Category Archives: hunting

Hunting, fishing for more revenue — Bill calls for increasing Fish and Game fees

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

A bill working its way through the Legislature would give the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s budget more bucks for the bang. House Bill 137 would increase hunting, fishing and trapping fees across the board.

In testimony so far, some have quibbled with details of the bill, and a few, such as Nick Steen, of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, have opposed the increases overall.

“To add a tax such as this, 15 to 20 percent, is a very onerous situation, particularly in this economy,” Steen said.

But the majority of testimony — from a wide array of hunting and fishing groups, as well as individuals — has been in favor of the increases.

For residents, fee increases would be just a few bucks in most cases. A sport fishing, hunting or trapping license would increase $5, and a combination hunting, trapping and sport fishing license would go from $53 to $60. For nonresidents, fees would increase anywhere from $5 to $100 or more for one-day licenses up to big game harvest tags.

The money would go to the Fish and Game fund, which helps cover the department’s costs in managing the state’s fish and wildlife, such as doing research, stock surveys, habitat assessments and education programs. Currently, a good chunk of Fish and Game’s state funding comes from the general fund, which is in jeopardy as the Legislature attempts to trim the state budget in the face of a looming fiscal deficit.

“The general fund being so obviously vulnerable right now, it means that a substantial wedge out of the pie that makes up those divisions’ budget could go away in large proportion pretty quickly here. … So, all in all, with the general funds diminishing, there’s need to offset that to as great a degree as possible with asking residents to pay more,” said Matt Robus, a retired director of Fish and Game’s wildlife division, testifying to the House Resources committee on March 25.

If anything, the fee increases being proposed in HB 137 are too low, Robus said. The last time fees were increased was in 1993. Just adjusting for inflation, a $25 hunting license in 1993 would cost $41 today, rather than the $30 being proposed in the bill.

“There is a great need for funding those divisions, and with general funds having been given over the last couple of decades and about to be taken away, inflation alone has put the divisions in quite a sensitive spot,” Robus said.

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Moose get season date updates — Board of Game addresses Kenai hunting regulations

Redoubt Reporter file photo. The Alaska Board of Game updated regulations for moose hunting at its meeting in Anchorage last week.

Redoubt Reporter file photo. The Alaska Board of Game updated regulations for moose hunting at its meeting in Anchorage last week.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

As Alaska Board of Game members heard last week, it’s good news, bad news regarding the moose population on the Kenai Peninsula. The board met March 13 through 18 in Anchorage to consider Southcentral proposals, including several measures related to moose hunting on the Kenai Peninsula.

The board got to peninsula moose measures March 17, starting with a presentation by Jeff Selinger, area wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The peninsula is divided into Game Management Units 7, on the eastern peninsula, and 15A on the northwestern peninsula, 15B in the central western peninsula, and 15C in the southwestern peninsula. While moose aren’t going great guns in any of those units — and, therefore, neither is moose hunting — some areas are doing better than others.

“We believe 15A is still in decline. Fifteen B is kind of a wait and see due to the large fire that occurred there, and 15C we believe we’re stable and maybe, possibly increasing slightly. And in Unit 7 we think we are still having declining moose populations,” Selinger said.

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Bear minimum — Board of Game sets new caps on brown bear harvest

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Hunters on the Kenai Peninsula will have a little less opportunity to harvest brown bears following a decision from the Alaska Board of Game on March 17, but have the board’s assurance that, should the population start becoming more of a nuisance, problem bears could be converted to more huntable bears.

The Board of Game met last week in Anchorage to consider proposals for the Southcentral Region, including the Kenai Peninsula. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game requested guidance on its brown bear management strategy.

A 2010 brown bear population census more than doubled the estimate of the number of bears on the peninsula. At the board’s previous Southcentral meeting, in 2012, it liberalized brown bear hunting, in part responding to requests from the public that that the bear population be reduced. According to board Vice Chair Nate Turner, the strategy seems to have worked.

