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Thread: Should Alaska establish minimum caliber standards for Alaskan big game ?

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    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Default Should Alaska establish minimum caliber standards for Alaskan big game ?

    Since there are so many opinions regarding the most appropriate caliber for specific game animals here in Alaska. Should Alaskan hunters/shooters work to establish minimum caliber standards for Alaskan big game animals or not? and if so what do hunters/shooters recommend for each species.

    Thanks

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    "Since there are so many opinions regarding the most appropriate caliber for specific game animals here in Alaska."

    In short I say no, we already have too many people trying to make their opinions fact or law.

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    NO.

    If you like extra regulations and laws, there are lots of other places to live.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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    Personally I do not like extra hunting laws and regulations. And FYI I live out here in rural Alaska and I sure as heck am not planning on moving out of state anytime soon. The reason I brought this up is to address a few concerns I have regarding minimum calibers. Since I live out here I know what calibers are being used to hunt big game and how they are used, 223s are common so are 22-250s, occassionally 220 swifts and so forth. Over the years I have seen way too many caribou walking with the herds wounded and limping, due to smaller caliber firearms being used by inexperienced hunters/shooters. Occassionally you hear stories of moose or bear that got away wounded. I really do not like to hear about game animals suffering due to small calibers being used by poor marksmen. IMO it is unethical and causes more suffering of these animals than is necessary. Maybe my opinions about this have to do with the fact that I was taught to hunt by an older generation of hunter, my grandfather. This man had his own personal ethics regarding the hunt, he did not like to see animals suffer and he was a good marksman. In his time nothing was taken for granted, why would he personally use a smaller caliber and increase the risk of losing his game animals especially when his family's very survival depended on it. IMHO I don't believe the younger generation of hunters out here are so well versed in his type of hunting values and ethics anylonger. Times are a changing and so are the younger generations of hunters. Just my .02.

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    Default Good point but NO

    You have a good point about watching bou with gun shot wounds. The only place I have seen it here in Alaska was up near Kotz, a group of local hunters were shooting bou next to a river with I believe a 22's. Normally I'm against most additional regulations, but its like anything else, people need to use common sense and be ethical hunters. I do believe that people should have to prove thier shooting skills, but thats a whole another subject.

    Terry

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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    NO.

    If you like extra regulations and laws, there are lots of other places to live.
    You got that right!!

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    Default To ride, shoot straight and speak the truth...

    A few days back there was a post asking if a shooting test should be given before getting a hunting license....more regulation......too much already was the consensus view. And this is along the same lines.

    Personally I'm of the mind that I want no regulation at all. I don't even think we should have stop signs at intersections. My thinking along these lines is to let common sense and the intelligence of man prevail.......however. It now seems so obvious that there is so very little common sense among the populace and that coupled with the don't give a crap attitude and the lack luster approach to acquire hunting and shooting skills is very worrisome.

    What I'm saying here is this; We have people buying side arms who have never shot a gun and never make an attempt to learn the skills necessary to even hit a paper target let alone to defend themselves, yet they carry this gun as if they could actually participate in their own defense, when in reality they would likely endanger the lives of others should a situation arrise. We have a CC class but in this state it is not required and even where it is there is no actual marksmanship or gun handling skills required to show proficiency with a handgun.

    By the same token we have hunters who are of the same mindset but the hunter education program, a regulation, at least gets them a modicum of training and indoctrination about safe handling of the hunting rifle. We however require no actual marksmanship ability or even the requirement to be able to load and fire the gun they hunt with.

    The results of this are wounded animals who take far too long to die and many are never recovered because of poor marksmanship or the selection of a caliber that was fun to shoot but wholly inadequate for the job. This situation gets worse as the next generation of hunters and shooters now indoctrinate their own offspring with the same attitude and enthusiasm.

    I am not saying that this synopsis applies to all or even any majority of hunters and shooters but it is a prevalent trait. I consider hunting moose with a 223 to be evidence of this attitude.

