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Thread: Season opening dates

  1. #1

    Default Season opening dates

    In the last couple of days out and about moose hunting on the Kenai Peninsula in a few different spots, I have noticed a fair number of young birds in the usual places. I pass on these birds early in the season in hopes that they will get to grow until October when the birds all seem to be much bigger. Is there any particular reason that the opening dates for the season down here aren't pushed back until later in September to try and give the smaller birds a bit more of a chance to grow up to be better dinner size? I hate going back out to areas that I see lots of young birds early in the season and not seeing many birds later in the year.

  2. #2
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    BC, I agree with what you are saying.

    I favor changing the game bird (grouse, ptarmigan) seasons, in GMU's connected to the road systems, to start September 15th and run through December 31st with a daily bag limit of 5 birds combined grouse and/or ptarmigan. Or some such date and bag limit that is better for the resource than what we have currently.

    I favor continuing the season in roaded GMU's after January 1 through April 15th to include 5 game birds only two of which may be grouse.

    Spring hooters (South East Alaska, blue grouse) would be something different.

    The GMU's off the highway accessible road system could remain at whatever season and bag limit is sustainable through the traditional and customary uses. I think it is reasonable to expect that seasons and bag limits could change elsewhere too given the human population increase along road systems.

    I believe early (August) hunting takes too many young birds that are still within their family groups.

    Large bag limits encourage over harvesting of family groups. Continued large bag limits through early spring is additive mortality on the game birds more than would be lost through typical predation. I think over harvesting means significantly fewer spring breeders. This could be checked through research. More snowmobiling is leading to increased takes of ptarmigan in areas where weekend snowmobilers from urban areas frequent. Bag limits need to be smaller to accommodate the increased interest by a larger population of highly mobile hunters.

    I believe there are some hunters and user groups that are way over harvesting game birds along the road system (on the roads) possibly for money. I think AWT and Wildlife Conservation should look into the "jungle meat" trade here in Alaska and possibly going "outside" of Alaska.

    I think every game bird hunter interested in the well being of the resource should pack a camera that takes dated picutures and be bold enough to use the camera to document infractions they come upon. Some of the stories coming out of places like Willow, Houston and Petersville convince me that significant poaching is occuring.

    I think AWT should be much more proactive investigating the numbers of grouse taken along back roads in those areas by people repeatedly (almost everyday) hunting certain areas by automobile. I believe there has been a significant decline in bird numbers in certain areas due to over harvesting, starting too early, ending too late, and with bag limits that seem to encourage over harvest of family groups of grouse.

    I think the seasons and bag limits should be first about sustaining the resource.

  3. #3
    Member PG13's Avatar
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    I've stopped in to talk to Rick a couple times but he has been busy, hopefully integrating some of Woodsman's recommendations into the budding small game program with ADFG. I've not been here long enough to have much experience but it does seem like long seasons that start early with liberal bag limits. Appropriate for much of the State probably but suspect in high activity areas and detrimental to local populations.

    As mentioned, the damage is probably greatest on the woodland species that are less migratory and more localized in easier accessible tracts.
    Go Big Red!

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    Hi Nate,
    Keep checking back with Rick.
    Let me know when's a good time for lunch or whatever in Palmer. Are you interested in the Ruffed Grouse Society activities? They start cranking up next years banquet meetings in November or so...

    It would be great to hear what others think of seasons and bag limits. Some bird hunting soon will be MORE interesting.....

