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Thread: Cancel Your Unit 23 Bou Hunt.......................!!

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Default Cancel Your Unit 23 Bou Hunt.......................!!

    http://www.adn.com/article/20160305/...ou-hunt-locals

    Y'all better attend the Subsistence Board meeting and voice your opinion!
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
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    This is a real problem Marten. I have a very hard time imagining that they will make this move for the 2016 season but I expect it for the 2017 season. How do all these guys who have paid for Alaska Air tickets get refunds? I am prepared to issue refunds but I don't know about the flight services.

    You are 100% right about voicing concerns and doing it now, makes no sense. Man those phones and send those emails boys!

    Walt
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    Member Bambistew's Avatar
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    Aren't they skipping a few steps here? I thought there was already a process for stepping down pressure on a resource which has preference for subsistence?

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    Subsistance users can take 15 per day! 5/day for all others. Hmm, let's start by reducing those numbers a wee bit before discussion on banning a certain user group. And only applies to Federal lands.

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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    but don't subsistance users trump the balance...
    non res get cut first
    then res
    then subsistance...

    now maybe we can sympathize with non res sheep hunters...lol

    i am a strong supporter of a hunt that is designated substiance and other alaskans are restricted from it, that it be primitive methods and means of take and non motorized access. But then again, i have no culture, no history that carrys any weight, no traditions so its easy for me to say that. my people just brought motors and steel and lead. lol
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    In January I booked a trip with a know Transporter that uses that area. I emailed them and got a quick reply. They did assure me that they would give refunds if it was closed down. They also said that non res hunters only account for about 5% of the overall take in that area. Cutting that wouldn't add up to much in my opinion. According to them as well no one at the teleconference last week had anything good to say about this plan. They also agreed with cutting the limits as a solution.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    This may be a moot point anyway, if what I am hearing is correct. Migration timing has been later and later each year for the last several years, to the point that many hunters are not even seeing caribou in the usual areas until after late September, when most nonlocal hunters are already gone. I received a report from a transporter up there two years ago that they had a number of drop camps out in the field, and most of them didn't even see caribou.

    There's no question that the numbers are dropping, in addition to the shift in migration timing. Latest estimates I heard were around 120,000, from a call to the area biologist in Kotzebue.

    MT, are you hearing anything about this?

    That said, there has long been an effort by some of the locals up there to keep all nonlocal hunters out. It's been going on for decades. I hunted that area before the no-fly zone was put into effect in the Noatak River corridor, and it is my understanding that the decision to do that was based more on politics than on sound game management. The claim was made that airplane traffic on the Notak was disrupting the caribou migration. Even making exceptions for isolated incidents, I just don't believe the accuracy of that claim. I know, I was there! We landed on a gravel bar a couple of miles upriver of the Kelly River, and the airplane that dropped us off had absolutely no effect on caribou movement patters whatsoever. If you don't believe me, watch this excerpt of the video I shot on this hunt. We were about 300 yards from the airstrip, on the same side of the river where we were dropped off. It was like this for three solid days, with thousands of caribou crossing the river right in front of us, even on the airstrip itself. In fact, the last three animals we shot were standing right where the plane landed. After the third day, the migration stalled out, as caribou migrations frequently do. You rarely see exceptionally large herds, and instead you get large pulses comprised of loose aggregations of smaller herds. This particular year we had early freeze-up, and were obviously seeing some larger herds. I think the video clearly shows that airplane activity had absolutely no effect on these animals. In fact, a group of hunters landed just upriver from us in their own airplane, and they foolishly (or perhaps they just didn't know) shot one on the other side of the river, and had to fly over there and recover it. Another take-of and landing cycle that had zero effect on herd movements. This was all before the no-fly zone was put into effect.



    -Mike
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    Member FullCryHounds's Avatar
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    I guided out of Kotz for the past 18 years and completely agree with Mike. The management decisions up there are geared more towards what can be done to keep non natives out and very little to do with what's best for the herd. The claim that airplane traffic affected migration routes was totally baseless and everyone knew it. This proposal is no different.

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    While this request does not surprise me, it appears to be totally out of line and not in the best interest of the State of Alaska. There are many reasons for caribou to change their migration routes and for the size of the herd to go up and down. There are other options that need to be looked at before this action should be considered.
    While I do not hunt in Unit 23, if this gets approved in one Unit, then some will look at restricting hunters in other Units. Reduce the bag limit and maybe even reduce the numbers of days that the season would be open, but to not allow outsiders to hunt is just asking for more legal issues.

