Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Alaska approves sale of bear hides

The Alaska Board of Game yesterday approved the sale of bear hides from certain parts of Alaska. The approval came as part of a plan to increase moose populations. Bears are significant predators on moose calves in some parts of the state. Brown bear hides can be sold if taken from GMU20E. Black bear hides can be sold if taken from parts of the state where predator control programs are underway. According to the Anchorage Daily News, the new regulation could be in effect in time for the spring bear hunting season. Regulations are not normally in effect until July 1st.

Becoming an Outdoors Woman - Spring 2006

We've mentioned this before, but it's worth another plug:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Hunter Heritage Foundation of Alaska is hosting a winter Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) workshop March 24-26, 2006 at Victory Bible Camp, Alaska (Mile 94.8 Glenn Highway). Registration forms and class descriptions are now available online. There is substantial information about this program here.

For Alaska women who long to learn about hunting and other activities, BOW is a good program. It is run in many states, and it has earned rave reviews.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Winter drawing permit hunt results available

The Division of Wildlife Conservation published results for winter drawing permit application hunts today. Permits for these hunts will be mailed in February.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Wolf control program up and running by weeks' end?

The Alaska Board of Game has been meeting by teleconference to address problems in the legal technicalities by which it allowed wolf control to proceed in several places in Alaska this winter. The state's attorney working on the issue says the program should be operational again by the end of the week, according to KTUU news in Anchorage.

An Alaska Superior Court judge had ruled that the program was insufficiently justified within the framework of rules that the board had established earlier.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has amply demonstrated over the years that 1) wolf control works; 2) it can be applied for relatively brief periods with good results; and 3) Alaska's overall wolf population is not harmed by this approach.

An interesting side argument in this whole business is that moose and caribou can be raised and harvested at lower environmental cost than equivalent quantities of beef. Professor Sam Harbo of the University of Alaska proposed in the 1980's that it makes more environmental sense to occasionally control wolves and reap the protein benefits of more moose and caribou than it does to ship equivalent quantities of beef to Alaska. Cattle are raised at substantial environmental cost: land lost to wildlife, fossil fuel consumption, erosion, reduction of native grass species, pollution, and so forth.

The trouble is that wolves must be controlled: killed, normally. But to carry Professor Harbo's thoughts a little further, it seems logical to assume that fewer TOTAL animals die when wolves are controlled. Again, to use beef instead of moose and caribou, all of the above environmental consequences ensue -- all of which ultimately lead to the death of wild animals.

I sometimes wonder if the jihad against active management of wildlife is really more about money than wildlife. If it was about wildlife, the jihadists would select battles in which wildlife populations or habitat actually benefited if won. That's certainly not the case here: Alaska's wolves are in no danger, as 30 years of wolf management by the Alaska Dept of Fish and Game have demonstrated. Whether their ceaseless campaigning succeeds or fails, Alaska's wolf numbers change very little.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Recent threads from the Alaska Hunting Forum

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Afognak Island purchase win for hunters, outdoors people

The purchase of land and timber rights on Alaska's Afognak Island is good news for hunters and outdoor people. The land was formerly privately owned, but now will be managed by the state's Department of Natural Resources. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was one of the organizations that added funds to the mix needed to buy the valuable land.

In its news release, RMEF said, "The purchase permanently conserves 4,400 acres of exceptional coastal habitat for Sea Otter, Kodiak Bears and Roosevelt Elk in storm-sheltered Perenosa Bay, on the northern coast of Afognak Island. Adjacent and nearby coastal lands totaling nearly 200,000 acres are already in public ownership, including Afognak Island State Park, Shuyak Island State Park, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge."

Afognak is the home of Alaska's largest transplanted elk populations: about 900 animals from a small herd introduced in 1929.

Board of Game publishes hunting proposals

The Alaska Board of Game has published proposals for changes in the hunting regulations. These proposals will form the basis for board action at the spring regulatory meeting. Anyone can comment on the regulations to the board, or testify at a public hearing before the meeting. Board action on these proposals will form the 2006-2007 Alaska hunting regulations.

