Hunting Brown Bears at 20 yards of Less with Tony Mudd



By: John E. Phillips
By: John E. Phillips

Editor’s note: This is part 1 of a 2 part series of bowhunting brown bears in Alaska with Tony Mudd. Tony Mudd lives in Reno, Nevada, and guides archery brown bear hunters in Alaska with Knik Glacier Adventures, starting at the end of July each year. He’s a member of the PSE pro staff and has taken 23 of the 28 North American big game animals with his bow.


Question: Tony, how do you hunt bears on the rivers in Alaska?

Mudd: We use spot-and-stalk, still hunting and blind-hunting tactics to hunt bears. In the spring is when the bears are feeding on salmon. There are certain places on the river where we hunt that we can see good distances up and down the river and can spot the bears when they come down to the river to fish.

Tony Mudd, up close and personal with an Alaskan Brownie.
Tony Mudd, up close and personal with an Alaskan Brownie.

Question: Tony, how close to a brown bear do you try and get a hunter, before he takes his shot? Mudd: One of the best target archers and bowhunters in North America is Randy Ulmer. Once he told me, “When I’m hunting dangerous game, I like to get within 20 yards or less. I believe there’s less chance of something going wrong with the shot or with the stalk, when I’m within 20 yards or less of a dangerous animal.” Based on my conversation with Randy, I decided I would get my hunters as close to the brown bears as I safely could. Then they can take high-percentage shots. The last thing we want to ever do is to wound one of these giant bears and have to follow it into the bush. So, I try and limit the number of bowhunters I guide to shots that are 20 yards or less.

Question: Tony, when you get that close to a bear, doesn’t that make the hunt very exciting? Mudd: Sometimes it’s too exciting.


Question: How do you get the bowhunters in that close to the brown bears?

Mudd: As I’ve mentioned, we’re hunting on the river, and the bears are fishing on the river. At certain places on the river, large numbers of salmon will be spawning. The bears know where those places are, and they’ll try to catch and eat the salmon at those spots. We have some observation points along the river where we can see them from a good ways off. When the bears come out to fish, we’ll observe them. The bears often fish for quite some time. While the bears are fishing, we have an opportunity to stalk and get in close to them. When the bear is chasing fish in the river, he’s making a lot of noise, and so is the river. The bear’s attention is totally focused on catching and eating fish out of the river. Since bears can’t hear very well and don’t have good eyesight, the only defense mechanism they have left to warn them of danger is their ability to smell. If we hunt into the wind, we take away his ability to smell us. So we’ve got the bear’s eyes, ears and his nose out of play to detect us, and his attention is focused on the fish in the river. Then our bowhunters have opportunities to move within 20 yards or less to make their shots. If the bear don’t catch a fish, and they’re coming up or down river toward us, we’ll set-up so that the bears will walk past us at close range.

Question: Tony, what’s the closest you’ve ever had your hunter to a brown bear or a grizzly bear?

Mudd: Ten to 12 yards.



If you enjoy high adventure, reading about dangerous game and learning about the men who take that game, “Bowhunting the Dangerous Bears of Alaska” is a must read. Click here

For more please go to: John Phillips