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Thread: Bad news about Adak caribou

  1. #1
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Bad news about Adak caribou

    Hi folks,

    I just returned from Adak and thought I'd let you know how things are out there these days.

    Tracey Harmon and his wife Kim came out there with me and they hunted while I was at work (I know, tough life...). I was able to accompany them on a few forays into the rolling hills though.

    Tracey shot a pretty nice bull, and one very small one that came out to the road and surrendered. But other than that, the results were pretty disappointing. We saw caribou, but no bulls of trophy class. A few had width or length, but either had no tops, no bez tines, no back points, etc. Almost none of them had palmation anywhere, and the few that did were very small. On the few occasions when I actually had a rifle in my hands, I passed on a couple of average bulls. I would have shot a large one, but I don't need to shoot a caribou just to say I did. We already have meat in the freezer.

    We spoke to a guide out there and he told us pretty much the same thing. We saw the evidence in his garage, with several racks from mediocre bulls shot by clients, and not a single big one. He told us that he will no longer be able to sell Adak as a trophy caribou hunt. The reason appears to be hordes of hunters who came out earlier this year, starting in August. They cherry-picked most of the big bulls while they were still in velvet. Antler tips were still growing and very soft (Mark told us they were translucent when the velvet was peeled off). These trophies will be worthless when the tips break off.

    We ran into two guys from Southeast who nearly had a caribou stolen from them by three chuckleheads from North Pole (is it the water up there? I dunno...). Their story was that they shot a bull on the road system but had to run to town (about five minutes away) to drop a package off at the Post Office before it closed. They covered the animal with grass to keep the eagles off it, dropped the package off and returned with their knives (but left the guns home). When they got there there were three guys on it, claiming they shot it!? It almost got ugly but finally the three guys backed off and went away. We saw them later in the airport and I almost said something to them, but what good would it do? I know there are two sides to every story, but...

    Anyway, sorry for such a bleak report, but it's looking like Adak has really been thrashed this year. The herd is only 3500 head and it just can't handle the kind of pressure it got this year. I spoke with the City Manager and he said there have been hunters coming in on every flight. We saw them everywhere. We went out glassing yesterday morning and saw at least six or seven separate hunters prowling around the same three-mile area. It's ridiculous.

    Adak might be an okay meat hunt right now, but if you're looking for a big bull, I'd look elsewhere.

    -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 Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    Thanks for the report. How was the weather there?
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    Member gogoalie's Avatar
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    Default We're our own worst enemy...

    I will remember reading on the old posts 'bout how Larry Bartlett was always asked "where are the rivers you hunt" & he never divulged them to the public at all...loose lips sinks ships...& your point proves it Michael...

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    Default meat hunt?

    That's an expensive meat hunt.

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    ADF&G might be calling them bou...........but I bet they're DEER........as in Reindeer.
    Hunting santa's deer.............honestly, Michael!
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by twodux View Post
    That's an expensive meat hunt.
    I can't speak for everyone, but I know that a lot of people who hunt Adak fly there on AK Air mileage tickets. If you've got extra miles and an empty freezer, it seems like it would make sense. Heck, I've given it some thought before. Anyhow, just wanted to point out that it doesn't have to be expensive.

    -Brian

  7. #7

    Default adak

    maybe wags, a member here, will weigh in on how his season on adak went?
    Cold Zero
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    Default Repercussions?

    The Ammendment I does protect the right but repurcussions are obvious...

    Would be curious how many of the hunters this year planned their hunt based on info obtained right here on the forum...

    Makes you wonder what a book of such info would do....?

  9. #9

    Default Road Hunts vs. Boat Access

    As I understand, the best hunting areas are only reached via boat on the far side of the island. Additional expense and weather related delays presumably would lessen the impact in these areas despite additional pressure and I wonder if the road system hunting areas may be taking a hard hit while good hunting for quality bulls can still be had with the extra effort of a boat trip.

    As for the guide you mentioned, was he also hunting the road system? Any chance he was holding out, trying to keep the pressure down?

