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Thread: Is this a Tough winter on Game?

  1. #1

    Default Is this a Tough winter on Game?

    Well, this upcoming September I start the Alaskan Adventure that I have dreamed about since I started hunting. Every midwestern Deer hunter dreams of hunting the largest Deer critter on the planet, right...So, Me and a good trustworthy hunting partner have set a plan to float an interior creek for Moose . Started doing the research and saving money literally 10 years ago and slowly learned what I needed in order to set a realistic expectation. We have read a pile of books, watched hours of video, in shape, spent a fortune on gear and have read hundreds of pages from this forum. Have learned a ton from you guys and I greatly appreciate that...Thanks!


    So, after all of that I do have one concern...I recently read an online article that basically reported this winter to be an extremely colder that normal winter in the interior. Several record lows have been recorded according to the report. I am curious to know if any of you local guys have any worries about above average winter kills or am I over concerned just cause I am not used to seeing -40 on a regualr basis. Is this winter sustainable for healthy moose or any other Game for that matter?

  2. #2
    Member Roland on the River's Avatar
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    Moose are very hardy animals. I dont see them having a problem this winter. Kodiak Deer may have a die off because of snow depth. Good luck with your plans. Hope to see pictures and writeup of your trip. Just stay positive.

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    Member AKHunterNP's Avatar
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    -40 to -60 is not uncommon in Alaska. Usually the last weeks of January and the first weeks of February we see these temps. The thing that made this winter worse is that it seemed like the low temps stayed around longer. I don't think there will be any issues because of it.
    "...arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe...Horrid mischief would ensue were the good deprived of the use of them." -Thomas Paine

  4. #4

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    Low temperatures have almost zero affect on moose. They are big bodied animals and have a high thermal inertia. Look up Bergman's rule to see how larger body size affects surface area to volume ratios. Warmer temperatures are harder on moose than cold temps. The thing that affects moose more in the wintertime is deep snow. Right now a lot of moose are browsing near the road system because of the deep snow and it has resulted in a lot of collisions with vehicles. The other thing that tends to happen in a deep snow is the moose become more vulnerable to wolf predation. The reason being is the moose is so heavy that they can't walk on top of the deep snow. Even when the snow develops a hard crust in the early spring because of the freeze thaw cycles due to fluctuations in daytime/nighttime temperatures. The wolf has the upper hand and can run on top of the hard crust. Moose also have to work much harder to browse and this can result in malnutrition. So, deep snow can have an impact on the moose. Temperatures have almost no impact. Others may disagree with my assessment.

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    Deep snow has a far greater affect on moose morality than deep cold, in the interior regions deep snow is not common due to the Alaska mountain range seperating southcentral form the interior, this season is no exception.

    Carry on with your plans and have a safe and enjoyable hunt.

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    Member cjustinm's Avatar
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    so far its been really cold here up here this year but snowfall has been minimal (at least in this region) so i'm sure they'll be fine.

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by burgerta View Post
    So, after all of that I do have one concern...I recently read an online article that basically reported this winter to be an extremely colder that normal winter in the interior. Several record lows have been recorded according to the report. I am curious to know if any of you local guys have any worries about above average winter kills or am I over concerned just cause I am not used to seeing -40 on a regualr basis. Is this winter sustainable for healthy moose or any other Game for that matter?
    You have to realize this is a HUGE state. What happens in interior Alaska is far different from the in the south central part of the state. It's kinda like comparing the deer herd in Northern Wisconsin to that in southern Illinois during the same winter. Heck, things can be very different even 100 mile apart. In general, the extended cold weather doesn't hurt the moose and caribou as long as they have feed. They are designed for this weather.

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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    All true, however the railroad has been whacking more than usual.
    Deep snow has been driving them on to roads and RR tracks.
    Itís a tough year on them so far.
    BK

  9. #9
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkmail View Post
    All true, however the railroad has been whacking more than usual.
    Deep snow has been driving them on to roads and RR tracks.
    Itís a tough year on them so far.
    BK
    See post #7
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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    I see itÖ.what is your point?