AK Outdoor Council to meet in Sitka

The Alaska Outdoor Council is holding its annual meeting in Sitka February 3-5. AOC is an umbrella organization of Alaska outdoors organizations and individual members spanning the state.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

State wolf control program halted on technicality

Alaska's wolf control program has been halted by a State Superior Court ruling which says the Alaska Board of Game did not follow its own rules in establishing the programs. According to the Anchorage Daily News, suit was brought by Friends of Animals against the state, and Judge Sharon Gleason said "the state failed to provide required justification for the program, including previous measures that failed to work."

“The ruling is a minor setback,” said Commissioner Campbell in an ADF&G news release. “The judge ruled in favor of the state on virtually all of the arguments made by the plaintiffs. The programs have been invalidated based upon the judge’s finding that the Board of Game’s regulations are ‘internally inconsistent.’ The state can make its regulations consistent.”

"The department and Board are doing everything we can to ensure that this interruption to our predator control programs is as short as possible,” said Commissioner Campbell. The Alaska Board of Game will meet in a teleconference on January 25 to deliberate on this. This is a listen-only teleconference.

This is an important program that will provide long-lasting value for Alaskans who use moose and caribou for food.

Biologists believe Alaska may have as many as 11,000 wolves, a number which has remained relatively constant even in light of a number of wolf control programs in recent decades. Taking 400 wolves will not put a long term dent into that.

Alaska state government led by Governor Murkowski and top ADFG managers have had to face into the wind of quite a bit of political correctness on this issue. I greatly appreciate their steadfastness on this, and I know that most Alaska hunters agree.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Barney's Sports Chalet website

In some frustration Bob Hodson of Barney's Sports Chalet in Anchorage asked Mike Strahan and I to give him a hand with his website. Bob's frustration stems from the fact that he has an impressive line of made-for-Alaska, or picked-for-Alaska outdoors products -- and it's almost impossible to find them on the Internet!

Bob's an outdoorsman with extensive Alaska experience. He's put that to good use building a line of products that just work for Alaska, year after year. These are not inexpensive products, but they won't go bad in two years, either.

Mike and I are working with the website developers and we'll be helping to make some changes to make this more visible. In the meantime, I've put together a page that leads to some top Barney's Alaska hunting gear items. There are LOTS more products than this, so you'll find yourself spending some time here.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

ADFG publishes deer, sheep, muskox reports

Management reports for three species have been published recently by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. These reports have good general information about the status of specific populations of big game around Alaska. The reports recently published are for Sitka black-tailed deer, muskox, and Dall sheep (the links all open PDF files). The Division of Wildlife Conservation website has a complete list of recently published reports.

ADFG Bear Hunting Clinic in Anchorage on 25 Feb

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is putting on its annual bear hunting clinic on February 25 (Saturday) in Anchorage. The clinic will feature well known speakers and cover useful information about hunting bears. Lee Rogers of the Department of Fish and Game explains more in the audio clip.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Recent threads from the Alaska Hunting Forum

These recent forum threads have started some good discussion. These are just a few of the topics posted recently:

Wolf initiative petition dies

An Alaska initiative petition designed to stop the state's predator management program has died for lack of signatures. Sponsors say they ran out of time, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports. The petition would have required state employees to take the wolves, instead of private teams. The state is currently issuing permits for teams to take wolves in several areas of Alaska. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game opposed the ititiative because of its "amiguous language that would lead to costly court battles."

The petition sponsors, Alaskans for Wildlife, have vowed to try again for the August 2008 primary election ballot, the News-Miner reported.

But lest anyone be tempted to celebrate, Brigitte Bardot, the French ex-sex kitten, has roundly condemned Governor Murkowski (she's "disgusted") for allowing this to continue. In light of this moral remonstrance, hunters should remember to be properly contrite.

Su Valley moose numbers down

Recent counts by biologists confirm the concerns of hunters and other observers that moose numbers are sharply down in parts of the Susitna valley, says the Anchorage Daily News. The counts covered parts of GMUs 14A, 16A and 16B. Biologists suspect heavy snows in the upper Susitna Valley and declining habitat has been at least part of the problem. Observers report substantial numbers of predators in parts of the area as well, and they have undoubtedly contributed to the decline in some areas. Calf / cow ratios are low, lending additional weight to this concern.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Dalton Highway ATV ban up for legislative consideration again

Fairbanks Senator Ralph Seekins is again proposing to remove ATV access restrictions in the 10 mile-wide corridor centered on the Dalton Highway (Haul Road). Hearings were held on the issue in various places around Alaska in 2005. According to the Fairbanks Daily News Miner, Seekins said said he heard nothing at those hearings that led him to think the bill should be changed.

