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Thread: Mulchatna Herd

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    Member alaskabushrat's Avatar
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    Default Mulchatna Herd

    Just wondering if anyone has seen or heard anything on the Mulchatna Herd. My friend and I flew around for a couple of hours in the Iggiugig and Kvichak area and didn't see a thing.

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    Member pike_palace's Avatar
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    That herd has pretty much gone straight down hill since 2003.
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pike_palace View Post
    That herd has pretty much gone straight down hill since 2003.
    they should be near the coast then by now, right?

    were they headed towards cook inlet or bristol bay?

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    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andweav View Post
    they should be near the coast then by now, right?

    were they headed towards cook inlet or bristol bay?

    Thats a good one.

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    The numbers are definitley down. I hunted one area three years ago and saw plenty of caribou, although not the numbers i saw in 2000. I went to the same place this year (2009) at the same time period and the numbers were down considerably. What was up was the number of bears in the area. Of the caribou we did see, the number of cows with calfs was very low. So on the last afternnon of the hunt I evened the odds a little.

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    Member alaskabushrat's Avatar
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    Default Just wondering

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill S. View Post
    The numbers are definitley down. I hunted one area three years ago and saw plenty of caribou, although not the numbers i saw in 2000. I went to the same place this year (2009) at the same time period and the numbers were down considerably. What was up was the number of bears in the area. Of the caribou we did see, the number of cows with calfs was very low. So on the last afternnon of the hunt I evened the odds a little.
    I live close to Nondalton and usually we can go behind the mountains in our area and see some but, this year nothing.

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Bye Bye Mulchatna

    Gods Head of caribou...in the '90.
    In 1994 one camp shot 26 bulls. Smallest was 380. 11 caribou bulls officially scored over 400 and made the B&C book.

    Ya should have saw it/seen it. What ever.
    400 Thousand+ strong they said.
    I used to see perhaps 12 K in the month of Sept. Or 8 K, or 10,647, or 15 thousand (?). It was hard to count every animal.
    It was magical.
    I had names like Paradise Canyon, The Killin Fields, Caribou Pasture, The Serengetti, Bowkilling Elbow, Migration Alley, and other...
    For 13 years (of Septembers) my posterior has been parked on the same three hills (Camp 1-Dolly Varden Camp, Camp 2-Blue Berry Pie Island, Camp 3-Scary Bear Camp... glassing for game.

    An as the white caribou lichen died and turned to dust...the caribou came less and less.
    Although 2000, 2001, 2002 was marginal good for me, no 'bou migrations came through in 2003.
    2004 = 41 cow sightings
    2005 = 23 cow sightings
    2005 = 04 bull sightings, all 300 pt dinks.
    2006 = 00 sightings
    2007 = 00 sighting
    2008 = 00 sightings
    2009 = 00 sightings

    Ask any Anchorage area taxidermist...the Mulchatna Herd, RIP, is essentially no more.

    Out in western Alaska I see more brown bears now than during those glory years of the caribou.

    While flying during the glory years, the tundra hills were so white with lichen that it was like flying during the winter.
    The white caribou lichen has all died and turned to dust, and those previously white hills have grown over with blue berries.

    Ya should have saw it/seen it. Whatever. When herds of 200 came through one after the other day after day...it was magical.

    Dennis

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    Member Mort's Avatar
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    What caused the white caribou lichen to die off?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mort View Post
    What caused the white caribou lichen to die off?
    Volcano Ash. It happened in several places.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
    ~~Abraham Lincoln~~

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default White Lichen...

    Mort,

    I am not aware of why the western Alaska tundra changed. I don't know what caused the white caribou lichen die-off. Frankly, I'm not a biologist or a botanist. Nor am I a volcanologist. But I can say that between 1998 (or before) and 2003 (or since) I never observed any volcanic ash residue anywhere out there (like I could observe in Southcentral AK).

    (Like everybody else) I have also spoke with a few of our biologist, those that might be able to determine specifically what happened, but have never been able to get a specific answer concerning my lichen observations or the herds decline...I mean the herds implosion.

    Perhaps the lichen died due to "tundra succession". Perhaps due to global warming, or the volcanic ash deal, or a combination of everything. But the white caribou lichen did die. It was not all eaten up by caribou as some people have suggested.

    And I have never heard a difinitive reason for the Mulchatna Herds collapse. Some died due to predation. Some of those, those that were limpers, died due to the foot rot deal in the late '90s. We hunters and guides harvested thousands and thousands of bulls and the herds sex ratio got out of whack. Some people will still claim that the herd ate itself out of house and home, which-by itself- is impossible. We have to remember that caribou do... as caribou do. They just do not follow the ecological population models like other ungulate species.

    Another myth was that the herd moved west or north. But ask any Anchorage area taxidermist how many Mulchatna area caribou he took in each year during the '90s. Then ask what percentage he now gets from the Mulchatna area, or west and/or north or the Mulchatna area. The answere will be 1%! The herd did not move anywhere, except up the food chain or to "caribou heaven".

    Yo, these are really just my observations and opinions....like everybody elses...

    ...and with a breath of life back in this thread, perhaps we will hear ten additional reasons for the absence of western Alaska lichen and caribou...

    Ya should have saw it back in the '90s. It was magical.

    Dennis

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    Member alaskabushrat's Avatar
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    Default Herd

    I remember 2002 when I was the winter caretaker at Alaska Rainbow Lodge on the Kvichak by Levelock, They use to cross the river and lay down on the open ground right next to the lodge. About 100ft. from my cabin. What a sight.

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