunting Methods, Shooting Bears with a Bow

Chapter 12 Trophy Care

Analysis, The Photo Shoot, Skinning Your Bear, Fleshing and Salting

Chapter 13 Bear Safety

DLP Bears, Bear Country Etiquette, Close Encounters, Their Moods, Too Close

Chapter 14 Old Snaggle Tooth

World Record Bear


Recommended Reading

Photo Credits


Book Order Forms



If you’re going to think anyway, you might as well think big.” –Donald Trump

Big brown bears are what most hunters are looking for. However, the quality of an Alaskan brown bear trophy is dependent on several important characteristics. Trophies can vary in skull size, hair length, hair density, hair color, the number and severity of rubbed areas, age, and sex. Many of these variables can, to some extent, be predetermined by where and when you choose to hunt.

There is another variable—the difficulty of the hunt—which is seldom predetermined, but is perhaps the most important aspect of the hunt for many of us. Since memories are the real trophies we take with us after a hunt, the degree of difficulty we encounter, and overcome, can have the most significant influence on the intensity and vividness of these memories. Hunters who are prepared to overcome any difficulties of the hunt are more likely to carry home some incredible memories of hunting these noble creatures.

Bear sizes

When comparing the sizes of brown bears, we judge them by both their hide size and their skull size. Their skull size is the sum of the overall length and the overall width, in inches. There is a Boone & Crockett official scoring form in the “Appendix” that explains in detail how to do this. The skull size of bears is used for record-keeping purposes because its measurements are consistent between any number of scorers. The size of a bear’s hide is not used for record-keeping purposes because hides can be stretched considerably by hunters wanting to exaggerate the size of their bears.

Although there is a strong correlation between hide size and skull size, there are some variations in this relationship. Kodiak brown bears tend to have slightly larger skulls in relation to their bodies than Alaska Peninsula bears (I don’t know why–probably some advantage for survival on Kodiak Island). I imagine there are other distinct populations of brown bears that also have tendencies for large or small skulls in relation to their hide size. However, estimating skull size in the field is virtually impossible. So, we estimate the hide size of a bear, which is much easier to do, and assume it will correlate pretty closely to the average skull size for that hide size.

The standard way to gauge a bear’s size is to use its “squared” hide size. An eight-foot bear really means the “squared” size of the hide is eight feet. To get the “squared” hide size, the skinned and fleshed hide is laid out on a flat surface, fur side up. The width from the tip of one front claw to the tip of the opposite front claw is measured, and added to the length from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. This sum of the width and length is then divided by two. The result is the “squared” hide size.

The “squared” is usually dropped and bears are referred to as six, seven, eight (etc.) foot bears. Of course, hunters want to do their trophies justice, so you will here about eight-foot, six-inch bears, or nine-foot, three-inch bears. A ten-footer is considered the Holy Grail of brown bear hunting. I’ve heard some hunters claim they’ve seen eleven-foot bears or bear hides, but I have never seen one myself. One of the most difficult aspects of brown bear hunting is judging their size, but there are several reliable indicators to look for that simplify and make this task more accurate.

Judging size

Practice, practice, practice. There is no other way I know of to become a really good judge of bears. Take every opportunity to look at photos, look at bear mounts, watch videos, and talk to bear hunters about their methods of judging bears, as well as their successes and mistakes in this vital skill.

When you are practicing, these are the characteristics to look at when judging a brown bear’s size:

•size of the head in proportion to the body;

•ear size and position;

•walking style – large bears waddle;

•leg length and thickness;

•chest size;

•hip size;

•and muzzle size.

All of these traits should be considered simultaneously. Bears are just like other animals; they have individual differences that may make it impossible to accurately judge their size based on just one of these traits. By using all of these criteria, a good bear judge can come up with a very accurate estimate of almost any bear’s size.

