KODIAK — Deer hunting season begins today in Kodiak. Hunters can expect a high harvest this year on the island, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Area Wildlife Biologist with ADF&G John Crye said that the high harvest can be attributed to the mild winters recently seen on Kodiak. Despite the growth in deer population, the bag limit for hunters in the Kodiak Road System Management Area remained at one, and three in the remainder of the island.
“There was a proposal from the public to increase the bag limit but it was turned down,” Crye said.
He explained that harsh winters often limit the growth of Kodiak’s Sitka blacktail deer population. When regulations are changed, they are take effect only after a few seasons.
”We could have a bad winter. You never know what it will entail,” Crye said.
In the road system area, hunting is limited to bucks until October 31. Between November 1 and November 31, hunting of deer is permitted only by bow and arrow, crossbow and muzzleloader. Between November 16 and December 31, hunting is limited to youth only.
On the remainder of the island, hunting is limited to bucks until September 30. Hunting of any deer is permitted between October 1 and December 31.
Crye advised hunters to be aware of which lands do not allow hunting, such as state parks, Coast Guard properties and privately owned lands.
According to Erik Berggren, manager of the gun department at Big Ray’s, there has been a surge in customers seeking hunting tags and ammunitions.
“There’s a lot of deer out there,” Berggren said. “My advice is to go ahead and get up above the brush. Everybody has their secret spot.”
Berggren reminded hunters that it is prohibited to shoot from, on or across the road.
“You never know who’s going to drive by,” he said.
Berggren advised hunters to always be aware of where the members of their party are during a hunting trip. For hikers, it is important to wear brightly colored clothing and stick to established trails. This is the time to wear your neon pink shirt, Berggren said. He also recommended putting on bearbells, as well as keeping dogs close during outings.
“There are very few deer out there with bear bells,” he said.
For bear safety, Berggren recommended cleaning up and leaving a kill site immediately after the deer is down to avoid unwanted encounters with Kodiak bears.
“Save the heroic photographs for someplace with better visibility,” he said. “Don’t be the bait. If you put blood in the air, that’s just a dinner bell.”
Regulations prohibit shooting a bear in defense of a deer in the field. Berggren recommended using bear spray over shooting bears.
“Bears need to learn that contact with humans is disagreeable. The more we can do to educate the bears, the fewer bears we’ll have to shoot and the fewer encounters we’ll have,” he said.
More information about hunting restrictions and regulations can be found at bit.ly/2YjBy3K.