    Eventually, as we resist all manner of legislation and regulation we will leave ourselves open for public view of how really inept we are at our own game. This will be the ruination of our way of life. I would think we would want to police our own ranks. I think we should demand only the highest level of skills to be evident in any hunter of today. Hunting and stalking skills, knowledge of wildlife biology and habitat, and skills with the instruments we choose to carry afield with the cleanest of harvest in mind. Is this the way we are today?

    Do we show evidence that, as member of the hunting community, we care about the invironment, that we have respect for the animals we hunt, or that we are concerned about our public behavior with a gun? I think the trash in the landscape and ATV tracks in the tundra say we donot. I think the holes in public road signs show we donot. I think the the indiscriminate hunter who talks of shooting a small caliber rifle at great distance with no regard for the quick clean kill of any animal is evidence we donot respect the animal we hunt.

    If common sense fails to bring a sensible solution, regulation may soon rear its ugly head. Lacking this self regulating attitude will certainly soon bring legislation with less than the most desirable result.
    Last edited by Murphy; 03-24-2008 at 17:37. Reason: Cleaning up.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Member Bear Buster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nukalpiaq View Post
    Personally I do not like extra hunting laws and regulations. And FYI I live out here in rural Alaska and I sure as heck am not planning on moving out of state anytime soon. The reason I brought this up is to address a few concerns I have regarding minimum calibers. Since I live out here I know what calibers are being used to hunt big game and how they are used, 223s are common so are 22-250s, occassionally 220 swifts and so forth. Over the years I have seen way too many caribou walking with the herds wounded and limping, due to smaller caliber firearms being used by inexperienced hunters/shooters. Occassionally you hear stories of moose or bear that got away wounded. I really do not like to hear about game animals suffering due to small calibers being used by poor marksmen. IMO it is unethical and causes more suffering of these animals than is necessary. Maybe my opinions about this have to do with the fact that I was taught to hunt by an older generation of hunter, my grandfather. This man had his own personal ethics regarding the hunt, he did not like to see animals suffer and he was a good marksman. In his time nothing was taken for granted, why would he personally use a smaller caliber and increase the risk of losing his game animals especially when his family's very survival depended on it. IMHO I don't believe the younger generation of hunters out here are so well versed in his type of hunting values and ethics anylonger. Times are a changing and so are the younger generations of hunters. Just my .02.
    I seen the same thing with 338's........if people can't shoot...what difference is a bigger caliber going to do for them?

    We have enough stupid rules to protect us and the animals from idiots.

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    Murphy:
    Thereís usually not much left to say after youíre done.

    I think the Hunter Safety Courses are a step in the right direction. All the younger hunters are required to take it, and some states require it of out-of-state hunters.

    I hadda take it so I could hunt in Missouri. It wasnít much, but they did require some marksmanship ability, I THOUGHT. We fired 22 rifles and 7 and 15 yards. I donít know if they rejected anyone, though. The safety training, and the gun-handling, loading, etc. was excellent in the course I took. Lots of Dads brought their sons and daughters to it, and it was well received.

    My CC class was a while back, and we had to shoot, and some minimal qualifications to meet.

    Hunters and Shooters are encouraged to report infractions, so youíre right, a lot of this is our own fault.

    Iíd like to see other sportsmans groups, do like the Muzzle Loading crowd, and offer information, training, etc. We should all support things like that. It's our responsibility.

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    Default Minimum Caliber

    Great Topic! - In Washington, the Land of Legislation and Taxes, we have a minimum caliber for big game hunting of .243 diameter. So to hunt big game here you need at least a .243 which is probably a good thing. I think a .223 or 22-250 is fine for varmits and such, but doesn't have any place in the ethical persuits of big game. Ethical being the key word. I wouldn't use a 243 Win for elk, although legal in Washington, but not ethical to me. Elk are majestic animals that deserve my utmost respect and ability. If it takes time to become proficient in a caliber up to the task of humanly killing one of these magnificent animals then that's what I need to do.

    I realize that in Alaska you run the gamut of big game animals. I don't think that for a minute that a minimum caliber for sheep is up to the task of Kodiak brown bear. It comes back to ethics, but a minimum caliber may be a start. Maybe a .243 for deer, sheep, and caribou and 7mm for anything larger. If we don't police ourselves somebody else will and I would hate to see that in Alaska.