“It really rung loudly in my ears at that Kenai meeting how many people came in complaining about the bears, in their view, terrorizing the neighborhoods,” Turner said. “Didn’t hear anything about that at this meeting. (But) did hear a lot of comments about, ‘Things are better now.’”

The department has been managing hunting to limit the total number of human-caused brown bear mortalities to 70 per year, with no more than 17 adult females. Jeff Selinger, Kenai area management biologist for Fish and Game, told the board the department would like to lower those numbers to 40 total bears per year, and no more than eight adult females, but with the flexibility to liberalize hunting opportunities if bears start becoming more of a problem. For instance, if there’s an uptick in defense of life and property shootings.

“If all of a sudden we have five or six DLPs next year, where we only had two DLPs this year, to me that would be more of a trigger, than just what the number of adult females are, to say we need to increase opportunity again,” Selinger said. “We believe we knocked the population down over the last few years. And what we proposed here is our best estimate of what it would take to stabilize the population.”

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Aiming for hunting experience — Alaska Outdoor Explorations is different class of learning

Photo courtesy of Jesse Bjorkman. Trevor Junkert, Zina Schwenke, Ashana Poage, Mike Hamrick, Justin Cox, Josiah Guenther and Rob Guenther work to skin and butcher a moose taken in December as part of an educational youth hunt. The field trip was a cooperative effort between the Nikiski Middle-Senior High School’s Alaska outdoor exploration class, parents and volunteers.

Photo courtesy of Jesse Bjorkman. Trevor Junkert, Zina Schwenke, Ashana Poage, Mike Hamrick, Justin Cox, Josiah Guenther and Rob Guenther work to skin and butcher a moose taken in December as part of an educational youth hunt. The field trip was a cooperative effort between the Nikiski Middle-Senior High School’s Alaska outdoor exploration class, parents and volunteers.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

The light snow sifting from the December sky made tracking easy. In the soft powder, the pie-plate-sized cloven hooves were a telltale sign a moose had recently passed through the area. The small group followed them to the source — a cow, perhaps 3 to 4 years old, in a stretch of woods off the Marathon Road Escape Route in Nikiski. Jesse Bjorkman chambered a .338 round into his bolt-action rifle, centered the crosshairs of his scope over the vital organs, then squeezed the trigger.

“It was an ethical, clean shot, through both lungs. The moose went about 25 yards then was down,” Bjorkman said.

His harvest — part of a permitted educational hunt — was not accomplished alone, though. Bjorkman was accompanied by several seventh- and eighth-grade students from the Alaska Outdoor Explorations class he teaches at Nikiski Middle/Senior High School, operated with the help of several volunteers, including Michael Hamrick, a hunting guide; Mark Burdick, with Safari Club International; Jerry Peterson, a hunter safety trainer with the state of Alaska; parents Rob Guenther, Reuben Junkert and Matt Scalise; and Alaska Department of Fish and Game area biologist Jeff Selinger and permitting biologist Cyndi Gardner.

The hunt was a culmination of several principles they’ve gone over for weeks.

“The class is very broad but ecology is a big part of it, so the kids had already learned about what moose do in the wild, how they act, their life cycle, how to tell a bull from a cow, things like that. Then, this hunt was kind of the proactive part of the class,” he said.

But even with all the classroom knowledge the students learned, they didn’t jump right from school to field. They also had to complete a hunter education course to participate, so they would be well versed in principles such as state rules and regulations, ethical shooting and hunting practices, and firearm safety.

“Still, the kids don’t get to pull the trigger,” Bjorkman said. “But they do get to direct all aspects of the hunt, from spotting with binoculars and tracking the animal, to determining the range to it, to making the decision on if I should take the shot or not.”

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Shooting for luck of the draw — Fish and Game permit system offers hunting opportunity

Redoubt Reporter file photo. Fish and Game’s drawing permit hunt system offers harvest opportunity to the lucky hunters who beat the odds in the lottery.

