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  • Nelchina Caribou Poll

    Folks,
    First off I wish to come clean with the admission that the Nelchina "subsistence" hunt has irritated me for a long time. No I am not jealous of those who participate. I could probably get a tag too if I bothered to apply. I feel that the Tier II system is jacked up in general with the Nelchina hunt being its poster child. My problem with this hunt is that its not a subsistence hunt. If it was then there wouldn't be the emphasis on big bulls. ADF&G has the data--the majority of Nelchina caribou taken are big racked, white maned, trophy bulls. In the mid 90's F&G biologists were begging Tier II permit holders to take cows because the herd was too big, overgrazing its range, and they were afraid it would crash. Nothing doing. The focus on bulls continued.

    This so-called "meat" hunt has long been nothing more than a "private" trophy hunt for long-time residents.

    This isn't a native vs white, or urban vs rural issue, at least not to me. Its about a select group "gaming the system".

    What I would like to see is Tier II hunters limited to cows, calves and immature bulls. To counter the argument that there's more meat on a big bull, I would borrow a page from the dipnetting regs. I would allow 1 caribou for the head-of-household plus one per every 2 or 3 family members. I would reserve the big bulls for a drawing permit(or permits).

    Failing that I would like to see a requirement to saw the antlers off the way it is for Tier II Koyukuk Moose.

    If Tier II hunters truly want caribou meat for the freezer then IMO they shouldn't have a problem with any of this. If there are howls of protest, then that would tend to confirm my suspicions.

    I am considering submitting a proposal and would like your feedback to gauge whether or not I should bother. Please do not let my opinion sway yours...if you disagree that's OK by me. I would like your opinion either way. The only way this very contentious hunt will ever be modified is if the politically motivated managers of our F&G resources feel there is sufficient public support.

    Thanks in advance
    45
    No-Leave it as is
    13.33%
    6
    Yes-Allow multiple cows/calves/young bulls per household with drawing for big bulls
    11.11%
    5
    Yes-Leave as is but require antlers to be sawed off
    20.00%
    9
    Yes-Leave as is but establish drawing permit for big bulls
    22.22%
    10
    Yes-Leave as is but establish drawing permit for any caribou
    33.33%
    15

    The poll is expired.

    Last edited by Erik in AK; 08-14-2006, 00:53.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

  • #2
    Either make it a draw hunt or have those the draw Tier 2 tag cut the rack in half after they shoot one then that would take the trophy potential out of the hunt.

    Comment


    • #3
      Our family hunts for the meat. We shoot the biggest animal we can because it has more steaks. If we manage to shoot a huge antlered bull I see no reason to have to cut the antlers up. Although I would not be overly troubled if we had to.
      Could be an interesting debate (this issue always is). Most of the thoughts stem around long time Alaskans who get the permits and those who have not yet accumulated the points to get a permit and want something changed so they can.
      Yes, we have a RV and I am one of the "ancients" as you stated before. I am 53. We drive it out to Eureka and head back with our ATV's. We go as a family and we have a great trip even if we strike out. After living here for 30 years I feel we have earned that right. Our family economic's as to what we own or not own should not have a bearing as to the permit process. I would guess that 99% of the Alaskans who get the permits are happy the way the system is. Those who do not get the permits want it changed so they can.
      I do not see a simple easy solution to make everyone happy.

      Comment


      • #4
        Nelchina herd

        E:
        I dont like Tier II either, and would prefer an open or registration hunt with restrictions but I know most people wont go for that. I would wish for eliminating motorized access, bow only or shortened season or some combination which increases hunting opportunity while restricting harvest. Anything but drawings!!! They eliminate hunting opportunities and replace them with a game of chance I always lose. I am also with SW, we shoot the biggest animal allowed to get the most meat, but I have no use for caribou antlers.
        I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. Fred Bear

        Comment


        • #5
          I would also like to mention the scoring process does give more points to people living in more remote areas. So no matter how long residents live here rural residents do have an edge.

