Just returned from another visit to the beautiful isle of Adak, and thought I'd post an update on the caribou situation.
"A certain guide" seems to still be in the cross hairs of the local population, and for good reason. He hauled a bunch of hunters out last summer and they killed a passel of potentially large caribou which were worthless as trophies. The reason? They were shot when the antlers were still rubber; not developed yet. Probably good as far as meat goes, but no trophies. I would imagine the hunters were pretty disappointed, to say the least. Per forum rules, I will not post the name of the guide, but if you PM me you might pry out a detail or two. Most folks in the know about Adak already know who he is.
Partially as a result of last season's antics (mentioned above), some local residents of Adak made it out to the Board of Game meetings and testified in hopes of cutting the season back for bulls. They succeeded, and we now have a state regulation limiting the take of bull caribou on Adak to two from August 10-December 31. Toldja! When people do bad things, we end up with more regulations! When will we learn?
The agony continues... As I was leaving on Sunday's flight, I saw a quartet of camo-clad caribou hunters getting off the plane, collecting their rifles at baggage claim and heading off their merry way. Now folks, I know that people who live in the Bush will shoot caribou at most any time of year for meat, but honestly, I thought most of us were done with that. This time of year when you shoot a cow, it's a three-for-one deal if she's carrying twin calves! If we want this herd to grow to produce more trophy bulls, then what the heck are we doing shooting pregnant cows, boys? Do we need the state of Alaska to refine our behavior with yet another regulation? Come ON! I saw some of the locals (who testified at the BOG meetings) just looking at these guys and shaking their heads in disbelief... Yes, the locals will be courteous, hospitable and friendly, but I don't think any of them support a spring hunt out there. We've got to get our act together or we're gonna wear out our welcome.
Like it or not, the local residents of Adak are the de facto caretakers of the Adak herd. We've got to work together with them for solutions to some of the problems out there. We've got to learn to limit ourselves before we end up with additional regulations out there. In the past, the feds just wanted the animals wiped off the island, but I heard rumblings that change is in the air, and they may not be too far from supporting a different approach involving managing the herd for sustained hunting. Hopefully we will do our part as sport hunters to see this through. How we conduct ourselves out there will play a huge role in where this goes, I can tell you that much.
Finally, the island is absolutely beautiful this time of year. If you want to see the Aleutians in the spring, this is the time to go! I had a little time to walk the beach and didn't see a soul. Several flocks of emperor geese flew over me, but they came so fast I couldn't get pictures. Beautiful. Did a little fishing and caught a black rockfish from shore. The weather was a lot nicer than when I was there in October.