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Thread: Any experience with Reindeer/Caribou on Kodiak?

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Any experience with Reindeer/Caribou on Kodiak?

    I am wonderng if anyone has experience hunting the Feral Reindeer on Kodiak Island, now considered a Caribou hunt by F&G. Even as a Kodiak local for many years I have mostly heard rumors and just a few hunt success stories. They are traveling a lot and are a serious chunk of walking miles from your freezer... are larger than northern Caribou by substantial amount of "packing out" poundage... etc. Looking for any info I can get before taking the boat down to look around. I'll post what I find when I get back near end of Jan.

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    Member Phil's Avatar
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    Default Feral Reindeer

    I have no experience with late season reindeer - just September.

    Yes, they do move around quite a bit and now there is more than 1 herd (or the herd is split). What we did was contact a pilot (we used Sea Hawk but others are good also) and said - put us as close to the reindeer as practical. We let Roland do the rest.

    As far as a boat is concerned, I have no info.- but unless they move close to the coast in winter, they are going to be a LONG pack.

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    We got a couple driving by the Sturgeon River a few years back in early May, pretty close to the beach, back when it was no closed season, no bag limit. Does anyone know why F&G decided to change that policy?

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Kodiak Caribou for Sustainability

    They told me down at F&G that they figured they wanted to start managing them for sustainability as they are up to 3-400 animals and considered well established as a Kodiak Island Herd. So now it is tightening up quite a bit. Supposedly they originally wanted them out of there,(not a F&G quote)
    F&G guy in Kodiak didn't seem to have seen a lot of success or even interest in the hunt tho

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    I've seen small bands near the mouth of the Ayakulik in May. If I were using a boat for access I would check out the flats between Old Red River and the mouth of the Ayakulik. Unfortunately there are not many good anchorages around there. There are generally two or three air access points that are pretty reliable in the fall.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    It seems interesting to me that the herd has been growing under the no closed season regulation. If that is the case then why change it? I haven't heard anything to give me the impression that there was somehow going to be a new and overwhelming interest in the herd that would turn the growth trend around.

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    It seems interesting to me that the herd has been growing under the no closed season regulation. If that is the case then why change it? I haven't heard anything to give me the impression that there was somehow going to be a new and overwhelming interest in the herd that would turn the growth trend around.

    if i recall the decision at the spring BOG, Jon.. it had to do with a surprisingly low number of bou all of a sudden.. whether the herd relocated, crashed or other..

    and as they had not caused any detrimental damage to the locals.. and were generating income.. all that stuff was brought up...

    again.. all off addled memory banks
    "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."

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    It seems interesting to me that the herd has been growing under the no closed season regulation. If that is the case then why change it? I haven't heard anything to give me the impression that there was somehow going to be a new and overwhelming interest in the herd that would turn the growth trend around.
    Generally harvest is pretty light on this herd, but in the last 3-4 years or so interest has increased. Still probably not enough to hurt the population though. When I was last down there deer hunting in 2007 I know there was one group out that killed about eight reindeer and we were about 50 yards away from two nice bulls. I would be surprised if harvest exceeds 2-3 dozen animals annually.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Crashed or hard to find ?

    I was under the impression at F&G Kodiak that the herd was growing and strong tho it was a short discussion. Do you remember Vince from the meetings what the history is, as in they are crashing from what numbers in the past? I seem to remember 3-400 animals as the current number and by word of mouth can't imagine there being much more than a few dozen annually harvested as Chisana is suggesting. I don't think the interest is there with a fairly strong Deer population these days.
    We are having a very mild winter right now so everything out there is probably up high munching good grass. Good news for all the grass eaters this year, almost no snow temps in the forties all Jan. and only one cold snap back in Dec to speak of this year. I wonder if Bear predation is the main issue or if they are really down in numbers? Herd splitting off into several drainages and shorting the count?

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    Member Jeff U's Avatar
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    Default Caribou on Kodiak

    I'm probably the most knowledgable about this herd than most. Having hunted them the last 5 years, I have a really good feel on what's going on. I hunted them last year along with a buddy from CA. For the Caribou, normally an easy hunt to find them, it was extremely tough. We went in with Andrews. Once we got down to the South end of the island, they flew an additional hour, scouring the countryside from Olga Bay to Booth to Grants and everywhere in between, and we only saw 1 Caribou. We ended up landing at Grants. 3 days later I located a small herd of 80 and my hunting partner got a nice one.
    http://www.jesseshunting.com/forums/...ml#post2163836
    2 days later I got mine, after a 6 hour stalk.
    We saw many deer, including many twin fawn/does, so the winter was not that bad down there.
    The year yearly, we landed in Ayakulik Lake and our group of 3 shot 4 Caribou, mine scored 349 and the biggest was 366. We saw hundreds of Caribou. I estimated the heard to be 700.
    2 years prior to that, I went in with a different group, 3 total, and we shot 3, the biggest being 402 (I know, I officially measured it 2 years later for PnY). That year we also saw a lot of Caribou.
    I know where they are at any time of year, except for last year. Willie, from Andrews did a great job for us, even contacted Roland, F&G, and others to see if anyone had seen them. When he came in to do a meat pickup, he said no one had seen any of them.
    I know a few others have killed some after our hunt, but I do not know why there are so few this year. It was rumored that a group from Kodiak, locals, went out and killed 25 last year. And I was told that Roland is the one who put in the recommendation to F&G to make the change from unlimited to 1 Caribou.
    Hope that helps.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Caribou Mystery, eh?

