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Thread: Lifeless......

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Default Lifeless......

    I walked down the high ATV trail looking for sign in the crusty snow. The dog running ahead sniffing everything. No ATV traffic on this trail, but there was an adult and a child in recent days. In the protection of the trees the snow was softer under foot, but there was still a crunchy layer right down on the soil.

    A half mile in and still no sign of life. No bunny trails, no pellets, no sounds. The lifeless woods.

    The dog picked her head up a few times and sniffed the breeze looking up into the spruce trees. I looked up as well, searching for a small round shape holding tight to conserve its warmth. Nothing.

    Came to the trickling creek with its icy rocks and crossed, headed for the close ridge. The snow covered the pieces of cottonwood bark making for some interesting footing on the steep hillside. Checked out the old tree stand and the little draw it overlooked. That is where the foot prints in the snow stopped.

    The dog and I headed down hill. Still no tracks in the snow. No moose, hare, bird, martin, ermine tracks or trails anywhere. No sound in the woods either.

    Half way down the hill we cut the middle trail. No ATV sign here either. Walked to the East and found a dead fall spruce that blocked the trail. It must have fallen during the last wind storm. Rotten all the way through right down to the roots. After the deadfall the dog and I were positive we would see something on the undisturbed trail. Nothing.

    Walked all the way to the bluff at the East end of the lake. We cut one set of very old hare tracks on the trail near the shore. Very encouraging.

    We walked along the shore of the lake back towards the truck. The springs however changed my plans. The ice is over and inch thick, but won’t hold my weight in the marsh grass. I lead the dog up slope through the alder bog and then the rose thicket to the lower trail. The alders and roses are void of all signs of life except for my brush busting trail. The roses were thick enough the dog started following me instead of finding her own way.

    The lower trail has had two ATVs on it since it last snowed. Tired and soaked in sweat from busting through the alders and roses. What a work out. I decided we should head back to the truck along the trail. The dog does not care as long as she gets to run and crash through the woods as she pleases.

    Once back at the truck the dog and I share a small lunch. I ask her opinion of what we just did, but all she is interested in discussing is what my plans are for the last bite of cheese?

    That was the most lifeless woods I have been in after 28 years hunting small game in Alaska.

    Rippey Trail, Jim Lake

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    Member akfishfool's Avatar
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    If this was a true story, I would say it is time to bring it up at the next bog meeting this spring. Small game is still game, more restrictions may not always be popular, but sometimes a wound needs to be given time to heal.

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    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
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    tighter bag limits around town shouldn't be scorned... there's still a huge state out there with more birds and bunnies than you could ever hunt in a lifetime
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


  4. #4

    Wink

    The Russians and Asians went out before it snowed. Bag limits are irrelevant to the issue and only pertain to those that abide by them.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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    Member akfishfool's Avatar
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    I wasn't scorning it,:-) just commenting on how many will typically through a fit at the mention of restrictions. Personally I would rather see tighter bag limits closer to town so a quick hunt with the kids has some options. When I hunt small game for myself I don't mind some leg work and a little drive out of town

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    [QUOTE=AK Ray;827382] No sound in the woods either.

    Is there no sounds or is the problem you just can not hear the birds, squirrels etc? The reason I say that is I have a hunting partner that has good hearing. Because he could hear animals I could not I built a very low noise hi-gain amplifier to improve my hearing. I could not believe how much talking birds and squirrels do, now that I can hear them.

    I never new I had a problem with my hearing because my hearing is better that other hunting partners I had.


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    Member greythorn3's Avatar
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    i think you may have not been looking at the right time.
    Semper Fi!

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greythorn3 View Post
    i think you may have not been looking at the right time.
    Tracks do not know of this time thing you speak of. How does the time of day relate to tracks left in snow when the daily temp does not reach above 25 degrees?

    Animal scat also does not know of this time thing you speak of.

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Rutting Moose;827412]
    Quote Originally Posted by AK Ray View Post
    No sound in the woods either.

    Is there no sounds or is the problem you just can not hear the birds, squirrels etc? The reason I say that is I have a hunting partner that has good hearing. Because he could hear animals I could not I built a very low noise hi-gain amplifier to improve my hearing. I could not believe how much talking birds and squirrels do, now that I can hear them.

    I never new I had a problem with my hearing because my hearing is better that other hunting partners I had.
    My hearing is fine. The red squirrel, the one red squirrel, was loud and clear. The ravens were way out on the lake making a lot of noise later in the day.

    So not absolutely lifeless, but the closest I have ever came to finding such in Alaska.

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    Quote Originally Posted by akfishfool View Post
    If this was a true story, I would say it is time to bring it up at the next bog meeting this spring. Small game is still game, more restrictions may not always be popular, but sometimes a wound needs to be given time to heal.
    Taking of game at this end of the road spot may not be an issue. There is something going on out there since 2005. Muskrats vanished in one winter. At the same time alders along the slough banks died off in large numbers. The last two seasons the waterfowl numbers have been way down from what they were in 2007 and prior. This year was the first year I saw muskrats out in the main lake areas, so they are coming back from their crash of 2005/2006.

    What was the most noticable was the lack of sign of anything alive and moving on the ground. The light snow was perfect for tracking if there was something there to make a track.

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    Member skybust's Avatar
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    Ray dont feel bad me and Sidney went out on Saturday up on the Glen and only saw one rabbit had a great time with him but wish I could get him into some rabbits. With him only being ten and not getting anything he is still wanting to go every chance we have.

