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The voice of Interior Alaska since 1903

Hunting Edition • August 2011

Tim Mowry /News-Miner

Outdoors Editor Tim Mowry captured this photo of a giant bull moose in a pond south of Delta Junction.


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Hunting season extended in unit 20B By TIM MOWRY Fairbanks-area hunters will have an extra five days to bag their moose this season. The moose hunting season in game management unit 20B along the road system surrounding much of the Fairbanks North Star Borough has been extended from Sept. 15 to Sept. 20. The Alaska Board of Game made the change at its spring meeting in Anchorage in March at the request of the Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory Committee, which put in an agenda change request so the board could deal with it out of their normal meeting cycle. Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory Committee member Mike Tinker said the committee made the request for a couple of reasons. One is that moose

population in unit 20B is “going through the roof,” Tinker said. “We’re 6,000 or 7,000 moose above the population objective; the bull-cow ratios are above where they should be,” Tinker said. “There isn’t any reason not to extend the season and take a few more bulls.” The Alaska Department of Fish and Game supported the proposal for a Sept. 1-20 season in unit 20B. “We have a lot of moose (in unit 20B), and it looks like the population is growing,” Fairbanks area biologist Don Young said The moose population in unit 20B is estimated to be at around 20,000, which is well above the management objective of 12,000 to 15,000. The longer season will likely mean more moose in the freezers of local hunters, Young said. The moose har-

vest in unit 20B usually ranges between 600 and 800 moose a year. That number has been on the rise with an increased cow harvest the last few years. While five days may not seem like much time, it could make for much more productive hunting later in the season. Visibility increases as more leaves drop and bulls are more responsive to calling, Young said. “With five extra days of the foliage coming off and hunters being able to do more calling ... we’re expecting the harvest to go up some,” he acknowledged. “We’re hoping it increases the harvest by about 100 to 200 bulls.” That would put the harvest closer to the department’s goal of a sustainable harvest of 4 to 5 percent, he said. If the harvest increases too much as a result of the longer

season, the Fairbanks advisory committee can always propose to go back to the Sept. 15 closure, Tinker said. “If it does go up dramatically we’ll have to crunch it back down,” he said. “We’ll watch it and see if it goes totally bananas.” The longer season in unit 20B may also prevent a large influx of hunters in unit 20A south of Fairbanks on the Tanana Flats, which is open through Sept. 25. The way seasons were set up, many hunters who were unsuccessful in unit 20B would switch over to unit 20A when the season closed in unit 20B on Sept. 15. With the season in unit 20B extended to Sept. 20, hunters can choose to spend another five days in unit 20B rather than move to unit 20A. “It takes away the incentive

to go somewhere else,” Tinker said. Hunters who drew an a cow moose permit in unit 20A are no longer restricted from shooting a bull moose if they see one. The Alaska Board of Game passed the change at its March meeting. “It used to be if you had a cow permit in 20A you couldn’t hunt a bull in the general hunt,” Fairbanks area biologist Don Young with the Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks said. “Now winners of drawing hunts for cow moose can hunt for a bull.” The reason behind the change is to allow hunters with cow permits who are flying into remote areas an opportunity to shoot a bull if they see one. “We had places in more remote areas where hunts have been undersubscribed,” he said.

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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Fortymile harvest Make your successful hunt quota increased a success at the table to 1,000 caribou 750 in fall hunt; 250 for winter By TIM MOWRY

FORTYMILE CARIBOU HUNT • Season dates: Fall hunt opens Aug. 10 in roadless portion and Aug. 29 along the Steese and Taylor highways. Season closes Sept. 20 for nonresidents and Sept. 30 for residents. Winter hunt open Dec. 1 to March 31, or when the harvest quota is reached. • Harvest quotas: 750 bulls for fall hunt split into three different areas — Zone 1 (Steese Highway), 225; Zone 2 (roadless area), 185; Zone 3 (Taylor Highway), 340. Winter quota is 250 caribou, either sex, split between Steese and Taylor highways. • Permits: Available online at http://hunt.alaska or at Department of Fish and Game offices in Fairbanks, Delta, Tok , Douglas, Anchorage and Palmer. Permits are also available in Eagle at the Eagle Trading Post; in Tok at the Bull Shooter; in Central at Central Corner. the and Tok. • Hotline: Hunters should call the Fortymile caribou hunting hotline at 267-2310 before heading into the field to check on closures or restrictions.

both the Steese and Taylor highways does not open until Aug. 29, while the state season in the roadless area (zone 2) and the federal hunts in all three areas opened Aug. 10. The season closes Sept. 20 for non-residents and Sept. 30 for residents. Only qualified subsistence users are eiligible for the federal hunts. The fall season for both the state and federal hunts is limited to bulls only. The winter hunt, which opens Dec. 1, is limited to residents only and hunters can take either sex caribou. Please see FORTYMILE, Page 7


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Hunters can put a few more Fortymile caribou in their freezers this year. The harvest quota for this season’s Fortymile caribou hunt is 1,000 animals, an increase of 150 over last year. Seventy-five percent of the quota — 750 — will be allocated to the fall hunt and the remaining 25 percent —250 — will be allotted for the winter hunt starting Dec. 1. If hunters do need reach the quota in the fall hunt, any additional caribou will be added to the winter hunt, area biologist Jeff Gross with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Tok said. Biologists were not able to get a photo census of the herd this summer but judging from this year’s calf crop they are still estimating that the herd is over 50,000. A photo census last year estimated the herd at 51,000 animals. “That’s the trigger point in the harvest plan to increase the harvest quota to 1,000,” Gross said. The harvest quota for the past five years has been 850 caribou, with 640 going to the fall hunt and 210 dedicated to the winter hunt. The increase translates to an additional 110 caribou for the fall hunt and 40 for the winter hunt. The harvest quota for the fall hunt is divided into three different hunting areas — the Steese Highway (zone 1), the Taylor Highway (zone 3) and a roadless area in between (zone 2). Forty-five percent of the fall quota (340) goes to the Taylor Highway; 30 percent (225) goes to the Steese Highway and 25 percent (185) goes to the roadless area. The state’s fall hunt along



Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Hunters cheer revamped Fortymile hunt By TIM MOWRY Changes made to last year’s Fortymile caribou hunt had the effect that state game managers and local advisory committees were hoping. “We had a hunt this year instead of a run and gun for two or three days,” Don Quarberg, chairman of the Delta Fish and Game Advisory Committee, said. Or as Bill Glanz of the Central advisory committee put it, “We didn’t have the mass murder we usually have.” At the urging of local advisory committees, the state Board of Game pushed the start of the 2010 fall Fortymile season back from Aug. 10 to Aug. 29 in the two roadaccessible areas — the Steese and Taylor highways — with the intent of spreading out the hunt over a matter of weeks instead of days. The premise was that the chance of caribou being concentrated along either road would be less with a later opening date. The game board also banned the taking of cows during the fall hunt.

At the urging of local advisory committees, the state Board of Game pushed the start of the 2010 fall Fortymile season back from Aug. 10 to Aug. 29 in the two road-accessible areas — the Steese and Taylor highways — with the intent of spreading out the hunt over a matter of weeks instead of days. The premise was that the chance of caribou being concentrated along either road would be less with a later opening date. The game board also banned the taking of cows during the fall hunt. The plan worked, with a couple of hitches. Even with the later opening, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed the Steese Highway hunt after one day because there were too many caribou concentrated along the road. The department re-opened the season a week later, after the caribou had dispersed. The hunt remained open until the close of the season on Sept. 30. The decision by state game managers to close the Steese Highway hunt after one day was a good one, Tok area

wildlife biologist Jeff Gross said. A total of 72 caribou were taken on the first day of the season, almost half the 180caribou harvest quota, even though hunters had to deal with poor visibility because of fog. Had the hunt remained open another day, chances are good the quota would have been reached or nearly reached in just two days. “Even with heavy fog conditions, hunters behind (Circle) hot springs took over 70 caribou,” Gross noted. “Had we had clear condi-

tions, they likely would have shot the entire quota in one day.” As it turned out, hunters took 18 more caribou in the Steese Highway hunt after it was re-opened for a harvest of 92 animals, just more than half of the 180 harvest quota. That was the smallest reported harvest in the three hunt zones. In total, hunters reported a harvest of 454 bull caribou in the fall hunt, which was 146 below the harvest quota of 600 for three different hunt areas. Hunters did not

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exceed the quota in any of the three hunt areas, and the season in each area remained open until the Sept. 30 closure. “The way the hunt went this year, it accomplished the goals of what the advisory committees were trying to accomplish,” Gross said. “It was a lot more quiet than past years but pretty productive.” Though hunters didn’t reach the harvest quota in any of the three hunt areas, the fact the season remained open for a month or more in all three areas made the hunt a success, said Mike Tinker with the Fairbanks advisory committee, one of five local advisory committees involved in formulating the harvest plan for the herd. Some hunters complained about the later start to the season because it conflicted with the start of the moose hunting season, which opened three days later, but for the most part hunters were supportive, Gross said. “In general, people seemed to be pretty happy with the changes,” Gross said. “People were very understanding and supportive of the conservation of the herd.”

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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Macomb herd is growing fast By TIM MOWRY

likely continue to do so. “The department and (Delta) advisory committee will definitely be looking at liberalizing the harvset in the next few years,” DuBois said. The Macomb caribou hunt is a registration permit hunt limited to Alaska residents only. The harvest quota for this year’s hunt, which runs from Aug. 10-27, is 70 bulls. The Macomb hunt is primarily a walk-in hunt. Hunters can access the herd from either the Alaska or Richardson highways. Motorized vehicles are not allowed for the first 15 days of the hunt but there is a two-day motorized hunt on the final two days of the hunt, Aug. 26-27.