The size of a bear’s head in proportion to its body can be used at great distances to estimate size. This can save hunters a lot of wasted time going after distant bears only to find out they are too small. As brown (and grizzly) bears get larger, their head is smaller in proportion to their bodies. The term pinhead is often used to describe how a large bear looks. A seven-foot bear has already achieved about 70 percent of its head size, but its body can easily double or triple in overall mass, giving the head its pin-like appearance.

Small (young) bears have obviously large heads with relatively large eyes, just like young animals of any species of mammal. Small bears will also have relatively large ears that sit on top of their heads. The ears of large, mature bears will look smaller and less like they are on top of their heads, and more toward the sides of their heads. The ears on a two-hundred-pound brown bear are about the same size as the ears on a one-thousand-pound brown bear. Of course the head on the larger bear is almost twice that of the smaller bear, so the ears of the large bear look relatively tiny.

Many (but not all) large bears also have distinct muscle definition on top of their heads. Young bears will have no obvious muscle definition. Really large bears will also have necks as large around as their heads, whereas small bears will have obviously smaller necks than heads. Both of these criteria are less useful when hunting spring bears with long hair that disguises both muscle definition and true neck size.

Large bears tend to waddle as they walk. Very fat bears, even if they are medium size, may waddle also, but not to the same degree as large bears. Large bears waddle mainly because of the width of their shoulders and hips. Their legs seem to swing out and around their wide bodies with each long step so there is more side-to-side motion than smaller bears have. This motion also causes a large bear’s head to sway from side to side as it walks, adding to the impression of a large, wide animal. Young bears have relatively long legs and narrow bodies; they walk more like dogs with legs that go directly forward and back with little side-to-side body or head movement.

Young bears have relatively long, thin legs. This impression is enhanced by their small chests. I have seen young bears whose front elbows were both visible from a side view, and were way below their tiny chests. As a bear grows, its chest will expand downward, so it is level with or even below its front elbows. A brown bear’s front (and back) legs also thicken considerably as its body gains mass, which also makes the legs look shorter. A young bear often has thin, dog-like front legs, adding to the impression that it is a young animal.

As most brown bears grow in size, their hips grow relatively faster than their shoulders, both upward and outward. Up to about seven or eight feet (in squared hide size) their shoulder width and height is about the same as their hip width and height. After this point, their shoulder growth slows down, while their hips continue to grow steadily–outpacing shoulder growth. This produces the typical large bear shape of a wedge. Viewed from the side, the shoulders of many large bears are shorter than their hips. Viewed directly from the front, you can see their hips outside and above their shoulders. Viewed directly from the back, you will only see a large backside, as the hips extend above and outside of the shoulders, blocking the rest of the body from view.

The length and width of a brown bear’s muzzle in relation to its head are also good clues as to its size. Basically, young bears have short, narrow muzzles; older (and larger) bears have longer, wider muzzles. The large snout of a nine- or ten-foot bear will make its eyes look tiny. A young bear appears to have much larger eyes in comparison to its snout. Large bears will have snouts that are almost half the length of the entire head. Young bears’ snouts will be about one-third the length of their head length. The muzzles on some really large, old bears will widen to the point where their eyes are barely visible from a front view.

This next chart shows the (basic) relationships between the size of a skinned bear’s hide (squared), the width of a front pad, the body weight, the width across the front paws, the length from nose to tail, skull size, and the shape of the front pads. Remember that individual differences, differences between populations, how deep an impression a track makes, whether a bear is fat in fall or thin in spring, how tight you stretch a hide, how old the bear is, and other variables may affect the relationships between these measurements in any one bear. However, if details from dozens of bears are recorded from one area, it is amazing how consistent, for example, track size is to hide size. Some veteran bear guides on the Kodiak Island or the Alaskan Peninsula can predict to within six inches (or less), the size of a bear’s hide by seeing just one front track.

This chart is a good starting place for judging Alaskan brown bears. After looking at photos, bear mounts, and live bears, hunters should be able to determine if a bear in the field is small, medium, or large. After watching, estimating size, and then being in on several bear kills, hunters can hone their judging skills. The more characteristics on a bear that are used for judging, the more checks and balances a hunter has to avoid inaccurate size estimations.