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    I'm teaching up in one of the unit 23 villages and the natives kill TONS of caribou. A small herd came through town yesterday and the entire herd was killed. They followed them on snow machines until they got the last one. All of these animals were used by all the people in town but they kill 100s of them up here. Regular sportsman hunting them have so little impact on their population its ridiculous. Not to mention the amount of revenue they bring to the region during the Fall. With the failing budget within this state you would think that they would want to keep something going for their economy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BRWNBR View Post

    i am a strong supporter of a hunt that is designated substiance and other alaskans are restricted from it, that it be primitive methods and means of take and non motorized access.
    What......do ya want them folks to starve...???.......lol
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Bearcat View Post
    While this request does not surprise me, it appears to be totally out of line and not in the best interest of the State of Alaska. There are many reasons for caribou to change their migration routes and for the size of the herd to go up and down. There are other options that need to be looked at before this action should be considered.
    While I do not hunt in Unit 23, if this gets approved in one Unit, then some will look at restricting hunters in other Units. Reduce the bag limit and maybe even reduce the numbers of days that the season would be open, but to not allow outsiders to hunt is just asking for more legal issues.
    I believe the situation in GMU23 is unique. While we do have other areas in the state where nonlocal hunters are not welcome (the Venetie area, for example), I don't think it necessarily follows that whatever happens in Unit 23 will set a precedent or that we will see a ripple effect. There's a local power base in Noatak and Kotzebue (and perhaps some other villages up there) that have been lobbying for years to keep nonlocal hunters out. I'm not seeing anything quite like that anywhere else in the state.

    When the Mulchatna Herd collapsed a few years back, we saw a huge surge in nonlocal caribou hunting. Within two years of the collapse, Kotzebue was inundated with a "camo army" of nonlocal caribou hunters. For the first couple of years of that, there were many reports of wanton waste. I believe the single greatest contributing factor for that was unusually warm and wet fall weather those years. Hunters shot too many animals and/ or were not able to get the meat out of the field fast enough. Those who failed to practice proper meat care procedures (either out of ignorance or simply not caring) ended up trying to give away rotten meat to locals in Kotzebue. I heard reports of rotten meat being dumped into the lagoon and all sort of things. Lots of citations were issued.

    This gave the local power base more ammunition for their anti-"outsider" argument. The regulations were quickly changed to allow nonresident hunters to harvest only one bull. The change was based entirely on meat care concerns, not on biological grounds. But I believe the force behind it was totally political. At that time there were vague rumors that the herd was beginning to decline, but the numbers were not nearly low enough to justify a harvest reduction. This is when nonresident hunters started looking elsewhere. Why come all the way to Alaska to hunt one bull, when they could go to Canada and take two? Subsequently the limit was raised to two.

    By then evidence started to surface that the caribou population was indeed starting to slip. By the way, I made a mistake in my earlier population numbers. Latest numbers I read from ADFG suggest a population around 220,000. During the last peak in the late 1980's it was close to 500,000. ADFG rightly says that they don't have solid numbers. They usually count by photo census, but they know that they're potentially missing a lot of animals. They don't know exactly what we have up there. At any rate, it seems clear that the herd is in decline. Whether or not those numbers are low enough to justify further reductions for nonresidents and for nonlocal hunters is the real question.

    But as I said earlier, it's a moot point if the critters aren't even making it to the foothills north of the Noatak while nonlocal hunters are up there, as appears to be the case. I don't mean to suggest that there are NO caribou available in Unit 23 during hunting season, but it does appear that the migration has stalled north of the Brooks Range during the early part of the season for the last three or four years. In most cases an air charter wants you out of there by September 20-23 or so, because of freeze-up. Very few nonlocal hunters fly up there to hunt after the end of September. Makes sense when you think about it. You might be able to fly out on skis, but how are you going to get around out there without a snowmachine? I believe that the bulk of the local harvest happens during the winter months, when you can access them via snowmachine. I'm speculating on this point, and some of the locals who post here might know more. I do know that very few locals hire an air charter to fly out and hunt caribou. They do hunt them via boat before freeze-up, but if we're not seeing caribou in any great numbers south of the Brooks Range before freeze-up, then the locals have had to change their tactics and go out during the winter with snogos. As a side note, it's entirely possible that some of the locals are mistakenly attributing the lack of August and September caribou to nonlocal hunting pressure. So there are certainly many perspectives on this.

