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Sitka deer on Kodiak
Rumor is the fish and game department has received considerable pushback on the nonresident deer limit on Kodiak, and they may reverse the decision. If anyone is interested in this topic, maybe with a few more encouraging emails, it may help to get it reversed.
Any particular people to focus on?
Thanks for the note, good to hear. Do you have a recommendation on where/to whom we should be sending these e-mails?
Ron, please fill us in on the state lowering the number of tags available. Are the deer numbers down?
Jay, there’s another thread titled Kodiak deer changes, that probably gives more information than I could add.
Talked to Captain Roark of Homer Ocean Charters during the Pope & Young convention in Reno. He mentioned a significant push to raise NR Sitka blacktail tags on Kodiak to two tags instead of one. That would be a big plus IMO...if this three tag reversal fails.
So obviously the NR tag reduction was not based on biological reasons?
Sadly a lot of hunting decisions are no longer based on biological reasons, it’s just amplified in Alaska due to federal overreach on them diving off into game control vs land access issues.
I'm headed there next fall. If the deer numbers are down, tags need reduced. Just like the mule deer and turkey situation in my home state of Kansas. End of story.
Not always as simple as low population = less tags as a fix. If a lot of does are being taken, maybe. Removing less bucks may not have a enough effect to offset the loss of opportunity and revenue.
If they make a change it will be great. The transporters on Kodiak May have the needed voice within Alaska.
2 buck only sounds like a great compromise IMO.
Thanks Ron... I sent my emails. Ed F
I don’t think deer populations on Kodiak are controlled by hunting. Sent emails.
Emails on the way.
The deer population on Kodiak is far more dependent on the weather than hunting.
Let’s be sure everyone is emailing their home states Fish and Game representatives to increase NR opportunity there as well.
The limit was switched to one to reduce NR participation. As shown here and elsewhere, changing it to two will not accomplish anything to solve the problem many have seen over the past few years.
Can definitely see that issue as well, Nick. The transporters and guides are probably the most invested and have the most to gain. Hopefully there is a good solution and balance that can be implemented…
Thank you for your answer That’s what I thought but was not sure
I can’t say I’m against it, the numbers aren’t great right now.
If you don’t think Kodiak deer numbers are down you are sadly mistaken. I don’t feel the deer have really recovered from the winter of 19.
People’s desire to hunt Kodiak seems to grow more every year and eventually limits will be placed. Sorry guys, I’m happy to see the change to 1 deer. If people are so passionate about hunting Sitka deer move to AK.
It's no surprise that its popular. For regular folks It's something they can afford and get a taste of hunting Alaska.
I won't be emailing because it's none of my business even though I love hunting Kodiak. If I did, it would be simply to ask that they let sound management take precedence over politics. No one with common sense needs to be told that. The ones who disagree won't be swayed by my email, they have an agenda they are chasing.
So we booked with a transporter prior to the change with the understanding we could shoot three deer each if we wanted to.(6 of us) We all would probably take one or two, but the change does affect our decision to go! From what I have heard the deer population is still strong and healthy!!
We aren't backing out, but it is a disappointment when we booked a lodge for 8 days of hunting! Hopefully they come to a compromise of some sort, because I think this will definitely harm the communities that thrive on hunting dollars! If I shoot a nice buck, i'm done and will go fishing and hunt ducks and foxes, but not everyone is that laid back... Just my thoughts!
I'd be willing to bet that many guys who pay to shoot 3 buck are going to shoot 3 buck regardless of size. I've never been there, probably never will go there, but hard to believe it can sustain 3 buck limits from everyone who hunts... throw in weather, predator fatalities and its even worse..
As someone who plans to hunt in Alaska, a one buck limit wouldn’t prevent me from going. Especially if that’s what’s necessary to maintain a healthy and sustainable herd.
The 1 deer limit wouldn't effect me either. As mentioned above, I can easily fill a week hunting ducks, foxes and fishing.