    Woody

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    Not only no, but hell no.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt View Post
    Not only no, but hell no.
    I am with you... Government does enough crap as it is....

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    While I cringe when I hear people encouraging the use of a 223 on caribou, I think that A minimum regulation would be a bad idea.

    The biggest problem is how it would need to be written. Several years ago I remember a requirement for a minimum of 30 caliber for moose. This has since disappeared I don't know exactly when. However, that was the wording "minimum 30 cal", I remember thinking what a stupid rule. Under that I could shoot a moose with a 30 carbine or 38 special and be legal, yet not be legal to use a 7mm Rem Mag, 270 Win, or 280 Rem. This is clearly crazy. Clearly caliber alone is not a good measure.

    So what to do then: A preapproved list of cartridges? Minimum energy? What about bullet type and construction? Range? Shooting skill and Knowledge of where to put the bullet? What about Wildcat Cartridges?

    How do you write a rule that takes all of that into account and yet is smaller then the federal tax code and understandable by the average hunter? Or do we only allow cartridges that are complete over kill (50 BMG for moose, 416 Rigby for white tail)?

    In the end the hunter has to make the final call as to what cartridge to use, what bullet, what shot placement, acceptable range, trying to regulate such things is simply not practical.

    What might be good is for fish and game to publish a list of recommended, bullets and cartridges, for different game. This would help the clueless make reasonable decisions and still allow hunters to use there own judgment.

    Wilhelm

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    Similar to the criteria for minimum caliber for hunting dangerous game in countries in Africa I will offer the following. There is more to the minimum caliber rule in those countries than just caliber (bore diameter), contrary to popular opinion.

    Hunters in the pursuit of moose in and on the proper of the state of Alaska, on public or private land, shall use a rifle with the following criteria:

    Bullet type: Controlled expansion.

    Minimum bullet diameter of .308"
    Minimum bullet weight of 200 grains.
    Minimum bullet sectional density of .300
    Minumum energy level of 3000 foot pounds at the muzzle. (I.E. 200 grains at 2600 fps.)

    Or a handgun with the following criteria.

    Minimum barrel length of 5 1/2".

    Bullet type: Hard cast lead alloy.

    Minimum bullet diameter of .429"
    Minimum bullet weight of 300 grains.
    Minimum bullet sectional density of .230
    Minimum energy level 1000 Foot pounds at the muzzle. (I.E. 300 grains at 1250 fps)

    It is easy to write, it is easy to measure, it is usually on the box of ammo and there is a certain standard within a given calibers capability and any good hunter/shooter knows that standard. It is to the standard the rule is written. Even though your particular 30-06 doesn't launch 200 grains at 2600 fps, it is still the standard.

    And for those of you who don't know there is a standard for water foul hunters and many other states have minimum caliber and other restrictions for big game that have come about in recent years.

    If this were written to the African restriction it would not include bullet weight but just bullet diameter, sectional density and energy minimum.

    And I'm not claiming the 30-06 and 200 grains be minimum for any thing but the AK F&G does make recommendations.

    Further for those of you who say no way.....tell us why. Simply stating you don't want any more regulations is not a reason, none of us want that. Everyone wants free access to hundreds of trophy bulls on opening day also. Also tell us what gun/caliber you want to hunt with for any species.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    Further for those of you who say no way.....tell us why. Simply stating you don't want any more regulations is not a reason, none of us want that. Everyone wants free access to hundreds of trophy bulls on opening day also. Also tell us what gun/caliber you want to hunt with for any species.
    Easy. Because premium bullets and shot placement is key, not just bullet diameter.

  16. #16

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    I think that a minimum caliber law for big game is a bad idea for several reasons..

