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Thread: Retrospect to hunting Deer on Kodiak

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    Default Retrospect to hunting Deer on Kodiak

    Enclosed is a posting from Blacktail Bob on the hunting forum Bowsite. He is not painting a great picture of future hunts on Kodiak. I was on the Island hunting November of 2011 and did very well. I was planning on returning for the 2014 season but would like to know of those who hunted this year if the rebound will take longer from what the hunters had experienced out in the Bush from this year?

    "Thanks to all. I wish I had Dan's skills at finding Sitka's on POW Island. Iím just back from there with no luck after a week of hunting in the rain. Others are killing good bucks on POW though.
    I killed No. 50 while on an unsuccessful bear hunt on the Spirdon River, Kodiak Island. I was in the field 13 days and saw only the one mature buck. I saw 5 other small 2 year old bucks. When deer numbers are good, I'll see 40 bucks a day. The winter kill last year was very, very bad. I'm estimating mortality on bucks at around 90%.
    Frank Noska, a close bow hunting buddy here in Wasilla, hunted a full week and did not see a deer for the entire week. Dr. Jack Frost did his annual hunt and flew the island for several days in his Super Cub. He put mortality at 80 to 90% overall. These guys are not greenhorns. They represent the elite of Alaskan Bowhunters and if they canít find deer, the deer are just not there.
    ADF&G has said they think mortality was about 35%. Thatís from calling lodges and talking to flight services. I guess talking with folks with skin in the game of selling hunts and flights makes more sense to them than getting out in the field or talking with hunters. I heard of one guide who cancelled all his 2012 deer hunts and refunded deposits to clients. I guess ADF&G didn't talk with that guy.
    Anyway. Thanks again. I was very lucky to kill a nice 4x3 that will score about 93 1/2. I was sitting a salmon stream waiting for a bear to walk by. I thought the chances of killing a bear were way higher than killing a good buck.

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    Charterboat Operator kodiakcombo's Avatar
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    The first deer taken out of Old Harbor was in 1969, couple of guys out lookin for bear meat stumbled upon a deer, the population goes up and down mainly from having too many for the habitat to sustain during the winters like last year, now its near 40 degrees. Deer down 90% from too many anyway is pretty good, all this means is we have to hunt harder and longer.
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    Member Casper50's Avatar
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    We've hunted the last two years. Saw more, (not many) than last year and took a couple of decent bucks. Wish I'd taken the shotgun like I had planned. Many, many many ducks. Both sea and puddle.

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Default Retrospect to hunting Deer on Kodiak

    I've never heard of either of those guys, but 80-90% is really stretching it I think. Kodiak is a huge island and I doubt they covered that much in their scouting flights, and thats besides the fact that the deer hang out in the alders so you won't see most of them from the air anyway. From what I've seen 40% die-off seems accurate. The hunting was much more difficult this year but they're still out there. Another bad winter this year and Kodiak is definitely gonna have problems, but 2-3 years of mild winters and the deer will rebound nice again.

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    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGSwimmer25 View Post
    I've never heard of either of those guys, but 80-90% is really stretching it I think. Kodiak is a huge island and I doubt they covered that much in their scouting flights, and thats besides the fact that the deer hang out in the alders so you won't see most of them from the air anyway. From what I've seen 40% die-off seems accurate. The hunting was much more difficult this year but they're still out there. Another bad winter this year and Kodiak is definitely gonna have problems, but 2-3 years of mild winters and the deer will rebound nice again.
    Agreed. Along with the fact that not all of Kodiak received the same amount of snow. Some parts of the island got a lot more snow than other parts, so the winter kill was more in some parts than others. Hell, Girdwood got twice as much snow just in the month of Feb. than Anchorage got all winter, and as the crow flies, there's only 20 miles between the two.

