Earlier this year there was a fair amount of discussion about the early taking of grouse along the road system, basically that the young birds were being killed off at the start of the season, leaving few for those coming along later in the year when the birds are full grown.
I was fairly unsympathetic to the road hunters and took the position of “get off the road” there is plenty of birds. At the same time, for selfish reasons, (getting my setters out hunting as early as possible) I did not want the season to open later in the year. I don’t take more than one bird out of a covey early in the year so I was able to rationalize the little impact I may have.
Having had some time to mull this over in my mind, and as often happens, I have had some different thoughts. As I have stated in the past, we may have differences but we are all hunters and at no time in history do we need hunters as badly to maintain this life we so enjoy. So if that means new hunters (not necessarily kids) getting out along the road system and having success, which brings them into the fold, then that is a good thing. In order to promote those kind of successes it seems like it would be beneficial to lessen the impact on the road system early in the season.
With that, I am considering putting to the F&G Advisory Committee I am on, a proposal to change the regulations. The regulations for Spruce grouse within the road system would change to read: August 10th – September 10th , 2 Spruce grouse per day, four in possession. September 10th – March 31st, five Spruce grouse per day, ten in possession. Part of the problem would be identifying what “road system” means. A mile from the road, five miles from the road; open to suggestions? What I do not want to do is impact Alaskans who reside in remote areas and utilize Spruce grouse as a staple food source. On the other hand, I have been out in the field virtually every day since season started and in my travels I have witnessed groups who are systematically going into areas and killing off the birds and it has had an impact. But it is legal under the present regulations.
I have not included ptarmigan as the difficulty to reach their habitat precludes any real impact no matter what time of year, at least in south central Alaska.
I would appreciate an honest opinion and would like to hear other suggestions. I do not want to simply poll this as the more information that can be compiled the better the chances of making a positive change. And besides, it is good to hear from other upland hunters and how they feel.