          Comment


          • #6
            Another option on Nelchina 'bou

            I voted for a draw for trophy bulls, but would like to combine that with forcing "subsistence" hunters to saw the antlers off. This keeps trophy hunters from using a subsistence draw for trophy hunting, while still giving the trophy folks a shot. This would also dump more money in the ADFG budget, with guided trophy hunters coming back to the area. I think this would be a "win-win" for the state of Alaska.

            I'd also like to see some restrictions on ATV use up there; perhaps make users attend a course in responsible ATV hunting practices, and a requirement to stick to established trails. Violators would be fined and have their tag pulled. Hard to enforce though. What constitutes an "established trail"? How many times does it have to be used to be considered "established"? Do we issue a trail map? Does the state start maintaining ATV trails up there? Where does the money come from for that? Lots of problems with the ATV thing. Something should be done though... a few bad apples are spoiling the whole thing.

            This is a huge resource sitting there which is mostly untapped commercially. I've long wondered why ADFG won't find a way to give the sport hunters a shot up there.

            -Mike
            Michael Strahan
            Site Owner
            Alaska Hunt Consultant
            1 (907) 229-4501

            Comment


            • #7
              Snowwolfe mentions that "those that can't get the permit want it changed so they can", your absolutely correct with that statement and I find it amusing that you say "99% of those that get the permit are happy with the way the system is......of course they are, they get a free caribou tag and only have to drive 2 hours to bag one, whats not to like about that?? Why should someone that has lived here for 30 years be given more opportunities than someone who has lived here for just a few? This is suppose to be a subsistance hunt but I don't see anything remotely close to a subsistance hunt here. Thats the big issue with this hunt that i see. Personally, i would perfer they make t a draw hunt and fair for all Alaskan's, not just for those that have lived here for X amount of years. Heck, i've lived here for 13 years but I know I will never get a permit just because of the way the system is set up. Oh well, until something changes i'll just have to do what everyone else does and spend the money to hunt somewhere else.

              Comment


              • #8
                It used to be a draw hunt. They changed it to a "subsistence" hunt around 1990. Do people drawing the permits today need the meat? Probably not. I do not think it has even been a true subsistence hunt except for the occassional family who lives close to the herd and out in the bush.
                And if you think you only have to drive 2 hours to bag a caribou then you havent hunted there recently. We spent three weekends out in back of Eureka last year and only seen one caribou. We probably walked 5-7 miles a day.
                Best success is always to fly in.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I used to get the Tier II permit, but went through a 6-7 year dry spell when the herd numbers were down and some "proxy" hunters were abusing the system. With higher numbers and a retooled proxy program, I finally got a Nelchina tag again this year. Yeah, I'll probably shoot the biggest bull I can, but I'd be happy with a younger bull, especially since hunting time will be very limited for me this fall. That being said, I would accept it if the law were changed to require destruction of antlers. That really makes a lot of sense, especially if we want to designate this as subsistence. There isn't a lot of nutritional value in those antlers, so if that's what it takes to bring some legitimacy to this hunt, I'd support it.

                  The idea of restricting the harvest to cows/young bulls wouldn't be a good approach biologically. As we all know, a single bull can impregnate many cows. If we turned to harvesting cows instead, the herd numbers would likely begin to fall and hunting opportunity (permit #'s) would decline. That wouldn't serve anyone's interests, regardless of your position on the issue. Cow hunts are bad management for the most part, unless herd numbers need to be controlled.

                  On a final note, there is legitimacy to the practice of shooting a larger animal to get more meat. I know it seems fishy when people take large antlered bulls for subsistence purposes, but not all of us are out to game the system.

                  (Really, going to a straight draw for that hunt, with increased motorized restrictions, would be the best for hunters at large.)

                  -Brian

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Snowwolfe
                    It used to be a draw hunt. They changed it to a "subsistence" hunt around 1990. Do people drawing the permits today need the meat? Probably not. I do not think it has even been a true subsistence hunt except for the occassional family who lives close to the herd and out in the bush.
                    And if you think you only have to drive 2 hours to bag a caribou then you havent hunted there recently. We spent three weekends out in back of Eureka last year and only seen one caribou. We probably walked 5-7 miles a day.
                    Best success is always to fly in.
                    2 hour drive from Eagle River and yes, i have been there several times this year. The atv ride in is fun and I have yet to see anyone walk to get their caribou. People put in for draws because they are either A) close to home B) trophy potential is high C) less competition or D) limited species (bison, musk ox). I dont' have a problem with subsistance as long as it's done the right way which the Nelchina is not.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You can't eat horns.....

