Category Archives: hunting

Hope for Game Board — Gov. Walker taps Kenai Peninsula resident

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Gov. Bill Walker’s pick for the Alaska Board of Game has no axe to grind, except for actual axes when stocking his woodpile in Hope.

“We cut a lot of wood. And still do,” said Guy Trimmingham, of Hope.

Trimmingham grew up in Hope, back before there was regular road maintenance, mail delivery or grocery availability. So he developed a penchant for living off the land.

“My yard was the mountain range on one side and the inlet on other. As long as my dad could holler and I could hear the echo, that was my limit of how far I could ramble in the woods,” he said.

He got his first goat at age 10, and started helping his dad pack moose at age 9. Summers were for fishing in the stream next to town, and winters were for trapping. By the time he was done with school, he wanted to do more. A friend told him about an outfit in the Iliamna area that was looking for assistant guides.

“I called him up and he said, ‘Come on down,’” he said.

That started his 20-year guiding career. Trimmingham had a Type A guide license and worked as far down the Alaska Peninsula as Port Heiden and Ugashik, as well as all through the Alaska Range, Kodiak, as well as the Wrangell and Talkeetna Mountains, going for sheep, goat, moose, caribou and bear.

“Anything that had four legs, we guided for,” he said.

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Common Ground: Bird (dog) is the word

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham. Communication is key in training bird dogs — once you learn to speak their particular language.

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham. Communication is key in training bird dogs — once you learn to speak their particular language.

By Christine Cunningham, for the Redoubt Reporter

Bird dogs are sophisticated in the way they understand words. Just as the ancient Greeks recognized six different varieties of the word “love,” a bird dog recognizes many different meanings for a number of simple commands. They will sometimes cock their heads when “No” is yelled because they are not sure which of the word’s 126 meanings is intended.

“How,” they muse, “are we supposed to know how to satisfy a command when humans have not moved beyond their limited vocabulary?” Trans-species communication can transcend many barriers, but the biggest hurdle identified by eight out of 10 bird dogs is “multiple word meanings.” The other two dogs identify “overuse of the exclamation point in basic dog commands.” This survey was performed using homemade ginger treats and may not reflect the views of all dogs.

“Sit,” the first command taught to many dogs, comes from the Old English “sittan,” meaning “to occupy a seat, be seated, sit down, seat oneself; remain, continue; settle, encamp, occupy; lie in wait; besiege.” It can also mean to be inactive, withhold applause, to do nothing or to sit pretty. It’s no wonder the word causes confusion.

Many dogs will lie down and fall asleep in order to demonstrate the word’s Proto-Germanic origins. The word can be frightening, as it involves a lack of action. It would stress me out to be commanded to, “Do nothing!” while my back end was pushed down and I was offered a treat. Given the word’s etymology, I wouldn’t know if I was supposed to put my butt on the floor or run for office.

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Common Ground: Always on the Hugo

Photos courtesy of Christine Cunningham.

Photos courtesy of Christine Cunningham.

By Christine Cunningham, for the Redoubt Reporter

There’s something about Hugo that is ancient and spirited at the same time. He even has an old, sagging right eye with white lashes and a young, daring left eye with brown lashes. When he stares out the truck window, he hunts the ravens flying down the road and the songbirds bursting from the bushes. He is hitchhiking across the Alaska roadways even before daylight because he believes there’s a chance in every moment. While my mind drifts and describes the things I see, he goes to them directly with eyes, nose and body, until he is pressed against the windshield as a grouse flies low across the highway.

“Spruce grouse,” my partner says.

He’s driving and more aware of the road and its travelers than I am. If a dog could talk, he might be the same kind of conversationalist as my partner. Especially a pointing dog, I imagine. They would tend to point things out. As a backseat passenger, Winchester might be the kid who reads signs along the highway. His black-and-white coloring and stylish repose give him the smart looks of a dog that might read. He might peer up through his bifocals and say, “Spruce grouse.”

While the younger, more enthusiastic Hugo would vault over my seat just the way he did, slamming into the windshield. “Spruce grouse!” he’d yell, like it was Bigfoot in the flesh or a woman in a red dress. He’d walk smack into a light pole just to have a look.