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    Way to close to town and everyone else likes those close to town spots.Travel farther and its worth it. Also,I try to avoid overharvesting areas I know about. If Ive had good luck there one weekend,Ill not go back for the year. Theres plenty of great spots if you just mix it up a bit.

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    That's sad!
    The other night my boys and I counted 24 rabbits sitting on the side of the road at dusk. That was in a 1.5 mile stretch.

    Sure hope the small game militia doesn't read this post; they'll be sending out scouts

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    Mother Nature knows no bag limits. Not every change in the woods is due to human activity. Could have just as easily been a pack of predators worked the area over in recent months. Who knows?
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    Mother Nature knows no bag limits. Not every change in the woods is due to human activity. Could have just as easily been a pack of predators worked the area over in recent months. Who knows?
    That is true. The other morning we found rabbits to hunt, but had stiff competition, as the smell of lynx pee was strong all over the woods.
    Last week we ran into coyote spore up and down one of the gated roads off Swanson River, and not one bird to be had.

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    if your a good hunter you can find your prey anywhere.
    Semper Fi!

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    AK Ray, your post almost described the past two mornings for me.

    Here on Fort Richardson, silence was abundant. I did see several squirrels and heard periodic birds throughout both days. What surprised me the most were the tracks that I found. I saw numerous coyote and fox tracks both days, and this morning the trail I was on had a rather fresh wolf track headed in the same direction I was going. I followed along behind him for a good two hundrd yards before our routes seperated. Though not uncommon to see the predator tracks, what was surprising was the missing rabbit tracks. Only found about three or four sets, and they were all in the same general area. They quite possibly could have been from the same one or two over the past several days we've had snow now.

    What I'm thinking, here on Fort Richardson anyhow, is the larger growth timber is limiting the undergrowths ability to sustain a decent small game population. What sign I am finding is all near or around what little patchs of two-four year growth I can find on post. Most of Ft Richardson has long standing older growth, and no burned over areas.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Ray View Post
    There is something going on out there since 2005. Muskrats vanished in one winter. At the same time alders along the slough banks died off in large numbers. This year was the first year I saw muskrats out in the main lake areas, so they are coming back from their crash of 2005/2006.
    I grew up in PA trapping muskrats, fox, coon and the like.. In 1976-77 I caught hundreds of rats during the short season we had. Some nights I would check certain lines 2 times a day. Today, there is not a muskrat population to speak of in the entire state. The state game commission is even talking about finding money to research what happened. Those swamps, creeks and lakes are empty. No more dens, houses, beds nothing. I used to be able to drive by coves on a big lake and spot houses and feed beds everywhere! The scary part is it happened just like you mentioned here. They were gone and it seemed like it happened overnight. They never did come back. I hope what you talking about here is not a sign of things to come here.

    The same thing happened with the ruffies. We used to kick up 20-30 birds in a bunch. Now you hunt all day for a bird. Squirrels, same thing.. We would take a limit of bushy tails and big ones, gray and fox squirrels. Now, nothing.. If you see 2-3 a day your lucky. Back then I would sometimes see 2-3 squirrels in one tree chasing each other around.

    Now, I only go back for whitetails these days but I can tell you that the small game is gone.. It's scary stuff...

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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    Mother Nature knows no bag limits. Not every change in the woods is due to human activity. Could have just as easily been a pack of predators worked the area over in recent months. Who knows?
    Great point! I've seen a number of areas that I hunt small game fluctuate over the years. One year I had my pick of hares in a particular location. The next year I hardly saw a run.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dvarmit View Post
    I grew up in PA trapping muskrats, fox, coon and the like.. In 1976-77 I caught hundreds of rats during the short season we had. Some nights I would check certain lines 2 times a day. Today, there is not a muskrat population to speak of in the entire state. The state game commission is even talking about finding money to research what happened. Those swamps, creeks and lakes are empty. No more dens, houses, beds nothing. I used to be able to drive by coves on a big lake and spot houses and feed beds everywhere! The scary part is it happened just like you mentioned here. They were gone and it seemed like it happened overnight. They never did come back. I hope what you talking about here is not a sign of things to come here.

    The same thing happened with the ruffies. We used to kick up 20-30 birds in a bunch. Now you hunt all day for a bird. Squirrels, same thing.. We would take a limit of bushy tails and big ones, gray and fox squirrels. Now, nothing.. If you see 2-3 a day your lucky. Back then I would sometimes see 2-3 squirrels in one tree chasing each other around.

    Now, I only go back for whitetails these days but I can tell you that the small game is gone.. It's scary stuff...
    Not trying to dispute your claims, because it may be different form where you are from. I spent a good portion of my teen years in south central Pa. I go back every other year to hunt deer and pheasant with my brother. I see TONS of deer, fox, rabbits, and squirrels every time I go back. I also see coyotes more and more every time I go back. Pheasants have taken a huge hit since the hay days of the 70's. We basically hunt the "put and take fields!" Although I hear they are managing certain counties for pheasant restoration now. Grouse also isn't what it was, although it was never great in that portion of the state. When I was in college (West Virginia U), I would drive up to the Washington area, and had a couple nice spots that always held grouse. My brother took a nice buck today from the stand I hunted last year (I missed a real nice 8 pt). He told me he counted 16 squirrels mucking about all around him, right before the buck came in. He also saw a red fox that morning. Where about are you from?

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