SE Alaska deer hunting improved by weather

Weather in recent years has improved deer hunting in SE Alaska according to the Juneau Empire. Biologists report that reduced snow depths in the last few years have made it easier for deer to survive and spread out more widely. Deer populations have apparently increased as a result. The only bad news part of this story is that less snow up high means that deer can winter higher up, and hunters have to move further uphill to take deer. With short daylight hours that can make for a tight hunting schedule.

Alaska Bowhunters website revised

The Alaska Bowhunters Association has revised their website. You'll find information about the organization, and pictures of Alaska wildlife taken with bow and arrow. Also on board: information about the February 25 ABA Awards Banquet.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Hunter Education courses

There are many hunter education, bowhunter and muzzleloader education courses scheduled around Alaska. Some areas and some hunts require certification in these courses. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game provides a regularly updated list of courses in larger communities available from this page on its website. New dates and locations are regularly added to these lists.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hot threads on the Alaska Hunting Forum

These recent forum threads have started some good discussion. These are just a few of the topics posted recently:

USFS to close Tongass cabins

The US Forest Service plans to decommission 47 cabins in Southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest. There are 196 cabins in the program. The cabins selected for decommissioning are among the least used in the network of cabins. The FS says that maintenance costs are far higher than the funds they receive and the money they take in from visitors.

ADFG seeks photos for hunt regs

The Division of Wildlilfe Conservation is looking for photos reflecting the diversity of Alaska hunting. Selected photos will be used in regulations books. Photos can be emailed or mailed, but prints will not be returned.

Board of Game meets end of January

The Alaska Board of Game is meeting in January to consider over 50 proposals pertaining to statewide hunting and the use of game. The Board has extended its schedule by one day, and will meet January 27-30 in Anchorage at the 4th Avenue Theatre. Written comments on proposals musts be submitted by January 13. Written comments can be mailed to: Alaska Board of Game, Boards Support Section, P.O. Box 25526, Juneau, AK 99802-5526, or faxed to (907) 465-6094. Public testimony begins January 27.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Alaskan Yukon Trophies Won and Lost

We have been able to obtain some replica copies of this 1947 classic tale of hunting in Alaska and Yukon. It's a surprising tale of a long hunting trip over a wide area in the north, and a glimpse back into how things were in the northland of 60 years ago. We sell these for $35 + SH, which is the best price we have seen on the `Net.

Bear permit results available now

ADFG reports that the 2005-2006 Winter Draw Application NON-RESIDENT BEAR Hunt results are available. If you are a winner, you will be contacted by the area office responsible for the hunt. We are currently processing the Sheep, Mt Goat and Winter moose hunts. Results for Sheep, Goat and Moose hunts from the winter application period will be available on or before Jan. 31, 2006.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Recent hot forum threads on the Alaska Hunting Forum

These recent forum threads have started some good discussion. These are just a few of the topics posted recently:

  • stealthROB in Predator hunting asks the best way to call in wolves?
  • Michael Strahan is compiling a list of air charters, he notes in Air Charter Survey. What experiences have forum members had with different charter companies? he asks.
  • Are there really racoon in Alaska Steven Horton inquires.
  • MichMike asks what is the best way to Filter glacier water. It's a good question, sometimes the most easily available water looks pretty murky.

ADFG requesting help on lakes, streams info

The Alaska Departments of Fish and Game and Natural Resources are looking to users for some information about some specific waterbodies.

ADFG's ANILCA program wrote this to us in an email: "...(We are) collecting information on specific rivers, lakes and streams throughout Alaska. Information is needed on many of the state’s 14 million acres of inland navigable waters so we can catalog historical and contemporary use, as well as hydrological characteristics. Any personal observations and concerns are also helpful and appreciated. At this time, January 2006, we are particularly interested in boat use on the Nabesna and Chisana Rivers and on Moose Creek and Scottie Creek (emphasis added) near Northway, Alaska, however boat use on any river, lake or stream will be very useful in establishing the state position. Thank you for your help."

