Well, I finally talked my friend Phil into going to Kodiak Island to hunt Sitka blacktail deer with me this year. This will be his first trip to Alaska and Kodiak. I did a solo hunt on Kodiak in 2004 and had a great time. We're taking a bush flight form Kodiak to our secluded mtn. lake on August 3rd at 8:00am. We're going to be hunting for nine days. I'm interested in seeing how the herd fared from this past winter.
You can take up to three deer so I went to Cabels and bought the Outfitters Outback Series Ice Chest for the hunt. The chest is 150Q. I filled the ice chest with ice on Wednesday and I have 3/4 of the ice still left and it's been in the 90's all week.
I'm bring my video camera on this trip with the hopes of getting a number of kills on video and some great views. I hope to post some of the video on the site when we get back form the trip.
I called the game and fish after they did their serveys this year. They said, the southern half of the island had little die off but they think the northern part of the island lost most of their yearlings and does.
What part of the island are you headed to? I hunted the southern end last year and did excellent. This year I drew a goat permit so I'm combining goats and deer on the east side. The biologists told me the same thing as you. I hunted for brown bears in South Uyak this spring and saw lots of deer (and bears) in that area. Good luck! Sitkas are a blast to hunt.
November is rut time on Kodiak. Thats a great time for hunting the south side but the weather at that time of the year can get nasty. Give yourself plenty of time on both ends of your trip as it is fairly common to be waiting on weather to fly.
Looks like the winter kill was not too bad. This from the Kodiak Paper:
In addition to the bear hunts, Van Daele said deer hunters can expect another good season in Kodiak “although hunter success rates will probably be somewhat lower.”
Van Daele said the deer mortality rate for the winter was not as severe as originally feared.
“On the northern part of the archipelago it appears we lost most of last year’s fawns and some adults, but the mortality rate was not nearly as severe as during the catastrophic winter of 1998-99,” Van Daele said.
“As you go farther south, the mortality becomes less severe. On the southern parts of Kodiak Island it looks like over half of the fawns and most of the adult deer survived the winter.
“Hunters can expect the same seasons and bag limits as last year,” Van Daele said.
Deer season begins Aug. 1 and runs through Dec. 31.
Van Daele said there are about 65,000 deer on the island and that less than 25 percent died during winter mortality this year.
Some of the deer are still roaming through the streets of Kodiak.
“They are foraging as everything becomes more green,” Van Daele said, “and will still be out and about for a while.”
Looks awesome, I hunted the Haul road for Caribou and Dall's sheep when I was stationed there from 90 to 93. I'm thinking of going back and this looks more attainable. Also, check out the book "Hunt Alaska Now(self guiding for trophy moose and caribou)by Dennis W. Confer. It covers most aspects of DIY to Alaska. If your a bowhnter, ya gotta go at least once in your lifetme.
Thurs O8/02/07 and Fri 08/03/07 Work dragged on and on but 4:00 pm finally round around and off I went to the Salt Lake City Airport. My flight was scheduled to depart at 8:55 pm for Anchorage, Alaska. My trip started off with Delta charging me an extra $150 for the weight and size of my ice chest. It cost me an extra $150. Those Damn airlines, lol. My flight would take over five-hours I tried to go to sleep but that didn't work well, just to excited. I arrived in Anchorage at 12:00 pm. I went to Alaska baggage claim, first thing, to make sure Alaska had my luggage. They went into the back to look for it and you guessed it, it was nowhere to be found. They looked for over an hour. At this point my best friend and hunting partner arrived. I told him the news. He asked them to check for his luggage, which they found right away. Alaska told me to call them in a couple of hours. When I called them back sill no luggage. At this point I was getting very nervous. They told me they thought Delta had the luggage and would transfer it to the plane, yeah right. We were supposed to leave Anchorage at 6:00am and get into Kodiak at 7:00pm. Once we're in Kodiak we had a bush flight scheduled to leave at 8:00am for our hunting area, so we had little time to spare. While we were waiting at the gate the flight was delayed 3 times due to fog at Kodiak. The airline decided to give it a try so off we went. An hour later we were flying over Kodiak with no visibility. We circled high above the airport for over an hour before we could land. It was now close to 9:30pm. We exited the airplane and entered the tiny terminal of Kodiak for our luggage with our fingers crossed in the hopes that my luggage was there. When Phil's last piece of luggage came I was sill waiting for my first piece. Than the conveyer belt stopped and the door closed and my stomach dropped to my feet. I thought, "You have to be kidding me." What a way to start the trip. We got the luggage we had and headed to air charter. When we got to the air charter there were five guys looking like they had slept in office that might. Come to find out their luggage had been lost by the airlines for 76 hours! They now had their luggage but the bush plane couldn't fly out because of the fog. So the good new is that we couldn't have flown out at 8:00am anyway. We now went to the task of trying to find my luggage. We called Delta, Alaska, Salt Lake, Anchorage. We spent the next two hours on the phone with the same repose, "We don't have your luggage." I was really down at this point. I was really starting to think my luggage could be anywhere even in New York City. Were we going to stuck at the air charter for the rest of the trip? I will always buy trip insurance in the future.
