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Answering A Higher Calling

The following appears in the March issue of Alaska Sporting Journal:


The historical feud between the Hatfields and McCoys can’t compare to the squabble in Alaska between the Shooters and the Callers.

The Shooters take moose at 275 yards because the only sporting aspect of game meat is eating it in meatballs and sausage during MLB or NFL games. Once a moose is down, they round up the four-wheelers to haul it back to camp, hang it, and start their card-playing marathon of all-you-can-eat moose steaks and free-flowing beer, whiskey, and man-cave talk. The shot and celebration is what they like most about moose hunting.

Their claim in the feud is that Callers are no-good, sneaky bandits who enjoy courtin’ their big bull moose away from them. Callers argue that it takes a variety of skills to harvest a moose, which is why they prefer the heady, thrill-seeking indulgence of enticing big bulls to come a callin’.

After four decades of hunting Alaska moose, I side with the Callers.

CALLING IN TROPHY MOOSE is not a sport for the faint of heart. It begins with a quest to learn the necessary skills while simultaneously acquiring enough toughness to embark on big game hunting’s most exciting rite of passage, in which hunters go head to head against the largest deer in the world. And what a deer! Big bull moose stand up to 7 feet tall at the shoulder, can weigh up to 1,800 pounds and sport racks that are wider than most men are tall.

The north’s fiercest predators – grizzly bears and wolves – are fearful of a prime bull. No predator in its right mind would challenge, face to face, a 70-inch, 50-pound rack with 28 palmed spear-points and two, massive, brow-tine shields. This headgear is supported by 80 pounds of intimidating neck and powered by two wilderness-toughened, 150-pound rear legs that push, gore and chase off similar, massive-bodied bulls. During Alaska’s moose wars, dominance is the reason for the rut.  

Additional moose deterrents include two rear hooves, a single kick from which can smash skulls and break bones. When moose rear up on their hind legs for an aggressive frontal attack, the two front hooves become angled ax heads that slam down with guillotine force that can slice, dice and tear apart any aggressor. Cow moose use their hooves to defend their newborn calves each spring. Despite such a formidable deterrent, cows lose up to 50 percent of their newborns to hungry bears. 

Standing face to face at 15 yards with an enraged, rutting bull – with nothing more than a moose call and rifle – is what separates the men from the boys in North America’s ultimate deer hunting experience. While whitetails, elk, mulies and blacktails are challenging to hunt, they can’t compare to a do-or-die challenge with a battle-ready moose in full rut.

The danger aspect is only one of the draws. Moose calling is the language of warriors. It takes skill to embrace the mindset of a challenger herd bull, and good hunters learn to become a dominant bull in thought and action. A dominant bull hunter uses scraping sounds and grunts as a taunt to challenge a bull into a showdown, or evokes a lonely, amorous cow call to fool the bull into thinking the hunter is a bull enticing cows away from the harem. And, of course, territorial calls announce you are the meanest, most virile bull in the wilderness. 

Whatever call you use, you best have the guts and stamina to follow through with the challenge.

I REMEMBER A FLY-OUT drop-off moose hunt in Alaska’s remote Mulchatna River country. Using a variety of calls and challenges, I coaxed a 61-inch bull to leave his harem and meet me in a nearby valley to “teach me a lesson.” At 70 yards, the bull let out a roar that shattered the wilderness silence and raised my arm hairs to full mast. I responded with name-calling thrashes and grunts.

The bull swayed side to side, like a high-seas navy destroyer, its multi-tined rack zeroing in on me in a visual challenge to spar. The antlers on the rut-swollen neck twisted and yanked a 10-foot sapling out of the ground and flung it into the air as easily as if it were a blade of grass. Hail-like dirt clods pelted me as I stared him down. His eyes were now bloodshot orbs that bulged out of his skull and rolled wildly as he grunted his disdain.

I scraped again and grunted, “Wauuuggh! Waaauggh!” and pawed the ground. A snotty shower burst out of his nose and long ribbons of drool and saliva bubbled from his mouth. At 15 yards, pungent tarsal and urine scents stung my nostrils, which served to both simultaneously intimidate yet embolden me. It’s a hunting scenario where one can reach maximum heart rate by being absolutely still.

Images from previous moose hunts flashed through my mind, especially the hunter who faced a similar, 62-inch moose that we had called to within 12 yards. He missed the first shot, and then couldn’t shoot again because his leg was shaking out of control.

The adrenaline and euphoric rush often makes the details of these final moments a blur in the retelling, but my actions are predictable. Training kicks in, and I see myself not as a hunter but rather the dominant bull. I forget English. My mind is all moose. I become a rutting bull and gradually feel the rut pulse in my veins. Thoughts and feelings become guttural disdains, grunts, and roars. I stomp my legs and scrape a scapula on a branch; the taunts emphasize, “Leave now, or your hindquarter is mine!” 

As a challenger bull, I am battling for dominance until either the bull attacks or bolts first, ’cause it sure won’t be me goin’ anywhere.  

MY ARMS AND LEGS went numb, not from fear, but rather from the euphoria of battle with no safety switch, no end-game button, no wife calling me to dinner. I was in a place where even the brave dare not go, a metaphysical portal where courage is but a stepping stone to that higher platonic realm of absolutes, where the hunter becomes the hunt of pure energy that ebbs and flows with every breath.

Pressing against a tree to avoid detection, I reached out with a battle-worn scapula and scraped it against the tree, ripping and peeling bark to eke out “The Call.” I had issued an auditory and visual challenge to spar. The mud-caked hair on the bull’s back bristled to attention, and after pawing the ground a few times, he swung his rack back and forth like a sword-wielding samurai.

It was truly David versus Goliath: me with a 13-inch-wide scapula and rifle, challenging a rut-crazed bull that could trample, maim and kill me. It was time. I grunted once again, and the bull busted through some brush to my left. I bolted through the brush after him, weaving and darting like a heat-seeking missile. We both burst into a small clearing and stood in a face-off. I took the shot, and the warrior dropped. Our predator-prey dance was complete.

Learning to call moose effectively can take years of practice, and is perhaps the most dangerous time to interact with moose. But even when you botch a call, as I did the first time I tried talking dirty to a cow moose, the excitement can be electrifying.

My brother Bill and I were hiding near a lone spruce in an open field in the Alaska Range. In the distance, we watched a bull with 55-plus-inch antlers disappear into the brush. I moaned a lovesick cow call to draw him out. The brush exploded in a cacophony of snaps and crackles. I flipped off the safety on my .338 Ruger. Suddenly, an enraged cow moose charged out of the brush and made a beeline straight for us. A 6-foot-long ridge of erect back hair made her 7-foot height intimidating.

Bill and I bolted upright and pressed our backs against the small black spruce. The ground shook as muscular, stilt-like legs braked her to a stop. Her bulging eyes were blinded with jealousy, and her normally cautious nature and brain were temporarily disengaged. We faced extreme danger. She darted around wildly and reared up on her hind legs. I watched her axe-head-like hooves impact the ground with a thud, and slice size 14 craters into the tundra. Seeing that we were no threat, she ran off, not wanting another amorous cow to entice her lover bull. The experience left us thoroughly intimidated and a bit wiser.