On one of my spring guiding trips, my client and I watched a large, groggy bear slowly come our way. The client was adamant about wanting a bear over nine feet. I couldn’t be sure of this bear’s size because the head looked a little too big for the body, yet the body looked like a solid nine-foot bear. One minute he looked over nine feet, and the next I thought he was only eight and a half. The bear crossed a river right in front of us and I had to let it walk away upriver because I couldn’t guarantee it was a nine-footer.

After the bear was out of sight, we hurried over to examine its tracks. The front tracks were at least eight inches wide. We had to hustle up the mountain, but about an hour later we caught that bear and my client got his nine-foot, three-inch trophy. When we reached the bear, I understood my estimation problems. The bear had a very furry, large head for its body, so the ratio of head size to body size seemed wrong for a nine-foot bear. The skull measured over 27 inches, which is on the large size for a nine-foot bear, but the track size (along with all the other nine-foot indicators) convinced me the bear was large enough for my client.

Sex determination

Determining sex on brown bears is possible with practice. I don’t know if anyone can do this with 100 percent accuracy, but I do think 90 percent accuracy is quite possible. This task of distinguishing boars from sows is much easier when you are looking at large bears. It’s the young bears and the small (but older) bears that are by far the most difficult to sex correctly.

The most common reason for wanting to identify male and female bears is for better game management. By shooting only male bears, bear populations are less affected by hunting pressure and more bears are available for hunting and for viewing. Most hunters want to help game managers for these reasons, but many hunters also prefer to take male bears because they feel it improves the trophy quality as well as increases the challenge.

There are several characteristics used to determine the sex of brown bears:

•the shape of the head;

•location of the ears;

•the length of the neck;

•the shape of the body;

•hair color;

•and body size.

Male brown bears have blockier heads than females. The male snout is almost square at the nostrils and the chin when viewed from the side. From a side view, females have more pointed noses, which makes the chin look more recessed. The same traits are apparent from a top view: a male’s muzzle is square-looking, a female’s is more pointed. From a front view, the male’s face is also blockier; a female’s is rounder. The ears of a male bear will tend to be more toward the side of the head than the top. A female’s ears will appear to be more on top of its head.

The ratio of neck length to head length for a male is between two-thirds and three-thirds. The same ratio for a female is less than two-thirds. For these comparisons, the length of the head is taken from the nose to the back of the skull. The length of the neck is taken from the back of the skull to the front of the hump. This is one of the most reliable predictors of sex in brown bears.

The shape of a male brown bear’s body also differs from that of a female. Males have broader, squarer shoulders than females. When viewed from the front or the top, the shoulders of a male will be noticeably wider than its head. When viewing a female from the front or top, the shoulders will often look barely wider than the head.

When using the shape of the head, the ear position, the length of the head, or the shape of the body to determine sex, you must remember that all of these criteria are much more predictive with adult bears. Cubs of both sexes look quite similar because they don’t typically display these sex-related characteristics until at least age three. These four predictive traits become even more pronounced as bears age, which is when these factors are most useful to hunters who are seeking only a larger, older trophy.

Male brown bears tend to be darker than females. Blond bears are usually females, although a notable exception is the typical Toklat grizzlies, which in general have blond backs. Brown bears also tend to darken with age, so blond males will sometimes turn into dark adults, and even darker old bears. Very dark or even black-colored brown bears are almost always old bears.

Size is somewhat useful as an indicator of sex because boars get much larger than sows. Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, ten-foot bears are boars. Nine-foot bears are almost always boars. If you are hunting populations that seldom reach these proportions, size is not as predictive of sex.

As when you are estimating size, all the sex-determining traits should be used together to make your decision. Individual bears and populations differ, so no one sex-related trait can predict accurately throughout the range of brown bears in Alaska.