Steady to wing and shot Hugo was not. His pointing technique was to pin his quarry into the ground. “It counts,” he seemed to think.

“He’s road hunting,” I said. “We’ve never had a dog that hunted the road before.”

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Moose hunting for a humbling experience — It’s easy to think hunting’s easy with no firsthand knowledge to the contrary

Photo courtesy of Chris Hanna. Jenny Neyman and the moose she shot this hunting season. No, really. She is more shocked than anyone.

Photo courtesy of Chris Hanna. Jenny Neyman and the moose she shot this hunting season. No, really. She is more shocked than anyone.

Trails & Trails — By Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter

I am no hunter.

Before this month, that fact was hedged with an ellipsis of untapped potential. “I am no hunter … because I’ve never tried it, but if I ever do, Home Depot had better stock extra chest freezers!

Now when I say that I am no hunter, it is with the certainty of having actually shot something — a real, (previously) live, bull moose.

I went into this figuring I had at least some of the necessary ingredients that could possibly coalesce into a competent hunter, kind of like a determined fridge cleaning can result in a decent soup concoction when calling for pizza isn’t an option.

First off, I wanted to do it. It’s good for us humans to remind our civilized brains that, despite our autostarts, we’re still animals. I think we should all occasionally face some of the messier aspects of life, yet I’m one of those people without much firsthand knowledge of from where food comes.

Growing up in the Bush, milk was powdered, condensed or too expensive, and produce came in cans or was so wilted or woody that it was VINO — vegetable in name only. More people than not hunted or fished — my dad, brother, cousins, uncles, neighbors, etc., — but I was never invited to tag along, and by the time the fish or game got to me it had long since been removed of any evidence of life. No blood, bones, organs, fur or scales to be seen. The only meat covering I knew of was Shake ‘N Bake.

As for skills, I like to hike, camp and stomp around in the woods. I like to think I’m observant (at least enough to notice a 1,200-pound animal, surely?). I can haul a pack (through the power of profanity). And I can stay awake for long periods of time. That’s probably not relevant, but I once put leftover devilled eggs in a turkey stew and it was excellent, so who knows? I’ll use what I’ve got.

Granted, I was missing some key components. I didn’t own a rifle, and the few times I’ve shot one took about as much setup time as designing the International Space Station. My butchering experience was limited to being extremely annoyed when I’ve accidentally bought bone-in chicken breasts. I’ve never actually killed anything beyond mosquitoes, a few fish and houseplants.

Perhaps most egregious, I own only one article of camo — a thrift store GI Joe-looking shirt I bought for the sole purpose of playing Risk. (I might never have hunted so much as a spruce hen, but give me South America and I will dominate the world.)

Still, with the misguided optimism of the woefully uninformed, I figured, “I could do that.”

No, it turns out, I could not. At least, not without an amount of help that rendered my presence superfluous, if not obstructionist. It’s a pretty low bar when your highest achievement is not completely ruining things for other people. By day three, my sole focus devolved to a Dr. Seussian attempt at just staying upright:

Do not fall slogging through the swamp, do not fall wherever you tromp.

Do not fall climbing in the boat, do not fall as you will not float.

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Common Ground: Duck disdressed — Don’t let bird brains use long johns against you

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham. Two widgeon with one shot is a far sight better than the view from a lawn chair.

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham. Two widgeon with one shot is a far sight better than the view from a lawn chair.

By Christine Cunningham, for the Redoubt Reporter

The weather was the worst I’d ever seen it — blue skies and warm enough to get a fall tan. That might be good for the complexion, but not for duck hunting. Even worse than the magnificent weather was the fact that the flats were dry. There weren’t any ponds, and ducks like ponds.

I was on a three-day hunt at a remote duck shack where I was supposed to be wet, cold, miserable and so exhausted by the end of the day that a cracker with butter on it would taste like a New York steak. Instead, I was hanging out on a lawn chair by a tidal slough in my long johns with the overly optimistic hope for a shot at passing ducks.

“This kind of sucks,” I said to my hunting partner. It had been two hours of walking and then two hours of sitting with nary a duck in shooting range.