The Macomb Caribou Herd south of Delta Junction is thriving and hunters are taking advantage. Last year’s take of 67 bulls was the highest on record and the herd can probably support an even higher harvest, area biologist Steve DuBois at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said. The herd’s population is estimated at just over 1,500, the highest its been since DuBois — who retired in June — began working at ADF&G in Delta 34 years ago. a“The depar “When I first got here it was 400,” he said. “The herd is doing really well.” As the herd has grown, so Contact staff writer Tim Mowry has the harvest and it will at 459-7587.

Few hunters take advantage of changes to Central Arctic hunt By TIM MOWRY

Please see ARCTIC, Page 9

Continued from Page 5

The season closes March 30 or when the harvest quota — 250 caribou — is reached. The quota is split 60-40 between the Steese and Taylor highways, with the highest quota for the area where the most caribou are located. If hunters do not reach the harvest quota in the fall hunt, any surplus caribou will be added to the winter hunt.



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opening of the federal seasons along the Steese and Taylor highways, as well as the opening of the state hunt on Aug. 29 in both those areas, Gross said. Information on the herd’s whereabouts will be posted on the Fortymile caribou hunting hotline at 907-267-2310. “We’ll be keeping an eye on things and updating the hotline prior to the Aug. 10 opener and we’ll continue to update it as we get more information,” Gross said.

Last year, the Department of Fish and Game issued 3,422 permits for the fall Fortymile hunt and 2,207 hunters (about 64 percent) reported hunting. The reported harvest was 460, a success rate of about 21 percent. The state issued 1,689 permits for the winter hunt and 906 hunters (54 percent) reported hunting. The reported harvest was 259, a success rate of 29 percent. Biologists planned to fly the herd prior to the Aug. 10

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Only a handful of hunters took advantage of a change that increased the bag limit for the Central Arctic Caribou Herd from two to five caribou last year. According to harvest records through late June — the season is open year round — only nine of about 1,500 hunters reported taking the new limit of five caribou. Twelve hunters reported taking four caribou, 38 reported taking three, 136 reported taking two and 505 reported taking one. In general, the expanded bag limit didn’t increase the overall harvest by much in the Central Arctic herd. As of late June, hunters had reported taking almost 1,000 caribou, Fairbanks biologist Beth Lenart, who manages the hunt for the Alaska Department of Fish and

Game, said. The normal harvest at that time is about 800 caribou, she said. “A lot of people were worried there was going to be a huge increase,” Lenart said. The number of hunters was up slightly last year, she said. That could be because of the liberalized bag limit or the fact the Fortymile caribou hunt didn’t open until Aug. 29 and some hunters opted to go north to hunt the Central Arctic herd, Lenart said. The regulations were also changed last year to allow hunters to take either sex caribou. Previously, hunters couldn’t take cows until October. Now, cows are legal except for May 16 to June 30. Warm weather in August may have deterred Dalton Highway caribou hunters from taking multiple caribou, or it could have been the long walk



Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Tim Mowryl/News-Miner

A bull caribou browses on brush near Donnelly Dome along the Richardson Highway.

How to easily identify bull caribou The fall Fortymile caribou hunt is limited to bulls only, and it’s not always easy to determine a bull from a cow, since both have antlers. Here are some tips from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to help identify bulls from cows.

• Look for a white rump without a black vulva patch, or the presence of a penis sheath to identify a bull caribou. • Remember, the udder on a cow caribou can look a lot like the testicles on a bull, so don’t use testicles as the primary to identify a bull.




to their bodies. Cows may have larger antlers than young bulls. • Check out the Department of Fish and Game’s brochure on how to identify bull caribou at index.cfm?adfg=caribou.main. — Tim Mowry


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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Goat hunting sees more restrictions The Associated Press SITKA— A dramatic decline in Baranof Island’s goat population has led state game officials to restrict hunting this year. The three most popular watersheds on the island will be closed to hunting on the Southeast island, KCAW radio reported. If hunters take eight nannies on others parts of the island, the entire unit will be closed, officials said. Mountain goats were introduced to Baranof Island in 1923, when 18 goats were transferred from Tracy Arm. In 2004, the herd was flourishing, and it was estimated there were more than 1,500 goats, even with hunting. But the stock has been reduced by 42 percent because of harsh winters during the last six years.

Alaska Fish and Game Area Management Biologist Phil Mooney said he was closing off hunting in the Blue Lake and Medvejie watersheds, and the south fork of the Katlian River drainage to head off a population crash. Successful goat hunters have to present the skull to obtain the animal’s age and sex. In the past couple of years, the average age of nannies harvested has been about 6. Since nannies don’t start having kids until they are 4 or 5 years old, this puts them close to the core of the breeding population. Mooney said aerial surveys this spring showed a 62 percent decline in the ratio of kids to adult goats. “I don’t really get excited about a one-year drop or a oneyear rise. There’s a lot of fluctuation out there. But when you

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get a sustained trend, and all the numbers are going one way except that the nanny age is going up, you’re setting yourself up for a bad situation,” he said. The U.S. Forest Service will close the subsistence season concurrently with the state. The Federal Subsistence Board ruled in 1996 that the harvest and use of mountain goats was “customary and traditional” for the residents of Sitka, Hoonah, Tenakee, Funter Bay, Angoon, Port Alexander, and Elfin Cove, said Jack Lorrigan, a local hunter and a subsistence biologist for the Forest Service. With the close of the Baranof Island watersheds, it will force hunters to travel farther for goats. Lorrigan said the new

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restrictions will force hunters to adjust their style to make sure they are only killing males. Since from a distance, billy and nanny goats look alike, he urged hunters to slow down. “Take your time, get to know the profile,” Lorrigan said. “Try to get as close as you can. Long-range shots are admirable in some instances, but in this instance, we need people to be sure of what they’re taking, to protect the stock,” he said. As a compromise, hunters will be allowed to hunt in neighboring drainages at Green Lake and Nakwasina, but if one nanny is taken in those areas, they’ll also be closed by emergency order, he said.

ARCTIC Continued from Page 7

that hunters using rifles face if they shoot a caribou. Rifle hunters must hike at least five miles off the Dalton Highway before they can shoot a caribou. Bowhunters do not have to adhere to any distance requirements. “Last August was a warm spell and hunters took what they thought they could handle,” Lenart said. Overall, the 2010-11 hunting season was a good one for hunters stalking the Central Arctic herd. The distribution of caribou was good for hunters and caribou were more accessible than most years, she said. “Some years they can be pretty far east,” she said.

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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Most Army lands open for hunting By TIM MOWRY This year, 89 percent of Army land available for recreational uses will be open to the public in September. That translates to approximately 1.2 million acres, a 19 percent increase over last year. All impact areas remain off limits. Impact areas contain unexploded ordnance, which is extremely volatile and could cause the loss of life, limb or eyesight. These areas are depicted on Alaska Department of Fish and Game maps as restricted areas. The Army lands withdrawn for military training in the Tanana Flats , Donnelly and Yukon training areas are outlined with dotted black lines in the 20112012 ADF&G Alaska Hunting Regulations. To further define the numbered training areas within TFTA, DTA and YTA, the Army has published color maps. These maps compliment the ADF&G maps by depicting impact areas and off limits areas and by color coding the availability of hunting in each numbered training area. The maps are available at the visitors’ centers near the main gates of Fort Wainwright and Fort Greely. By Aug. 15, the Army will also publish the maps on the web

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dous risk, entry into restricted areas on lands withdrawn for military training is a criminal offense and may result in criminal prosecution. All users of Army lands are required to register for a Recreational Access Pass (RAP) and are urged to call into the U. S. Army Alaska Recreation Tracking System (USARTRAK) system for updates regarding the opening/closing of training areas for recreational use. The number is 353-3181 at Fort Wainwright; 873-3181at Fort Greely; and 384-3181 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Registration for RAPS can be done at the Main Gate Visitors Centers at Fort Wainwright, Fort Greely and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. A call to any one of the three telephone numbers will be able to provide training area accessibility at all three posts.

Prior to accessing lands withdrawn for military training, hunters and all other recreational users must call in to the USARTRAK system. The system provides Army conservation officials important information concerning the location of people within the training areas and assists with range clearing efforts before live-fire activities begin. The Army has now reached what is called its “four-week lock in for training,” meaning units should have already submitted their air and landuse training requests for September. At this point, a unit would have to have an extremely unusual justification or emergency situation to be able to schedule air or land-use training for September. Units are now planning Please see ARMY, Page 11

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

ARMY Continued from Page 10

and scheduling their training for October and beyond. Some of it has already been in place on an annual training calendar. However, it is always prudent for hunters to have a back-up plan, an alternate hunting site selected, in case of a last minute air or land closure for training.

Tanana Flats Training Area All of this huge Fort Wainwright training area in game management unit 20A, some 652,000 acres, will be open for hunting except for the two impact areas and training area 201, which will be open Sept. 1-7, 9-12, 15-26 and 30.

Donnelly Training Area This 654,000-acre area is divided into DTA East and DTA West, both in game management unit 20D. In DTA East, training are 501 is only open Sept. 1-6. Training areas 502-507 and 514 are open Sept. 1-9. Training areas 508, 510-513, 530-532 and Gerstle River are open Sept. 1-15. For DTA West, training areas 524 and 526-529 are only open Sept. 1-6. The rest of DTA West is open Sept. 1-25, except for the impact area and the normal off limits ranges of training areas 516, 519, 520, 523, 529, 532 and part of 548. Thirty Three Mile Loop Road will be open Sept. 1-9.