    I live in rural Alaska and have hunted all of my life. Oftentimes i see, or end up killing caribou that have been wounded by ignorant hunters who "throw lead" and do not take the proper time to get within range and aim, much less sight their guns in correctly before hunting. Shooting a 338 or a 222 isn't going to make a **** bit of difference if you hit animals in the knees of guts and they run off, as caribou will usually do when wounded. It is all about shot placement. I have seen countless caribou taken cleanly and humanly with small caliber bullets and just as many taken with larger calibers. I prefer small calibers like a 22-250 or 243's to minimize meat damage.
    I have seen people shoot brown bears with 375 H&H's and not bring them down and have also seen clean kills with well placed shots from 300 wins and 300wbys. I feel that shot placement and proper bullets, as well as being within proper range is the key to a clean kill. Having a large caliber is no substitute for any of these factors. would i rather use a 338 or a 375 for brown bear? Absolutely. but having a large caliber rifle isn't everything.
    Furthermore, it would be nearly impossible to enforce such regulations in rural Alaska, or anywhere for that matter.

    just some of my thoughts on the subject

  17. #17

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    I do not think a regulation is warranted yet.

    First off, I would rather see an experienced 30-06 user hunting than a person unfamiliar with a .375 or .458 WM. The recoil and muzzle blast could have an impact on how well they actually shoot. Should there be a regulation REQUIRING larger calibers than people are used to, then I would argue the same people who are unethical in their selection of appropriate caliber would be the same people unethical in training for the "Required" caliber firearm. Therefore, requiring an "adequate" caliber would not not fix the actual problem of wounded, non-recovered game.

    Last year, while sighting in a new rifle at Birchwood, I ran into a group of guys, shooting their rifles for an upcoming moose hunt. They were all sighting in their new rifles, purchased specifically for their Alaska hunt, which most of them barely were able to use, let alone shoot worth a darn. I will give them the benefit of the doubt, and at least they were shooting them before hunting, and maybe they just needed some time to adjust. On the other hand, maybe they should have stuck with something slightly "smaller", and with a little less punch.

    Finally, I must ask the question: Is there a problem worth warranting a new law? We have all heard the stories of hunting, and stumbling across game that have been hit with inadequate calibers. I have the following questions: How quantified is the actual data? Is there any research or survey used by ADFG to determine an estimated amount of unrecovered game? How do we know it is inadequate ballistics and not inadequate marskmanship? Lastly, who would decide what the adequate caliber cut-off is? On this forum alone, I have seen the statements made that using anything less than (insert favorite cartridge here) is unethical. Two of the most famed gunwriters and hunters, O'Connor and Keith, could never agree. Who would you like to see make that decision for you?

    Finally, lists of recommended cartridges exist. I don't know that they are listed on ADFG website, it seems like I have seen something of that nature before, but they are available by reading almost any gun or hunting mag, and through websites like gunsandshootingonline.com aka chuckhawks.com. The resources are there for the ethical hunter. An unethical hunter has all these resources, and still uses an inadequate rifle, or has inadequate marksmanship capabilities. Does a new law change the outcome of this persons hunting ability?

    In short, I just don't know if the problem is worth warranting a new regulation, without some empirical evidence, and I don't know that a minimum cartridge list would fix the problem, without actually making it worse. My .02
    "A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user." Theodore Roosevelt, 1913

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    Certainly this is about ethics and that is as it should be. Laws are not the answer.

    Laws that would mandate minimum caliber and even minimum marksmanship (shooting test) would not alter the judgment of an unethical hunter who will indescriminately take shots well beyond his capability or beyond the range of his rifle. In other words the new laws though not broken will not prevent or reduce wounded animals.

    This issue take two avenues. One from those who advocate any caliber as long as the marksmanship is good and another from folks who believe that ethical hunting includes selecting a caliber suitable for the job and developing the skills necessary to use it effectively. I am in the latter category.

    Most of the input from the first category is from hunters who only have a certain caliber and have experience with it and are very ethical hunters and good marksmen. They are likely not part of the problem. The problem, if one exists, is from the new crowd of hunters who don't actually know what works and what doesn't and don't often get the best of advice. We've seen posts on this forum dozens of times what caliber for this animal and without fail someone will respond with hey a 223 or even a 22 works fine, or something to that effect. Another problem is from the few hunters who don't give a ripp about hunting and indescriminately shoot with wreckless abandon and should not be allowed afield with a gun.