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    Member AK-HUNT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGSwimmer25 View Post
    I've never heard of either of those guys, but 80-90% is really stretching it I think. Kodiak is a huge island and I doubt they covered that much in their scouting flights, and thats besides the fact that the deer hang out in the alders so you won't see most of them from the air anyway. From what I've seen 40% die-off seems accurate. The hunting was much more difficult this year but they're still out there. Another bad winter this year and Kodiak is definitely gonna have problems, but 2-3 years of mild winters and the deer will rebound nice again.
    They are both extremely knowledgable and long time alaskan hunters who know their stuff. Pretty well known too. Also first rate guys.
    http://www.iowabowhunters.org/springbanquetseminar.htm
    http://blog.pse-archery.com/tag/frank-noska/

    If you use that logic about aerial surveys then they are bunk?. Not many species hang out in the open.......and we count them with airplanes. If Jack says that was his assessment, then its pretty dang close I'd wager.

    There are undoubtedly areas harder hit than others. That is understood.

    I hope it recovers in a couple years. Like to bring my kid down to stick a couple soon.

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Default Retrospect to hunting Deer on Kodiak

    Quote Originally Posted by AK-HUNT View Post
    They are both extremely knowledgable and long time alaskan hunters who know their stuff. Pretty well known too. Also first rate guys.
    http://www.iowabowhunters.org/springbanquetseminar.htm
    http://blog.pse-archery.com/tag/frank-noska/

    If you use that logic about aerial surveys then they are bunk?. Not many species hang out in the open.......and we count them with airplanes. If Jack says that was his assessment, then its pretty dang close I'd wager.

    There are undoubtedly areas harder hit than others. That is understood.

    I hope it recovers in a couple years. Like to bring my kid down to stick a couple soon.
    They both sound wonderful, and it must be great to have careers that afford them the opportunities to hunt big game all over the world. For the sake of the discussion, however, I'm not sure that qualifies either one of them to make the call that 90% of Kodiak's deer herd perished last winter. Aerial surveys are very effective on sheep and goats, which live in alpine and stand out with their color. The biologists make their surveys on deer based off of reports from guides and lodge owners on the ground because aerial surveys are not effective on deer. My only point was for those interested in hunting Kodiak for deer in the future not to cancel their trip because of a report from a guy who scouted with his super cub and didn't see many deer. I've taken my two bucks this year, saw many more, and talked to friends and guides that have also been successful. As I said, not as many deer as years prior, but certainly no 90% die-off.

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    I'd have to agree with Swimmer. I was able to get my buck opening day. I knew of several other people that got bucks that day. On my bear hunt, we saw deer every day within 1/4 mile of our tent. We downed a nice buck within that range and should have downed an even larger one. In the same area I knew of several other bucks that had been taken.

    I think the 35-40% kill of rate is probably accurate but there are still plenty of deer out there to be taken, you just have to work harder then last year and thats on the East side. I'd be willing to bet that the dryer west side of Kodiak had an easier winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by CGSwimmer25 View Post
    They both sound wonderful, and it must be great to have careers that afford them the opportunities to hunt big game all over the world. For the sake of the discussion, however, I'm not sure that qualifies either one of them to make the call that 90% of Kodiak's deer herd perished last winter. Aerial surveys are very effective on sheep and goats, which live in alpine and stand out with their color. The biologists make their surveys on deer based off of reports from guides and lodge owners on the ground because aerial surveys are not effective on deer. My only point was for those interested in hunting Kodiak for deer in the future not to cancel their trip because of a report from a guy who scouted with his super cub and didn't see many deer. I've taken my two bucks this year, saw many more, and talked to friends and guides that have also been successful. As I said, not as many deer as years prior, but certainly no 90% die-off.