Yukon Training Area The 265,000-acre Yukon Training Area is in game management unit 20B. Training area 307 is open Sept. 123 and 26-30. Training areas 306 and 315 are open Sept. 3-4, 10-11, 17-18 and 24-25. The rest of YTA is open Sept. 1-30 except for the impact areas and a few small off limits areas. The Johnson Road/ Brigadier Road is open Sept. 1-20.



Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

ADF&G wants to ramp up cow moose hunts It’s been four years since Fairbanks hunters staged what wildlife biologist Don Young refers to today as the “Cow Moose Rebellion.” Worried that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s management strategy of liberalizing cow moose hunts in game management unit 20A south of Fairbanks had gone too far after more than 2,000 cow moose were killed from 2004 to 2007, enough hunters stood up in protest that the department was forced to scale back the cow moose hunts. As a result, biologists — and the moose population in unit 20A — are almost right back to where they were eight years ago, which is why Young is once again campaigning to increase the cow harvest. The department is working with local fish and game advisory committees in Fairbanks, Minto, Nenana, Delta and Healy to approve higher cow harvests in units 20A and 20B, Young said. “We’re going to try to scale those cow harvests up a little bit,” he said. If they don’t, biologists are worried that they could be setting themselves up for a repeat of a moose population crash that occurred in unit 20A, i.e. the Tanana Flats and Alaska Range foothills, back in the mid 1970s when the moose population plummeted from an


2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

— — — — — — —

557 634 493 421 174 206 230

estimated 28,000 to 2,300 over the course of 10 years. “What concerns me most as a manager is we’re still at relatively high moose densities (in units 20A and 20B), the range is in poor condition and if we have a really hard winter we stand a chance of losing a lot ofmoose,” Young said. The moose populations in units 20A and 20B, which are the state’s two most productive moose hunting areas, are higher than the department’s management objectives and they are still growing, Young said. The only biologically and politically acceptable way to knock the numbers down is by killing more cows. Large-scale calf hunts would do the trick, too, but hunters haven’t shown a willingness to go along with that strategy. The number of moose in unit 20A is estimated to be approximately 15,000, which is about 2,500 above ADF&G’s management objective. In unit 20B, there are estimated to be

approximately 20,000 moose, which is about 4,000 above the department’s management goal. Starting in 2008, cow hunts in unit 20A were cut back considerably to placate the hunting community. The cow harvest dropped from an average of 526 animals from 2004-07 to an average of 203 from 2008-10. “We really had to scale back until we were able to convince the public of what we were doing,” Young said. “Since then we’ve been able to increase (the cow harvest) a little bit.” Last year, hunters killed 230 cow moose in unit 20A and 275 in unit 20B. “We would like to see the antlerless harvest be 2 to 3 percent of the pre-hunt population,” said Young. In 20A, that would be “somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 to 400 moose,” Young said. In 20B, it would mean a cow harvest of 400-600. Biologists have yet to see any improvements in productivity in unit 20A as a result of the high cow harvests from 2004-07, such as higher twinning rates, higher calf weights and younger age of reproduction. “It’s not too surprising because we really haven’t reduced moose densities in 20A,” Young said. While the liberalized cow hunts from 2004-07 did put a small dent in the population, it was shortlived, he said. “It was a short-term reduc-

tion,” Young said. “From the perspective of moose densities it was a huge reduction. “We went from 3.5 moose per square mile down to 2.5 moose per square mile,” he said. “To see any sign of changes in productive we would probably have had to reduce densities really low to see anything.” Even then, there is a significant lag time before any improvements are detected, especially with animals as long lived as moose. It takes years for vegetation to recover after being overbrowsed, Young said. “Back in the 70s it took quite a while to see any improvements and that population went from 23,000 moose to 2,800 moose,” Young noted. After bottoming out at 2,800 in 1975, the unit 20A moose population increased to an estimated 8,000 by 1985. Ten years later it was at 12,000. In 2005, it was around 18,000. Mild winters the past several years haven’t helped, either. Lower than normal snowfall and warmer than normal temperatures have resulted in low winter mortality rates. “Because of the relatively mild winters these populations inherently want to increase,” Young said. “The only way to regulate that increase is through atnlerless harvest.” The good news is that biologists haven’t detected any declines in productivity, either. “We’re happy at this juncture things haven’t gotten

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worse,”Young said. In game management unit 20D around Delta Junction, meanwhile, there will be no cow moose hunts for the second year in a row after four years of wide-scale cow hunts. Hunters killed a little over 1,000 cow moose in four years, from 2006-09, in unit 20D as part of ADF&G’s attempt to knock the population down. Like units 20A and 20B, the moose population in unit 20D was showing the effects of nutritional stress and low productivity prior to the cow hunts. The unit 20D cow hunts were put on hold so biologists can evaluate their impact, Delta area biologist Steve DuBois, who retired in June, said. “What we did is we reduced the population back to about the level it was in the early 2000s,” he said. “We still have a lot of moose and a high density of moose; it’s just not as high as it was. “What we’re looking for is to stabilize the population with twinning rates between 11 and 20 percent.,” DuBois said. After seeing no increase in 2010, the twinning rate jumped to 25 percent this year, he said. “This year’s twinning rates took a big jump up,” DuBois said. “That’s what we were looking for.” But biologists won’t know for another year or two if that was an anomaly or the beginning of a trend, he said, noting that twinning rates across the Interior were up. Browse surveys in unit 20D did show a reduction in the removal of browse, DuBois said. As for whether or not cow hunts will be held in unit 20D in the future, DuBois said that has yet to be determined. “What we anticipate is the population is probably going to start growing again,” he said. “What needs to be determined in southwest unit 20D is do we want to have a low level of cow harvest over a long period of time to keep the population stable at this level or do we want to let it grow and in the future have intensive harvests over a short period of time,” he said.


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Biologists using collars to track herds By TIM MOWRY Biologists should have a better idea where the Fortymile Caribou Herd is before hunting season opens along the Steese and Taylor highways this year, even if weather prevents them from flying. Biologists put satellite collars on 15 Fortymile caribou in October last year. The collars provide locations of the caribou every four days. In past years, biologists have monitored the location of the herd using VHF collars — they have 90 VHF collars deployed — but tracking those collars requires significant flying time. The satellite collars provide longitude and latitude coordinates that can be accessed with a computer. “One difference this year is we have satellite collars on the herd, which will hopefully allow us to make

Biologists put satellite collars on 15 Fortymile caribou in October last year. The collars provide locations of the caribou every four days. In past years, biologists have monitored the location of the herd using VHF collars — they have 90 VHF collars deployed — but tracking those collars requires significant flying time. more timely decisions if the weather precludes us from flying,” biologist Jeff Gross at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Tok said. The collars helped biologists manage last year’s winter hunt when thousands of caribou swarmed the

Steese Highway north of Fairbanks just prior to the Dec. 1 opening of the hunt. Even though weather prevented biologists from flying to see where the caribou were, they knew based on the location of the collars that there

were lots of caribou near the road, which led to a two-month delay in the opening of the hunt on the Steese to prevent hunters from killing too many caribou along the road. “They allowed us to make some decisions when weather was an issue,” Gross said. “In prior years that would have been problematic.” Not only did the locations of the satellite collars persuade managers to delay the opening of the hunt because there were too many caribou next to the road, the collar locations also alerted managers when the caribou began to move away from the road in early February. “They allowed us to react in a more timely manner when the herd started to disperse,” Gross said. “They helped us time our flights so we were opening the season as quickly as possible when they started to disperse rather than being at the mercy of the weather.”


FERRY AREA HUNTERS Please use caution when travelling along Ferry Road and connecting trails this hunting season. Pending approval and receipt of final land authorizations for the proposed Eva Creek Wind project, road maintenance and upgrade of Ferry Road may be underway during hunting season. Watch for heavy equipment and construction traffic on the road. Short delays may be experienced along Ferry Road and connecting trails. Golden Valley Electric Assn. | 907- 452-1151 | |


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Moose hunting tips: Get the most out of your trip By TIM MOWRY There’s more to hunting than just hunting. Most successful hunts begin long before a hunters heads into the woods or mountains. As the old adage goes, “It’s a lot easier to shoot a moose than it is to find one to shoot.” Or something to that effect. Here are some pre-hunt tips that could tip the scale in your favor.

Make a plan As is the case with practically everything in life, it’s better to have a plan in place than to just wing it. Nowhere is that more true than hunting. If you don’t have a plan in place yet for your fall moose or caribou hunt, you’re already behind the eight-ball but it’s not too late to do some homework. Stop by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office

in Fairbanks, Delta, Tok or Glennallen and start asking some questions about areas you’re interested in hunting and what kind of animal densities it has. Check the state hunting regs to see where seasons are open later or access is limited. Log on to the Internet and chat up other hunters. There are lots of resources out there to take advantage of and, just like the animals you’re pursuing, you have to hunt them down.

Read the reg book Not only is it every hunter’s responsibility to know the regulations and boundaries of the game management unit they are hunting in, reading the state hunting regulation booklet is also a great way to learn about hunting in Alaska. The reg book is a wealth of information. In addition to all the dos and don’ts of hunting in Alaska, there are detailed maps of all 26 game

management units and subunits in Alaska. You can learn how to tell the difference between cow and bull caribou; how to identify cow and bull musk ox; how to measure moose antlers; and how to judge whether a Dall sheep is full curl. There are tips on meat care, information about tags and licenses, a list of sealing requirements, information about shipping meat and Please see HUNTING, Page 15


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

HUNTING Continued from Page 14

antlers out of Alaska. On top of all that, the reg book is dotted with great pictures of young Alaska hunters showing off their trophies. If nothing else, stick a copy in your bathroom to use for toilet literature. You’ll be surprised what you might learn.