    Shot placement is important but when you say a 223 is adequate for a 400 pound animal as long as shot placement is correct, does that mean you would use that caliber to hunt african lions? They rarely weigh over 400 pounds. Ethics means you use every means to quickly and humanely take the animal.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  19. #19

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    Murphy,

    Your first post in this thread reactivated a sore spot within me. A few months ago I posted a thread about a bill introduced in W. VA to require schools to offer hunter education. There weren't a lot of responses to it, but those that took the time thought it was a good idea and commented on how their experiences, some in schools, with hunter ed had been a positive force in their lives.

    As you wrote,
    "I think we should demand only the highest level of skills to be evident in any hunter of today. Hunting and stalking skills, knowledge of wildlife biology and habitat, and skills with the instruments we choose to carry afield with the cleanest of harvest in mind."

    The picture you painted of what's wrong with some "hunters" today is truly a disgusting scene of ignorance enhanced by selfishness.

    Which gets me back to my raw nerve, sore spot, or what ever you want to call it. Within the last two weeks the local fishwrapper, which really does have an excellent outdoors columnist, ran an editorial ridiculing the W. VA proposal for hunter ed in schools. It protrayed it as a stupid idea calling for the use of public monies to promote a private recreational pursuit. The editorial was a completely sophomoric self-righteous piece of ignorant horse puckey. The idea of hunter education in the schools was described as an attempt by a backwards thinking hillbilly legislator, who saw his favorite past time fading into well deserved oblivion, to brain wash children into taking up a past time that was past prime. The public purpose of said education would be to keep the coffers of the fish and game department full for years to come. Not a noble ideal in the editorial board's collective (Dare I say it?) mind.

    There was no mention of the benefits to society of having children who understand that guns are tools that can be dangerous if improperly handled. That they would know what to do with a firearm if they found it, and that it wouldn't be to point it at a friend or pull the trigger to see what would happen. Nor was there any mention of the practical knowledge of "wildlife biology and habitat" that would result from the classes if properly structured. They made no passing note of the mathematics and physics that could be learned calculating trajectories, velocities, and energy levels of various firearms and calibers. The morality (ethics is too vague a concept to be used when discussing hunting IMO) of responsibly managing and harvesting game animals was nowhere on the editors' horizon. But what can you expect from people with no vision and whose sense of empowerment comes from their ability to buy ink by the barrel. An outdoor adventure to most of them would be planting this year's annuals along the sidewalk.

    But I'm preaching to the choir. I agree that unless we police ourselves we will all eventually fall under some sort of state controls. Given the ability of the goverment to carry even the most reasonable and well intentioned regulation to a bureaucratic absurdity I fear the cure may be worse than the disease.

    I'm not totally convinced that a skilled subsistence hunter with a 22 lr taking close in head shots needs to be regulated to prevent game wasting and unnecessary suffering. On the other hand, the "sportsman" that shot his .338 once to sight it in and then paid somebody to finish the job because he didn't like the recoil off the bench but heard that "you don't really fell the recoil when shoot at game," is probably going to create a problem.

    If regulation should happen I could live with a minimum energy requirement for various classes of game, coupled with a requirement that you prove you can hit the broad side of the barn you are standing in.

    I wish there was an easy answer to the problem of what we used to call slob hunters.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    Certainly this is about ethics and that is as it should be.
    I agree whole heartedly, and this statement reflects the problems sportsman, in fact society faces in general. How do we control the fringe elements that can not seem to self regulate their behavior? In other words, at what point do we have to pass rules and regulations that attempt to prevent the problems that we face from the few, at the expense of the majority?

    You can see this everywhere. Look at the use of ATV's. Most people use them responsibly, but the few who abuse the privilege wreak havoc on both the trails, and the responsible users reputations. The same thing shooters face today with the restriction of their firearm rights. Or Dick Traini trying to make taking dogs onto ballfields illegal, because of those that dont clean up after? One could go on and on.

    I certainly do not have an answer, but I think it is the fundamental heart of the problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    One from those who advocate any caliber as long as the marksmanship is good and another from folks who believe that ethical hunting includes selecting a caliber suitable for the job and developing the skills necessary to use it effectively.
    Throw me in that category, too. though I love my .338 WM, and find it harder to part with it for another.
    "A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user." Theodore Roosevelt, 1913

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