There is a good bear-judging video called Take a Closer Look that I recommend for all bear hunters. It covers most of the predictive criteria discussed in this chapter–both concerning size and sex. The video was produced at Alaska’s McNeil River State Game Sanctuary. Copies of this video are available from the Yukon Fish & Game Association, 4061 Fourth Ave., Whitehorse, Yukon, CANADA, Y1A 1HT, 867-667-4263.

Other trophy considerations

In addition to helping determine sex of a brown bear, the color and hair condition of a bear can add or detract from its trophy quality. The Toklat coloration, with a blond back and very dark legs, was so named because of this classic coloration of many grizzlies coming from the Toklat region of Interior Alaska. However, this coloration can be found in bears throughout the state. Many of the larger boars in Alaska are dark-colored, so if hunters are mainly concerned with size, they have to take whatever color they get. Personally, I consider color and hair quality a more significant factor in trophy quality than many hunters do.

One of my fall, Alaska Peninsula hunters had two opportunities to take a beautiful, light-colored eight-footer, but passed both times to wait for a bigger bear. Although this was only an average-sized bear, its coloration was truly exceptional. When we first spotted this bear at about two miles, we both thought it was a caribou. It had its head up and stretched in the shape of a caribou, and it had a white mane and neck, just like a bull caribou. From the hump back, it was a perfect chocolate brown. I would have loved to take that bear myself, but the hunter insisted on trying to find a larger bear. We did find a larger bear, but I still wish he would have taken that bear with the white mane.

Just like other animals and people when they age, the older (and usually larger) bears often have ratty hair color and quality. The color will often be an inconsistent, dull, dark brown mixture, with no definite light or dark areas like a classic blond-on-top, dark-on-bottom Toklat. The hair texture will often be coarse, and there will be no colors at the tips that give many younger bears their attractive, grizzled look. Hair tips on old bears often seem to be broken and uneven, and the hair stands up at odd angles (just like an older hunter’s hair).

On the other hand, many of us hunter-types (myself included) think that an old animal is more of a trophy and a better animal to harvest for management reasons. Male brown and grizzly bears often exceed the age of twenty years in the wild, and some sows have lived over thirty years. Older brown bears also tend to have white lateral lines on their claws, or even pure white claws, which adds to trophy quality. So there are both good and bad qualities you can find in older bears.

Rubbing of hides can be a significant concern for spring bear hunters. Bears rub in their dens and continue to rub once they emerge. Rubbed bears will have broken hairs that will be very short and unattractive. These shorter hairs are off-color from the surrounding hair, which still has its attractive, fine tips. Bears can rub and break their hair from just about anywhere on their bodies.

The parts of a bear to look for rubs are the forehead between the eyes, on the top of the rump right above the tail, on top of the paws, on the flanks in front of the back legs, and on the chest behind the front legs. As bears walk through crusty snow in spring, they can also break more hair from the top of their paws and from just about the entire length of their legs. Usually, any rubbed area can be identified by the discoloration, but a careful inspection with good optics is necessary to find all the rubbed areas.

A badly rubbed bear is a pretty disgusting sight. It will look like a vandal attacked it with an electric hair trimmer. Parts of the bear may even look like most of the hair has fallen out by the roots, leaving exposed skin. Close inspection of all parts of a bear’s hide is crucial for hunters wishing to have a good, or even presentable hide to take home. Every spring I see some almost-bald bear hides taken by careless hunters–hides that are almost useless to anyone.

Judging bears is a vital skill for just about any bear hunter. It takes quite a bit of field practice to be very good, but adequate skill can be learned with some serious study of the criteria to use, and then some practice with photos, mounts, and videos. This will enable even the first-time bear hunter to judge between small, medium, and large bears in the field, as well as to identify the other characteristics that make a top-quality brown bear trophy.

“My greatest trophies came when I worked the hardest and suffered what Hemingway called, ‘…the discomforts that you paid to make it real.’ ” –Robert Ruark