Do some pre-season scouting Don’t wait until hunting season opens to take to the woods in search of a moose. You’ll increase your chances of finding one if you get out before the opener and do some scouting. Pick out a few areas you’re interested in hunting and take the time to scope them out. Sit on a hillside and spend the day glassing for moose. Walk around and look for freshly browsed willows, evidence of moose beds in the grass, fresh piles of moose poop or antler scrapes on trees. Look at it this way, it’s a good excuse to go for a boat or ATV ride. A bad day scouting for moose beats a good day of work.

ATV, make sure they’re in good working order before the season starts. There’s nothing worse than hopping on your four-wheeler to head to moose camp and finding out your battery is dead. Get anything that has a motor — airplanes, boats, ATVs, chainsaws, winches — serviced before you head into the field. Go over your personal gear, too. Make sure knives are sharp, hip waders don’t leak and rifles are cleaned.

Get in shape If you are lucky enough to find and shoot an animal, the work has just begun, especially if you shoot it a mile from camp and have to pack it back over tussocks and tundra or down a steep mountain. The better shape you’re in, the less of an ordeal it will be. Put 75 pounds into a backpack and hike up and down a Steve Stidham of North Pole few steep hills or a few miles on the flats to get used to carrying a front or hind quarter muscles. of a moose. Watch some videos If you don’t do it now, your The Alaska Department of body is going to remind you later in the form of sore, stiff Fish and Game has several

Photo courtesy Steve Stidham

took down this bull north of Kotzebue. hunting videos available to rent, buy or watch on a computer that can help hunters. There are videos on field dressing a moose, how to judge

antler size on a moose, how to call moose, how to judge trophy bears and understanding intensive management and predator control in Alaska.

Sight-in your weapon — and practice Whether it’s a moose or ruffed grouse, you owe it to the animal you’re shooting at to make sure you can hit with a clean killing shot. The only way to do that is to ensure that both you and your rifle, shotgun or bow is accurate. Don’t wait until the day before hunting season to sight in your rifle, either. Go to the range a few times to practice before you head into the field. The worst-case scenario for a hunter is to have the opportunity to harvest an animal and miss a shot, or even worse, wound an animal not be able to locate it. Check out page 16 for tips on sighting in your rifle.

If you’re using a boat or

Offers good on new and unregistered units purchased between 7/27/11–9/30/11. *On select models. See your dealer for details. **Rates as low as 2.99% for 36 months. Offers only available at participating Polaris® dealers. Approval, and any rates and terms provided, are based on credit worthiness. Other financing offers are available. Applies to the purchase of all new ATV and RANGER ® models made on the Polaris Installment Program from 7/27/11–9/30/11. Fixed APR of 2.99%, 6.99%, or 9.99% will be assigned based on credit approval criteria. Warning: ATVs can be hazardous to operate. For your safety: Avoid operating Polaris ATVs or RANGER s on paved surfaces or public roads. Riders and passengers should always wear a helmet, eye protection, protective clothing, and a seat belt and always use cab nets (on RANGER vehicles). Never engage in stunt driving, and avoid excessive speeds and sharp turns. Polaris adult ATV models are for riders age 16 and older. Drivers of RANGER vehicles must be at least 16 years old with a valid driver’ s license. All ATV riders should take a safety training course. For ATV safety and training information, call the SVIA at (800) 887-2887, see your dealer, or call Polaris at (800) 342-3764. ©2011 Polaris Industries Inc.

11 384714-8-12-11HE

Check your gear and equipment


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Shooting practice increases chance of successful hunt A missed shot from your rifle can ruin a hunting trip. Hopefully, those hours, days, or even weeks of time spent in the field pursuing a big game animal conclude with a well-timed and placed shot. That’s the ideal situation. All too often though, shots miss the intended target by such a margin that you can’t help but wonder what in the

Ivotuk Airstrip

world just happened. In the really unfortunate cases, game is wounded and lost; a situation no responsible hunter desires. While you can’t predict and plan for every circumstance and situation that may occur in the field, there are some simple things you can do to help minimize — and hopefully eliminate — those missed shots.

Elusive Lake

Reasons for misses You can categorize reasons for missed shots into a few areas: 1. Shooter (mental state, physical state, lack of knowledge/experience, attitude and perspective) 2. Equipment (firearm, sights, ammunition, etc.) 3. Environmental (wind, rain, incline, etc.) Often one or more of these

Killik Airstrip

NOTICE TO AIRMEN, GUIDES, OUTFITTERS, RAFTERS & SPORT HUNTERS Large tracts of land on the Western and Central North Slope are owned by the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC). Entry on these privately owned lands requires the consent of ASRC. Sport hunting and fishing are prohibited on ASRC lands. Within ASRC lands in the Central and Western Arctic are a number of gravel airstrips that are closed to public access. Entry on the following airstrips requires the written consent of ASRC: AKULIK 69°00ʼ02”N 163°26ʼ33”W; EAGLE CREEK 68°40ʼ46”N 162°39ʼ13”W; KILLIK 68°27ʼ15”N 154°17ʼ43”W; TIGLIKPUK 68°25ʼ25”N 151°27ʼ26”W;  TULUGAK 68°59ʼ36”N 151°11ʼ42”W; *IVOTUK* 68°28ʼ42”N 155°45ʼ50”W; Airstrip is public but please be aware of ASRCʼs ownership of apron, road, and drill site. These airstrips are subject to periodic surveillance by ASRC. Trespassers will be prosecuted. Certain easements are reserved for the public in various locations on ASRC lands. These easements are owned by ASRC and are reserved for public use for limited specific purposes. These easements are reserved to allow access to lakes by float plane, temporary overnight camping at specific 1 acre sites near the lake shores (not to exceed 24 hours), and to allow for trail access to adjacent public lands. Some specific areas that require the proper following of easements are: Elusive Lake, Shainin Lake, Chandler Lake, Udurivik Lake, Imiaknikpak Lake, and Windy Lake. Any deviation from easement stipulations will be considered trespass and is criminally punishable under Alaska Statute11.46.330. Sport hunting and fishing are not allowed on these easements. You are highly encouraged to contact ASRC if you are planning a float trip on the Kukpowruk, Kokolik, Utukok, Okokmilaga, Chandler, Anaktuvuk, Kurupa, Killik, or Colville Rivers. Each of these waterways have unique circumstances or restrictions that must be followed to prevent trespass. In addition, North Slope Borough, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and/or National Park Service permits may also be required for commercially operating on adjacent public lands.


It is your responsibility to obtain the proper permissions and permits to access these areas. For more information contact: Arctic Slope Regional Corporation Land Department Ivotuk Hills Tulugak Airstrip 3900 C Street, Suite 801 Anchorage, AK 99503-5963 907 339-6017

categories overlap some and usually it’s the shooter component that gets double billing. The list of excuses for not practicing enough is always long. You’re busy with work or family. You only have a few days off to get to the field and find your game. It’s pouring rain the day you plan to go to the range to sight in and practice. Unfortunately, failing to sight in your rifle and getting in some quality practice time before heading to the field can end up with some dismal results. If your rifle, equipped with even the finest scope out there, sits in the gun cabinet or safe and only comes out for that once-a-year hunting trip, you could be setting yourself up for a bad experience. While hunting last fall, I observed several people out in the field taking shots at standing caribou only to miss and then fire more and more rounds until bullets connected. The result was game lost to some of the hunters (caribou that ran away after shots were fired but missed) and wounded game (bullet hits in areas other than the vital zone) that required even more shots to put the animal down, meat loss (due to damage from multiple bullet hits in different parts of the caribou), more work for the hunters to retrieve the game (since the caribou ran off quite a ways when wounded), and more work to field dress the game and process the meat (due to the mess and damage from multiple bullet hits in different parts of the caribou). When I spoke with the individuals, I heard, several times and for various reasons, they didn’t sight in their rifles (equipped with scopes) before heading out to hunt. It wasn’t a case of a rifle being dropped and a scope alignment being messed up or something like that; it was due to lack of preparation and not sighting in and practicing with the rifle.

John Wyman

Find time to practice sighting in. Purposefully dial your scope adjustments or loosen the mounts so the scope is not properly lined up and then see how few rounds it takes you to sight in at the range. This practice can make life a lot more pleasant when your scope gets out of whack after a bumpy ATV ride or after an unexpected fall or smack into a tree and you need to get things sighted in again.

Speaking from experience I’ve had my own experiences with missed shots. I really don’t want to have more. These days I do whatever I can to get in close, be prepared and take one shot that does the trick. The first missed shot (a bad shot) I can recall was quite a few years ago and was all about the shooter. I was glassing a big open area, from the edge of a wood line. I had taken my glasses off so I could look through the binoculars better. I was peering through my binoculars looking for deer across the open meadow when a big blur passed through my field of vision. What? Was? That?! I dropped the binoculars in time to see (blurry because my glasses were in my pocket) a nice size buck trotting away from me and headed for the cover of the nearby trees. I fumbled for my glasses, jammed them on my face and took aim and just as the deer was about to head into the woods I fired. My heart was beating a million miles per hour, adrenaline levels were up and I was probably shaking so bad it would have been a miracle to hit the broad side of a Please see PRACTICE, Page 17


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Continued from Page 16

barn. But, I took the shot. I shouldn’t have. But, something inside me, that predatory/hunter instinct took over and made me think I had to take the shot, I had to get that deer. The bullet from my rifle hit the deer in the hind quarter. It was not, as my dad always stressed, a “one shot kill.” Five or six hours later and many miles traveled up and down steep slopes, through brush so thick no man has warrant to go, and sloshing through the same stream numerous times, I had to take a follow up shot and then retrieve and field dress the deer. I swore to myself then, two things: 1. I was getting contact lenses and 2. I would never again take a shot that wasn’t a “good shot”. My next experience with a missed shot was more recent, during a caribou hunting trip off the Denali Highway during the winter. Everything was ready, I was prepared, and I wouldn’t take a shot that wasn’t “good”. One thing I failed to do was practice — in cold weather — with the ammunition and plastic sabots a friend of mine had encouraged me to try out. Needless to say they did not perform well in cold weather. Even loading and ejecting a round was problematic. My first shot missed. Fortunately, after the first miss and the caribou trotted off a ways I reloaded with ammunition I had practiced with — and knew to perform well — and hiked out after the small band of caribou and got in close and took that “one shot kill”. That missed shot was part equipment (the sabots that were not the best for cold weather) but even more so, shooter. I failed to practice with that ammo type in those conditions and fired with unproven equipment.