    Thanks Jeff, that is a ton of info in your post and also link. Ill ask around town a bit more here. Maybe that is why F&G guy was vague, they don't know what's going on down there. It's big country tho and it's hard to imagine locals or anybody making that many disappear. Last winter seemed pretty mild also, well, thanks for the help. I hope to get down there in next couple of weeks but it has been blowing 35-50 consistently for a while so not sure if weather will allow.
    Couple of questions about the animals, I've heard they are bigger than most caribou by quite a bit, looks like you were packing them in one or two trips on your link? Also you mention any time of year, have you been down in winter?

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    Member Jeff U's Avatar
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    Default Caribou on Kodiak

    We boned out our Caribou. You'll get around 120# of meat give or take some. This time of year, look towards Booth Lake and Bumble Bay, if they haven't all disappeared, they should be around that area. That's were they usually are during the winter.
    Please post after you get back, hope you do well.

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    Default Bumble Bay

    I was going to suggest Bumble Bay myself. Climb the big hill above the east end of the Bay and you can see for literally miles. Good for spotting. I found some nice Reindeer sheds on that hill. Seen some real nice bucks in that area too.
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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff U View Post
    We boned out our Caribou. You'll get around 120# of meat give or take some.
    Then obviously there is more meat somewhere than just those four little plastic bags shown in the caping photo.

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    Default Caribou on Kodiak

    Yes, alot more. We used 2 1/2 gal zip lock bags for deboning.

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff U View Post
    We used 2 1/2 gal zip lock bags for deboning.
    Why? Seems like that would promote meat spoilage.

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    Default Caribou on Kodiak

    Not a bit, Ed came up with a proven method and it works great. You can read about it on the link. The key was the water temp, which was very cold.
    I'm enjoying Caribou steaks now........

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff U View Post
    Not a bit, Ed came up with a proven method and it works great. You can read about it on the link. The key was the water temp, which was very cold.
    I'm enjoying Caribou steaks now........
    Bowhunters on Kodiak adopted the submerged bucket o'meat technique back in the 80s. Not my cup of tea, but glad it worked for you.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Talked with ADFG Biologist

    I got a chance to sit down with one of the ADFG Biologist today and he cleared up that the herd has not crashed but is at 250-300 and felt it has been about the same numbers for the last ten yrs.
    The reason they felt a problem was developing was that the same day airborn restriction was lifted a while back, and as a result several local pilots were seeing some large harvests going on so they brought the proposal to limit to BOG.
    ADFG also said the Troopers cited 5-6 folks for wanton waste last year as well as folks caught hauling out antlers before meat.
    Make it too easy and people start losing respect for the animal???
    They also cleared up that it is just rumor that they ever wanted them hunted off the refuge as an unwanted Feral animal. Not True! Many years ago some on the Refuge were concerned for impact on the Bears of an increasing herd but now they feel the Caribou are a well adapted species and a good harvest opportunity to maintain sustainably.
    I'll post what I see in the next few weeks if I get the weather to run my boat down there and look around.
    He also answered the question of them being larger than northern Caribou, no, 100-120 lbs of meat is to be expected.
    Overall good report on Kodiak Caribou, so far

  20. #20
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Wind and Snow down there

    Had to put something on here about traveling down to Bumble Bay last week, really a nice run down with lots of glassing done along the eastside of the island. Lots of deer on the south east slopes but no caribou.

    I traveled up the shore from Cape Trinity to Bumble bay at night so didn't get to look much there and the next morning when I got to shore it was blowing up to 30-35 knots and snowing so hard that visibility was about 200 yards.

    I did find a nice Blacktail Buck hiding from the wind and took him for an easy meat hunt. Antlers were down so all I can say for size is "he seems real heavy for Blktls "

    He had a nice amount of fat on chest and back and an absolutely healthy looking full stomach of grasses.

    Couldn't resist taking a nicely coated Red Fox investigating the kill and I had to call it a hunt for the worse weather coming up.

    All the way down there and not a chance to even glass for the "mystery Kodiak Caribou," so I have nothing to report of any info other than I did get a good look at the Aliulik peninsula and rest of southeastern shoreline with no sightings at all.

    Figure they are up north anyway but I basically got my tail kicked seriously on the boat travel back down past Alitak and Trinity and had no opp to hunt at all.

    Good trip tho, I'm all jacked about finding out what is going on with these so will be back, just not til next fall I guess

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