Even after the bull drops, use caution. After taking a nice bull with her 7mm Remington Magnum, one hunting partner approached her downed trophy with me at her side. Her exuberance overpowered her sense of caution as she walked up to the bull. I caught a glimpse of the bull’s eyes looking back. I reacted by quickly grabbing her by the collar and snatching her back, just as the bull’s antlers slashed the air, missing her midsection and a possible disembowelment by inches. A single shot from my .338 finished off the ol’ boy, which was the lesson here. Learn to shoot a .338 or larger rifle and leave the lightweight firesticks for coyotes and blacktails. 

Once your moose is dead, you can return to being human and unpack the whisky flask for a swig to calm the nerves, vomit, defecate or clean your pants. There is no shame in the aftermath, because if you have what it takes to successfully entice moose to come a callin’, you’ll have graduated from the most intense, big game hunting interaction that any North American hunter can experience.

BUT HERE’S AN ADMONITION: If rutting bulls are dangerous, Alaska weather can be even more unpredictable. After a week of blue skies and cool temperatures, I watched the alpine sky blacken over the Alaska Range. The temperature plummeted, and the wind screamed its icy fury. I finished the meat-bagging chores from a moose and caribou that I had bagged earlier in the hunt and scurried across the tundra to my two-man tent for warmth and protection. 

Little did I know that I was about to experience what philosophers call “The long night of the soul.”

For the next eight hours, I used my back as a brace to keep the tent from becoming a suffocating shroud. Severe gusts bullied me to the tent’s center, and I kicked back repeatedly to anchor myself. A tent pole dislodged and sliced open the outer fly but I could do nothing. My back shivered against the onslaught of freezing rain and sleet. I dared not light my stove for heat, for fear the billowing tent would erupt in flames. On the open tundra, there are neither gullies nor forests in which to seek refuge.

Keeping my back rigid against such force exhausted me, and I finally gave in to the sleep of exhaustion. Hours later I awoke, startled to find myself at the center of the tent floor. The silence was eerie. I pushed out of the collapsed tent. A foot of snow had fallen and the wind had died. The radio reported that a severe Arctic storm had blown through Southcentral Alaska. Its 90 mph winds generated 20- to 40-foot seas that had sunk boats and kept a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in a Kodiak Island port.

My caribou and moose meat had frozen solid, and took days to unthaw.

I climbed out of my tent and stood amid the silence. My emotions boiled victorious for having toughed it out, but I soon settled into a simmering peace.

I had a chore to finish.

At the moose kill site, I honored the bull by placing his head to face the rising sun, a shared symbolism of life after death. I placed a few strands of grass in his mouth to signify his last meal, and to serve as a reminder that all creatures live, die and become nutrients for life to renew itself again.

I thought about the bull and made my promise. When having moose steaks, roast or stew, I will recall my interaction with him. Yet the bittersweet twin of this euphoria is the sadness I feel for the millions of people who know nothing about the personality of the faceless factory animals they eat each day. The only interaction with them is the blood money paid for a portion of their butchered carcasses.

I’m also guilty of such sins, and yet, find partial redemption in interacting with the animals I hunt so I can feed my family, and embrace the wisdom learned from each trophy. Each meal teaches me lessons that embolden me to meet the challenges of everyday life head on.

If I’m knocked down, I’ll have what it takes to get back up and win, no matter the outcome. It is the way of the moose, and the way I must be in life, and in the wilderness.      

I returned to my tent, confident that the warrior spirit of the moose and I would meet again one day in the vast wilderness arena among the stars. When that day arrives, the reunion of our two warrior spirits will be so grandiose that it will defy human comprehension. 

Such an experience might even prompt a Shooter to reconsider his hunting style and become a Caller, because in the scheme of things, it’s the right and proper thing to do.  ASJ

Editor’s note: Chris Batin is a 42-year Alaska resident, and wrote the foreword for and is featured in the new book, Alaska’s Greatest Outdoor Legends. He is also the editor of Alaska Hunter Publications and author of the award-winning, 416-page book, Hunting in Alaska: A Comprehensive Guide, which includes a detailed chapter on hunting and calling trophy moose. Alaska Sporting Journal readers can receive an autographed copy of these books from the author, with free shipping, by ordering online at AlaskaHunter.com, promo code ASJ.

A Rockfish Bounty In Whittier

The following appears in the March issue of Alaska Sporting Journal:


Fishing for a potential world-record breaker in Prince William Sound Alaska requires some deep-water insanity. 

I found out firsthand last summer just how crazy fishing can get while pursuing a chance for a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment. My odds seemed very favorable considering I had three distinct advantages: a dozen extraordinary custom fishing lures at my disposal, a skilled fishing boat captain and a reliable vessel named the Crazy Ray.

This saltwater fishing trinity of excellence is a proven combination for different monster-sized fish species, but you can only find them all together at one port in Alaska, and that place is Whittier, a place where getting there is a small part of the adventure.

Driving south from Anchorage along the scenic Seward Highway towards the Kenai Peninsula had me pumped with excitement. My journey down Alaska Route 1 was relatively short for going saltwater fishing, about 50 miles and taking a turn at Portage junction before finishing up the last few miles of asphalt, which ends at a vehicle staging area. Getting to Whittier by passenger car can only happen if you pay a fee, wait for the green light and roll under Maynard Mountain using the longest rail-vehicle tunnel in North America.

The 2.5-mile-long Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel allows one-way traffic with automobiles on an alternating schedule to reach the tiny port city of Whittier by roadway. It was there that I met up with saltwater fishing fanatics Tony Davis – he’s known as “Famous Davis” – and Kristin Dunn of Kodiak Custom Fishing Tackle (kodiakcustom.com). Tony had invited me to Whittier for an epic two-day adventure with friends and family aboard the Crazy Ray and its infamous captain, “Crazy” Ray Nix. 

Other participants were Tony’s brother and sister-in-law, Bob and Twylah Davis, and Tim Delarm, executive producer of the Alaska Outdoors Television show. The agenda for the multispecies event with Capt. Ray would include fishing for tasty halibut and Pacific cod – with a special focus on large colorful shortraker rockfish the first day – gigantic lingcod on day two, and an overnight stay at Port Ashton Lodge. Tim was filming the outing for an episode of his homegrown Outdoor Channel television show that features hunting and fishing in the 49th State. We would provide plenty of good footage.


DAY 1  

A crisp morning breeze welcomed everyone to the boat slip, where Ray’s 36-foot-long custom North River Seahawk Offshore was docked. Introductions made and safety briefing noted, everyone got settled onboard and Ray navigated the boat out of the harbor towards the Passage Canal. Once past the no-wake zone he was quick to press the throttle and head for the fishing grounds.  

The ample 10-foot-by-10-foot fishing deck offered plenty of room for six anglers. However, the first part of our day would be spent fishing at deep depths and targeting shortraker rockfish. Even though we could all fit onto the deck, in order to keep lines from tangling only two anglers could fish at a time, with one on each side of the boat. I wasn’t shy and eagerly secured a rod from Tony when he gave me the opportunity to be one of the first up. Little did I realize what I was in for.

