Alaska deer hunting is limited to the pursuit of the sitka blacktail deer in the coastal regions of the state. The Sitka black-tailed deer is smaller, stockier, and has a shorter face than other members of the black- tailed group. The average October live weight of adults is about 80 pounds for does and 120 pounds for bucks, however deer on Prince of Wales and Kodiak Islands can be much larger, with bucks reaching weights between 175 and 200 pounds. Deer populations in Alaska fluctuate considerably with the severity of the winters. When winters are mild, deer numbers generally increase, however, a severe winter will cause a major decline in the population. Deer reproduce rapidly, and depressed populations normally recover quickly. Deer are very dependent on old-growth spruce/hemlock forests especially for winter survival. These old growth forests give deer some protection from deep snow as well as a source of browse to sustain them through the winter. Areas cleared of trees are great for producing fresh, new shoots to feed on in the summer, but during the winter, these areas will not be accessible because of deep snow. Maintaining large tracts of old-growth forest will be vital for sustaining healthy populations of deer in Southeast Alaska.
Top Areas For Alaska Deer Hunting
Alaska deer hunting, in terms of sheer numbers, is usually the best on Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof islands. Known as the ABC islands, these areas are host to a very abundant deer herd. The size of the herd however, is directly related to the severity of the winters. Another factor on the ABC islands is that there aren’t any wolves, the number one predator of the sitka blacktail. There are brown bears, which will kill fawns shortly after birth, but once those fawns reach a few weeks of age, they are more able to evade the bears.If you are interested in trophy Alaska deer hunting, then you are familiar with Prince of Wales and Kodiak islands. While they don’t have the numbers of deer as the ABC island do, they have much larger animals. On Prince of Wales Island the predators keep the deer way below the lands carrying capacity . Which means there is less competition among the deer for food, resulting in larger specimens. The wolves on Prince of Wales island are very effective predators of adult deer, and the sitka blacktails on the island make up 90 percent of thier diet. Another factor concerning the quality of the deer on the island is the underlying limestone. It is believed that the limestone helps to grow more nutritious vegetation, which is directly correlated to increased antler growth. The combination of a deer herd kept below the carrying capacity of the land and the availability highly nutritious food is one that deer managers all over the United States try to achieve. It seems that mother nature has done it on Prince of Wales Island.
Kodiak Island is very different from Prince of Wales, and is even more renowned for producing big deer. The majority of Alaskas trophy blacktail have come from Kodiak and adjacent islands.The northern end of Kodiak Island is very dense Sitka spruce forest. The rest of the island is open alpine terrain of brush, grass and tundra. When winters are mild, deer are able to put on body mass, and with it, big antlers. The flip side is that when winters are severe, there is not a lot of cover, and as a result, the herd can have extreme fluctuations. Predation is not a big factor on Kodiak as there aren’t any wolves, And while there are brown bears, they are not a significant predator of deer. Kodiak has a fair amount of small deer. Finding a trophy blacktail usually requires hunting the more remote areas of the islands south and west side. This is not like hunting in your backyard. There may be no roads for over 50 miles and you would be well advised to hire an Alaska deer hunting guide.
Alaska deer hunting continues to improve, thanks in part to some successive mild winters. Be sure to check with the Alaska Fish and Game Department for changes in regulations, as they sometimes shut down seasons as a result of winter severity. Consider hiring a guide and be sure to carry all necessary safety equipment.
Good luck with your Alaska deer hunt!