ADFG also sent a cover letter and a form that focus on what they are specifically looking for.

Is this important? Here's what the cover letter says, in part: "The information you provide will help the Departments in addressing access, management, and ownership issues that are increasing throughout the state."

David's translation: if you want to keep using these rivers, this information is important.

Important antlerless moose hunt on the block

The future of the GMU 20A (Tanana Flats south of Fairbanks) antlerless moose hunt -- a hunt that has produced 1,200 moose in the past two seasons -- may hang by the vote of a single advisory committee, according to Tim Mowry in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner. Mowry writes that most of the advisory committees have accepted the hunts, the Middle Nenana committee has registered some concerns.

Biologists believe the hunts are important, given that the population appears to have maxed out its habitat. "Biologists cite several factors that the herd is maxed out, such as declining twinning rates, smaller calves and low reproductive rates," Mowry wrote.

Affected advisory committees must approve antlerless moose hunts, according to state law.

Monday, January 02, 2006

TIP: Finding a Reliable Air Charter

Although there are many good hunting areas accessible from Alaska’s road system, eventually most hunters seek the opportunities available by flying out to a remote area. Here are some tips to finding a reliable air service.


A reliable air charter can make or break your hunt. (c) 2006 Michael StrahanThough most air charter services offer hunters a good experience, there are a few bad apples in the barrel. One hunter reports getting dropped off “in the middle of nowhere” to hunt moose with a couple of friends. Within three days they realized they were in a dead zone far from quality moose habitat. There wasn’t even a track to be found. Other parties find themselves in the midst of other hunters and wind up stalking the same animals as other groups. Still others are gouged by unanticipated last-minute or after-the-fact hidden costs. Beware of charter services that give vague answers, seem hard to contact, or are new arrivals to the area. Not all who fit this resumé are bad, but be careful; new arrivals may be learning the area on your nickel. Consider charters that are well established in their area or that have long track records of success. If they’re providing some of your gear, ask about the brand names, age and condition of it before you commit your cash.


There’s a saying that in Alaska you shouldn’t fly from one side of the range to hunt the other. Fall weather here is notoriously fickle, and your air service may not be able to get through the pass. Some charters avoid this by staging an aircraft on the other side during hunting season. Check with your air service to see how they deal with this or you could lose some of your hunting time to weather. Alternatively, hire an air service that’s already based in a nearby village; they know the area well and can get you into a productive spot with fewer delays.


Begin your search for an air charter service with a look at the Air Taxi listings in the services pages of the Alaska Outdoors Supersite. While this is not a complete listing, it will get you started on some charters that operate in certain areas of the state. Contact the Area Biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game; ADF&G personnel will not refer you to a commercial operator, but the biologist may tell you the name of the company that performs survey work for them. Chances are, they’ve picked a winner. Search the forum archives on Outdoors Directory for information on air charters, and finally contact folks who’ve flown with the charters on your list. As you talk to hunters, be aware that unsuccessful hunters may wrongfully blame the air service. Read between the lines to see what’s really going on.


Some air services hop around from one “hot” hunting location to another from year to year, while others remain in areas that have consistently produced for them. Consider charters that are well-established in their areas or that have a long track record of success. Ask for references from last season and a few seasons before. Don’t judge an air service by one season; in some years everyone does poorly. As far as money goes, find out whether you’re paying a flat fee or by the hour (the latter can get expensive if the plane has to turn back because of bad weather). Ask about mid-hunt meat hauls. If you’re floating a river, ask about flying the river to scout for hazards before you drop off. Expect to pay extra for these services, but realize that they may be essential to your safety and the proper care of your meat.

Michael Strahan has been an Alaska hunting guide, author, and regular presenter on hunting topics at sportsman's shows and other venues. He is frequent contributor to the Alaska hunting forum.

Remember your 2006 hunting license...

I've almost done it myself: hunt without a current license. A number of hunting seasons stretch over the change of year, but the licenses don't stretch. Don't get in the embarassing (and expensive) position of finding yourself without a 2006 license if you meet the local game warden in the field in the new year.