Ray gave the go-ahead to drop in, and Twyla, who was on the opposite side of the deck, and I took turns releasing line to somewhere close to Davy Jones’ locker. Out of respect for the captain, I was sworn to secrecy and won’t speak of exact specifics, but I can tell you we started out very deep and it took a good amount of jigging. All things considered, as it was the first time I’d fished such deep waters, it probably was not an unusual scenario.

As I let out line from the reel and felt my 2-pound custom-painted jig hit the ocean floor over 1,000 feet below, my senses were fully engaged. I kept a firm double-handed clutch on the rod for touch and a vigilant eye on the braided line that gave slack from bouncing the bottom. It helped to listen to the advice of a seasoned sportfishing captain as I jigged my lure. I was in the moment, the one where nothing else matters except anticipating the strike and readying to set the hook.

Fishing extreme deep depths was something I had never experienced on a saltwater trip in Alaska, but if you want to catch a potential world-record shortraker rockfish, you’ll probably be fishing where your anchor rope may not be long enough to reach bottom.

In order to get a positive hookset, you have to instantaneously react to a fish taking the lure at such a depth. The long distance from rod tip to lure means a greater risk of missing the bite or losing the fish halfway to the surface if any line slack occurs.

Each time my jig tapped the bottom I would raise it up, and by the time it lowered again I needed to let out more line to reach the bottom. I began to think I would never feel a strike at such distance – and then it happened. It was an unmistakable sudden thump felt ever so slightly, but I reacted quickly. The resistance and head shaking seemed a mile away, but I shouted out “Fish on!” and began cranking on the reel handle.

As I gained fishing line back onto the spool with each painful turn of the handle, my forearm began to feel the strain. Ray reminded me not to allow any slack, and with confidence let me know it probably was a shortraker. I dug in and reeled.

The rage in my muscles with each crank felt as if I was only gaining inches as I raised my fish. The anticipation of something really big on the opposite end of the line kept me in the battle. Slow and steady I went as I kept the line taut. Any slack could let the fish slip the J-shaped hook and leave me dejected. 

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, a bright orange fish broke the surface and was netted by Ray, then quickly dispatched. The average-sized shortraker wasn’t the 35-pounder we were after, but I was elated to add another newcomer to my species list.

Everyone on the boat ended up jigging up a shortraker on the day. Although none of the deep dwellers were world records, a couple of the fish pushed close to 20 pounds. Ray certainly knew where to find the fish, and I believe everyone got a good workout. Our day concluded with a change of locations to fish up a few cod and halibut, which we enjoyed for dinner when we pulled into Port Ashton Lodge for our overnight.  

Our lodge stay allowed us to steady our sea legs and enjoy a comfortable rest after a long day of fishing. The community cook cabin at Port Ashton provided a place for us to gather and get some nourishment from a self-prepared fish fry. Tony created a meal fit for royalty from our catch.

With an early wake-up looming and another full day of fishing on the docket, no one needed encouragement to turn in for a restful night of sleep.


Refreshed from a Port Ashton good night’s sleep, everyone seemed eager for the second day of fishing. Capt. Ray loaded us up and promptly zoomed out of Sawmill Bay towards the Gulf of Alaska. Lingcod were going to be the headliner species this day, and Ray’s knowledge would put us on top of Moby Dick-sized fish.

Thankfully, water depths for targeting the big and toothy beasts would keep us in the triple-digit range. The GPS got us to pinpoint locations where the skipper knows fish congregate. Once again we would be using Tony’s Kodiak Custom bottom jigs to entice the bite.

Upon nearing the honey hole, Ray checked the current direction and positioned the boat for a good drift. This time four anglers would be fishing simultaneously, dropping down quickly and bouncing near the bottom as the boat moved with the current. A small window of fast action was anticipated. I took up a corner on the fishing deck and waited for Ray’s command.

“Drop ’em!” he shouted.

Instantly, I released my spool and controlled the descent of the jig by using my thumb, avoiding backlash in the line or getting tangled with another angler. Once my lure reached the bottom, I reapplied the spool lock and gave the handle a quick turn to tighten up the line. With two hands on the rod, I began lifting and lowering to give the jig life, and almost instantaneously I received a big bite. I pulled up to set the hook and felt the beast below try and shake the hook. 

At virtually the same time, Kristin, Bob and Tony all had their rods double over for a four-way hook-up. Pandemonium – in the best of ways – unfolded. Everyone with a fishing rod was battling a fish, and from the looks of it there were four big ones below.

Orchestrating the angling chaos required teamwork and good communication. Somehow all of the lines remained untangled, and as I made the last cranks on the reel I finally got the first glimpse of my fish just under the surface. I was stunned by its size, and without a doubt I could tell it was probably the biggest lingcod I ever hooked into. 

As I turned around to let someone know I needed a gaff, Ray was hoisting a huge fish over the rail for Kristin. The lingcod was a giant, flopping on the deck with a boom. Ray immediately responded to securing Tony’s fish since he was next to her, and once again another hefty one was in the boat. Ray followed up like a professional rodeo wrangler, gaffing my large lingcod, and finally Bob’s fish was also on the deck before the bell. It looked to be about 200 pounds among the four lingcod topside, and that was only the first pass.

I couldn’t believe how quickly the four of us had hooked lings, and the size of the fish was straight insanity. The “Crazy Ray” moniker was beginning to make sense as our day-two fishing unfolded.

After cleaning off the deck and repositioning the boat for a second run, everyone was back in place ready for round two. Touching the ocean floor with my jig, the first couple up-and-down motions prompted another fish to smash my lure. It was a lingcod feeding frenzy on Kodiak Customs baits. Once again rod-bending action filled the boat deck, and four more above-average fish were raised to the surface. Everyone was ecstatic.

All anglers aboard got into the fast and furious action with some great fish and lots of smiles as we headed back for Prince William Sound and Whittier.  The two-day saltwater adventure made for an over-the-top, memorable experience. Catching huge lingcod and adding a new type of rockfish, a shortraker, to my species-caught list was indeed rewarding for me. I also managed to catch a big, beautiful yelloweye rockfish, a great bonus.

When you’re fishing with perhaps the best captain in the port and friends both new and old, it’s hard not to have a great time. Although the drive from my home near Fairbanks meant a roundtrip of about 1,000 miles, I certainly don’t see myself as being foolish for making the time.

Driving back through the Whittier tunnel with a cooler full of goodness, as well as sore forearms, meant that I had gone fishing on the Crazy Ray, and there is simply nothing crazy about that, especially if you’re as crazy about fishing as I am. ASJ

Editor’s note: For more on the fishing adventures of Dennis Musgraves, check out alaskansalmonslayers.com.

Senate Votes To Repeal Federal Lands Predator Hunting Bill


Photo by Lisa Hupp/USFWS

The contentious nature of Alaska’s outdoor managmement officials and the federal government regarding predator hunting on federal land is about to be argued about again. 