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    Charterboat Operator kodiakcombo's Avatar
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    Make no mistake about it! numbers are down. Got to hunt harder and longer!
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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    Make no mistake...the numbers are down and they will come back. They'll come back faster if all the folks that think they are gone stay home.
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    Charterboat Operator kodiakcombo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    Make no mistake...the numbers are down and they will come back. They'll come back faster if all the folks that think they are gone stay home.
    common sense says harvest mature bucks and does and leave all the little guys to grow. I strongly encourage passing on bucks with racks inside the ears(unless they are 5x5)
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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakcombo View Post
    common sense says harvest mature bucks and does and leave all the little guys to grow. I strongly encourage passing on bucks with racks inside the ears(unless they are 5x5)
    Common sense and nature say leave the breeders and take the young and very old. Those are the first to naturally die off in hard times.
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    Charterboat Operator Abel's Avatar
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    If they didn't see deer it's because they didn't hunt hard enough or were just in the wrong area. No, it's not as easy as it was last year, but I've bumped deer almost everyday in the woods since Nov 1st. Took the week before turkey day off and saw 2 young bucks next to the roads, one 3x as well and a number of does. I was out either fox calling or looking for bears. The deer are there, most of the guys I talk too aren't seeing deer out at Saltery either and complaining, but when I ask the right questions, they only hiked a little bit, most didn't get off the ATV and get out of sight of the trail. I drilled my road system buck the 2nd weekend in Aug, the first day I hunted, and I took the better of the 2 bucks with the bow, I wasn't gone from the house but 4hrs. They're there, just gotta burn more calories to get em.

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    We just spent 6 days in one of the areas of Kodiak that was supposed to be hit pretty hard by last years snow. This was my 5th year in a row in the same spot, same time of year. Deer numbers seemed to be down by 30-50%. We still all got our deer including some nice bucks. When we left on Monday 11/26 there was about a foot of snow at sea level and 2' at 700'. We killed most of our deer in the 400-700' elevation.

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    Charterboat Operator kodiakcombo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJF View Post
    We just spent 6 days in one of the areas of Kodiak that was supposed to be hit pretty hard by last years snow. This was my 5th year in a row in the same spot, same time of year. Deer numbers seemed to be down by 30-50%. We still all got our deer including some nice bucks. When we left on Monday 11/26 there was about a foot of snow at sea level and 2' at 700'. We killed most of our deer in the 400-700' elevation.
    45 degrees and snow is all melted to 1000ft!
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    Deer are there. Everyone I know that goes over comes back with deer. Sure, there was winter kill just like there was on many other Alaska islands but it really depends on Kodiak where you're hunting at to how affected the area is. I spent the night with one local in October at his cabin of 30+ years and he thought his area had a 70% winter kill but on the other end of the island it was business as usual.

    Next season will be just fine is my best guess.
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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    saw way less deer than normal. ones i did see where really high. i did see young bucks, old bucks, does, fawns and the whole gammet. only about 7 winter kill that i could find. saw about 30 deer in two weeks, down from the normal 100 or so a week we usually see.
    BUT, i have never seen grass like that on the island as it was this fall on the east side where i was.
    you couldn't walk in it, couldn't see it in and i think the deer just were in different locations than usual, and when they are in the grass you can't see them anyway...
    jeff does the grass seem crazy down on your island and neighborhood or was it just my imagination?
    I'll be giving the deer next fall off....two years from now i'll be back down there unless they have another killer winter in between.
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    Charterboat Operator kodiakcombo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRWNBR View Post
    jeff does the grass seem crazy down on your island and neighborhood or was it just my imagination?
    I'll be giving the deer next fall off....two years from now i'll be back down there unless they have another killer winter in between.
    havent noticed an increase in grass, but yes you have to get up a bit to see anything or sit and wait and watch a clearing.
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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    I hunted the 3rd week of Oct this year in Spiridon Bay mostly. The weather was gorgeous and the mature bucks were most likely way up high as the snow was less than a foot in the deeper places.

    I saw 30ish deer in 4 days of hard hunting. Mostly does and fawns. Our group of four took 5 deer and the only unfilled tag according to stated plans was mine--I took a doe and was holding out for a buck but didn't see any except buck fawns (no antlers but dark foreheads)

    I don't hunt Kodiak every year so I don't have anything to base a comparison of this year's hunting to, but I saw deer every day and probably could have taken a decent buck if I was motivated to hunt deer up with the goats. I wasn't, so I didn't.

    I did take a shotgun and took a pair of Buffleheads (with one shot--pure luck), the rest of the ducks I just scared.

    *EDIT
    I happen to think that much of our collective expectations of deer hunting on Kodiak are based on bucks shot on the shingle or not far from it during the rut-through-season-end.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    I just got back from down there and I agree that the deer # are down from past years but I still seen plenty of deer. I managed to take a couple of bucks with a long bow.

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