Practice some more Truly, the more practice

TARGETING TIPS • The general rule of thumb used by most hunters when sighting in a rifle is to zero in 2 to 3 inches high at 100 yards. That way, you should be accurate out to 300 yards. • Shoot three shots in a group. If one is high, one is low and one is left or right, you have a physical or mechanical problem. Two or three off-target shots in the same direction ensures the aim is off. • Once you have a group of three shots, determine where you are shooting and adjust the sights to bring the group to the center of the target. A group of three shots should be no bigger than a quarter at 100 yards. • Make sure the bedding screws, scope mount screws and scope rings are tight before going to the range. • Get your barrel boresighted. A gunsmith can do it or you can do it yourself by placing your gun on the bench rest so it is aimed at the target. Remove the bolt and look through the barrel. If the target is visible, the sighting should be close. • Use a plain target paper with a simple dot in the middle or some of the rifle-shooting targets with one-inch squares on them. It will be easy to gauge the placement of the shot in relation to where you aimed. • Make sure you have a rest that is solid. Beanbags, sandbags, blankets, coats or gun cases can serve the purpose. Some commercial bench rests are available through local sporting goods stores. • Shoot from different positions until you feel comfortable in each. You never know what position you may have to shoot from when the time comes. • Always hold the gun the way you do when you hunt.

you get, the better you will likely shoot when that monster moose gets up and you see that giant rack moving through the willows. Definitely sight in and shoot with the firearm and ammunition you will be hunting with as much as you can. Ammunition, even when reloaded, is not inexpensive these days so off-season and when you can, take that .22caliber rifle out and shoot that. All the marksmanship principles of good rifle shooting — position, shot preparation (aiming and breathing),

people will want to sight in a scope and rifle for long distances. I always recommend trying to get in as close as you can for that shot and most successful shots are in a lot closer than what you’d expect or what your buddy brags about. I’d rather brag about getting in to 40 yards than taking one at 300. But, if you do take a longer shot, or even a very close one, it’s important to know how much higher or

lower your bullet is likely to hit from the intended target point. Again, practice at the range will help and there are many guides available in books and online about sighting in and “zeroing” your rifle and scope. John M. Wyman works for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks and oversees the ADF&G Hunter Education Indoor Shooting Range. If you have questions or comments related to this article you may email john.

NOTICE TO ALL HUNTERS: Please respect our lands as we would respect yours.

sight picture control, trigger control and follow through — carry over from firing the .22 to your big game rifle. And, the ammunition cost for shooting your .22 is significantly less than your big game rifle. Don’t discount the .22 as being wimpy. The huge decrease in recoil will help you concentrate on the fundamentals. The practice time with a good .22 will pay off in the field with your .30-06 or .300. Make sure you know at what distance your scope and gun are “zeroed.” Often

K’oyitl’ots’ina, Limited has enacted a RESTRICTED HUNTING POLICY on its Corporation’s privately-held lands. The shaded areas around the Interior villages of Alatna, Allakaket, Hughes and Huslia are closed to all sports hunting. Rights are granted to K’oyitl’ots’ina, Ltd. shareholders, their descendants and other local subsistence users. For subsistence access by non-Native local rural residents, you must obtain a permit for sale at our Corporation’s Fairbanks’ office.

Contact: K’oyitl’ots’ina, Ltd. Land Manager 1603 College Road • Fairbanks, AK 99709 907-452-8119

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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011 Eric Engman /News-Miner

A female mallard comes in for a landing in open water on the Chena River. All waterfowl hunters 16 years of age or older must have a federal Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp. An Alaska Waterfowl Conservation Stamp is also required. For more in duck hunting, visit http://www.adfg.alaska. gov/index.cfm?adfg=w aterfowlhunting.main

Bison getting tougher to hunt in the Delta area


Might they be smarter than us? By TIM MOWRY


12384356 8-5-11 HE

The shaded areas on this map generally show the private lands owned by NANA REGIONAL CORPORATION, INC. (NANA). Access to these lands for hunting and fishing is allowable only by NANA shareholders and their families and by non-shareholders of NANA who have been permanent residents of the NANA region for at least 5 years and who receive a permit from NANA. Other allowable uses of NANA lands require a permit. Detailed maps of NANA lands, further information regarding allowable uses, and permits may be obtained from: NANA REGIONAL CORPORATION, INC. LAND DEPARTMENT P.O. BOX 49 KOTZEBUE, ALASKA 99752 (907) 442-3301 •

Either Delta bison are getting smarter or the hunters pursuing them are getting dumber. How else do you explain last year’s 63 percent success rate, the lowest ever recorded in the Delta bison hunt? Well, as it turns out, there are probably a few factors that played a role in the low success rate of hunters and their intelligence wasn’t one of them, said wildlife biologist Steve DuBois, who retired in June after a 33-year career with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Delta Junction. One factor is there is more private property off limits to hunting than there used to be, DuBois said. More farmers are prohibiting hunting on their property or charging fees to do so. “Access is more difficult,” he said. Bison may be getting smarter, too.

“The animals seem to be spending more time in the woods during the day and coming out at night,” DuBois said. With less land available to hunt on, DuBois also said hunter conflicts may be playing a role in the lower success rate. “I think there’s some interference going on between hunters; they’re getting in each other’s way,” he said. ADF&G issued 120 permits for last year’s hunt — 70 for bulls and 50 for cows — and 67 of the 106 permit holders who reported hunting killed a bison. The lower success rate comes even after the Alaska Board of Game made changes to the hunt to increase hunter success, such as allowing hunters to use cell phones. This year, Fish and Game issued 105 Delta bison permits — 55 for bulls and 50 for cows. The herd numbers just over 400 animals, about 20 percent of which were calves born this spring, according to this Please see BISON, Page 19


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

BISON Continued from Page 18

year’s post-calving population surveys. Following a recommendation by the Delta Bison Working Group to reduce the herd size in an attempt to reduce damage to agricultural crops caused by bison, ADF&G will likely be increasing the number of permits to hunt the herd the next few years, DuBois said. “They recommended a slightly smaller herd size and we have gotten no objections to that recommendation from the Board of Game or the public when we put it out for comment,” he said. “In all likelihood we’ll implement that change.” The working group recommended reducing the herd to a pre-calving objective of 275 to 325. The current pre-calving herd objective is 360 animals, DuBois said. “The way we’re looking at it is as an interim reduction to see if it makes any difference (in damage to crops),” DuBois said. “If it doesn’t, we might bring (the herd size) back up.”

DELTA BISON HARVEST Year 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005

Permits issued 120 90 170 155 80 65

Sam Harrel/News-Miner

Bison roam east of Delta Junction.

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Permits hunted 106 80 160 141 76 62

Bison killed 67 62 113 99 60 45

Success rate 63% 77% 71% 70% 78% 75%

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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Getting meat from the field to the table By TIM MOWRY Shooting big game animals in Alaska is a privilege that should not be taken lightly, especially when it comes to packing out 600 or 700 pounds of moose meat and bones. It is a hunter’s responsibility and obligation to take the best possible care of the meat of an animal they shoot. When it comes to butchering, handling and preserving meat, no matter what the animal, there are three basic rules to follow: 1) Keep the meat as clean as possible. 2) Keep the meat as cool as possible. 3) Keep the meat as dry as possible. “It’s how the meat is taken care of more than anything else,” said big game guide Virgil Umphenour, who also owns Interior Alaska Fish Processors. The first step in assuring the best meat quality possible is getting a quick, clean kill. Ideally you don’t want an animal to run off after you shoot it. Once an animal is down, it’s important to butcher it as quickly as possible so the meat can begin cooling. That means having the necessary tools (i.e. knives, game bags, tarps, etc.) with you so you don’t have to walk or drive back to camp to retrieve them. The quicker you remove the hide and get the front and hind quarters removed the better, said Dave Kelleyhouse, a former state wildlife biologist and big-game hunter who has butchered more than his share of moose. “It really helps taking that carcass apart,” Kelleyhouse said. “By taking the hind quarters off and taking the front shoulders off, you’re cooling everything down.” Time is of the essence, Please see MEAT, Page 21


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

MEAT Continued from Page 20

Umphenour said. “If you butcher it immediately and hang it immediately, that’s the most important thing,” he said. Here are some tips about keeping meat clean, cool and dry.

Keep it clean • Do NOT place the meat on dirt or sand. • Bring several tarps to put the meat on after it removed from the animal. If you don’t have a tarp, lay some spruce boughs down or find some dry grass to set the meat on. • Peel the hide back as you skin the animal to avoid getting hair on the meat. • Tuck a tarp or game bag under the front and back quarters as you prepare to remove them and let them fall on that instead of the ground. • Use quality game bags. The heavy, cotton bags that resemble giant laundry bags are the best. Do not use the cheesecloth-type bags because they rip easily and are not big enough to hold a moose quarter. • Try to keep game bags as clean and blood-free as pos-

Eric Engman/News-Miner

A young moose kneels down as it feeds on freshly exposed grass near Fairbanks. sible. Blood attracts flies. • Rinse off any rumen, bile or urine that gets on the meat. • Take great care not to puncture any organs, such as the stomach, in the butchering process. You’ll know it if you puncture the stomach.