Here’s the Alaska Dispatch-News with more:

The Congressional Review Act bill to overturn the Obama administration regulation, having passed the House, and now the Senate by a vote of 52-47, now heads to President Donald Trump. The House passed the bill, introduced by Alaska Rep. Don Young, last month. Trump is expected to sign it into law.

The contested rule has evoked vivid imagery by its opponents in Congress: slaughtered wolf puppies, shooting wolves from planes, undercutting the natural order in Alaska’s 76 million acres of wildlife refuges.

Alaska’s lawmakers say that those arguments are simply untrue, and they miss the point.

Repealing the rule through a congressional resolution is important to the “principle of federalism,” said Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan just before the vote Tuesday, chiding “senators from states that don’t know anything about my state.”

“This rule is about subsistence,” Sullivan said.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said some of the rule’s hunting provisions related to bears would impact subsistence hunting for people in remote areas of Alaska.

But the resolution’s opponents say the lawmakers have it all wrong — that Alaska’s game managers want to illegally control predators to boost the population of moose and caribou for hunters. Favoring one species over another is not allowed, argued Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, during an impassioned speech opposing the rule. 

Here’s a little more insight from the ADN: 

At the heart of the disagreement between state and federal wildlife managers is what each group thinks should guide its purpose. The federal government has argued that the goal on refuges and in parks should be biodiversity. The state Board of Game has an interest in ensuring maximum sustained populations for hunting.

The state Game Board and the federal agencies have clashed over managing predators, which could drive down available game for subsistence hunters, as well as authority over managing the lands.

Both the state and federal agencies argue that it’s the principle of the matter, and that right now the regulation wouldn’t change a great deal in the management of federal wildlife refuges.

As is usually the case, social media brought out a lot of emotional responses:





Island Hopping For Kodiak Blacktails

The following appears in the March issue of Alaska Sporting Journal: 


Toward the end of October, when many folks are picking out a pumpkin to carve for Halloween and buying candy to hand out to the trick-or-treaters, my wife Ruth and I are usually packing for Kodiak Island in preparation for our blacktail deer hunt.

This is a special trip for us because it’s usually our last hunt of the season. It takes place primarily from a single base location, with enough gear to make for a big cozy camp. No freeze-dried meals or spike camps on this hunt! No sir; we bring plenty of food and gear.

There had been three mild winters in a row on Kodiak Island, and the reports we were getting was that there were plenty of deer around and lots of good mature bucks being brought in. So we were especially excited about this year’s hunt and anticipated a great adventure.

With gear shipped and staged, we jumped a flight to Kodiak, where we were greeted by a typical fall morning, which on this island means a big easterly wind that blew 35 mph with sideways rain. Our transporter met us at the terminal for a quick trip to the store and a stop at their hangar for the bulk of our gear. From there, it was over to the office for an update on our departure to the field, which was looking good since the weather reports were pretty decent out toward our hunting area.

Flight schedules and routes on Kodiak are dictated by the weather, and weather patterns on an island this size can be very different from one location to the next. We were also informed that the fall salmon run was pretty weak, thus the bears were hungry and deer hunters were seeing a significant increase in the number of problems with bruins. That meant it was time to double-check the bear fence and throw in an extra can of bear spray.

THE FLIGHT INTO THE field went off like clockwork, and about halfway to our destination we broke through the rain and arrived at our hunting area in the sunshine. There are few things that Ruth and I hate worse than setting up and breaking down camp in the rain, but that wasn’t the case today, so we hit the ground running in hopes of getting camp set up with time left over for a few hours of hunting.

Unlike most big game hunting in Alaska, deer hunting does not fall under the same-day airborne regulation, which requires that you to wait until 3 a.m. the day following the one you are flown in to begin hunting (2016-2017 Alaska Hunting Regulations, Page 19).

After setting up camp, we managed to get in a couple of hours of hunting and spotted several deer, but none that we were interested in taking on our first day afield.

During this time of the year there is roughly a nine-hour period between sunrise and sunset, with a little over 10 hours of useable light from dark to really dark. This meant we had plenty of time to enjoy a great meal in camp, spin a few tall tales from previous hunts and get a decent night’s sleep before it was time to start hunting the following morning.

We were up and out of camp early, catching a few smaller bucks and does down pretty low on our way up to hunt in higher elevation, which on Kodiak is where the more mature bucks like to live. The way we prefer to hunt is to climb up the mountain above the heavier cover, work our way around on a well-used game trail, and glass and scout patches of alders that blacktail will often bed down in.

Our first few days were warm and windy. We saw a lot of deer and a ton of sign, fresh tracks, rubs and scraps all over the mountain. Just about every tree next to a game trail held a fresh rub, but the bigger bucks were not out chasing does as heavily as we would have expected. 

Ruth spotted our first shooter, a really nice buck way toward the top of the mountain in a steep drainage that was surrounded by alders and a lot of heavy brush. We took advantage of the cover and it was not long before she was in position to make a great shot and punch her first tag. 

Did I mention that this drainage was steep? It was really steep! In fact, it would have been a waterfall if there had been any water in it! Taking a deer down a steep drainage has its advantages, but it can be dangerous if you are not careful. I use a piece of 1-inch webbing strap about 6 feet long. This lets me control the deer while coming down and makes it easier to step out of the line of fire if the deer starts tumbling down the chute. If you’ve ever been tangled up with a deer, goat or sheep, then you know what I’m talking about – it’s not fun. 

We were able to get Ruth’s deer down the chute to an open area to clean and dress him for packing out. I like to put some space between the brush and myself just in case an old mama bear decides she wants our deer more than we do. We passed on several more animals and hoped for another good buck as we returned to camp that evening to celebrate with fresh deer tenderloins for dinner.

THE WEATHER WAS STILL not as cold as what we had hoped for, and that night the wind really picked up. This might explain why we never heard that bear come into our meat tree. Ruth thought she heard something at about 2 a.m., but with the noise from the wind and the surf she wasn’t certain. The next morning when I went to check on our meat, it was gone – all of it except for the blackstrap we had in our ice chest. Judging from the tracks and the way he was able to get up to our meat, he looked to have been a smaller bear. Nonetheless, he had wreaked havoc on our meat tree, tearing off limbs and leaving empty game bags scattered up to 300 yards down the trail. I guess that dang bear had to eat too!

There wasn’t much we could do about the bear taking our meat, so we cleaned up the mess he left, loaded our packs and headed out hunting. We had not gone very far before Ruth spotted a really nice buck. He was standing on the skyline just above a bowl that was plastered into the side of the mountain with a steep ridgeback we later named the stairway to heaven, which ran straight up to him.

We climbed up the backside of the ridge, using the ridge line for cover and side-hilling just below the rim into the bottom of the bowl. Once we got a look into the bowl, we saw six deer: five bucks and a single doe that must have been in “season,” since she sure seemed to be getting a lot of attention.

It was my turn to shoot and the buck I wanted was standing at the head of the bowl with the doe. We were stopped cold in front of six sets of eyes and over 600 yards between him and us. After watching them for a bit, I decided to try and circle around them and left Ruth at the bottom of the bowl in hopes that at least one of us would get a decent shot. I had just started making my ascent when that buck turned and walked right into the center of the bowl. I was not in a good position, but Ruth had a perfect shot opportunity and we still were within each other’s line of sight, so I gave her the hand signal to take him.