                      I've been here 26 years but won't get a tier II permit because A) I live in Eagle River and B) I answer the questions honestly.

                      When I used to get permits I harvested the first caribou I saw and they were cows or small bulls, never did shoot a decent bull and I really didn't care

                      Why does a resident of Glennallen (not to pick on Glennallen) with an airplane or $100K motor home qualify for a "subsistence" preference ?

                      The other red herring in the whole thing are the people who find some 80YO widow who doesn't even know where Nelchina is.........get her to fill out a permit application and then go enjoy a nice "proxy" trophy hunt.....

                      The whole program is a joke and needs to be fixed

                      One good first step would be to make it illegal to bring the horns out of the field........saw them into 4 pieces or better yet BRING them out and donnate them to Fish & Game so they can sell them to a carver or tourist shop or whatever.......

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by AKCheese
                        I've been here 26 years but won't get a tier II permit because A) I live in Eagle River and B) I answer the questions honestly.


                        The other red herring in the whole thing are the people who find some 80YO widow who doesn't even know where Nelchina is.........get her to fill out a permit application and then go enjoy a nice "proxy" trophy hunt.....

                        AKCheese - I know you weren't directing that at anyone in particular, but I'll tell you that I've lived in Eagle River for 28 years and I answer all of the questions honestly, and I got a permit this year for the first time in many. Maybe you're only a year or two out from qualifying.

                        As for the proxy issue, take a look at the changes in the regulations this year. They have largely addressed the issue that you address. Now the proxy hunter must also be a Tier II permit holder and they must destroy the trophy value of both sets of antlers. It may not be perfect, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

                        -Brian

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Nelchina Tier 2

                          Here we go again, always makes for good conversation with my friends that don't get these tags. Let's remember the history here first:

                          - The hunt was originally an open hunt until the early 1970's when it closed completely due to years of mismanagement/lack of enforcement. Sadly many of the reasons were slob hunting/tag exceeding by newcomers and (unfortunately) many transient miltary personnel when Alaska was the in between point from Vietnam to the Lower 48. This is what also hurt our fisheries (think of salmon being caught and left on the banks of Ship Creek to rot), and can really be chalked up to the time necessary for the State to fully implement it's management strategy over the previous (before Statehood) Federal one. After a few years of closure, it then changed into a draw hunt before in the late 1980's into the current Subsistence format.
                          - The whole subsistence mess was court driven and F & G simply played the hand that was (unfairly) dealt them. You can also blame Tony Knowles for lying about pursuing the whole Katie John challenge in court and NOT!; remember that this fall.
                          - You cannot biologically harvest only cows and young bulls, even though I may prefer their meat-although you do get more off of a large bull as others noted.
                          - Finally, F & G has tweaked the Tier 2 system over the years to try to control or eliminate situations such as roomates and proxy from the "household member" definitions.

                          So where do you go from here? I don't have any answers short of tweaking and pursuing through the courts to the highest level the whole subsistence mess, but I certainly vehemntly disagree with the "untapped commercial resource" position. The last thing we need in our state is more guides serving tourists (whom I cant personnally blame) of any kind competing on a limited stagnent road/trail system. Who do you think would have the most success? Hell, they can't even limit the number of guides on the Kenai River,yet can skirt the issue through lawyerly regulations, so pardon me for not trusting the industry to do the right thing.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            AKCheese,
                            Last year was the first time wife and I received a permit in about 7 years. Within another year or two you should be in the running as long as they do not reduce the number of permits. Not sure how they do the scoring but our son was born here and he is 18 and he has never received one yet.
                            Enjoy!
                            Have any of you scored yet this year? We havent been over yet this year but may pop over to Eureka next week once we get silver fishing out of our blood.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'm in a decent mood, so I'm not even gonna get into this one. I like everybody here so I'll keep the pot stirring for the other websites....lol

                              Comment

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