08/03/07 Fri Phil decided to head back to the airport to see if perhaps the luggage had come in on a different flight. When I get off the phone with the airlines, I decided to give Phil a call to check on the status of my luggage. He said he had my luggage and that it come in on a ERA flight, which is strange considering I flew in on Alaska but who cares, I got my luggage. We loaded our luggage and jump into the 206 and headed out to a small lake on Kodiak. Our pilot had the same name has my friend Phil. He was a young and very nice guy. We were flying over Kodiak at about 1500 feet, what a beautiful view. We saw a number of deer and one bear on the way to our lake. When our pilot got to within 5 miles of our lake he lowered the planes elevation to about 500 feet. During that 5-mile stretch we must have seen 40 deer. This really got our hopes up. We had a very soft landing due to the nice weather. It was now 3:30pm and we started to set up base camp. After we set up base camp we got all our gear ready for that evening hunt.
We headed up the mountains to our west around 4:30pm. On the way up we saw a couple of single does with no fawns. We were ¾ the way up the mountains when we spotted a young fork horn walking our way. We hit the dirt like a sack of potatoes. All of the sudden, the buck started running towards us. Phil asked, “ Should I shot it.” I said, “We’re awful close to base camp and you haven’t taken a Sitka deer yet.” Than the buck ran to within 20 yards and looked right at us like it was saying what in the hell are you too doing here? The deer circled around us and got to within 10 yards. I tried to talk Phil into shooting the deer but he decided it was just to soon. After about another 30 min up the mountains we spotted another doe. We sat down and decided to glass the surrounding area. About five min. into glassing I saw a good 2x2 with eye guards that I thought would go 85 inches. I told Phil the buck would easily make Pope and Young and that he should go after it. Towards the buck we headed, after about a 20 min stalk the deer gave us the slip. It was now pushing 8:30pm. We did some more glassing and saw a few more does still with no fawns and one other 2x2 with eye guards. The buck was to far off for a stalk that evening plus we had a storm blowing in from the south. On the way back to base camp fog started to roll in with rain and a lot of wind. I have learned Alaska, fog, wind and rain go hand and hand. We made it back to base camp for some much needed sleep. Our plans were to head out with spike camp in the morning.
Here is a picture of our base camp. Our camp was loacated near the shore of a lake. To our East there were three large peaks. Base camp was right at sea level.
