First off I wish to come clean with the admission that the Nelchina "subsistence" hunt has irritated me for a long time. No I am not jealous of those who participate. I could probably get a tag too if I bothered to apply. I feel that the Tier II system is jacked up in general with the Nelchina hunt being its poster child. My problem with this hunt is that its not a subsistence hunt. If it was then there wouldn't be the emphasis on big bulls. ADF&G has the data--the majority of Nelchina caribou taken are big racked, white maned, trophy bulls. In the mid 90's F&G biologists were begging Tier II permit holders to take cows because the herd was too big, overgrazing its range, and they were afraid it would crash. Nothing doing. The focus on bulls continued.
This so-called "meat" hunt has long been nothing more than a "private" trophy hunt for long-time residents.
This isn't a native vs white, or urban vs rural issue, at least not to me. Its about a select group "gaming the system".
What I would like to see is Tier II hunters limited to cows, calves and immature bulls. To counter the argument that there's more meat on a big bull, I would borrow a page from the dipnetting regs. I would allow 1 caribou for the head-of-household plus one per every 2 or 3 family members. I would reserve the big bulls for a drawing permit(or permits).
Failing that I would like to see a requirement to saw the antlers off the way it is for Tier II Koyukuk Moose.
If Tier II hunters truly want caribou meat for the freezer then IMO they shouldn't have a problem with any of this. If there are howls of protest, then that would tend to confirm my suspicions.
I am considering submitting a proposal and would like your feedback to gauge whether or not I should bother. Please do not let my opinion sway yours...if you disagree that's OK by me. I would like your opinion either way. The only way this very contentious hunt will ever be modified is if the politically motivated managers of our F&G resources feel there is sufficient public support.
Thanks in advance