    One thing any would-be Adak hunter should be aware of and something I never noticed until it was pointed out to me....have you ever noticed that all the photos of those huge Adak bulls show that pale-pasty white color antler characteristic? I don't know if they are all like that but it turned me off a little. I guess a taxidermist could always stain them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Busta Ribs View Post
    One thing any would-be Adak hunter should be aware of and something I never noticed until it was pointed out to me....have you ever noticed that all the photos of those huge Adak bulls show that pale-pasty white color antler characteristic? I don't know if they are all like that but it turned me off a little. I guess a taxidermist could always stain them.
    Hmmm and we had an arguement about antler color a while back; whether it was stain from what they rub their antlers on or blood. My position that it is what they rub on could be supported by the fack Adak has no trees. If it was blood and dirt as the other position stated, why would they be "pasty white"? The animals there obviously have blood and there is dirt on Adak.

  11. #11
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Adak Weather

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska Gray View Post
    Thanks for the report. How was the weather there?
    The weather was something else. First day was really bad; typical Adak with sideways rain, strong wind, etc. No real way for a civilized man to hunt.

    After that it got pretty nice, then on Friday the real typhoon hit. I spoke to one individual who was actually hunting in that stuff. He and his partner started out heading upslope on both hind legs, then graduated to all fours, then a crawl and finally slithering on their bellies; sorta evolution in reverse! By the time they got to the edge of the ridge they were headed for, they were grabbing clumps of grass to pull themselves forward inches at a time. Eventually Mother Nature had enough of it and one strong gust literally blew them down the mountain and they gave up. He said the wind had to be about 140 mph. They were on a saddle between two peaks and were catching the venturi effect in there. Great way to get hurt!

    Good fun.

    -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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  12. #12
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Counter-point for GoGoalie

    Quote Originally Posted by gogoalie View Post
    I will remember reading on the old posts 'bout how Larry Bartlett was always asked "where are the rivers you hunt" & he never divulged them to the public at all...loose lips sinks ships...& your point proves it Michael...
    I was reading some of your comments on the "man we love to hate" thread (which should probably be re-named, "man, we LOVE to hate!"). You really ARE an animal, aren't you? :}

    As to the comment about Bartlett not revealing the places he hunts, you might re-check that. He provides very detailed "where to go" information to anyone willing to write him a check for it. Perhaps you were unaware that he was selling this information, complete with maps and detailed who-to-fly-with, how-to-hunt-it information? Hmmm...

    Surely you're not blaming me for the folks who hunted Adak this year? Interesting logic. But if you want to explore that pathway with me, I'd be happy to do so in detail. Drop me a pm and let's do it, shall we?

    -Mike
    Last edited by Webmaster; 10-31-2006 at 12:36.
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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  13. #13
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Interesting question

    Quote Originally Posted by WinMag View Post
    The Ammendment I does protect the right but repurcussions are obvious...

    Would be curious how many of the hunters this year planned their hunt based on info obtained right here on the forum...

    Makes you wonder what a book of such info would do....?
    WinMag,

    Not to read too much into your last comment, but it seemed a little transparent to me. After all, I think I'm the only guy here who is actually producing such a book, right? Unless you know of someone else?

    Let's look at the current amount of float hunting pressure we're seeing around the state. Get a real fix on that in your mind. Now look at the information currently being provided to float hunters either on this website or for sale through hunt planners. Yes, THAT hunt planner. Now, try and tell us how you figure that this forum is solely responsible for the increased pressure, or that my book is somehow retroactively responsible.

    Sir, the fact is that hunters are coming to Alaska whether there is a forum or not, whether there is a book or not, and yes, whether there is a hunt planner or not. It's a fact, proven by the growth curve in hunting pressure over the last few years. So the question you have to answer is whether you're going to help them, try to block them, or go away and ignore them. The fact that you remain an active participant in this venue sorta rules out the last option, so what's it gonna be?

    In answering that question, it might be fruitful to meditate on what YOU would have wanted Alaskans to do when YOU first came here to try to figure this stuff out for the first time. I'd guess that over the years you asked for a little help now and then, and were glad to get it. Maybe not grateful enough to actually pay for it (as some do), but grateful, I'd bet. In fact, I just poked around the archives a bit and discovered that you've asked for location information yourself a time or three.