I would guess most nonresidents are after bucks. It's likely going from 3 tags to 1 tag won't fix anything. Usually you can effect male:female ratio and trophy potential some through buck harvest but population is usually more effected by doe harvest.
This wasn’t a change due to biological concerns, the area biologist wasn’t the one pushing this. This change was an attempt to cut down on perceived overcrowding/pressure. I have mixed feelings on it as I cynically am not sure it will have a noticeable impact on the numbers of guys coming, it will however have an impact on their overall hunt. 2 would have been my suggestion if I was emperor as a compromise. It’s becoming such a popular destination and with the other affordable options to hunt Alaska quickly evaporating due to federal land closures, I see it getting worse pressure wise on the island not better even with the bag limit change. Still a ticket worth the price of admission to hunt kodiak with one buck tag, admittedly for those who have gone several times I can see where they would pause and re evaluate.
I completely agree with Nick Muche! Most folks don’t have a problem with limiting non residents in their home state. 1 tag for a non resident still provides an opportunity to hunt and experience Kodiak.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've read multiple reports over the years about the deer herd on Kodiak Island getting knocked down due to winter kill...and it has ALWAYS bounced back. Trevor stated it was NOT the biologist pushing for these tag reductions. To me, that indicates the NR tag reduction is much more about hunter management on Kodiak than deer management on Kodiak.
I had a desire to return to Kodiak for deer in the near future. It is a beautiful island! That said, based on one deer tag, a return trip for me to hunt deer would likely have to be part of a combo hunt...or not at all. The costs and logistics from Indiana to Kodiak are just not worth a return trip for one deer IMO. Might feel differently had I never been there before? Not saying I'll never return to Alaska to hunt deer...just likely won't be hunting deer on Kodiak should this NR one tag limit survive. Honestly, feels like I'll be supporting the goals of Alaska Fish & Game by not going back...
Can't say I disagree with Nick here. Me wanting anything more than the opportunity is selfishness on my part. If this is a social issue, and I believe it is, then I'll support my brothers in Alaska and will not send any emails. The experience of the hunt should benefit resident hunters first, as NR visitors we should accept that and be happy for what opportunity we have been given. Wildlife is a state resource held in public trust for its citizens and I would be a hypocrite of the Nth magnitude if I pretended otherwise. If I expect the same opportunities as residents of Alaska I have the same opportunity to move there to live. I think there are compromises in there, cap and draw for NR tags with a 2 buck limit maybe? Things to consider and be decided by the Alaska game commission and groups like ABA with public input from NR hunters.
I’ve been going to Kodiak for 20 years. I have a great relationship with my pilot. He keeps me away from people. I’m all for less people and am sad that this is the next place to be ruined (very much in progress) by the “influencers”. It boggles my mind that people treat this as a “whack and stack” situation. It is a lot of work and expense to bring back all that meat to the lower 48. No matter the limit in the past I’ve bought two tags and have never taken more than one deer. If Alaska limits me to one tag, then I will enjoy my two weeks in November, be picky, and will at most fill that one tag. A high quality experience is much more important that a high quantity body count for me.
Two tags would be my pick but I’ll take whatever it shakes out to be.
Agree with those who have said hunting isn't what has reduced deer numbers. But Kodiak deer numbers are the lowest I've seen in 40 years. Its been the result of hard winters and cold weather. That said, limiting hunting pressure is maybe the only management tool the department has to do anything that will aid deer numbers bouncing back quicker rather than more slowly.
Personally, I disagree with limiting just nonresidents to a single tag. Should have limited everyone to just one buck tag for a couple of years. Maybe let everyone shoot a couple of does if they need meat for subsistence reasons.
Bob seems to me shooting a couple does would be the worst thing to help the herd recover. Wouldn’t you know it this is the year I’m finally going to make that trip.
