Yee-haw, here we go! Here begins all manner of rumor, speculation, misinformation, mockery, tall tales, bragging and the occasional useful piece of information for those of us who have a permit to hunt the Nelchina caribou herd. As usual, I have relentlessly pestered Frank Robbins with the Glennallen ADFG office until he felt willing to share some information with me and give me the verbal okay to relay what he said on this forum. What he said this morning to me is as follows:
- The have flown the survey. Weather and caribou cooperated enough for them to do a traditional count, but also they took many good photographs of large conglomerations of caribou which are being analyzed now to make their herd estimate as accurate as possible.
- He said the herd looks decently large and fairly healthy. His off-hand estimate for total population was 'near the size of last year's herd.' They definitely didn't get killed off by this last winter.
- Their survey indicated about 55 calves for every 100 cows. He says this is a very good and healthy ratio for calves and is indicative of low mortality this winter. This looks good for the herd in the near future.
- He expects a total quota 'very similar to last year' and will likely include a cow quota like last year's hunt. Official estimates and quotas should be released close to August 1st. Probably the 3rd.
- When they were surveying, there were caribou on both sides of the Susitna, more on the west side than the east side and a little bit light in the Eureka area.
Let the madness begin. Good luck and safe hunting to everybody out there. Remember to clean up your own trash and some of the junk left behind by the jerks and don't be too rude to the tour buses on the Denali. Also, kill a grizzly or two. 18 more days, GAME ON!