08/03/07 Saturday morning we woke up to rain and thick fog. Last year I did a caribou hunt where we got fog in for 9 days. During that nine day we had about 4 hours of where we could see further than 50 yards. I tried to hunt in the weather for the first 3 days but to no avail. So I was not happy with the thoughts of this happening again. I decided to stay in the tent and catch up on some needed sleep and I also had my fill of hunting in the fog last year. Phil had other plans in mind. He decided to head into the thick abyss. I tried to tell him what a waste of time it would be but he won't listen to me. Dam fool loll. I slept in that morning until about noon. I decided to get up and make some breakfast/ lunch in the hopes the fog would leave. The fog never cleared so I headed back to the tent. I was kicking myself for leaving my new Harry Potter book at the air charter. All I had to do was twit ell my thumbs. I was outside at around 7:30pm when Phil strode into camp. Part 2 I stared out the conversation with, "You had enough." He said, "No I actually shot a deer. I said, " No way you’re kidding me right." Than I saw a bloody arrow and I thought to myself you got to be kidding me. Now who looked like a dam fool ME? Since I wasn't there for the hunt I'll have Phil tell his story. I knew that I would never get a deer sitting in the tent so I thought I might as well sit where a deer might walk by. I didn't think to bring my pack or camera since I never really thought about it. Luckily I did have my GPS with map in my pocket because the fog was a bit thicker than I thought. At most times I couldn't see past 40-50 yards, but I figured I couldn't shoot a deer further than that anyway. My idea was to head to a saddle or feeding area and see if any thing showed up. Right off the bat I walked up on a doe and 2 fawns so I knew there were deer around. For the next few hours I slowly moved around. I did bump a buck off a bed. Towards the afternoon I picked a spot on the gps that looked like a saddle and headed off. I still couldn't see far, and then out of nowhere I see a deer materialize. It looks like a mature buck so I get excited. I slip up on it, only to have it run off when I was about 40 yards. I decide to follow the trail the buck took. As I am slowly moving along, another buck pops up out of its bed 40 yards above me! This time I am ready. As I watched the arrow fly, then disappear I heared a thunk of a vital shot. The buck runs across the slope as I watch it fall then slide! My first Sitka blacktail!
" Phil headed back to get all his meat and horns because he left his backpack at camp Because he didn't want the extra weight. Before he left he said he didn't think it would go Pope and Young but he was still real happy. I told him it didn't matter it was your first Sitka buck. He got back to camp at around dark with was about 11:30pm. He had all of his meat and horns. He looked like he was about to pass out. I looked at the horns and said you’ve got to be kidding me that buck will gross in low 90's. He didn't believe me, so I took about my tape measure and went to work. I came up with 90 inch gross score and a net score of 87 inches. After I scored the deer I told Phil I would make us dinner. I made us some deer steaks with baked beans and mashed potatoes. The deer was out of this world. After dinner we headed to our sleeping bags with the hopes of clear blue skys in the morning.
Here is another pic of my buck. Sorry the pics aren't that great, but I had left my camera at camp and had to take the pics when I got back and the buck was a little stiff. I worked on getting better pictures latter in the hunt. This was a good buck but the pictures don't do him justice
O8/04/07 We woke up to thick fog once again. There was a brief spell when we could see out to 500 yards. During that time we spotted a good 3-point with eye guards. This buck had a lot of mass and good length. This buck would go in the mid 90’s. We grabbed our gear and headed up the mtn. An hour later we were within 200 yards of the last place we saw the buck beded. All of the sudden the fog came rolling in and we lost the buck. I decided to stay on the mtn in the hopes that the fog would leave. Phil decided to head back to base camp to take care of his deer meat. I made a nice bed in the moss and decided to take a nap. The fog hanged around for 5 more hours. Late that afternoon the fog started to clear and I could finally see. I hiked about 4 miles that afternoon looking for a shooter buck. I saw a fare amount of deer but no shooters. I had a goal on this trip of shooting a 100-inch deer. I decided I wouldn’t go after anything smaller than that. This gave Phil a lot of opperity, which he was more than happy to take.
Ahhhh! you lucky dogs. I've been trying to get my friends to Alaska to hunt, my father lives in Fairbanks so I kinda got some help up there but he doesn't bowhunt and thats kinda a requirement for me. Oh well maybe someday one of my friends will get it together.
08/05/07 Mon Monday morning we woke up to clear blue skis. We decided to head off with spike camp. We saw a number of bucks during our hike. Late that afternoon I spotted four bucks bedded down. The deer were bedded in a great place for a stalk. I looked over the deer with my spotting scope and decided to pass on them so Phil decided he wanted to go after the biggest deer. We hiked to within 600 yards of the deer and I stayed behind to video his stalk. When I put my spotting scope on the deer I realized he was a great deer. I thought to myself, what were you thinking. I’ll let the video tell the rest of the story.
The video is taken through my spotting scope at 600 yards. The wind was howling so the video is real shaky.
