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Thread: Ptarmigan & Rabbits

  1. #1

    Smile Ptarmigan & Rabbits

    Would like to hunt Ptarmigan, Grouse or Rabbits and can't decide whether to head towards Cantwell/Denali or down Glennallen - Richardson Hwy. I know Unit 13 A/B/E went to 5 Ptarmigan per day 10 possession on Dec. 1st.

    Any ideas most appreciated. I don't need anyone's secret spot...just a direction that might help me obtain a bit of success. Have snowmachine and snowshoes.

    We're looking into this for a TV episode. Location "Z" of course

    TKS,
    Tim
    Alaska Outdoors Television ~ Outdoor Channel

  2. #2
    Member Roland on the River's Avatar
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    Default Antone hunting rabbits south of Soldotna

    Looking to take my 12 year old grandson out hunting this Saturday.
    Have tried Funny river road, Skilak loop and still ended up with YUK track soup.
    PM me with a spot we can get him a bunny. Thanks.

  3. #3
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    Thumbs up Likely - indirectly made this suggestion...

    Likely - indirectly made this suggestion for your TV show on winter ptarmigan hunting ... So here goes ---

    If you are ptarmigan hunting this time of year in Alaska (early winter season) here are a couple things to keep in mind.

    #1 you cannot be idle in your approaches to successful sightings. Doing well means that hunting methods are hiking often climbing intensive, time or daylight consuming, and if not… you better have the toys (dependable snowmachine/truck/trailer) to get you there.

    #2 you will find them visually (even hear them) at medium distances situated in dwarf brush and mixed terrain… or very importantly by any open water or gravel sources. Windblown areas with exposed buds, berries, coarse dirt, and a little water nearby… etc. is good finds if discovered with close by comforts (roosts, shelter, pockets, and so on).

    Ptarmigan hunting may best be assisted in early winter by using finer shooting and well-equipped rim fires in .22 and .17 (handgun or rifle)

    To the contrary… if not much of a marksmen or when seeking many watchful eyes among larger widespread flocks - stick with short, dependable, lightweight shotguns using a mix of chokes or loads.

    Ptarmigan are plentiful in population near or just outside our urban sprawls (cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks) as well as in the most rural parts of Alaska. You’ve just got to get out and do some serious trompin’ skiing, or snow machining... better yet rely on recent info and seasonal trends from someone in the know. Really the “Best Hunting” will turn up in these parts come late February and into spring closure of the season.

    Food, water, and grit/gravel sources are always key. Food sources that are easy to peck upon - all the better. Up here in Alaska - Ptarmigan ranges are very successful in numbers due to a tolerance for diversity in climate/weather/seasons, covers and camouflages, diet, design, and by often overlooked strategy. Ruffs you'll encounter are not quite as broad-spectrum and far less populous… they demand proximity to a Poplar (both young & old) for food and cover. Spruce - again have a narrower predisposition for the evergreens having both food & cover. All will eat berries in season and make modifications in both diet & cover if essential or under pressure. Here in most of Alaska – Ptarmigan are simply better apt to make survivability adaptations.

    If you are after Snowshoe Hare in winter... I will emphasize Habitat, Habitat, Habitat and the peak years of the Hare cycle. Find young willows within suitable cover and start to find tracks (Lots of 'em as well as well packed runs)... by paying attention to these signs you'll find yourself in the Bunny zone - right in there like the wolf... tho' I do recommend a dog!

    Good luck - make sound, safe decisions - be prepared and stay warm.

  4. #4
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    The hare cycle peak moves across the state starting in ANWR and moving south and west to the AK pen over the course of several years. Currently the cycle is peaking near Cantwell and just past peak in Delta. An interesting note from the studies I have read is that grouse and ptarmigan peak simultaneously with hares. The accepted theory is that the predators tend to concentrate on hares which takes pressure off the game birds allowing them to prosper. When the Hare population crashes (many theories why this happens) the predators switch to game birds as a primary food source (where they are available). The predators beat up the bird population and then when the birds are gone there is not enough biomass remaining to support the booming predator pop left over from the peak of the hare cycle so the predators go bust, and the cycle slowly begins again.
    That said if you can do your research and find an area that offers good hare and ptarmigan habitat in the region of the state that is currently at "peak hare" you will most certainly have an absolute BLAST hunting. If you are willing to drive it is possible to get into some incredible small game hunting, especially if you have a snow-go.

