Brown bear hunting in Russia
Russian brown bear hunting is undoubtedly the best bear hunting experience in the world. The population of brown bears in Russia has been stable for many years and, according to estimates, currently sits in the region of 150,000. This is more brown bears than in all other countries in the world combined. The Russian brown bear habitat runs uninterrupted for a distance of 10,000 km (6,000 mi.), from the Finnish border in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east.
Sergei Shushunov and his Russian Hunting LLC offer bear hunts all over Russia, including the European North-West, Central and Southern Siberia, the Pacific coast, and the Caucasus Mountains. As a rule, the size of brown bears in Eurasia increases incrementally from west to east. The smallest bears, as measured by skull size and hide surface, are found in central European countries such as Slovakia and the largest along the Pacific coast of Russia. The highest density of brown bear population is found on the Pacific coast and the European parts of the country.
The huge number of brown bears in Russia make hunting very productive. It is estimated that the success rate on guided brown and grizzly bear hunts in Alaska or Canada is about 30%, whereas in Russia in many areas it is over 90% and in some areas the high density of bears allows hunters to take home more than one trophy. With lower average prices than bear hunts in the US and Canada and a success rate that is three times higher, Russian brown bear hunts are not only a lot more cost-effective but also a lot less likely to end in disappointment—it’s exceeding rare for a hunter to return home from a bear hunt in Russia without a trophy.
Russian Bear Subpecies
Russia is home to several subspecies of brown bear found in different parts of the country and our hunting methods depend on each type of bear’s preferred food source, which varies from region to region. For many years Russia allowed den bear hunting, but this was closed in 2012 (to the great disappointment of many thrill-seeking hunters).
Our Eurasian Brown Bear hunt is conducted in the regions of St. Petersburg, Novgorod, Vologda, and Karelia. In the European part of the country, these bears usually feed on wild berries, cultivated oats and barley, insects, small mammals, and carrion. The largest European bear ever taken by one of our clients weighed in at 360 kg. (790 lbs.), with a hide measuring 260 cm long (almost 9 ft.). The success rate on our Eurasian brown bear hunts is well over 90%.
The majority of Eurasian Brown bear hunts are conducted from high stands over bait. The spring hunting season lasts only a couple of weeks in late April and May, and we offer hunts over meat bait in Karelia from April 20-25 until May 20. The fall season usually starts on August 15 and ends around October 30. Early fall hunts are done from high stands along oat and barley fields. Later, bears are hunted by stalking or baiting. Both methods offer the hunter a truly thrilling experience, both on account of the environment in which the hunts take place and the opportunity to see these enormous and elegant creatures first hand and up close in their natural habitat.
For a full-blooded (!), first-person account of what it feels like to hunt a European brown bear in fall, this article by Mark Hoffman, originally printed in Outdoor Edge, offers a small taster that’s sure to whet your appetite!
The Siberian brown bear is, on average, larger than the Eurasian brown bear. The most important food source for the Siberian brown bear during the summer and fall is pine nuts, which they consume in huge quantities in order to accumulate enough fat to see them through their winter hibernation. When the crop of pine nuts is inadequate, hunger makes bears very aggressive. This is when they start killing not only wild but also domestic mammals and often attack people. Siberian Brown Bear hunts are available in both spring and fall. Spring hunts usually involve stalking and glassing over the hillsides. In the fall, bears are hunted by stalking and baiting, and occasionally with dogs.
The Far Eastern brown bear (also known as the Kamchatka brown bear) is found on the Kamchatka peninsula, Sakhalin island, and the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk, and is amongst the largest bears in Russia and perhaps even the world. These salmon-eating bears rival the bears of Alaska and Kodiak Island both in size and in density of population. (To give you an idea of what to expect, the largest Kamchatka brown bear skull on record was measured at 30 and 11/16 inches.) The prices of these Russian bear hunts are substantially lower than those in Alaska and the success rate is on average much higher owing to the density of the Far Eastern brown bear population where our hunts take place.
Kamchatka has become the number one destination for bear hunters in Russia, although many hunters do not realize that the less frequently hunted areas of the Russian Northern Pacific Coast offer as good, or perhaps an even better chance of getting a very large bear. In May or June, for example, the density of bears along the shoreline of the Sea of Okhotsk can be so high that from a viewing point on a hill a hunter may be able to spot 30 to 50 bears at the same time. The spring season is the most productive for hunting the Far Eastern Brown Bear. At this time, bears emerge from hibernation and actively look for food while there is still snow cover on the ground, thereby making themselves visible from greater distances to hunters. The season starts at the end of April and ends at the end of May in the northern parts of Russia’s Pacific regions. Spring hunts in the southern parts of the Sea of Okhotsk start in late May and end in early June.
The Amur brown bear is found in the southern parts of far eastern Russia. This bear has a darker than usual hide and is medium to large in size. It is considered to be similar to the bears found on Hokkaido Island in Japan. The hunt is offered along the southern Pacific coast of Russia in the spring and over bait in the fall. This is the only bear hunt which can be effectively done with bow and arrow.
To see for yourself the type of trophies you can expect to take home from one of our hunts, please take a look at our trophy gallery, where you will find pictures of each of the above species and the happy clients who claimed them as their trophy!