After taking some pictures we went to the task of cutting up the deer. We hiked another mile and decided to set-up spike camp. By the time, we set-up camp it was getting dark. I decided to call it good for the day. The plan for tomorrow was Phil would head back to base camp with his deer meat while I went hunting. All I wanted was a chance at a 100 incher. I wasn't asking for to much right. lol
08/06/07 Tues Early that morning, we both headed our separate ways. I headed north from spike camp and Phil headed back to base camp. Right from the start I started seeing deer. By 7:30 I had already seen a couple of nice Pope and Young bucks. When, I was two miles from spike camp I came across a bachelor group of 10 bucks. There were a lot of real good bucks in the group. On the way, to the bachelor group I decided to get a bite to eat and do some quick glassing. While glassing I spotted a buck about 2 miles out. The only thing I could tell was that he looked reallllllll good. I decided to forget the bachelor group and hike closer to the new buck to get a better look. When I got to within a ½ mile of buck I sat down and started looking him over. He was just the buck I had been looking for. He had mass, length and 9 scoreble points. I put away my gear as quickly as I could and made a plan of attack. I stalked to within 123 yards of the buck but I couldn’t get any closer. I decided the best thing I could do was to just be patient. I layed in the glass for over 4 hours hoping for the buck to move. The buck finally got out of his bed and started to feed down a draw. I was slowly crawling after him when out of nowhere a doe was standing in front of me looking me dead in the eyes. I hate does, really hate them. Well she spooked and took the buck with her. I watched them crest a ridge ½ mile away. I thought what the hell, I’ll follow them. I slowly crawled over the ridge where I last saw the buck and doe. When I looked over the ridge I saw a couple of does but no buck. After a couple of minutes glassing, I saw something move in the creek 200 yards below me. It was the same buck. The buck feed around for a little while and finally bedded down on the opposite side of the creek. I needed to back track so I could get above the deer. It took me about 20 min to get 100 yards above the buck. When I got there I couldn’t move an inch father because of the same doe. She was really beginning in piss me off. I couldn’t see the buck but I felt he was still there. I would have to wait until the doe moved out of sight to make my stalk. I sat there for over 30 min, when all of the sudden I looked to my left and there he was not more than 15 yards form me. He must have feed right pass me and I never noticed because I was to busy watching the doe. I didn’t even have an arrow nocked I started scrabbling for an arrow and slowly turn around. By this time he was about 30 yards away and looking right at me.
Aren't NT Sitka deer a pretty rare thing? I recall a sporting goods store in Kodiak with tons of racks displayed and I don't recall any with the kind of non-typical formations on the deer pictured above. Very cool. Caribou, moose, sheep get all the attention, but the Kodiak Island Sitka trip my brother and I took in 2005 was a great hunt.
WB- I actually contacted P&Y and Glen Hissey emailed that in all the records there is only 1 NT Sitka!!!!! I assume that looking at the non-typical points listed for deductions. He said there are no plans for a NT Sitka because of that.
I went to SCI and looked since they have a NT sitka category- there are only 2 for bowhunting! there are a few more for rifle, but none of them have the drop tine like stuff mine does. B&C has it too, but mine doesn't score high enough for it.
Shooting that Non-Typical was really awesome. I know Brady wishes he would have shot it now! When we were glassing those bucks I only got a good look at his right side. We didn't think it was anything special. The other buck bedded with it was a little taller I thought, thus a better buck. I know how hard bowhunting can be, and this being my first sitka hunt with 3 tags decided I should give any decent buck a chance. Brady saw the perfect set up with the terrain and wind. I jumped at the chance to give it a try. I figured worse case I would pass up the bucks if they werent that good once I got on them.
As I was getting ready to put the stalk on, Brady points out that the buck on the right side has some stickers off the base. I took a mental note to check. The stalk went quicker than we thought, thus Brady didn't get good footage of me sneaking in. I crawled up a cut in front of the bucks. As I peeked over the top I saw antler tips 20 yards away! The bucks were still there! I poped up right in front of the buck I thought was bigger. I then tried to check out the other buck with stickers-- they were pretty good. I then decided to shoot him. I had to reposition my self. In the video right as the buck looks is when I raise up over the bank at full draw. I hear the arrow hit just before the buck jumps up. The buck then runs around the mt. and I loose sight.