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    Member sameyer's Avatar
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    Back in the day, as we “old timers” like to say, the seasons were supposedly set to open August 10 to allow for sheep and caribou hunters to take birds for camp meat. There were darn few hunters taking any birds back then and it was never a consideration.
    Easy enough to say the season dates and bag limits are too liberal but the fact is, hunters have literally no impact on the grouse and ptarmigan populations on the Kenai Peninsula (or anywhere else for that matter). Winter and spring weather patterns and predators have far greater affect. Yes, the road system is hunted out but changing the season or the bag limit will have no effect on the road system population. There are way too many people driving the roads and shooting these birds and a lot are taken on the road. If folks would flush them off the road and follow them up there would be fewer taken but even with that there are so many “hunters” out there shooting whatever crosses their path that the road system is simply not productive and it isn’t going to be ever again; and at least in my opinion it shouldn’t be. If an individual’s idea of hunting is driving down the road and spotting birds to shoot then I cannot work up any sympathy for them. Get off the road, explore some territory and you will find plenty of grouse.
    Short of making it illegal to shoot small game within ¼ mile of any road (which I would be in favor of) nothing is going to change the road system small game populations. Hunting opportunity, so long as there is no harm to the resource is a significant part of game management here and the fact is, total small game populations are not affected by road hunters. It is more a matter of who gets there first on a given day if you get birds or not. It would be nice if there were more enforcement although there is a fair amount of effort expended in discouraging shooting birds from the road or on the road (decoys) in popular road system areas on the Kenai. More enforcement takes more money as does more management efforts. Mention an increase in hunting license fees to most here in Alaska and there is serious resistance. Alaskan hunters and fisherman have had a basically a free ride in terms of license fees for so long that they cannot embrace the concept of paying a little more to get a better outcome. Having hunted and fished here for forty years and witnessed what has happened is heartbreaking.

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    A higher population of predators following the lately high cycle of hare is impacting gamebirds for now until the predator population declines too.

    Changing the season and reducing bag limits may not change the population of road side game birds but it will allow more people to hunt them. We aren't a subsistence economy any longer requiring birds for food on the table.

    Retaining and trying to fill a 10 or 15 bird limit because it may be possible needn't be the main consideration anymore. Research has indicated there is a correlation between bag limit and bird absence with ptarmigan in areas frequented by snowmobilers. Hopefully shortening (closing) the season and reducing the bag limit will help retain ptarmigan in those areas where populations have been reduced by all factors.

    I agree with your portrayal of how some people hunt gamebirds along the road system. Getting out of the vehicle is the best way to see more birds and have a quality experience. There is not a steady supply of birds wanting to fill in the covers along the road that have been shot out. Habitats along the road systems tend to be quit diverse due to disturbance. They could harbor more birds. More people could learn and be motiviated to hunt a more sporting way if the road system covers weren't dominated by the kind of sign shooting, litter bugs that don't mind shooting every bird off the road or out of a tree just because they can.

    I've only been here 29 years, but I've hunted game birds since I was 12 all over the country, the last 44 years. I maintain there is a relatively small group of people that are for whatever reason taking most of the birds off the road system here. I think if we want to ensure components of our way of life that seasonally matter to many of us we need to be more proactive; teach hunter education, join groups that fund habitat management, talk to our legislators about more AWT, increase license fees, maybe add a game bird stamp. If we are going to entice more of our youth to partake in what is meaningful to us we should find positive proactive ways to deal with the local problem.

    This is all for discussion, but all these considerations will be entertained in the future as they most likely have in the past.

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    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    In the interior, very little changes need made. I like the idea of going to a Sept 1 opener. However as has been stated by Steve, Aug 10 allows for harvest during sheep and caribou seasons. I’m sure there are some areas south of me that could use a revamped management plan. Those areas, unlike most of the state, do get hit harder. However, as was stated, hunters remain only a very small percentage of game bird mortality. Although there may not be a ton of birds standing on the road, it more than likely would only take a brief ¼ mile hike to get into birds (no matter what part of the state you’re in) Remember, it’s always harder to get back a privilege than it is to retain one……..no matter how good the intentions are!
    "If I could shoot a game bird and still not hurt it, the way I can take a trout on a fly and release it, I doubt if I would kill another one." George Bird Evans

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    Well said, Mr Hoyt!

    Jim

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    Keep in mind on the KP there is only access to at most 50% of the grouse habitat, I really doubt anyone is impacting the population in the middle of the refuge either north or south of the highway. Also doubtfull anyone has shot a grouse in a good 50% of unit 7. The roads are definately shot out, no disagreement there, but so be it. Keep the road hunters driving in circles while we go hiking...

