Alaska, 2008, DIY, Public Land
August in Alaska means many things - return of the salmon, fair weather, and most importantly, the start of several hunting seasons. In 17 days, I would be in the Wrangells chasing Dall’s sheep. Normally I would be done hunting sheep this late into August, but due to the limited availability of flight charters, I was forced to book the second hunt into my area. There was a benefit, though; I was able to put together an archery alpine hunt for Sitka blacktail.
This hunt actually hit the planning stages months earlier when I received a call from a friend. Jason is an Oregon Fish and Wildlife State Trooper and, like me, he can’t get enough of the outdoors. He was interested in pursuing Sitka blacktail with archery equipment. I was a little leery of the challenge because of the limited cover in the alpine, but knew the reward would warrant the effort.
During my summer fishing trips, I searched for visible alpine that could be accessed from saltwater. There were plenty of areas; the only problem was that if I could access it, anyone with a boat could. I began looking over my charts and searching for an area on nearby Prince of Wales Island. This island is known for great deer hunting and has a healthy population of these small, sturdy deer. The best opportunity to spot and pursue big blacktails is to climb high into the alpine in August. During this time of year, the majority of the deer in a particular range will be near the tops of these mountains.
Early in the spring I located a mountain lake that was not accessible from saltwater. I booked a flight into this high mountain lake with a local air charter. The season finally arrived and so did Jason. We secured his hunting license and purchased two buck tags. A person is allowed four bucks in this unit, but it boils down to how many you want to pack off the mountain. I had four tags in my pocket but figured I would be lucky to shoot one buck with my Mathews. The weather was great and the forecast was for a few days of sunshine; this was going to be a great hunt.
For a full account of Jason's adventure, go to page 42 in the May/June 2009 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.