She made an excellent shot, dropping him instantly to again put us in the process of skinning deer and looking forward to more tenderloins for dinner. We were still not in any hurry to fill tags and it was pretty entertaining to watch those four bucks try to work that doe, but she wasn’t having any of it! Ruth’s shot did not seem to bother them at all. Hmm, maybe they had something else on their mind!

That night the weather broke, the wind died down, a bright moon rose up over the mountain and the temperature dropped well below freezing. This is notable because blacktail deer are not very big; adult does average about 80 pounds and bucks are around 120 pounds. I’ve always been told that during cold temperatures an animal this size has to get up and eat to stay warm. There must be some truth to that, because the next morning there were deer up and moving about every place we looked. We were out of camp for no more than an hour before we spotted two nice bucks and a doe. Ruth and I each took one, both of them really nice mature bucks.

Both deer were dragged down to a flat clearing where they could both be skinned and we could keep a sharp look out for bears. There was already one bear problem and we were being pretty wary, considering we’d spotted a small boar near our location just the day before. As quickly as we could, we got both deer cleaned and bagged, then loaded up most of the meat for our hike back to camp. 

All we had left in the field for our second pack-out were antlers, two front shoulders, a small bag of neck meat and a little gear. We made it back to camp, hung our deer and grabbed a quick bite to eat before heading back for our second load. We had only been gone a couple of hours, but when we returned the bears had already gotten to our deer. The place was practically wiped clean. From what we could tell by the tracks, it looked like it was a sow with cubs. They ate or carried off almost everything. They even chewed the rubber handle off my saw and crushed a metal water bottle we had left for our return. It still held water, but for some reason I could not seem to convince Ruth to drink any of it! 

Back at camp that evening, we hung our meat until we were ready to call it a night, but we cleaned out a couple of Action Packers, packed meat in them and placed them behind the bear fence for the night. This started a daily cycle of hanging in the evening and storing our meat at night that we would continue for the remainder of our hunt. I am not sure if it was just luck or if this simply worked, but either way we did not have any further bear problems.

I’m never one to be short on words, and I could likely write a novel about the weather we experienced toward the end of our hunt. It was perfect hunting weather, with clear cold nights, and near the tail end of the hunt the waxing gibbous moon lit the place up like it was daytime. 

We also experienced crisp, sunny days with little to no wind. It was coming toward a full moon, which I usually try to plan our hunts around; I believe that deer tend to go nocturnal during this period, and this trip was no different. I had even swapped a few workdays, so that we could finish our hunt before the moon was completely full. I’m not sure if this is real or superstition, but with the weather we were having the moon just didn’t seem to matter. The hunting and the weather was great and the forecast was calling for a whole lot more of the same, so Ruth and I decided to stay. 

In the past, we’ve been weathered in a lot and had to stay several extra days a number of times because of snow, rain, flooding, wind or mechanical problems. Once a long time ago, I even had a pilot simply forgot to pick me up. However, this situation was a first for us. 

We were weathered in simply because it was just too nice to leave, which is kind of like calling in well instead of calling in sick. I actually did that once: The powder was deep, my snowmachine was running like hell, the weather was perfect and I just felt too dang good to go to work. My poor boss didn’t quite seem to know how to take that, but that’s another story. 

THE NEXT MORNING I set up the spotting scope and managed to find a really good buck feeding between two alder patches about a mile from camp. Ruth was already tagged out but I still had two to fill, so we loaded up and headed after him. I figured we could relocate him if nothing spooked him or a hot doe didn’t pull him away before we got there. I managed to find him again once we were there; he was lying down in the clearing right at the edge of an alder patch. He was a very good buck and I was really looking forward to getting a crack at him, but just as I was setting up for the shot a brown bear stood up on his hind legs. He was in an alder patch just to his left and about 75 yards from him. 

The bear didn’t seem to be bothering our buck any, but he had dropped back down on all fours and we couldn’t see him. Having already had two bear encounters, neither resulting in anything other than hurt feelings and lost meat, and not wanting the third time to be the charm, I decided not to shoot. We had tried waiting him out, but we never saw that bear again. There were just too many deer around to take a chance on creating an incident, and hopefully that buck will be even bigger next season. I shot a decent buck on our way back to camp that evening and we ended the day with only one more deer tag to fill.

We woke up our last morning of hunting to another perfect day; we had just started making our way up the ridge when I spotted a little buck walking almost beside us. I did not want to take him, so Ruth and I just walked right up that ridge with him walking just alongside of us. It was a really cool encounter. The three of us walked right into another buck with a doe, and we just sat down and watched them. Later that morning, we worked our way over to the same drainage that Ruth took her first deer in. After another steep climb and a quick shot filling our last tag, we were once again taking a deer down the chute and hoping it wasn’t going to take us down first!

With the deer back to camp and with all of our tags filled, it was time to fire up the satellite phone and call for a ride home. We had a great time that night, eating a good dinner, prepping/packing gear and reflecting back on our hunt.

KODIAK ISLAND IS A MAGICAL place, with many different hunting options to choose from. You can use a transporter to fly in for a remote do-it-yourself hunt or pick one of the many outfitters that provide lodging and field transportation from either a boat or land based camp. Or you can even take a fully guided hunt that provides everything you need except for your personal gear and a hunting license. Last but not least is the option to simply go to Kodiak and hunt off the road system. Hunting the road system is my least favorite option, considering that the season is shorter, the limit is only one buck per season, and with the ease of hunting access you can expect this area to get a lot more hunting pressure than most. 

Whatever option you choose, hunting Kodiak Island for blacktail deer is a great way to introduce a new hunter to hunting. The deer are plentiful, fairly easy to hunt and with a liberal bag limit of three per season on most of the island, it’s a great way to keep it exciting for hunters both young and old alike. I know we look forward to every season. Heck, Ruth and I were ready to go back before we even left the island! ASJ

Editor’s note: For more on the “The Rajun Cajun,” Louis Cusack and his wife, Ruth, like and follow them at facebook.com/

BOG To Meet Over Copper Basin Big Game

Kristen Sowl/USFWS

The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

The Alaska Board of Game will meet March 18-21 in Glennallen at the Alaska Bible College, Ball Memorial Library, located on Ridley Circle, to consider more than 40 public proposals seeking changes to moose and caribou hunting regulations in Game Management Units 11, 12, and 13.

The meeting convenes Saturday, March 18, at 11:00 a.m., beginning with presentations by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game followed by oral public testimony. The board welcomes oral and/or written comments from the public to assist in its decision-making process. Anyone wishing to testify before the board must sign up at the meeting location before 10:00 a.m. Sunday, March 19. Oral statements will be limited to five minutes. Public testimony will continue until all who have signed up have been given opportunity to be heard. Deliberations on proposals will begin following public testimony and continue through the remainder of the meeting.