    So... where are we going with this? I thought it was a thread on the reduced trophy caribou potential on Adak.
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://www.alaskahuntplanning.com/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  14. #14
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Some info for Busta

    Quote Originally Posted by Busta Ribs View Post
    As I understand, the best hunting areas are only reached via boat on the far side of the island. Additional expense and weather related delays presumably would lessen the impact in these areas despite additional pressure and I wonder if the road system hunting areas may be taking a hard hit while good hunting for quality bulls can still be had with the extra effort of a boat trip.

    As for the guide you mentioned, was he also hunting the road system? Any chance he was holding out, trying to keep the pressure down?

    One thing any would-be Adak hunter should be aware of and something I never noticed until it was pointed out to me....have you ever noticed that all the photos of those huge Adak bulls show that pale-pasty white color antler characteristic? I don't know if they are all like that but it turned me off a little. I guess a taxidermist could always stain them.
    My understanding is that the caribou move around a bit out there, and your chances of bagging a larger bull on the road system are about as good as anywhere else. Until this year, that is.

    I don't think the guy I spoke with was overstating things at all. I say this because I actually saw the antlers from the bulls his hunters shot, and several other sets of antlers at the airport. Believe me, nothing spectacular there at all. I think it's the real deal.

    As to the antler color issue, you bring up an interesting point. One observation I heard this trip had to do with the numbers of birds out there, and the high guano (bird poop, for the less sophisticated) content in the soil. One perspective is that the antlers are so unusual out there because the plants ingested by the caribou have a high mineral content from bird dung. I think inbreeding is another cause, but it doesn't really explain the large antler sizes historically found out there. Hard to say without further study. I do know one guy who shot one out there last year and rubbed the antlers with mud and such to darken them up. They looked "normal" afterwards. The only thing I saw caribou antlers being rubbed on when I was there was other caribou antlers. The bulls were still fighting and we saw a number with only one antler, the other broken off from fighting.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://www.alaskahuntplanning.com/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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    Default info is knowledge, knowledge is power

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    WinMag,

    Not to read too much into your last comment, but it seemed a little transparent to me. After all, I think I'm the only guy here who is actually producing such a book, right? Unless you know of someone else?

    Let's look at the current amount of float hunting pressure we're seeing around the state. Get a real fix on that in your mind. Now look at the information currently being provided to float hunters either on this website or for sale through hunt planners. Yes, THAT hunt planner. Now, try and tell us how you figure that this forum is solely responsible for the increased pressure, or that my book is somehow retroactively responsible.

    Sir, the fact is that hunters are coming to Alaska whether there is a forum or not, whether there is a book or not, and yes, whether there is a hunt planner or not. It's a fact, proven by the growth curve in hunting pressure over the last few years. So the question you have to answer is whether you're going to help them, try to block them, or go away and ignore them. The fact that you remain an active participant in this venue sorta rules out the last option, so what's it gonna be?

    In answering that question, it might be fruitful to meditate on what YOU would have wanted Alaskans to do when YOU first came here to try to figure this stuff out for the first time. I'd guess that over the years you asked for a little help now and then, and were glad to get it. Maybe not grateful enough to actually pay for it (as some do), but grateful, I'd bet. In fact, I just poked around the archives a bit and discovered that you've asked for location information yourself a time or three.

    So... where are we going with this? I thought it was a thread on the reduced trophy caribou potential on Adak.
    Don't read too much into any of my comments... I said what I meant.

    I'm not suggesting that any source is "SOLELY" responsible. But I think only a fool would deny the affect of both mass and multi media. It works... Sometimes too well...

    This thread is about the reduced trophy caribou potential on Adak. The reduced trophy potential is due to increased pressure. You said so yourself...

    I guess I could have started a seperate thread to ask why... I don't recall seeing any "come hunt Adak commercials". I only recall seeing info posted here about Adak caribou. It made me wonder... So I posted.

    I have asked lots of questions, read lots of information and ultimatley have taken and given help on this forum. I'll likely continue in the future... I find the forum to be great source of information and at times entertainment.
    It won't preclude me from wondering what effect this all has on the future populations of animals... Particularly those in such remote and isolated areas.

    You mention "The current amount of float hunting pressure and the "fact" that is proven by the growth curve in hunting pressure...." What is the reason for this sudden increased pressure? I'm wondering "why now?" Maybe it's just that all these hunters just finally made the same decision at the same time.