The second buck has no idea whats going on! He stands around for 3-4 minutes not knowing to follow his buddy or run away from me! He was broadside at 20 yards! I decided on passing him because I knew I had just arrowed a non-typical blacktail! Of course with bowhunting you still have to find the animal after the shot. I saw Brady motioning me to come back, so I head back a little anxious to see what happened. Thankfully Brady saw the buck go down and all was well!
The next morning Tues 6 Aug, while Brady was off trying to tag a deer, I hiked down to base camp loaded with meat and antlers. I had one tag left. I crossed a buck on the way down and thought it looked ok from a distance, but once I got closer looked even better. However it was too late and the buck headed up another ridge.
I have found it hard to adjust to field judging sitka bucks. with P&Y being 75" a couple of inches on a rack really adds up. Comparing that to mule deer at 145" for P&Y will really throw you off. You really have to pay attention to details. That NT for example, based of its right antler that we didn't think was big would go 85" with a 13" spread credit! thats way over the P&Y min.
I noted which way the buck went, then went to camp. After taking care of the meat and antlers I took a good rest in camp. there are long days in AK this time of year with the sun rising by 5am and setting around 11pm. In the afternoon I got ready to head back to spike camp. I decided to loop around and hunt down the ridge I saw the buck from the morning head up. It was a good hike. Here is a shot of spike camp
I let the arrow fly. The deer whirled around and started running down hill. I caught a glimpse of the arrow sticking out of the deer. I started screaming- go down! go down! I lost sight of the deer when it went down the hill. I started looking for the deer to come up the otherside or to run up or down the creek. I waited for a while and saw nothing. I decided to look for blood at the place where the deer was standing when I shot. I found no blood. That was a little unnerving. I started to follow the deer's path down the hill. I didn't find blood until I got to the creek bottom Then it was like someone got a bucket of blood and started pouring the blood on the deer's trail. There was so much blood. I knew the deer would have to go down. I followed the blood another 30 yards into the creek and there he laid. I started to scream at the tops of my lungs!! I couldn't believe my dream had come true. This was the biggest bodied deer I had ever taken, including my biggest mule deer! It took all I had to haul him out of the creek. The only bad news is I left my camera at spike camp. I didn't want to carry the extra weight; dumb, real dumb. I got done deboning the deer at 11:00pm. I still had a 4-mile hike back to spike camp. I didn't get back to camp until 2:30 am. When I got back to camp Phil was sound asleep with not a worry in the world. You think he would have been a little worried about his friend, lol. When I showed Phil my rack he said. " I got another deer on the way back to spike camp too! but not that big. " What a way to top off the trip with a double. We started to make dinner and went to bed for the night. The next morning phil insisted on a taking pictures. I really wish I had taken my camera with me, but at least we got some.
Phil should post his story real soon. When I green scored my deer I came up with 101 gross and 98 net. What really helps him is his mass. I think the deer we shot still had some growing to do. Their points were still a little round and soft. Again, sorry for the bad pictures.
Are those tips as soft as they look. It looks like they still had some growing left in them. I'm not sure when they shed up there, but I would expect it to be quite a bit later than down here in the lower 48.
Great eatin' though. We had sitka burgers last night! Yikes, last package, must go hunting!!!!
After hiking for a while I climbed some cliffs and came to a windy ridge. (listen to the wind on the video of the NT. it was stronger than that) I bellied crawled over to see what was in the basin below. Deer every where! It was a big basin, hundreds of yards across with most of the deer on the far side. There were 2 bomber bucks there with a lot of others. The deer seemed a little spooky, must have been since the wind was bad and some of my scent must have got to some of them. It was a really open basin, and as I lay there wondering how in the heck I can get to the other side, down wind, and above the bucks without running everything off.... I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. A buck walking the ridge right at me! I ducked into the grass and grabbed my bow, 2 bucks and a doe were feeding up the ridge I was glassing from. the back buck looked wide and tall, a solid P&Y buck. I only had one tag left, with two good bucks already so I wondered if I should save it in case a true monster showed up.... I figured I would see what happened. I bellied crawled to where I thought the deer would cross the ridge and hid behind the knee high grass.. not much cover! five minutes latter I see the small buck 30 yards away looking at me. I'm frozen, and the buck doesn't know what I am. he keeps coming, the doe following with the bigger buck trailing. They keep coming. I range the big buck at 30, but he is facing me... the small buck is only 15 yards a way! he crosses in front, then the doe, I stop ranging the big buck because he is less than 20...Broadside, I couldn't help my self as I see the arrow pass through. the deer move over the ridge and out of sight. pretty soon all the deer in the basin get edgy and move out. I see a buck and doe, but not the bigger one. where did your buddy go? after the 20 min wait I cross over the ridge 40 yards away and find him..