All portions of the meeting are open to the public and a live audio stream is scheduled to be available on the board website at www.boardofgame.adfg.alaska.gov. The audio streaming may be limited due to broadband speed, but will also be available on the meeting information page after the meeting. Other meeting materials, including the proposals, agenda and roadmap order of proposals, list of agency reports, and public and agency comments on proposals can be viewed online at: www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=gameboard.meetinginfo&date=03-18-2017&meeting=glennallen.

Written comments will be accepted on specific proposals during the meeting. Written comments limited to 10 pages single-sided (or five pages double-sided) will be accepted by hand delivery at any time if 20 copies are provided. Individuals not attending the meeting can submit comments by fax to (907) 465-6094. Documents submitted to the board during the meeting are intended to be posted online throughout the meeting.

Salmon Regulations Announced In Various Alaska Waters

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced several 2017 salmon season regulations, so here is a recap:

JUNEAU (see map above)

In the waters of District 11, and District 15 south of the latitude of Sherman Rock, and District 12 north of the latitude of Point Couverden (see attached map)

  • From April 15, 2017 through June 14, 2017,
  • King salmon fishing is closed, retention of king salmon is prohibited, any king salmon caught must be released immediately.

Taku River king salmon, like other Southeast Alaska king salmon stocks, are experiencing a period of low productivity. The 2017 preseason forecast for Taku River king salmon terminal run is 13,300 large fish. This level of abundance is below spawning escapement goal range (19,000–36,000 large fish) and below the management target of 27,500 Taku River king salmon (the midpoint of the spawning escapement goal range). Given the projected low abundance of Taku River king salmon, this action is being taken to conserve Taku River king salmon by restricting sport fisheries in the Juneau area.

For more information please call the Division of Sport Fish Region 1 office at (907) 465-4270.


Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday, May 1, sport fishing for king salmon in the Situk River is closed. King salmon may not be targeted, retained or possessed; king salmon caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

The Situk River drainage is managed for a biological escapement goal (BEG) of 450–1,050 large king salmon. In years 2010 through 2012, and again in 2015 and 2016, the Situk River king salmon stock failed to achieve the BEG. In 2013 and 2014, the goal was achieved after restrictive management measures were implemented in the sport, commercial, and subsistence fisheries. The 2017 preseason forecast estimated a total run of approximately 500 large king salmon. Given recent harvest trends, and small escapements, a run of that size in the Situk River is not expected to achieve the escapement goal without preseason king salmon fishery restrictions. Therefore it is warranted to close the Situk River to sport fishing for king salmon.

For further information, anglers should call the Division of Sport Fish, at (907) 747-5355.


  • The waters of Chilkat Inlet, north of the ADF&G regulatory marker immediately north of Seduction Point are closed to king salmon sport fishing from April 15 through July 15 (see attached map).
  • In Section 15-A, the waters of Lynn Canal north of the latitude of Sherman Rock the retention of king salmon is prohibited, king salmon may not be retained or possessed; any king salmon caught must be released immediately and returned to the water unharmed from April 15 through December 31 (see attached map).

The 2017 projected Chilkat River inriver run is 600 large king salmon, which is below the lower end of the goal range (1,850 to 3,600 large fish). The run projection is based on the numbers and ages of Chilkat River king salmon sampled in the spawning escapement and marine harvest, and on sibling survival rates observed in the most recent five years. When the run forecast is below the goal range, the Lynn Canal and Chilkat River King Salmon Management Plan prescribes closing Chilkat Inlet to king salmon sport fishing through June 30. Given poor marine survival rates of Chilkat River king salmon from brood years 2011 and 2012, which will provide the large mature spawning escapement in 2017, these additional fishery restrictions, are needed to increase Chilkat River king salmon escapement.

Commercial fisheries in Lynn Canal and subsistence fisheries in Chilkat Inlet and in the Chilkat River will also be limited in time and area in 2017 to increase Chilkat River king salmon escapement.

For further information concerning this announcement please contact Haines/Skagway Area Management Biologist, Richard Chapell at (907) 766-3638.



Effective May 1, all king salmon sport fisheries in the Upper Copper River drainage will be closed, this includes catch-and-release fishing. In addition, in all flowing waters of the Copper River drainage, only unbaited, single-hook, artificial lures may be used.

Effective June 1, in the Glennallen Subdistrict subsistence fishery, a total of only 2 king salmon, taken by fish wheel or dip net, may be retained from the period June 1 through July 15. Any king salmon over the 2-fish limit must be released immediately and returned unharmed to the water. Additionally, from June 1 through July 15 fish wheels must be closely attended, while in operation, in a manner that provides for the immediate release of incidentally taken king salmon.

Effective June 7, the Chitina Subdistrict personal use dip net fishery will be closed to the retention of king salmon for the remainder of the season. King salmon incidentally taken must be released immediately and returned to the water unharmed.

The 2017 Copper River king salmon forecast is 29,000 fish. This is the lowest forecast for king salmon on the Copper River and is only 5,000 fish over the drainage-wide minimum escapement goal for king salmon. The Copper River King Salmon Fishery Management Plan (5 AAC 24.361) directs the department to manage the Copper River fisheries to achieve a sustainable escapement goal in the upper Copper River of 24,000 or more king salmon. Copper River king salmon returns have been below average since 2009 and spawning escapement over the last 5 years (2011-2015) has averaged 24,846 salmon and fell below the minimum escapement goal in 2010, 2014, and 2016. Escapement in 2016 was the lowest recorded, at less than 12,000 king salmon. Below average returns during previous years, past performance of fisheries within the Copper River, anticipated subsistence harvest, incidental take in the commercial fishery, and uncertainty over how returns may recover in the future justify closing the Copper River king salmon sport fisheries for the 2017 season.

The Copper River Subsistence Salmon Fisheries Management Plans (5 AAC 01.647), ensures that adequate escapement of salmon in the Copper River system occurs and that subsistence uses, as described in AS 16.05.258 and 5 AAC 99.010, are accommodated. Consistent with this plan, the commercial fisheries of the Copper River District will be conservatively managed to maximize the escapement of king salmon into the Copper River.

The department will monitor the 2017 Copper River king salmon run as it develops. If available indicators of abundance suggest the 2017 run is stronger than forecast, the department will reevaluate these preseason restrictions and, if justified, will relax the appropriate restrictions to provide for additional fishing opportunity.


In the waters of District 8 from Monday, May 1 through Saturday, July 15, 2017:

  • The king salmon bag and possession limit is one king salmon, 28 inches or greater in length for all anglers.

Anglers are reminded:

  • Only one rod may be used when fishing for king salmon after March 31, 2017;
  • The Southeast Alaska nonresident annual limit of three king salmon continues to apply in this area.
  • Sport fishing for king salmon will remain closed in fresh waters of the Stikine River and its tributaries, upstream of a line between Point Rothsay on the Stikine Flats, and Indian Point in LeConte Bay.

The 2017 preseason forecast for Stikine River king salmon terminal run is 18,300 large fish. This level of abundance is on the low end of the spawning escapement goal range (14,000–28,000) and below the preseason management target of 21,000 (the midpoint of the spawning escapement goal range). Given the projected low abundance of Stikine River king salmon, this action is being taken to conserve Stikine River king salmon by restricting sport fisheries in the marine waters adjacent to the mouth of the Stikine River (District 8). For king salmon regulations outside of District 8 please see current news releases posted at local boat harbors and launches or on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.