Keep it cool • Heat is your biggest enemy, so do whatever it takes to get the meat cooled down. Hang it in the shade. Stick it in large trash compactor bags and dunk it in the river or a

lake to keep it cool, but make sure there are no holes in the bags. • Don’t bone meat out unless it is absolutely necessary. Boning out meat exposes more meat to the air and it’s harder to keep the meat cool and dry with several pieces piled on top of each other in a game bag. • Hang the meat on a meat pole to get it off the ground and allow air to circulate. If you don’t have a meat pole, build a mat or bench branches or sticks to keep the meat

off the ground. If you have a raft, lay sticks across the raft and lay the meat on top of the sticks to get it off the floor of the raft. • Check and move meat at least once or twice daily, pulling the game bags up to avoid the bags from sticking to the meat and moving loose pieces of meat around. • Never store meat in plastic bags.

Keep it dry • Bring lots of tarps, both to use during the butchering

process and to use as shades or shelters after you get back in camp. Keep a tarp over the meat at night even if it’s not raining to avoid condensation or dew from settling on the game bags. • Do NOT store meat on the floor of a raft for any reason; it will get wet and spoil. Construct some kind of frame that allows you to keep the meat off the floor and pack your gear in dry bags so it can be stored in the bottom of the raft in place of the meat. • Keep meat covered with a tarp at all times when it’s raining and check to make sure water is running off the tarps, not onto the meat. • After hanging the meat, remove the game bags and spray the meat with a citric acid/water mixture (2 ounces of citric acid per quart of water) until the mixture begins to run off the meat. The citric acid will slow bacteria growth and help create a dark, outer crust that makes it harder for flies to lay eggs on the meat. Let the meat dry before putting the game bags back on. • Hang meat for a week to 10 days before cutting it up, if possible. Hanging the meat promotes the breakdown of muscle proteins and makes the meat more tender and flavorful.

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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

HUNTING In brief

DNR to issue Rex Trail permits The Alaska Department of Natural Resources will once again be issuing permits allowing certain rubbertracked vehicles — Nodwellsized or smaller — to use the eastern Rex Trail during the upcoming hunting season. The DNR’s Division of Mining, Land and Water extended the 2009 amended decision to issue permits in order to collect additional data regarding trails conditions, vehicle use and impacts, according to resource manager Jeanne Proulx with DNR. Permits will be effective from Aug. 27 through April 15. The decision and required permit applicaton is available on the DNR website at http:// Copies of the decision and permit applications are also available from the Public Information Centers located in the Fairbanks, Anchorage, or Juneau DNR Offices. Any person affected by this decision may appeal the Division’s decision. Any appeal must be submitted to the Commissioner by August 22. For additional information related to the trail management process contact Proulx at 451-2722 or jeanne.

Shooting range reopens Sept. 17 The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Hunter Education Indoor Shooting Range will reopen on Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. for the winter season. The range has been closed since July 29 for cleaning and maintenance. Members of the public can visit the range for walk-in public shooting hours, firearm safety and marksmanship classes, youth shooting sports, competitive shooting Please see BRIEFS, Page 23


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Get the best rifle for your hunting needs By TIM MOWRY What is the rifle of choice among Alaska hunters? Is it the trusty old .30-06? Or the heavier, harder-hitting .338? Or maybe the faster .300 Winchester magnum? All three are mentioned by guides and experts as the best all-around rifle for hunting all types of big game in the Last Frontier. “When you add (brown) bears to the equation, it makes it a little more complicated,” said big game guide Pete Buist, who shoots a 7mm rim magnum when he’s hunting and a .338 magnum when he’s guiding. Buist said a .300 Winchester mag is probably the minimum a hunter would want to use on Alaska Peninsula brown bears. “It’s a very versatile cartridge,” Buist said of the .300 Winchester

BRIEFS Continued from Page 22

events and much more. The indoor range can accommodate the firing of handguns up to .45 in caliber and also .22-caliber rim-fire rifles. More information about the range is available online at and by clicking the links to navigate to the Fairbanks range page from www.huntereducation.

Board of Game proposals due out A proposal book listing the proposals the Alaska Board of Game will be taking up during its meeting in Fair-

mag. “You’ve got a wide range of bullet weights. You can load up for a fair amount of power so it packs a lot of wallop.” “The rule of thumb I go by is to shoot the heaviest caliber you can comfortably and accurately shoot,” said Buist. “A lot of people can’t accurately shoot a .338 or .375 because it does pack a wallop at both ends.” At the same time, Buist said, “In the hands of an excellent marksman who knows a lot about anatomy, a .270 will probably work just fine.” A .30-06 is an excellent gun but it may be a little light for brown bears and you limit yourself in terms of distance, said Buist. Buist once guided a 13-year-old girl who killed a Boone and Crockett bison with a .30-06. But Buist is quick to add, “I’ve seen brown bears suck up 15 to 20 shots of something of that caliber.”

banks in March, well as a statewide meeting in Anchorage in January and meeting in Barrow in November, will be issued later this month and will be available online and at Department of Fish and Game offices around the state. The Game Board is scheduled to meet in Fairbanks for 10 days in March to consider changes to Interior hunting regulations and bag limits. The meeting is scheduled from March 2-11. The deadline to comment on the various proposals that will be addressed at the Fairbanks meeting in March is Feb. 17. The deadline to comment on proposals to be taken up at the statewide meeting in Anchorage on Jan. 13-17 is Dec. 30.

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Big game guide Virgil Umphenour, a former marksman in the U.S. Army, has shot a .300 Winchester magnum for more than 30 years. “It’ll handle anything,” Umphenour said. “With a 180 to 200 grain bullet you can do anything with .300 magnum that you can do with any other bullet or cartridge in any other caliber. “I’ve seen a 9 1/2-foot brown bear killed with one bullet from a .300 magnum from 500 yards,” he said. The price doesn’t differ much between the two guns. Both sell for around $600 without a scope. “I’d pick a .338 if I had to shoot brown bears, otherwise it would be a .30-06,” said retired Fish and Game biologist Pat Valkenburg, a longtime hunter in Alaska. Valkenburg said the .30-06 is more versatile than a .300 Winchester mag.

Hunter education classes offered Even if you think you know a lot about hunting in Alaska, chances are you can learn something new in a hunter education course. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks is offering several hunter education classes for rifle hunters, bowhunters and muzzleloader hunters over the next few months. There are traditional, independent study and online classes available. Traditional and independent study classes are taught entirely in person both in the classroom and during required field day activities. Online courses involve two parts: 1) Completing studies and passing a test using

“That’s too fast,” Valkenburg said of the .300 magnum. “You can make a .30-06 comparable to a .300 Winchester mag. “It has the widest range of bullets of any gun,” he said. “You can shoot anything from a 115 grain bullet to a 220 grain bullet.” The lightest bullet you can shoot in a .338 magnum is 200 grain and the heaviest is 275 grain. The largest bullet a .270 can fire is 150 grains. A .375 takes bullets up to 300 grains but is not suited to long-range shots. Of course, it doesn’t matter what kind of gun you shoot if you can’t hit what you’re aiming at. “You need to get that first one where it needs to go,” Buist said. “If you hit them in the right spot with the right bullet ... that’s what it always boils down to.”

a computer; 2) A mandatory field day and proficiency shoot that the student must attend and pass. Students may not mix and match traditional/independent study classes with online classes. Most of the hunter education classes are conducted at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Hunter Education Indoor Shooting Range (1501 College Road). Here is a list of classes scheduled in Fairbanks later this fall: • Traditional Basic Hunter Education Course Schedule Aug. 27, Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 10-11, 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 19, Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. • Basic Hunter Education

Online Field Course Schedule Aug. 15, Monday, 6-10 p.m. Oct. 22, Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. • Traditional Bowhunter Education Course Schedule Aug. 28, Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 2, Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. • Online Bowhunter Education Field Course Schedule Aug. 29, Monday, 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 3, Monday, 6 to 10 p.m. • Online Muzzleloader Hunter Education Field Course Schedule Oct. 8, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students are required to use their own guns and ammunition for this class.



Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

‘Here, moose’? The right way to call big game By TIM MOWRY Calling moose is not an art, by any means. As Fairbanks master guide Pete Buist once put it, “At the right time of year it doesn’t hardly make a difference what sound you make. You can fart or burp or anything.” Other hunters tell stories about bulls walking into camp as they are splitting fire wood or breaking sticks to start a fire. Retired state wildlife biologist Dave

Kelleyhouse, an expert moose caller, was hunting on the Minto Flats several years ago when one of his partners’ snoring attracted a big bull into camp. Kelleyhouse figures he and his hunting partners have called in at least 150 bulls in the last 25 years. “The whole idea is to convince a moose you’re another moose,” said Kelleyhouse. There are four basic calls hunters use to attract bull moose, depending on the time of season and the situation: • Scraping an antler on a tree or thrashing the brush in early Septem-

ber to imitate another bull in the area, which can evoke a response from a bull already there. • A pre-rut bull “gluck” in early September. • A “mu-wah” bull challenge in mid-September that alerts another bull accompanied by cows that there is a challenger in the area. • A nasal, melodic “mo-ooo-ah” cow call in early or mid September that starts high, goes low and ends high. Bulls in search of cows in heat will often respond. Bull moose don’t usually begin going

into rut until the second week of September, which doesn’t leave you much time in areas where the season closes Sept. 15. “I’ve called them in as early as Sept. 5 but it’s usually after Sept. 10,” said Kelleyhouse. Cow calls can be used at any point in the season to draw in a bull. A little time spent calling from camp in the morning and evening can produce big results. It’s simply a matter of being patient and observant. Please see CALLING, Page 25


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Steady, aim, fire: Shooting tips for the kill shot By TIM MOWRY Spotting a 60-inch bull moose is enough to get any hunter’s heart and adrenaline pumping. That’s why it’s important to take a few deep breaths before pulling the trigger. “You want your pulse to be down,” said big game hunting guide Virgil Umphenour, who has seen plenty of moose, sheep and bear that have taken his breath away. “Before I crest a rise where I’m going to shoot a sheep, I stop and take a break so my pulse is down to normal and I’m not breathing hard. Then I slowly go over the rise.” The most important factor when preparing to shoot a big game animal is to have a stable shooting position so you feel comfortable, said Umphenour. “The last thing you want to do is wound an animal and not get it,” he said. “If you don’t

CALLING Continued from Page 24

“In the first part of the season, a cow call works best for me,” said big game guide Virgil Umphenour. Antler scrapes on brush and soft “glucks” work well to catch the attention and solicit a response from nearby bulls early in the season, too. Bulls may either come in slowly or respond by antler scrapes of their own. If a bull responds but won’t come in, you must go to the bull, scraping lightly on brush as you approach, preferably from downwind. You can also reach up and break branches off as you go.

feel comfortable putting a shot right behind the shoulder, you shouldn’t take it.” The basic rule of thumb in shooting Alaska big game is that 300 yards is a long shot and not one to be taken lightly. “Three hundred yards in the field is a fairly long shot for an average hunter,” said Umphenour. Most hunters tend to overestimate shooting ranges, he noted. Laser range finders are a handy tool to have when judging shooting distances in the field, Umphenour said. They are accurate to within a few yards and don’t add much weight to a pack. “Every sheep hunter should carry one of those things,” he said. While many sheep hunters rely on bipods—two-legged stands attached to the rifle—to ensure accuracy, Umphenour

prefers to use a backpack or a jacket on top of a rock for a gun rest. “I don’t like most of those (bipods),” he said. “I don’t want anything that attaches to the (rifle) barrel; every time you shoot a rifle, the barrel whips and vibrates. “If it attaches to the stock it’s OK,” said Umphenour. “A bipod is OK if a guy has a lot of practice with it.” Another thing Umphenour recommends that hunters do is tape the ballistics of the ammunition you are shooting to the stock of your rifle. Tables in the back of most shooting manuals tell the amount a bullet will drop over distance, given the caliber and weight of the bullet. Umphenour advises hunters to sight in their rifles at various distances to know how they shoot at each. “I’d start out at 25 yards

and shoot it at 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500,” he said. It helps to use life-size targets, too, whether you buy them or make your own out of cardboard. “Then you’ll know how big your target looks at various ranges in your scope,” he said. “It helps you estimate range and it helps you figure out what your aiming point should be.” Hunters should also study the anatomy of the animal they are hunting. It’s important to know how many inches it is from the top of an animal’s back to its heart and lungs. “The place where I want (clients) to shoot moose is through both lungs, in back of the front feet in the middle of the moose,” he said. The lungs offer a bigger target than the heart or neck, Umphenour said. “The trouble with a neck

shot is if you don’t hit the jugular or backbone there’s a good chance you’re not going to get that moose,” he said. “If you don’t hit a big artery or blood vessel you’re not going to have enough blood to track it.” All bullets are not created equal and hunters need to know the behavior of the bullets they are shooting, said Umphenour, who recommends spitzer boatails or hollow point boatails. For example, a 180-grain, 30-caliber bullet with a blunt nose and no taper in the back will react differently than a tipped bullet with a taper. “The velocity of that compared to a blunt-nosed bullet with a flat back that’s not tapered will be 200 or 300 feet a second,” he said. “You start to lose velocity much faster.” Hunters should always use the same bullets hunting that they do when sighting in their rifles, Umphenour said.

When you stop raking and thrashing the trees, listen closely. “Give it a good five minutes,” said Kelleyhouse. “Pay attention to what’s going on. Listen for sticks breaking, antler rakes.” If a bull responds, start raking the brush more aggressively. It’s possible a bull will respond to your call but will not move toward it. “That’s because he’s got cows with him,” said Kelleyhouse. At that point, start crashing through the brush and head straight for the bull, said Kelleyhouse. He also advised “glucking” as you walk while at the same time raking brush. “I don’t try to be quiet,”

said Umphenour. “They just think you’re another moose.” A bull challenge is most effective on big bulls in heavy rut. The call is similar to a slow “mu-wah” groan with the emphasis on the “wah” coming from your belly. It is usually issued three or four times in quick succession. Make sure you hear bulls in the area challenging each other before you use the challenge call so that you don’t scare any other bulls off, Kelleyhouse advised. A bull with cows will not usually leave his harem to come to you, so you must go to him, scraping and challenging. Any kind of call is best projected through a birch bark, cardboard or plastic mega-

phone. A call can carry up to a mile on a quiet evening. Cupping your hands around your mouth and plugging your nose will work, too. While effective calling may take practice, anybody can scrape a moose antler or shoulder blade against a bush and do a good imitation of a bull moose scraping his antlers on a bush. If you don’t have an antler or shoulder blade, you can cut out the bottom of a plastic milk jug and use it. If you have a fiberglass stock on your rifle, you can use that, also. Another possible way to draw in a bull is to imitate a cow urinating in a pond by dumping a can full of water slowly into the water. Estrous

cows urinate frequently, said Kelleyhouse, and you might catch the ear of a bull if he is nearby. Common calling mistakes include calling too much and calling too early. Calling a moose too early in the season can scare off bulls, especially if you are using challenge calls. “If you’re a good enough caller, he’s going to think there’s a bigger, hard-antlered bull ready to fight and he’s going to go running scared if he’s not in breeding condition yet,” Kelleyhouse said. Over-calling is another way to scare off moose that may be in the area. Give a series of grunts, rake some brush and wait five or 10 minutes, not 30 seconds.


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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Scope out a taxidermist before the big kill By TIM MOWRY Even if you’re not thinking about shooting a trophy bull or ram this year, it probably wouldn’t hurt to be prepared just in case you find yourself staring at a once-in-a-lifetime animal. “A lot of times it’s not until (hunters) get an animal down and they say, ‘Man, I want to get this mounted,’” Rich Hamilton of Brow-Tine

Taxidermy in North Pole said. That’s why it’s a good idea to talk to a taxidermist before you head out into the woods or mountains about what you need to do to best preserve a trophy in the field. When it comes to taxidermy, it’s easier to prevent mistakes early than fixing them later. “It only takes a 5-minute phone call to a taxidermist and he’ll tell you what you

need to know, rather than relying on a friend who may or may not have done it before,” Hamilton said. The job you do skinning the animal out in the field will determine more than anything else how it looks on the wall, Hamilton said. “The better the medium you start off with, the better your mount is going to turn out,” he said. “The main thing for (hunters) to do is decide what

they’re going to do before your taxidermist before you head to the field. they get out there.”

Talk is cheap Talk to a taxidermist before going into the field. It’s free and it can save you a bundle in the long run. The biggest mistakes hunters make in preparing animals for taxidermy are cutting capes too short and poor fleshing of hides, both of which can be addressed by

Learn how to turn and split The most important thing hunters must do is turn the lips, ears and eyelids on an animal and split the nostrils, which are the basic requirements for preserving a head Please see TIPS, Page 27


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

TIPS Continued from Page 26

mount for any big game animal. Failure to do so properly will result in hair loss that will make it impossible and impractical to mount. “No matter what the animal, the ears have to be turned, the lips have to be split, the nostril wings have to be split, the eyelids need to be turned and any chunks of flesh or fat need to be removed,” Hamilton said. “Only after that, do you put salt on it.” The easiest way to learn those techniques is to have a taxidermist show you, Hamilton said. “We kind of have our own different little things we do and that we recommend,” he said. Beginners will most likely make mistakes skinning animals the first time or two but Hamilton cautioned hunters not to get discouraged. “If you haven’t done this before you’re probably going to put a nick or two in it; don’t throw the cape away if you do,” he said. “ You can put some nicks in there and surprisingly there’s a lot of

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things that can be fixed.”

Salt, salt and more salt Take plenty of salt. It’s better to have too much salt than not enough and it’s cheap. Immediate salting is crucial to preserving a hide for taxidermy. Depending on the weather, some hides start slipping in two or three days. At least 5-10 pounds of finegrained, non-iodized salt is needed for a sheep or caribou and a minimum of 50 pounds is need for a moose hide. Washing a hide requires as much as two or three times as much salt.

ing the drying temperature. cost extra to leave extra cape It’s warmer in a tent and it on the animal. provides protection from the sun, which helps prevent slip- Drain antler blood ping or loss of hair. If you want to save velvet on caribou antlers, poke holes in the tips to drain Salt doesn’t freeze blood. You’ll be surprised by Never salt and then freeze how much blood the antlers a hide. Salt water does not hold. Also, use cloth backing freeze, which means a salted if you tie the antlers with cape never really freezes. rope. That way, you don’t scar the velvet.

Flesh it clean Take time to thoroughly flesh the hide. You’ll have major slippage if you don’t get all the fat and meat off the hide. A glaze will form and prevent the salt from doings its job.