Redoubt Reporter file photo. Fish and Game’s drawing permit hunt system offers harvest opportunity to the lucky hunters who beat the odds in the lottery.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Though the 2015-2016 hunting season doesn’t really start until fall, the third Friday in February is an important precursor for hunters who hope to bag a big game animal in Alaska. It was drawing permit hunt announcement day — otherwise known as Christmas for sportsmen.

“Well for everybody but me, apparently, I didn’t even get coal this year,” said Ken Marsh, wildlife information officer for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

He, along with tens of thousands of other hopefuls, applied for the limited number of drawing permits allocated to hunt big game animals in Alaska for the 2015-2016 season. Unlike general hunts, in which any eligible hunter can participate, many big game species in many game management units of the state are only huntable by those lucky enough to win a randomized computer lottery drawing for the scant number of permits available. The number of permits up for draw each year depends on the numbers and health of the targeted wildlife populations, as determined by Fish and Game surveys. It’s a way to provide harvest opportunities on stocks that can’t support a lot of hunting pressure.

“It’s a sustainability thing. When you have a population of wildlife but it’s not big enough to basically satisfy a general hunt where everybody can go out. Say we can only allow 25 antlerless moose to be taken in a certain area to maintain sustainability of the animals in that area, we would have a draw hunt for 25, rather than just open it to everybody and go over our quota and have some sustainability issues,” Marsh said.

The application period was open from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, and applications could only be submitted online. There’s a nonrefundable fee to apply for each hunt, in most cases $5, but that can vary depending on the hunt. The money supports the state’s wildlife management operations.

“Those go to the Fish and Game fund and that helps us manage the critters, and do our jobs,” Marsh said.

The first step in applying for drawing permit hunts is to study up on the rules and regulations. There’s a lot of fine print that requires a fine-tooth comb. All required licenses and fees must be taken care of, which vary depending on whether a hunter is an Alaska resident. Applicants may only put in for three hunt numbers per species, or six hunt numbers for moose, though only three may be antlerless. A hunter can only get one drawing permit per species per regulatory year. If you are drawn for a hunt, you’re ineligible to be drawn for it the next year. Confused? You’d better not be, or your application will be disqualified. Six percent of the applications submitted last year were disqualified out for errors.

Success at drawing a permit does not guarantee success at the hunt. If you don’t get your animal, you’re out of luck. Permits are nontransferable, so if you’re drawn for a permit and end up not being able to hunt it, you’re also out of luck. And if you fail to turn in your required hunt report one year, you’re severely out of luck the next.

“Well, you’d shoot yourself in the foot by failing to return a hunt report. So say I got a permit this year to hunt moose and for whatever reason I don’t turn in my hunt report I be would be ineligible the next year to draw for any,” Marsh said. Continue reading

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View From Out West: Life lived large — Troyer leaves lasting legacy on terrain, traveling partners

Photo by Calvin Fair, courtesy of Clark Fair. Will and Janeice Fair (now Amick) pause along the trail into the East Creek drainage in 1981.

Photo by Calvin Fair, courtesy of Clark Fair. Will and Janeice Fair (now Amick) pause along the trail into the East Creek drainage in 1981.

By Clark Fair, for the Redoubt Reporter

What I recall most were his energetic, rollicking stories and his booming, hearty laugh. I also recall his alpine hat, often canted slightly backward, his love of fruit pie and a good after-dinner nap, and, primarily, the hunting trips he took with my father.

Almost as far back as I can remember, Will Troyer, who died Sept. 21, less than two weeks shy of his 89th birthday, was part of my father’s life. For more than four decades Dad and Will were devoted friends.

Although they hadn’t known each other back when they were boys, both had been Hoosiers, raised in the same part of the state, and they reminisced fondly about growing up in Indiana. In their early days together in Alaska — between hiking, hunting and fishing together — they strategized in tandem for the preservation of Alaska wilderness through the Kenai Conservation Society. They also united our families in a bond of friendship that has stretched across the years.

Photo by Calvin Fair, courtesy of Clark Fair . Troyer, Clark Fair (back to camera), Troyer’s son Eric, and one of Troyer’s early English setters rest after reaching Devil’s Pass in the Chugach Mountains prior to hunting for ptarmigan in 1971.