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    The high kill rates by the railroad are all virtually contained in less than 100 miles...from Wasilla to just north of Talkeetna. However, I counted 47 moose from the Denali Hwy, Cantwell to Alpine Creek lodge yesterday. They were in GREAT shape. I haven't seen that many moose out there since I was a kid. Different areas of the state are doing different things.

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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    No argument from me. But the railroad does run a bit further than Talkeetna. Ever talk to anybody up near Healy or Ferry on a heavy snow year? Thatís part of the interior.
    Iím sure the extreme cold does kill more than a mild winter does.
    Been noticing they donít want to leave the snow machine trails, roads, or anywhere that the snow is packed down.
    Does it affect mortality, yes. Is it a big state, yes. Are more moose dying this winter than usual, I would venture to say yes.
    BK

  13. #13
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    The high kill rates by the railroad are all virtually contained in less than 100 miles...from Wasilla to just north of Talkeetna. However, I counted 47 moose from the Denali Hwy, Cantwell to Alpine Creek lodge yesterday. They were in GREAT shape. I haven't seen that many moose out there since I was a kid. Different areas of the state are doing different things.
    There ya go. Doug summed it up perfectly the first time. It's a big state. Snowpack in most of the state beyond what is visible out the window in the LosAnchorage/Mat-Su is about normal, perhaps a bit below normal at this point...
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  14. #14

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    We're having a deep snow year in Southern SE Alaska and it is definitely impacting the deer.

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    The snow depth north of the Mat-Su is pretty much normal this year. Traditionally, the hardest hit places for moose kills is the Mat-Su. In 89-90 the ARR whacked an estimate 800 moose, 75% of them between Willow and Talkeetna. The next couple years were bad snow years, but relatively low numbers of moose were hit since they'd been killed a couple years before. Right now we have a huge moose population in parts of the valley AND a pretty good snow year so a few are getting killed. However, this snow year is nothing compared to several we had in the 80's and 90's. I'm an eternal optimist. Until I am pushing their dead carcasses off the road with my plow truck like I did in 89-90 I'll be saying things are fine. Snow depth south of Willow is half what it is up here. I simply can't see how the moose are having any issues in the southern part of the valley when the moose here are still doing fine.

  16. #16
    Member akmac's Avatar
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    We have had several winter moose kills due to the deep snow in the Kenai area already season. If we continue to get heavy snowfall I suspect we will have a higher than normal die off.

  17. #17

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    Great insight guys! Much appreciated, from what I gather then it looks like this winter is kinda bad so far but not a game changer yet. My moose hunt is going to be in Unit 20E. I realize that area is low on moose and high on predators but I am hoping that we are headed to one of those good isolated pockets of moose that hopefully will have a big bull waiting for us. Anybody have any initial winter recon reports/insight for that area?

  18. #18
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhack Jack View Post
    Low temperatures have almost zero affect on moose. They are big bodied animals and have a high thermal inertia. Look up Bergman's rule to see how larger body size affects surface area to volume ratios. Warmer temperatures are harder on moose than cold temps. The thing that affects moose more in the wintertime is deep snow. Right now a lot of moose are browsing near the road system because of the deep snow and it has resulted in a lot of collisions with vehicles. The other thing that tends to happen in a deep snow is the moose become more vulnerable to wolf predation. The reason being is the moose is so heavy that they can't walk on top of the deep snow. Even when the snow develops a hard crust in the early spring because of the freeze thaw cycles due to fluctuations in daytime/nighttime temperatures. The wolf has the upper hand and can run on top of the hard crust. Moose also have to work much harder to browse and this can result in malnutrition. So, deep snow can have an impact on the moose. Temperatures have almost no impact. Others may disagree with my assessment.
    What Jack said. Deep snow is the threat not extreme cold. From the reports the Interior is getting average snowfalls this year, but the Fairbanks crowd can verify.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    Member Rock_skipper's Avatar
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    Ha, lol, +45 today here in Delta today, ( loving these temps, lol )

    The snow is melting and the snowpack has redused itself by 8" in the last week. I dought if there is a foot of snow in any one place in delta. ( I could be wrong on this )

    I talked to a guy today that runs up in the hills and said there was alot of snow. But the thing is, is that the migriating moose are getting ready to head back to thier home grounds and that is where the crossing the roads will come into play.

    I don't think you have seen anything yet.

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