For further information concerning this announcement please contact Petersburg/Wrangell Area Management Biologist, Patrick Fowler at (907) 772-5231.


Anglers are advised that conservative king salmon regulations will be in effect for the Ketchikan Area sport fishery in order to reduce the harvest of Unuk River king salmon. New regulations and effective dates are as follows:

North Behm Canal
Salmon fishing is closed from April 1 – August 14 in Behm Canal and the contiguous bays enclosed to the north by a line from Point Lees to Elsie Point and a line from Elsie Point to the longitude of the outlet of Long Lake (131°26.100’W. long.), and to the south by a line from the western entrance of Bailey Bay at 55°56.036’ N. lat., 131°37.943’ W. long. to the northern tip of Hassler Island at 55°54.276’ N. lat., 131°37.798’ W. long. and a line from Fin Point at 55°51.256’ N. lat., 131°35.415’ W. long. to Dress Point at 55°51.145’ N. lat., 131°33.748’ W. long. (see attached map).

West Behm Canal
From April 1 to August 14, the bag and possession limit is one king salmon 28 inches or greater in length for all anglers; nonresident annual limit of three king salmon 28 inches or greater in length in the waters of west Behm Canal enclosed to the north by a line from the western entrance of Bailey Bay at 55°56.036’ N. lat., 131°37.943’ W. long. to the northern tip of Hassler Island at 55°54.276’ N. lat., 131°37.798’ W. long. and a line from Fin Point 55°51.256’ N. lat., 131°35.415’ W. long. to Dress Point 55°51.145’ N. lat., 131°33.748’ W. long., and to the south by a line from Niblack Point at 55°32.998’ N. lat., 132°07.228’ W. long., to South Vallenar Point at 55°22.878’ N. lat., 131°52.747’ W. long., and Tongass Narrows north of the latitude of Lewis Reef light (see attached map).

Ketchikan Sport Terminal Harvest Area

  • April 1 to June 30 the bag and possession limit is one king salmon 28 inches or greater in length for all anglers; nonresident annual limit of 3 king salmon 28 inches or greater in length;
  • July 1 to July 31 the bag and possession limit is six fish any size for all anglers; nonresident annual limit does not apply.

Anglers are reminded that regional bag, possession and size limits are different than those outlined in the areas listed above and anglers are prohibited from possessing fish that exceed the limits for the waters where they are fishing. Therefore, anglers fishing in multiple areas must be diligent to ensure they do not exceed the bag, possession, or size limit for the area they are currently fishing.

Unuk River king salmon, like other Southeast Alaska king salmon stocks, are experiencing a period of low productivity. The Unuk River king salmon spawning escapement goal is 1,800 to 3,800 large fish. After attaining the spawning escapement goal for 35 consecutive years, the Unuk River king salmon spawning escapement goal has not been achieved in four of the last five years. The 2017 preseason forecast is for a total run of approximately 1,500 large king salmon. Given that the total run forecast is already below the lower end of the spawning escapement goal, these conservative regulations are necessary to increase spawning escapement of Unuk River king salmon.

For further information concerning this announcement please contact Ketchikan Area Management Biologist, Kelly Reppert at (907) 225-2859.


The bag and possession limit for king salmon in the terminal waters of Herring Bay, from June 1 through July 31, 2017, is increased to 6 king salmon of any size. King salmon harvested in the terminal harvest area will not count toward the nonresident annual limit. The terminal harvest area is defined as follows:

Herring Bay Area:

  • The waters of Herring Bay west of a line from the southernmost entrance of Hole-In-The-Wall harbor at 55°19.110’ N. lat., 131°31.187’ W. long. to ADF&G markers located ½ mile north of Whitman Creek (signed and painted rocks) at 55°20.125’ N. lat., 131°30.126’ W long., to the fresh/salt water boundary signs located at the mouth of Herring Cove Creek (see attached map).

The Alaska Board of Fisheries authorized the department to use its emergency order authority to open terminal harvest areas to target surplus Alaska hatchery king salmon. The area opened by this emergency order will allow anglers to target Alaska hatchery-produced king salmon originating from the Whitman Lake hatchery in the Ketchikan area. Projected returns to this facility will exceed broodstock needs, thus a surplus of hatchery fish are available for harvest by sport anglers.

Anglers are reminded that bag, prior to July 1, possession and size limits for the salt waters outside of the designated terminal harvest areas are more restrictive than the limits inside the terminal areas and anglers are prohibited from possessing fish that exceed the limits for the waters where they are fishing. Therefore, anglers fishing in multiple areas must be diligent to ensure they do not exceed the bag, possession, or size limit for the area they are currently fishing.

For further information concerning this announcement please contact Ketchikan Area Management Biologist, Kelly Reppert at (907) 225-2859.

New Regulations Increase Bag Limit On Nelchina Caribou


The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

New regulations to increase hunting opportunity and harvest of Nelchina caribou were adopted by the Alaska Board of Game recently in response to an emergency petition filed by the Department of Fish and Game. The regulations are intended to keep the herd within management objectives and provide additional harvest opportunity. Currently the Nelchina caribou herd exceeds sustainable population objectives established by the department.

The emergency regulations, which went into effect February 24, increase the bag limit for Tier I hunt RC566 and Community Subsistence Harvest CC001 in Game Management Unit 13 to two caribou per household. Previously the bag limit for these hunts was one caribou per household. Current permit holders for these hunts were sent an email with instructions on how to obtain an additional harvest report, should they choose to hunt for a second caribou.

Under these emergency rules, some 12,000 Tier I and 1,000 community subsistence hunt permit holders will be eligible for permits to harvest a second caribou. The emergency regulations are temporary and only impact the remaining month of the spring seasons, which close on March 31, 2017 or by emergency order.

Harvest opportunity remains for existing DC485 permit holders who have not already harvested a caribou during the 2016–2017 hunting season. Those permits are valid until they are filled or area caribou hunting seasons close on March 31, 2017.

The department will monitor harvests and hunt conditions under the emergency regulations. Further hunting opportunities in the form of a registration hunt could be added depending upon harvest and participation in the existing Tier I, community subsistence, and draw hunts. If additional harvest is needed, the department will provide all necessary information about the new registration hunt in a news release.

Good adult survival and calf recruitment have combined to raise Nelchina caribou herd numbers above the department’s sustainable management objective of 35,000 to 40,000 animals. The objective was designed to prevent over-use of the range. Analysis of data from a photo survey conducted in July places the current population estimate at 49,950.

Significant numbers of Nelchina caribou are currently wintering within Unit 13. In past years, the herd has migrated out of the unit to areas where late-winter harvest is problematic due to land status and the presence of other herds with lower harvestable surplus. The accessibility of the herd this year resulted in community subsistence hunt reaching its 300-caribou cap for the first time.