Being my first Sitka Hunt, and knowing how hard bowhunting can be, I couldn't help but take the shot, you couldn't ask for anything better. Furthermore being in Alaska you can never count on the weather holding out or your luck! he is a nice buck, a bit wide, and shot in a great spot for pictures!
08/07/07 Wed We filled our packs with gear and meat and headed back to base camp. One the way there we saw a number of bucks. I even tried a stalk a group of two but I got busted by another doe. When we got back to camp we started cleaning up all the meat and by than it was dinner time, so we called it a day.
08/08/07 Thursday We decided since Phil had tagged out and I had gotten the buck I had come after we would call our air charter service and ask them to pick us up today. That would give us 2 1/2 days to fish the road system and get a ocean charter for a day. We made the call and we were good to go. They would pick us up at 1:00pm. We had to hurry to break camp down before thay got there.
When we got to Kodiak City, we rented a car and drop off our gear at the hotel and took our meat to a freezer. Next, We went to book a fishing charter for tomorrow morning. Finally, we headed off to try some Fly fishing on the road system. They locals said the salmon were starting to run.
The day we flew out there was a fog bank a few hundred yards away from the landing spot. The pilot on his way in thought we would be stuck, but there was just enough visibility to land! I never took the weather delay serious, but seeing it first hand you really should plan for it! We thought it a better idea to leave early than to get stuck due to weather- a system was to move in on our scheduled pick up day. Here is another view of the last buck I shot. the day we flew out everything in this pic was covered in fog! The buck is really nice and grosses 89", nets 87" symetrical.
You said that the cost is somewhere around $2,200? Can you give us an idea of how that cost breaks down? Also, did you see any other hunters? I'm pretty new to the idea of Sitka Blacktail hunting, but dang! I would be super happy to come home with three animals.
Thanks again for the thread, it was a lot of fun to read.
you can save a lot if you use a frequent flyer account or sky miles to get to Kodiak, only 25,000 miles. saves you the cost of airfare $800. if you only get 2 deer tags instead of 3, thats $150 less, no fishing licesnse is another 50 off.
I would say the experience was awesome. I would plan more around bad weather. I was a little worried in the beggining not to get home on time- so have some extra days in Kodiak and go fishing! The fly fishing was way more fun and exciting than I thought.
The hunt was very physically challenging more than I thought. I was in great shape - run 3-6 miles 5 times a week. and still it takes a toil with heavy packs, ankles, and side hilling. Seeing deer all the time really makes the hunt great, not like sitting in a treestand all week without seeing a deer! having the right gear is essential. Shooting 3 P&Y bucks in 3 days of hunting- way over expectations - some luck, but lots of preparation, shooting, hunting experience, and spot and stalk experience. I think it helps that Sitkas have small racks- takes an edge off the buck fever I always get when pulling back on a big Muley (which I have missed many), that and knowing you have 3 tags, so its a real fun hunt, I will do it again, or every year if I had time and money! (which I don't).
For what it's worth, my old high school bud is starting a charter business in Kodiak. He is retiring from the Coast Guard (C130 Flight Engineer)to start his dream business. I guess he does fishing and unguided drop hunts. I told him I'd pass his website on to other hunters who might be interested in Kodiak hunts.
Congratulations on a great adventure, thanks for sharing. That is a Bowhunter Magazine story if I ever heard one.
I too experienced the anxiety of lost luggage last year upon arrival at the Kodiak airport. Everybody but me got their luggage, but I had also mailed a back-up bow and some extra gear to the charter plane office "just in case". I could have hunted with the back-up bow and borrowed boots, coat, etc. but just before we took off for our hunt, I got a call that my bags had arrived and I got to use my own gear.