“Yep,” my hunting partner said.

“I’m going to walk up to the shack and get another snack,” I said. The last time I’d left for a snack, ducks had flown by. It was a phenomenon. Or, if it wasn’t a phenomenon, I had to reconcile myself to the fact that the ducks were waiting around the bend laughing at me.

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Hunting 2015: Ready, set, wait to start — New regs postpone peninsula general season to September

Photo by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. New regulations delayed the general hunting season until September on the Kenai Peninsula this year, but the qualifications for a legal moose remain the same.

Photo by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. New regulations delayed the general hunting season until September on the Kenai Peninsula this year, but the qualifications for a legal moose remain the same.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

Before hunters set their sights on the upcoming season, they should direct their eyes to hunting regulations, because some have changed this year.

First and foremost, the season dates have changed. Instead of the general season running from Aug. 20 to Sept. 20, the general season now opens Sept. 1 and closes Sept. 25. The archery-only general season in Game Management Units 15A and 15B also is later this year, from Aug. 22 to 29.

But the requirement for legal bulls remains the same for the general moose hunt in GMUs 7 and 15 (which encompass the entire peninsula). A bull must have a spike on one side, have antlers with at least four brow tines on one side, or have an antler spread of 50 inches or greater.

“There was confusion over what a spike and a fork were and we had a lot with a fork on one side and more than a fork on the other. It’s only legal if it has a spike on one side. If it has two forks it’s not a spike-fork, it’s a fork-fork. People need to really be sure what they’ve got in front of them before they pull that trigger,” said Jeff Selinger, area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

In GMUs 7 and 15, antlers must be sealed within 10 days of taking the animal. This can be done during business hours at Fish and Game offices in Soldotna, Homer or Anchorage, or at an Alaska State Trooper Division of Wildlife office by appointment.

“The other big change to the moose hunt season is that the Homer cow hunt, DM 549, will also be shifted to Oct. 20 through Nov. 20, rather than running from Aug. 20 to Sept. 20,” Selinger said.

Selinger said he was optimistic that hunting a little later in the year would yield extra opportunities. Last season, 1,350 hunters took to the field and several of them came home with meat for the freezer.

In GMU 15C, the bulk of which encompasses the Homer and Caribou Hills areas, 128 bulls were taken last year, as well as 18 females in the Homer cow hunt. Since it has been several years since the more than 55,000-acre wildfire of 2007, some areas are regenerating in a way that will help moose.

“We should see some benefits there. A lot of the area came back grass, but a lot of areas had good willow regeneration,” Selinger said.

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Teaching dog trainer new tricks — Hunting for pup discipline beyond generational divide

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham. Don’t be fooled by good looks. There setter pups excel at setting their own rules.

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham. Don’t be fooled by good looks. There setter pups excel at setting their own rules.

By Christine Cunningham, for the Redoubt Reporter

Teaching a bird dog the art of being a bird dog is a messy business. There are plenty of books on the subject and plenty of experts who look really good standing next to a statuesque sporting dog that resembles an oil painting from the Renaissance. How, I often wonder, do I get my unruly English setters to not eat my mail, roll in mud and fart uncontrollably, much less do the honorable and sophisticated things for which they were bred. It takes a lot of time and practice, but eventually, they will stand still for the photo.

When there are five puppies to raise and train, the difficulty is confounded. Not just because they outnumber me, but because they have formed a team. They are a superpack. In the wild, they might take down a moose. In the yard, they have been known to wrestle me dangerously close to a pile of poo. My partner has given me helpful advice, such as, “Don’t let them do that.” Instead of following this advice, I decided to learn more about my new generation of puppies so that I could better teach to their personal values and aspirations.

My dog family includes not just the five littermates, but also a few other dogs of various breeds and ages. In order to assess the yard dynamics, I had to take into consideration the diversity of the yard as well as all three of the generations represented — the Baby Benign Tumors, Generation Ex-Lax and the Ex-Lax Maximum Strength Generation. The Maximum Strengthers, like the human Millennials, were the first generation to be raised in a daycare environment. Because of this, they work better as a team. They are also more tech-savvy and more inclined to jobs that allow them a work-life balance.

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