Take a tent Take an extra tent just for Leave extra room animals when you go huntDon’t cut the cape too ing. short. Cut around the belly A tent will quicken the or rib cage, not the shoulder, drying process by waterproofso your taxidermist has some ing the hides and increasroom to play with. It doesn’t

• G PS • Pa ck s • S leep in g B a g s • B ivy S a ck s • S to ves & C o o k s ets • T en ts • W a ter F ilters • C o m p res s io n S a ck s • C a n o es & K a ya k s • O u terw ea r & B a s e La yers • Fo o tw ea r & S o ck s • K n ives

Think ahead

Make sure you have room in your house for what you want to have mounted. You don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a moose or caribou mount when you don’t have room to display it. Figure out where you’re going to put it before you shoot it and make sure you Check into cost have a way to get it in the Find out what’s its going house. to cost before you commit

Under this permit, the Pogo Mine Access Road and Pogo Mine property is restricted to all public access. The DNR permit further stipulates that use of the road for hunting and/or transportation of hunters or hunting equipment is expressly prohibited. Pogo Mine wishes to respectfully remind interior hunters that the Pogo Mine Access Road was constructed for the sole use of industrial mine traffic, and that the presence of persons, automobiles, four-wheelers, or any other conveyances used in support of hunting activities shall constitute an act of Criminal Trespass under Alaska Statute 11.46.330(a)(1). While boat traffic on the Goodpaster River is not specifically restricted, hunters may not exit their watercraft onto Pogo Mine property.


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to it. Mounts aren’t cheap, even if you’re just getting a basic antler mount. Find out how much money you’re going to have to invest before you show up at the taxidermy shop with your trophy.


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

The right way to keep your trophy antlers By TIM MOWRY Removing the antlers of a bull moose or caribou or the horns from a Dall sheep or mountain goat is the last thing most hunters do after a successful hunt. But those antlers or horns will be what provide lasting memories for many hunters, which is why it’s important to do it right. Taxidermist and hunter

Rich Hamilton, owner of Brow Tine Taxidermy in North Pole, recommends leaving at least some of the eye socket on the skull plate that is removed. “Most of the forms we use when we mount an animal has part of the eye socket on there, so it helps to leave some on there to get a perfect alignment with the skull,” he said. Hamilton advises cutting from the back of the skull for-

ward through the eye sockets before cutting down from the bridge of the nose. “It’s a lot easier and a lot more precise going from the back of the skull,” he said. Guide Virgil Umphenour, who removes racks from 60and 70-inch moose on an annual basis, likes to leave a lot of skull plate attached to the antlers. “It gives the taxidermist more to work with and that way you don’t have to worry

about them breaking in half,” Umphenour said. “They’re not going to bow in as much, either.” Hamilton uses a portable Wyoming Saw to remove horns from sheep and a bow saw for moose antlers. “For moose you need a little bigger saw,” he said. Umphenour uses a chain saw to remove antlers from moose he and his clients shoot. “It’s a heck of a lot faster

(than a bow saw),” he said. “But be careful you don’t saw through the teeth or that will dull your saw real bad.” Once the antlers are off, you need to trim out any remaining brain cavity, Hamilton said. It’s important to get all the meat, skin and hide off the skull as quick as possible. “The sooner you do it, Please see ANTLERS, Page 29


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Don’t forget the photos By TIM MOWRY

Photo courtesy Jason Doxey

While the meat in your freezer from a successful hunt will last only a year or two at the most, photographs from a hunt will last a lifetime and are a good way to preserve your hunt. Whether you’re snapping a photo of your child and his or her first moose or you’re photographing your partner with a 60-inch bull that represents a once-in-alifetime trophy, there are a few things to take into consideration. First of all, you don’t need an expensive camera. “It doesn’t take a fancy camera,” Ken Whitten, a retired wildlife biologist, hunter and photographer, said. “You can do it all with a point-and-shoot that fits in your pocket.” Big game guide Virgil Umphenour uses a 35mm waterproof Minolta to take pictures for his clients. “It’s automatic, it takes

real good pictures and I don’t have to worry about it getting wet,” said Umphenour. If you do bring along a camera that’s not waterproof, stick it in a small dry bag that’s easy to get to. Here are some other tips for photographing trophies:

Avoid blood-and-guts shots Take your pictures before you start field dressing your animal and try to clean it up if it’s covered in blood. Use the cleanest side of the animal for your photo.

Supersize it Use wide-angle lenses to make the animal look bigger than it really is, especially with close-up shots. Crouch down next to the animal or kneel behind its antlers or horns for best effect. Please see PHOTOS, Page 30

Jason Doxey of Fairbanks shows off the impressive 64 1/2-inch set of antlers he got off a moose he shot in the Tanana River drainage area.

Continued from Page 28

the better off you are,” he said. “When it’s still green, it comes off easier and you don’t have any flies or bacteria forming on it.” While Umphenour salts

the skull plate to dry it out when he’s done, Hamilton doesn’t recommend using salt on the skull plate unless all the meat and hair has been removed. “If there is any meat, hide or hair on there it dries it to the skull and it’s really hard to get it off,” he said. Removing the antlers and

skull for a European mount takes more time and work. The entire skull and head must be skinned and the skull has to be boiled to remove all the meat. Caribou and mountain goats have more fragile skull plates than moose and sheep and require more care, Hamilton said.

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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

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tures in camp, of the butchering process, packing out meat, loading rafts, boats or planes, riding four-wheelers, floating or boatContinued from Page 29 ing on the river and anything else that strikes your fancy. By Take in the scenery the time you’re done you should Try to include some back- have enough for a small photo ground in photos to show what album. the area was like. Things like fall colors, moun- Include weapons tains and rivers add to a picInclude your rifle or bow in ture. the picture, whether it’s in your arms, leaning against the animal or situated in the antlers.


era and you want to get a print made, take your photos at the highest resolution possible. “If you’re just sending emails, you don’t need resolution but if you’re making a print, you do,” said Whitten. “It’s real simple to reduce the resolution to send it over the Internet, but it’s hard to do it the other way around.”

No tongue

If an animal’s tongue is sticking out, try putting it back in Don’t be camera shy its mouth, though that’s someTake lots of pictures. times easier than done. “SomeThere is more to a hunt than High resolution helps times it’s easiest just to cut the bagging an animal. Take picIf you’re using a digital cam- tongue out,” said Umphenour.


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

Alaska’s unwritten law: Don’t shoot moose in water By TIM MOWRY It’s an unwritten law of moose hunting in Alaska— don’t shoot a moose in the water. That’s what Fairbanks hunting guide Virgil Umphenour preaches to clients. In more than a decade of guiding hunters, Umphenour has butchered only one moose in the water. “The guy shot it and it ran and jumped in a lake,” he said. “It had a real steep bank and there was no way to yank it out of there. We butchered it in the water. That was not fun.” Likewise, retired state wildlife biologist and longtime moose hunter Dave Kelleyhouse has butchered only one moose in the water during his 20-plus years of hunting in Alaska. “He got out of the water, I shot him and then he fell back in the water,” Kelleyhouse said. “He fell right off a cutbank into a deep hole.” It was a big bull, with an antler spread of 60 inches, and Kelleyhouse and his two hunting partners didn’t have a come-along with them. They ended up cutting down a small tree to use as a lever. They tied one end of a rope to the moose and the other end to their lever and ran the rope around a substantial

tree. Using the lever to pry the moose, they ratcheted the bull out of the water. “The three of us on a rope couldn’t budge the sucker,” he said. Two of the most important things to do when butchering a moose is keeping the meat clean and dry, which is hard to do if the moose is in water. “It’s a bad deal dressing moose in water,” Kelleyhouse warned. “Any water is going to be a medium for bacterial growth.” If you plan to shoot a moose that’s near water, remember that the moose may make it to the water before it drops. That’s when shot placement should be considered. “When moose feel threatened the first thing they do is go to water,” Kelleyhouse

said. “If you’re close enough, go for a spine, neck or head shot so he goes down right there. “If you heart shoot them they can go a long way in a hurry,” he said. “If you lung shoot them there’s still a possibility they can get to water.” If you spot a moose standing in the water, try to call him out if possible, Kelleyhouse said. You can also spook him out, but be prepared to shoot as soon as the moose exits the water. “In most cases you can let the moose step up on the riverbank or step out of the water before you shoot it,” said state wildlife biologist Don Young said. Shooting a moose in a shallow freshwater stream with a gravel bottom doesn’t pres-

ent as much of a problem as shooting a moose in a glacier stream or a swamp because you have good footing and the water is clean. “A lot of rivers in the Interior are very silty,” Young said. “If you drop a moose in that, it’s not very good.” It’s easier to maneuver a moose shot in a pond or a lake than it is a river. “You can float them around,” Umphenour said. “I’ve never seen one sink.” Anyone hunting in an area where there is water should carry some kind of comealong or rope-along. A chain saw winch works faster and better if you can afford one— they run upwards of $700. “If you’re hunting in a lowlying area like Minto Flats or Tanana Flats, or you’re hunting on a river, make sure

you’ve got gear with you,” Kelleyhouse said. The more rope you bring the better. Like blue tarps, you can never have too much rope when you’re moose hunting. Umphenour uses a comealong or rope-along to pull the moose out of the water. “We carry a come-along and rope-along with 200 feet of rope,” he said. Umphenour prefers the rope-along to the come-along. “The rope just passes through it,” he said. “You don’t have to re-set it all the time, which is a real pain if you have to drag it a long ways. Once it’s hooked up you just keep cranking.” Umphenour also uses polypropylene rope instead of nylon rope because it doesn’t stretch as much, he said.




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Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, August 12, 2011

2011 Hunting Edition  

Tips and advice for hunting Alaska's big game in Interior Alaska. Includes information on moose, caribou and sheep hunts, guns and meat care...