Only being able to kill one buck. ( like most states and species) would not stop me from going to Kodiak. There are not many places that allow non residents to kill three bucks. It’s an opportunity to be selective and improve the quality
Went to Kodiak in '86 with a couple buddies from CO. Bought one buck (deer) tag and arrowed a decent one the first day. Was happy with the deer....explored with the shotgun, fished, camped the rest of the 10 day hunt which turned into 12 days as we were weathered in. Wall tent, 5 gallons of Pearl kerosene we'd found helped us get an outside fire started (no heater) as it turned cold. Was an adventure with brown bears tracking you in the snow looking for deer carcasses they assumed you left behind. And one day I did see a really nice 4x4 plus eye guards while out on a jaunt without a deer tag or bow. Would have scored really well!
You can have a good Kodiak adventure, well worth the price of admission with one buck tag....just like hunting Coues deer but with poorer weather.
There may well come a day when getting 1 tag requires a draw. Don't take stuff for granted. These are the "good old days" whether it's one tag or 3.
Don hit the nail on the head!!!
There were months to comment on this before the BOG session. If the board and locals wanted a change I don’t see the issue with it. Sets a bad precedent to pass something and then a bunch of folks who weren’t paying attention get all flustered and get it overturned. Kodiak regs will come up again in three years. Try again then. Like Nick said, be sure everyone else is helping NR in your states!
I kind of laugh at Chuck A trying to gather support on social media. He’s drawn as much attention to that hunt as anyone the last couple years. Don’t get me wrong, I like Chuck, but maybe in a small way it’s partly your own doing and those like you when things like this happen.
Wondering if the number of DLP bear killings or negative encounters will increase when hunters are confronted with a bear looking to take their one and only deer harvest. Without being able to hunt and kill a second animal, I'm thinking hunters may guard their meat more aggressively going forward. Kevin
Thats illegal Kevin…read the AKFG regs.
Key to this, IMO is get the deer cut up and out of there…and there isn’t any problems
Hey Beendare...and yup aware of the regs...and agree getting deer broken down and away from the kill site quickly is important. Guess I'm thinking more about hunter behavior when that encounter occurs that could change the situation from simply surrendering the deer/meat to the bear and walking away...to one where an aggressive attack could result leading to an escalated response. Even the fish and game suggests "Make noise (yell, bang pans, etc.) to scare the bear"...which may or may not create the desired outcome.
At any rate, time will tell...since records are kept for these encounters and can be compared to historic data going forward. Kevin
The AK Board Of Game has taken notice of objections, and has scheduled a special meeting on May 25 to discuss postponing their one-buck proposal until 2024. That topic would be revisited next winter, and the one-buck proposal could maybe be dropped altogether at that time. They are accepting additional comments until the 21st.
I feel for guys that live out of state and have been doing the hunt for decades, but I hate this special meeting. I think it sets a dangerous precedent undermining the entire structure of how our game laws are proposed and implemented. This was a proposal made public well in advance of the BOG decision to pass it, and had ample opportunity for public comment. They have also grouped in the Nonresident sheep closure in unit 19 for this special meeting. If they go back on their decisions, it kinda lends the question why do we even have a process set up in the first place if people can sit it out and wait to cry wolf after the fact rather than stay involved?
It’s a decision I didn’t agree with them on personally (I’d have set it to 2, or alternatively made it a split season with a one buck limit after XX date when rut is approaching and deer are down towards the beaches), but I hate that they are potentially undermining the whole system because of Nonresident outcry.
If they honestly want to reduce NR pressure, the way to do it is to divvy up the island into subunits and then put the NRs on a draw. Then you limit them to exactly how many hunters you want to allow in a certain area. And you can then allow them to have as many or as few tags as you'd like.
Honestly, we (hunters) give a lot of lip service to "management," but in so many cases, OTC tags are not management - it's a free-for-all. That may work for WT in Georgia or New Jersey, but the result in most of the West is very skewed sex and age ratios. It doesn't take more than a couple hunts in high-end LE units to see this.