    I don't believe this proposal will pass, but then again, I never in my wildest dreams thought a no-fly zone would occur on the Noatak, without a valid resource-based concern.

    -Mike
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    Mike I really don't have anything to add other than I have a friend that has a connection in kotz and he went up there in November around Thanksgiving I believe and hit a major migration. He said he was field dressing his animal and about git ran over by others. Thousands were going through.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiak kid View Post
    Mike I really don't have anything to add other than I have a friend that has a connection in kotz and he went up there in November around Thanksgiving I believe and hit a major migration. He said he was field dressing his animal and about git ran over by others. Thousands were going through.
    Sounds about right. They've been coming through later than usual. The local connection is essential for later hunts, otherwise there's no practical way to get around. Unless you want to hunt on skis. It's doable, but it's gonna be a cold camp to be sure! It would be very interesting to do some time!

    -Mike
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    All I know, more or less is what is in ADN. However, I have some familiarity with the FED side of management. This is a Federal proposal from the Unit 23 Regional Advisory Council. Most all units have a Federal RAC. They serve the same purpose as the State Advisory Committees.
    What is interesting is that none of the surrounding units RACs have made similiar proposals. Doesn't make sense to only limit one unit for a migratory herd.
    The past is not important. What is important is the current population, the Allowable Harvest of the population, and what the last few years harvest has been.
    So what is the current population? THEY DON'T KNOW!!! Wach is counted every odd year by photographing as many of the animals as possible when they are mostly on the North Slope calving. Last summer was the most recent photo session. However, the photos were not good quality and Dept. heads decided NOT to use them. But they can't just go off a count (2013) that is now over 2 years old. Sooooooooo..........the really smart guys at the Dept. took some other figures, like survival stats, and used really complicated math along with some WAGs, and got the 220,000 number Strahan quoted. ADF&G does the major part of keeping tabs on this herd and a Dept. bio attends these RAC meetings.......the unit 23 bio would have attended the recent unit 23 RAC meeting.
    What is the aliowable harvest? I don't know. Likely less than what is was the previous 2 years. Really smart, important people at the Dept can tell you that. One of those people is the Region 5 manager, Steve Machida.....267-2421. Call and ask him. Also ask him if the Dept will be commenting to the Federal Sub. Board about the Unit 23 proposal. Apparently there is an All Council Meeting going on right now. You have tomorrow and the next day, Thur. and Fri. to stop by and check it out. The Board itself will meet to consider proposals starting Apr. 11, and meet that whole week. That would be the time to attend and comment to the Board.
    I also don't know what the recent yearly harvests have been. Truthfully, neither does the Dept. Non locals have to get a bou tag so I assume the non local harvest is fairly well documented. Locals just get a little blue card and then report their harvest at the end of the year. The Dept also has local hires that go around to the villages and get harvest info for all stuff, fish and game. Suffice to say a lot of local harvest is unreported and the Dept. is well aware of that.
    The worry would be that actual harvest is approaching allowable harvest. Once the threat of ACTUAL exceeding ALLOWABLE rears it's ugly head..........restrictions must begin. Since this is a Fed proposal, the Sub. Board is required to restrict non locals before locals.
    Mike raised an important talking point. When hunters get restricted out of one area, many will move to another. Guides, transporters, non local res. may all move somewhere else and we could see a similiar scenario somewhere else...............like the Eastern Brooks. Subsistence users in that area could be negatively impacted by the Sub Board closing unit 23 to non locals.
    If you have your heart set on a WACH bou hunt and your worried this proposal may end that...........call the transpo's in Bettles and get a slot in unit 26..........if they have any slots left!!
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    ...........call the transpo's in Bettles and get a slot in unit 26..........if they have any slots left!!
    26A & B have WACH animals in them certainly, but they also have Central Arctic critters, and there is potentially some mixing going on. Regardless, 26A is a VERY expensive air charter trip, and I suspect not many do that one. Haven't heard much at all about chartering out of Bettles to hunt 26B. GMU 23, sure. But Unit 26 puts you over the top of the range on both ends of the trip, just when the weather is starting to go to pot. I don't generally recommend chartering on one side of a mountain range to hunt the other side. Potentially you could charter out of Coldfoot or out of Happy Valley to hunt the WACH over in the western side of Unit 26B, but you could be flying over caribou from the Central Arctic Herd to do it. Doesn't make sense. And I doubt the operators out of Coldfoot or Happy Valley would want to fly that far anyway. With all that in mind, and the absence of a transporter in Barrow, I don't know that it's very practical to hunt the WACH on the north side of the range. It's kind of a nonlocal hunter's "no-man's land". The only hunting pressure that herd gets from the north side is out of Barrow when they're in reach, and out of Nuiqsut and possibly Umiat. You've also got Wainwright and Point Lay, but those are probably too far west, and there aren't many people there to be much of a factor in terms of harvest anyway.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Regardless, 26A is a VERY expensive air charter trip, and I suspect not many do that one. Haven't heard much at all about chartering out of Bettles to hunt 26B.
    Then you might want to attend the Sub Board meeting and comment. Gonna be some revenue loss for Alaska Air if all those camoed hunters can't go to Kotz to hunt the WACH!
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

