OI client John LeBanc with his 2024 spring brown bear he hunted on the Alaska Peninsula.

John LaBanc: Alaska Brown Bear Hunt Report

TRIP TAKEN: Spring Brown Bear Hunt on the Alaska Peninsula
CONSULTANT: Kyle Hanson, Outdoors International

May 10, 2024

The outfitter placed me in a spike camp along the […] Valley. The valley was wide with snow covered mountains on each side. It was a late Spring. The two tents, one for the guide and one for me, were set up in alters. The walk to the glassing point was a mile each way. It was a strenuous walk to and from glassing knob. Due to the distance from camp to the glassing knob, we had to spend the entire day, every day on the glassing knob.

We spent 12-14 hours on the knob each day in the cold, wind and rain/snow/sleet. Typically, awake at 0600, quick coffee and oatmeal, hike to the knob, start glassing 0700 or 0800 and stay until 2200. The first two bears we saw were out at 2100 to 2200. The third bear, which I shot on the last day was out at 1500. Glassing is hard and when you do not see bears it is discouraging. But, you have to put in the hours because you never know when THE bear will appear out of nowhere, as mine did.

The Stalk

The bear appeared at 1500/16 May, 2024 the last day of my hunt.

It was first sighted in a field in front of our glassing spot and to our left about 800 yards. Cody (my guide) and I took off our shell layer, jackets, and mukluks. The bear disappeared from our line of sight due to our elevation. We moved as quickly as possible over tundra to get to a knob to relocate the bear. The bear was moving up the mountain on a small ridgeline and behind some alders. We could get glimpses of him where the alders thinned out.

Cody moved us father to the left to a spot just below a ridgeline he thought the bear would travel. I pre-ranged possible shooting locations at 100, 150 and 200 yards. We were in a short stand of alders and the bear was tracking on a line above us. The bear was moving deliberately and not stopping to feed. The shot would be standing using Gunstix.

It was difficult to set the Gunstix due to the tussocks. The bear passed the 100 and 150 yard sites. I set the elevation for a 200 yard shot. The last possible shot opportunity would be at 150-200 yards before the bear would be in the alders and almost in the Preserve Land and off limits. Cody was using his On-X Hunt to verify our location and the bear’s relative to the Preserve because it’s illegal to track and recover a shot bear through Preserve land.

I had the reticle on the bear as it emerged from the alder patch and moved away from us up the ridgeline and headed to the next alder patch. I only had a Texas Heart shot which I was ready to take IF Cody told me to take it. Just before the bear angled to the right into the dense alder patch, he paused and looked to his left down the ridgeline giving me a left side quartering away shot. I took the shot behind the left front shoulder. The rifle I was shooting is a Blaser R8 Pro Success in 375 H&H caliber; Scope: Swarovski X5 3.5-18×50; bullet: Hornady Dangerous Game 270 grain SP-RP Superformance. The scope was set at 3.5x. I saw the bullet impact the bear. The bear “bit at the wound’, hit the ground hard, did a somersault and spun about. I took a second shot at the spinning ball of fur and it headed up the ridgeline behind the alders.

Both Cody and I knew the bear was hit and hurt. Cody was worried the bear would make it into Preserve Land—resulting a fines, a negative mark on his guide license and surrendering the bear to the State of Alaska.

Tracking the Wounded Bear

We had to track the bear and hope it would not reach Preserve Land. We topped off our magazine and put a round in the chamber and placed the rifles on safe. We would walk side by side with rifles at the ready. We would move deliberately and vigilantly. I was responsible for our left flank and Cody for the right flank and both of us checking the rear and front. Wounded bears have been know to “J-hook” and ambush the hunters. Every few steps we stopped and Cody scanned with binoculars to see the bear better in the alders.

Just as we made it to the alders were I shot the bear, Cody spotted the bear on the downward slope lying and rolling on the ground 30 yards from where I first shot the bear. We were now upwind of the bear. I trained the rifle on the bear and just as it stood up I hit it again. The bear dropped and slid forward on its belly. We approached the bear with extreme caution. I stood just to the left of the bear with my rifle trained on the bear as Cody approached from the rear of the bear to poke the rear paw pad to confirm it was dead. It was dead. Cody confirmed on his On-X the bear was NOT on Preserve Land. St Hubert, patron saint of hunters, intervened to place this bear in a position for me to stalk and shoot it.


This was a long, arduous hunt. My gear was excellent. Our outfitter, in a pre-hunt phone calI said a zero degree sleeping bag would be cold and he recommended a Wiggy’s -40 degree bag. I added Wiggy’s mukluks to keep my feet warm during glassing and a Wiggy’s Parka. The best investment I ever made. I was comfortable and never cold in the 22-43 degrees of the hunt. Cody was professional and energetic and never lost hope. He was key to the success of the hunt. Persistence pays off. On the last day of my hunt a bear seemed to materialize out of nowhere and Cody expertly maneuvered us into position to harvest a beautiful Brown Bear.

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Kyle Hanson is professional and thorough. In have booked 12 hunts with Outdoors International and will continue to book more with them.

Would you use Outdoors International again? YES
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