Hunters are reminded to be aware and respectful of private and Native corporation land boundaries, controlled use areas, and closed hunting areas including the Clearwater Controlled Use Area, Paxson Closed Area, and the Tangle Lakes Archeological District. To learn more about lands closed to hunting, see the 2016–2017 Alaska Hunting Regulations.

For herd movement updates and emergency orders, call the Nelchina caribou hotline at 267-2304. The hotline will be updated periodically for the remainder of the hunting season.

Sportsmen and -Women Comment On POTUS Clean Water Act Plans

As you can see, President Donald Trump’s decision to review the Brack Obama-created  tweaking of the Clean Water Act, which became news last week when Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chair of the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee, recommended that an order to block Alaska’s Pebble Mine project be overturned.

Here’s CNN with more on Trump’s plan:

President Donald Trump will sign Tuesday an executive order requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to review Obama-era water regulations to make sure they are not harming the economy, according to an internal EPA email obtained by CNN.

The order — which is currently in draft form and subject to change before Tuesday afternoon, when Trump is expected to sign it — addresses the “Waters of the United States” rule, which applies to 60% of the bodies of water in the US.
The regulation was created under the Clean Water Act of the early 1970s and essentially gives the federal government authority over major bodies of water, rivers, streams and wetlands, allowing the federal government to police these waterways to ensure they are pollution free.


Several organizations, including Trout Unlimited and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, released this  joint statement:

The Trump Administration is undermining the Clean Water Act. American sportsmen and sportswomen call on the Administration to protect headwater streams and valuable wetlands, keystones of America’s clean water and hunting and fishing heritage

Does America need cleaner waterways? Or do we want to forsake decades of progress and allow degradation of our streams, rivers and wetlands? Those are the vital questions for the new Trump Administration and the 115th Congress.

American sportsmen and women want to move forward, not backward.

Yet, today, President Trump signed an executive order to start rolling back the Clean Water Rule, a new definition issued in 2015 to clarify what are “waters of the United States.” The legally sound and scientifically supported definition would ensure protection for headwater streams and wetlands.

The Trump administration Executive Order directs the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA to rescind and revise the Clean Water Rule. It directs the agencies to consider using former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s minority opinion that said seasonal streams and many wetlands do not merit protection as a basis for the revision.

If Justice Scalia’s direction is followed 60 percent of U.S. streams and 20 million acres of wetlands would lose protection of the Clean Water Act; a tragedy for fish and wildlife, hunting and fishing, and clean water.

President Trump’s reliance on Justice Scalia’s opinion is especially misguided and must be reversed. The Trump Administration must consider the benefits of the 2015 Clean Water Rule and make sure that any revised rule does the following:

  • Restores longstanding protections for millions of wetlands and headwater streams that contribute to the drinking water of one in three Americans, protects communities from flooding, and provides essential fish and wildlife habitat that supports a robust outdoor recreation economy.
  • Sustains the sport fishing industry, which accounts for 828,000 jobs, nearly $50 billion annually in retail sales, and an economic impact of about $115 billion every year that relies on access to clean water.
  • Sustains duck hunting in the U.S., including 1.5 million duck hunters whose expenditures invest more than $3 billion into our economy.
  • Fulfills the aspirations of 83 percent of American sportsmen and women, from across the political spectrum, who believe the Clean Water Act should apply to smaller streams and wetlands, as the 2015 rule directed.

The new Administration must listen to the voices of American sportsmen who want more clean water, more fish and wildlife habitat, and new progress building on the successes of the past.

Sportsmen and women will do everything within their power to compel the Administration to change course and to use the Clean Water Act to improve, not worsen, the Nation’s waterways.

Confusion about winners? It happened in Alaska’s Hunting Draw As Well




By now, you know the story: movie wins Oscar for Best Picture, movie loses Oscar for Best Picture, all hell breaks loose. But not knowing if you’ve won or not also affected the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Tier 2 subsistence hunt draw., which unlike the Oscars’ seemingly impossible blunder in mixing up the envelopes for a Best Picture award that went to Moonlight, only after La La Land was announced as the winner, suffered through a glitch in tabulating the results.

Here’s the ADFG press release:

Permit results announced last week for Tier II subsistence hunts have been nullified due to a data processing error. The error has subsequently been corrected and all Tier II applications properly scored. The valid, updated Tier II hunt results are now available on the Department of Fish and Game webpage at http://www.drawresults.adfg.alaska.gov/DrawResults/ .

The error, which compromised scoring for Tier II hunt applications only, was discovered after the announcement of last week’s draw, Tier I/II and community subsistence harvest permit results. Only Tier II hunt applications were affected; draw, Tier I, and community subsistence harvest results were not impacted.

The department regrets any confusion or inconvenience this error has caused Tier II hunt applicants and is taking action to ensure similar issues do not occur in the administration of future hunts. In addition to the updated results now available on the department permit results webpage, all Tier II applicants will receive an email notification of their permit status.




Register For Homer King Salmon Derby


Homer Chamber of Commerce

The following press release is courtesy of the Homer Chamber of Commerce:

Homer, Alaska:  The Homer Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for the 24th Annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament (WKT) on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Mark your calendars, get your boats ready, get out and fish!

The Winter King Salmon come north to the waters of Kachemak Bay to feed throughout the year. These “feeder” kings” are here to feed, and not to spawn. They’re building up fat reserves, making them a great fish on the grill.

New for 2017 is online fishing tournament software. This will allow participants to pre-register online at www.homerwinterking.com starting March 1st. There will be a random early-bird prize drawing for those who register online between March 1st and March 10th consisting of great fishing tackle and gear valued at over $300.00.

The 2016 Winter King Tournament Champion, Eric Holland, of Homer won $31,668.00 with a 26.45 lb. King. The total payout for the top 10 cash prizes was $113,100, boat side bet payout totaled $44,531.25, and Skunk Bets $4,687.16. The total payout in all categories in 2016 was $162,318.41. The eleventh through twentieth place winners shared in merchandise worth over $10,000.

In addition to the big prizes, registered anglers have the chance to win hundreds of prizes throughout the day donated by local businesses and nationwide fish & tackle companies. Upon arrival at Coal Point Trading Company (WKT Headquarters), anglers will enjoy live music and receive free beer & food vouchers, while waiting for the big announcement.

The public is welcome to attend and join the festivities from 2pm – 6pm.  There will be food and beer for purchase, kids activities, live music, fish weigh-in and the awards ceremony. New this year will be live results displayed on screen, as the fish are brought in and weighed.

Volunteers and sponsors make this tournament happen. This year’s tournament is sponsored by Ulmer’s Drug & Hardware. Ulmer’s donated both cash and manpower to help make this tournament a huge success. This year both Scott Ulmer and his daughter Monica Mede are on the WKT committee. It is impossible for staff and committee to do everything that goes into making this tournament such a success and we rely on over 40 volunteers every year. Volunteers return year after year because it is a lot of fun to be a part of the tournament, even if you aren’t fishing.  Volunteers are needed the week of the tournament and the day of the tournament in various capacities and various hours.

If you are interested in donating prizes or volunteering, please call the chamber 907-235-7740, Kim Royce or Bridget Maryott.

The Homer Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit supporting our community through cooperative economic development and community service.