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    Member fullkurl's Avatar
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    My wife and I were carrying a couple caribou antlers out of a raft along the Kobuk river there in 23--it was our last load out of the raft up to the airstrip. We were approached by a couple of agitated local natives, they saw the antlers and tore into us demanding to see our 'moose meat' and they suspected and grilled us that we had left something behind on the Tundra, which was outrageous. We savor every ounce of earned game meat.

    I politely told them that our meat was all accounted for and in the coolers mere yards away.
    I sought to avoid any conflict with the people, but we realized that these natives honestly didn't know the difference between a caribou and a moose.
    Proud to be an American!

  19. #19

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    I hunted this area last year in beginning september and only saw a few shooter bulls at a distance. Most animals we saw were small females and juveniles. In 7 days i saw only about 50 animals. With the warmer weather the animals were just not moving.

  20. #20
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    The WACH has been pretty healthy, animal wise. The last numbers weve heard locally is around 200,000. We will see I guess, their numbers flux like all populations.
    The herd settled down in a crescent shaped swath this winter stretching from Noorviks Kobuk delta to the Northern Seward Peninsula, and West to about Iyat Hotsprings area. They are bunching up and moving east/north now, and in a couple weeks will be in full movement. Lots of fur with them too.

    Females in March were nice and averaged about 3/4 inch fat on their ass's but we were picking them from the herds, and with no mid winter rains, theres plenty of surviving calfs too, which is a big relief. The snow cover was fairly minimal untill 3 weeks ago, and they fed well all winter, so far.
    Bull time , now, though, and dry up a bunch
    I caught quite a Muskox that was fat bugger too.

    The fed way of controlling subsistence and its users is the federal way, which still clashes with Alaska Subsistence regs.

    Theres nothing in the read, and correct me if Im wrong, that I see that restricts non Natives here in unit 23, just non locals. With unit 23 a 87% population of Inupiaq, its a bit skewed.

    The feds control fishery's, Sea Mammal Hunting, Muskox hunting and now, evidently Caribou hunting;

    If theres "lots", everyone, including commercial enterprise gets a take.

    If there is "enough but not lots", then the commercial aspect is usually shut down, and personal take is still happening . Anyone or group that can show a previous history of Hunting such and such or fishing such and such, will get 'preference". This happened when Native groups showed a history of sea mammal use that wasnt commercial, and non Natives in America lost their whale/walrus/seal.etc. hunting rights because all they had was a history of commercial hunting of the seas, and today its sorta the same for fisherys on the Yukon river, and Salmon fishingh......... Also, the Feds also say you have to reside in the area you plan to hunt/fish /gather in order to qualify, under their rules, and a subsistence user.

    When there "not much at all", then the Hunt, Fishing, Gathering is stopped, untill viable again.

    The State of AK clashes with this by saying anyone that is a resident can hunt, fish, gather , anywhere in the state for personal use. So the feds idea of subsistence and states idea of what qualifys someone to use something is the biggest problem.

    Caribou are a viable commodity in villages. Like trees to an Axman, a fish to a trawler, fur to a trapper, Hunting them for their meats and hides is self explanatory... As note, 100 caught , 100 used. Everyone has to eat. Gas here is still 7$ + a gallon, and stove oil the same or more, and with out many jobs , resources are pretty scarce. Hunting is a viable and honest pursuit, get a body up and out where theres no one else all the do da day, and those who live by such are no different than those who do so for sport, or commercial ends, we fund raise, buy tags and stamps, educate, and take an active interest in what anyone over the hill and far away should deem fit.

    Or just hunt on the waterways and state lands.....
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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