If it were up to me, the entire state of AK would be on a draw for NRs for all species and we'd institute a point scheme for NRs like they have in the lower 48 to bilk more money out of people for our F&G Dept like most Western states do. And sheep would be on a draw for the entire state for residents and NRs alike with a 10% cap for NRs like it is in almost every other state for sheep.
Trevor - "but I hate that they are potentially undermining the whole system because of Nonresident outcry."
Based on the fact this meeting is to determine a possible one year postponement, I can't help but believe the outcry is coming from residents as much, if not more, than nonresidents. I'm talking resident transporters, outfitters and guides that had booked nonresident clients for 2023 prior to the tag reduction. Again, at the P&Y Convention in Reno, Roark from HOC mentioned there was a "significant push" happening to modify the NR tag quota from one to two deer. To be clear, while I would love to see the NR tag quota bumped to two...my personal NR desire has never been shared with BOG.
I’ll be there with 2 of my best friends in September, regardless if it’s 1 tag or 3.
I fully understand why this proposal came to the forefront after our trip in ‘21. Most of the lakes already had camps on them and we “settled” for a lake on the south end. A day later a group from a different transporter was dropped there as well and we shared the area with them. They were rifle hunters and with the great weather we had, they were able to kill 4 bucks and 2 caribou in 4 days. I can’t imagine it can sustain that amount of pressure across the entire island for very long.
Guaranteed I’ll still have one hell of a time and an adventure this fall.
Our groups trip to Kodiak Island was a bust. Hunted Unavik Island with a transporter. They took 3/36 in 6 trips & kept returning to the same spot. Following week they hunted an hour away & killed 4 in 3 1/2 days & missed a couple more. Our group only saw 9 deer all week only 1 of which was a buck.
Just my two cents, but me and five other guys just spent two weeks on Kodiak and we saw very few deer and only 3 bucks! One guy killed a nice buck on the last day. I would say the deer numbers are way down from what I have read about. This was my first trip there and I didn't get to hunt every day, but I wasn't impressed by what I saw! I was completely against the tag cut, until I was there and didn't see anything close to what I thought I would, and I know my hunting companions felt the same way!
Talked to a number of people in airports that had amazing hunts. Sounds like it was pretty spotty
My buddies shot a couple does on a nearby island. A big change from last year, they shot 15 deer in 3 days. Only saw 2 bucks in a week. I spoke to a hunter at the bar at the Kodiak Inn and he hunted 9 days with an outfitter on Kodiak and only saw 2 deer and no bucks, and never shot a bear either. My opinion is that they need to stop hunting a few years to get the populations back for deer. Between hunters and hard winters, there seem to be a fraction of the deer they once had. I spoke to at least dozen other hunters, several locals, that never got their moose this year either. One guy, a physician with a really nice cabin boat, said he hunted 25 days inland and no moose. The Bureau of Land Management geologist that hunted with us said a major caribou herd in the northern part of the stated dropped from 38,000 to 6,000 animals under the management of a female biologist that failed to regulate tags in the favor of the dwindling numbers. Not to mention all the trash and litter on the beaches of those beautiful islands, I left the area with a very poor taste in my mouth for management in Alaska.
The deer population never fully recovered yet from the 2018-2019 winters. In pockets they are doing fine, in other areas it’s way down. Still plenty of deer overall for the island. The bag limit change for NR was 100% about limiting perceived hunting pressure/competition and not due to biological concerns for the species. I personally saw 10 or more P&Y caliber bucks this year in a 5 day span. Last year we saw 2 bucks total. It’s all about location.
On a side bar, most tidal trash in Alaska comes from Asia.
Asians love to float over yellow boots, hard hats and Crocs. Too bad none of them wear 12’s. :)
I just got back from Kodiak. Lowest deer count I have ever seen.
That was what I heard from every person that I saw and talked to!