  10. #10

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    Any hints on where to find trails to hike that still hold decent numbers of birds from Clam Gulch South? I have spent a fair amount of time trying to get away from the roads and it still seems to get shot up pretty bad. I have mostly hiked around Falls Creek Road without much success in October. My wife and I have had many great mornings out and about but after logging quite a few miles on the hiking boots we haven't had much success to show for it. I'm certainly not looking for anybody favorite trails but advice on where to even start looking would be great. We can only cover so many miles on Saturday and Sunday mornings .

  11. #11
    Member sameyer's Avatar
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    "I've only been here 29 years, but I've hunted game birds since I was 12 all over the country, the last 44 years. I maintain there is a relatively small group of people that are for whatever reason taking most of the birds off the road system here. I think if we want to ensure components of our way of life that seasonally matter to many of us we need to be more proactive; teach hunter education, join groups that fund habitat management, talk to our legislators about more AWT, increase license fees, maybe add a game bird stamp. If we are going to entice more of our youth to partake in what is meaningful to us we should find positive proactive ways to deal with the local problem."

    No question, the things you bring up should be promoted by hunters and we are never as proactive as we know we should be. I suspect we all share the hunt drive when the season opens and we have little time for anything else.
    Thinking about this it may be inevitable that a regulation change occurs because of the “loss of hunting opportunity” on the road system. On the Kenai we have 233 days of open grouse and ptarmigan season, at a 10 bird a day limit for each species that comes to 4,660 birds an individual hunter could conceivably harvest. No one does that or even comes remotely close to that figure. Changing the limit to 5 birds a day per species would allow for a harvest of 2330 birds a year, again no one does that. I suspect I spend as much time in the field upland hunting as anyone, 100+ days a year and I take somewhere around 100 birds. I never take more than two birds out of any group of five birds, no more than one when it is under a five bird covey. But change the bag limit or change the season and you are still going to have some people who will take every bird they see along the road and there is always another guy to take what that guy missed, the result; no matter what you do, when there are that many people hunting in those concentrated areas a large percentage of the birds are going to be harvested and those areas are ultimately going to have fewer birds (or anything else for that matter).
    I agree with Ryan, getting something back is much more difficult when you give it up and I for one do not want to give up the ability to work my dogs early just to enhance bird numbers for road hunters. Changing the bag limit to five a day or even two per day I could care less. It is never about numbers and always about being in the field with the dogs. But, that makes me and others who share that sentiment in the minority, hell if everyone respected the birds like some upland hunters do there would be no need for a closed season or a bag limit. For most it is about getting out and getting something and while I have heard about the supposed systematic killing of small game by groups I seriously doubt that is as real as it has been perceived. But, like so many things that we do not like, if it is legal and it isn’t hurting the totality of the population, who are we to deny anyone the legal right to take game.
    In a perfect world I would say make the regulation like waterfowl and don’t allow anything but shotguns and even further, no ground sluicing; that would drastically reduce the harvest. But the bottom line is, there is no biological reason to change anything at the moment and to do so would go against everything sound biological management stands for. It would change upland bird hunting to some sort of allocation, which we already have way too much of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by border collies View Post
    Any hints on where to find trails to hike that still hold decent numbers of birds from Clam Gulch South? I have spent a fair amount of time trying to get away from the roads and it still seems to get shot up pretty bad. I have mostly hiked around Falls Creek Road without much success in October. My wife and I have had many great mornings out and about but after logging quite a few miles on the hiking boots we haven't had much success to show for it. I'm certainly not looking for anybody favorite trails but advice on where to even start looking would be great. We can only cover so many miles on Saturday and Sunday mornings .
    My suggestion would be to stay OFF the trails. Find some public land and kick the brush along the edges of the swamps and through the spruce stands on said public land. My best bird day came from down that way doing just that.

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