    I think the answer is availabilty of information.

    Am I suggesting the forum shut down? Am I making recommendations to you or any other? Do I believe hunters sharing information is wrong? NO, NO and NO.... But I believe there is a DIRECT correlation between the increased hunting pressure and the availability of information at our finger tips.

    So where are we going? Ultimately, we both know.... But in the mean time we'll have to make due with what we have...

    You're always good for discussion, answers and information. That can't be said for everyone who posts here.

  16. #16
    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    ADF&G might be calling them bou...........but I bet they're DEER........as in Reindeer.
    Hunting santa's deer.............honestly, Michael!

    Oh my who shot Santa's Riendeer? The kids are going to be disappoint this year when Santa can't make his rounds due to his Reindeer being on the BBQ
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  17. #17
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Increased hunting pressure

    WinMag,

    I agree with much of what you said here, but you need to look farther back in tracking the increased pressure. I started conducting float hunting seminars fifteen years ago and pressure was tremendous in some areas even back then. I don't know if you are aware of what was happening on the Hoholitna back then, but it was ridiculous. The pressure out there (almost all of it was float hunters) created our very first area in the state where we were required to leave meat on the bone, and where hunters were forced to fly their meat out of one sub-unit before they floated into the next. This was a direct result of the huge numbers of float hunters floating that river out of Whitefish Lake. The same thing was happening on the Hoholitna, and has expanded to other systems as well.

    All of this happened before this website existed, and while Mr. Bartlett was still living in Texas, and before I was sharing info online or had written my book. At that time the best resource out there was the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Next to that was Karen Jettmar's "Alaska River Guide", but that book didn't include either the Hoho or the Holitna. If you were here then, you know how sketchy information was back then, yet hunters were hitting that area HARD. Hence my point that they're coming here whether the information is available or not.

    Concerning Adak I have deliberately held back providing ANY details about how to hunt that area, because I believe it cannot stand the pressure. That's a line I've drawn for myself, and there are other areas I treat the same way. Perhaps it's inconsistent from other viewpoints, but that's where I find myself. I am very concerned about the pressure some systems are seeing, but I don't think the key to mitigating that pressure lies in withholding information. It lies with sound game management practices, seasons and bag limits that make sense, and the permit process. We can't just close our eyes and hope nobody discovers these places, because they will. It has to be managed through the regulatory process, in my view.

    The problem with Adak is that the Feds want all the caribou shot off the island, and they've gotten ADFG to support that plan to an extent. A quarter of the island is native land, and perhaps there's some leverage there to swing the tide toward mangement of a trophy caribou area. I certainly hope so, for the people of Adak and for our benefit. The potential is there for a new world record, but that potential is rapidly evaporating, as long as hunters come out there in August and shoot every developing bull they can find; bulls that would have scored well, but will now be ruined by spoilage because the antlers aren't hardened yet. Personally I think the island would be a great place to introduce muskox, bison and possibly elk as well, but that's not going to happen. This could be a great source of income for ADFG, with all the nonresident interest (as you know, nonresidents shoulder most of the funding for ADFG). Hopefully our state folks will get the picture and respond accordingly. A very proactive step would be to limit the bull take to one bull per hunter, and allow each hunter to take two cows. The ratio is way out of wack right now, from what I'm hearing from locals.

    Lots to look at here. It's an interesting situation.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://www.alaskahuntplanning.com/
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  18. #18
    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    MS, Do you think the Mulchatna herd decline is also same problem Adak with the popularity of there trophy bou's? I do know?
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  19. #19
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Reindeer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska Gray View Post
    Oh my who shot Santa's Riendeer? The kids are going to be disappoint this year when Santa can't make his rounds due to his Reindeer being on the BBQ
    Gray,

    Those aren't reindeer out there, they're caribou that were transplanted from the Nelchina basin many years ago-

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://www.alaskahuntplanning.com/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  20. #20
    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Gray,

    Those aren't reindeer out there, they're caribou that were transplanted from the Nelchina basin many years ago-

    -Mike

    I know, they are caribou. They were planted there if I'm right for the Navy to have food back in the day. They are now allowed to be entered in B&C and P&Y a couple of years ago.

    I'm in a good mood today, I gusses it's Halloween.
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