Photo by Calvin Fair, courtesy of Clark Fair . Troyer, Clark Fair (back to camera), Troyer’s son Eric, and one of Troyer’s early English setters rest after reaching Devil’s Pass in the Chugach Mountains prior to hunting for ptarmigan in 1971.

Our family met Will’s (wife, LuRue, and three children, Janice, Eric and Teresa) through the Kenai Methodist Church in about 1963, when the Troyers moved from Kodiak so Will could become the manager of the Kenai National Moose Range. A self-proclaimed “Amish/Mennonite farm boy,” Will spent 30 years working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service before retiring in 1981. Unlike many refuge managers today, Will continued to work in the field, flying aerial moose surveys and performing numerous other duties outside of the office.

He is largely responsible for the names of perhaps 200 lowland lakes on today’s Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and he personally hand-cut many of the original portages on the refuge’s extensive canoe system. For the Park Service, he traveled widely across the state. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, he assisted in damage assessment on Cook Inlet beaches, and in recent years he published three memoirs about his life.

Photo by Calvin Fair, courtesy of Clark Fair. Will and one of his setters catch a nap during an exhausting moose-packing session in 1972.

Photo by Calvin Fair, courtesy of Clark Fair. Will and one of his setters catch a nap during an exhausting moose-packing session in 1972.

Will had the resonating kind of voice that even my hard-of-hearing father could easily discern. Dad often found it unnecessary to turn up the volume on the telephone when Will would call about another outing. He didn’t need his hearing aids when Will was regaling us with stories around the dinner table.

With fond hearts for the out-of-doors, Dad and Will planned adventures together, continuing even after the Troyers moved away from the Kenai Peninsula. Their outings increased in the 1980s when Will and LuRue moved back, establishing their retirement home off Bean Creek Road in Cooper Landing.

For years, even when Dad was in his 60s and Will was in his 70s, they tromped down woodsy trails along Swanson River Road to stalk tasty grouse and took annual trips together to the rolling wheat fields of North Dakota to flush pheasants from the grain.

They also made frequent pilgrimages to Kodiak Island to bust through alders after nimble deer, and they climbed with their English setters into the upper drainages of Shaft Creek, East Creek and Devil’s Creek to blast at ptarmigan bolting from scattered copses of willow.

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Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce: Call of the wild

Redoubt Reporter file photo. As moose calls go, there are more effective vocalizations than, “Heeeeere boy moose!”

Redoubt Reporter file photo. As moose calls go, there are more effective vocalizations than, “Heeeeere boy moose!”

By Jacki Michaels, for the Redoubt Reporter
It’s a family tradition to listen to audiobooks during family road trips. Still, after many hours of intellectual enrichment and family bonding on a recent trip we found ourselves in desperate need of a little more distraction before we arrived at our destination.
“I have an idea!” I declared.
I could see my hubby cringe. He has learned from experience not to say, “Oh, no!” when I announce that I have an idea. Still, the cringe says it loud and clear.
Nevertheless, I proceeded, “Since we’re going hunting, let’s practice our moose calls!”
His mouth said nothing. His eyes said, “Oh, yay!” in a mocking tone. Sarcasm speaks louder than words.
Catching his father’s attitude, I could feel our teenager’s eyes roll into the back of his head, even though he was in the back seat. An audible groan filled the cab.
“Is that a boy bull call, Patrick?” I asked.
From there a serious discussion on the finer points of speech and moose calling ensued.
“Boy moose,” it was explained, is definitely a grammatical no-no.
In a most masculine move my man posed his hands in prayer position, pinched his nose with his pointer fingers, flared his hands into a shout position, took a deep breath and made a sound that could only be roughly compared to a constipated water buffalo.
“Whoa,” I said. “Good thing you used a duck call when you were courting me!”
“Seriously, Mom, he did that?” my son was incredulous.
“I married him, didn’t I?” I said. Then I rolled my eyes. Being guys, they did not catch my sarcasm.
More groaning from the back.

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