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Location: Kodiak, AK
Joined: 03/08/2011
Posts: 4
methods for estimating size of brown bear

Just looking for different methods used to size up brown bears.

Location: Palmer Ak
Joined: 03/24/2007
Posts: 130
Just like black bears, young

Just like black bears, young bears will have the ears up on top ,the sharp nose ,legs that look long for the body.A truly big brownie, has always illicited the classic "oh my god"" response from me, and everyone I've been with.Hope it always does. You don't need to judge, them you just know. It,s the middle size one that can be tough, just like black bears.


Location: Kodiak, AK
Joined: 03/08/2011
Posts: 4
i know what you mean about

i know what you mean about your gut reaction.  i was only asking because i took a black bear this past summer, and was sure it was bigger than it ended up being.  not a disappointment, but just seeing if anyone had some other trick.  i will be doing alot of scouting before the season so i was trying to size up the bear before i committed to one.



expatriate's picture
Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/26/2002
Posts: 3206
methods for estimating the size of brown bear

Bears are tough to size accurately.  The best answer is always experience.  I've seen a lot of them, and I agree that when you see a big one, you know.  Look for bulk.  A big bear will sway more when it walks.  Ears will be lower on the head and farther apart.   The head will be blocky, as will the body.  Sometimes with browns you can use nature's ruler -- salmon.  Spawning salmon tend to be roughly the same size, as they're generally all the same species and age within a particular run.  Granted, there are exceptions, but most are fairly close.  If you know how big the fish are, it helps get an idea of the size of the bear's paws and head if he grabs one out of the water.  Knowing that there's a pretty good correlation between paw width and bear length, fish can help you get an idea at a distance. 

Joined: 08/09/2011
Posts: 7
"Bear Hunting in Alaska" by

"Bear Hunting in Alaska" by Tony Russ is an excellent book and has a very good chapter on judging brown bears.   Bring a very good set of binoculars (I got a pair of Zeiss Classic B*T*P 8x40s off Ebay pretty cheap and they worked great) and don't shot a bear the first day unless you stumble on a 10 foot monster.   I shot this one last September in Upper Togiak Lake at 13 yards and it was coming towards us.  Ended up following the blood trail into the thick willows which was more exciting than the intial shot.   Found him dead in mini black bog in the willows thirty yards from where I shot him.  He  was a solid 8 1/2 ' bear that I'm real happy with


If I go back for brown bear I'm going to hunt Kodiak Island in the Spring with Gus Lamoruex and not shoot anything smaller than 10' and be willing to go home empty.  They say the only way to shoot a 10 footer is not to shoot anything smaller



Chuck-n-Alaska's picture
Location: Southcentral Alaska
Joined: 04/26/2007
Posts: 222
Look for a long neck and long

Look for a long neck and long snout. Don't worry so much about the size of his ears look at what is between them. A lot of space and well defined muscles. A mature boar's front legs won't have the taper from knee's to anckle that a sow or small bear will have.I'm working on a blog post on this very topic. I am trying to get it done before I leave for hunting season, if not I will have it done when I get back in Oct.


aka The Eclectic Alaskan