  5. #5
    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Good info LuJon.....you a wildlife biologist or sumthin'?

  6. #6
    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    The hare cycle peak moves across the state starting in ANWR and moving south and west to the AK pen over the course of several years. Currently the cycle is peaking near Cantwell and just past peak in Delta. An interesting note from the studies I have read is that grouse and ptarmigan peak simultaneously with hares. The accepted theory is that the predators tend to concentrate on hares which takes pressure off the game birds allowing them to prosper. When the Hare population crashes (many theories why this happens) the predators switch to game birds as a primary food source (where they are available). The predators beat up the bird population and then when the birds are gone there is not enough biomass remaining to support the booming predator pop left over from the peak of the hare cycle so the predators go bust, and the cycle slowly begins again.
    That said if you can do your research and find an area that offers good hare and ptarmigan habitat in the region of the state that is currently at "peak hare" you will most certainly have an absolute BLAST hunting. If you are willing to drive it is possible to get into some incredible small game hunting, especially if you have a snow-go.
    I agree with lujon on this.. and this year we have done well clear to cantwell on the hares and birds.. we have an abundance of hare down low though i do not see them up high where i tend to find the ptarmies... we did have an excellent crop of ruffies and spruce grouse this fall i think we pulled in just over 60 this fall.

    unfortunately i have spent more time in FBKS this last month then at home so i have not been out the Rex or off to ferry to see how things are stacking up... but if your sled will cross the bridge the ferry trail and stampede trails out of Healy, should be good with both birds and bunnies this year...

    Denali Hwy another great choice..

    I have found the best way to spot ptarmies this time of year is a good pair of glasses on the sunny slopes in the morning... 10:45 now just getting light...look for fresh tracks along the brush lines. and just follow them along the hill soon you will spot one move and the flock will be all around that one..
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

  7. #7

    Smile Thanks for help

    Hey thanks guys for the info and advice - I really appreciate it. I’ve learned a lot just reading these few posts.

    We were scrambling to shoot this episode this weekend on Snowshoe Hare/Ptarmigan/Grouse hunting but it just got too crazy and we decided to better prepare ourselves so we can get a good episode in the can worthy of your guys viewing time. Probably hit it first part of January now in the Cantwell/Denali Highway area with Snowmachine/shoes and possibly overnight camp…that would be CRAZY COLD!

    Hopefully our duck hunt we’re planning will come together here real quick.
    Tim
    Alaska Outdoors Television ~ Outdoor Channel

  8. #8
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdelarm View Post
    Hey thanks guys for the info and advice - I really appreciate it. I’ve learned a lot just reading these few posts.

    We were scrambling to shoot this episode this weekend on Snowshoe Hare/Ptarmigan/Grouse hunting but it just got too crazy and we decided to better prepare ourselves so we can get a good episode in the can worthy of your guys viewing time. Probably hit it first part of January now in the Cantwell/Denali Highway area with Snowmachine/shoes and possibly overnight camp…that would be CRAZY COLD!

    Hopefully our duck hunt we’re planning will come together here real quick.
    Tim
    Contact AK Tent and Tarp and see if they would be interested in sponsoring. Put a couple arctic ovens on the show and add in winter camping to the story. That would certainly add to the hardcore persona of AK hunting!
    Another sweet episode would be sno-go lake trout ice fishing in the interior w/ an overnight tent camp. You could probably even do a combo hare grouse lake trout trip fairly easily.

  9. #9

    Exclamation Hey TD

    Hey ughm,you didnt go to highschool in Valdez by chance did you?Course that would make you 46 like me,but of course still "Strong like bull."

    ak4195

  10. #10

    Wink

    Valdez High...you got it! Just proves you can run but you can never hide
    Alaska Outdoors Television ~ Outdoor Channel

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