Hunting Deer On The Flung Kodiak Archipelago
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Hunting Deer on the Flung Kodiak Archipelago

KODIAK, Alaska — We took off on a slightly damp day, heading from town of Kodiak to a bay on Afognak Island simply to the north, hoping to harvest some Sitka black-tail deer Aug. 30 and 31.

Heavy packs loaded with plenty of meals, gear, a rifle, knives and meat sacks joined the rest of the bags and bins in the back of the waft plane destined for the state park cabin on Pillar Lake where we had been going to stay.

After a touchdown involving a stomach-shedding quick descent in a good bank, we unloaded our gear and watched the aircraft depart.

My husband, Bridger Herrmann, and that i most effective had a pair quick days before we needed to be back to work, me to my job as a reporter at the Kodiak daily replicate and him to his role as lead mechanic with regional airline Island Air.

We chose to hunt on Afognak on account that it’s off the road system. Looking in recreation administration Unit eight is divided into two components: the whole lot close to the street approach in and across the city of Kodiak, and everything else. On the road system, folks are confined to one buck. Off the street approach, people can take three bucks from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30 and three deer from Oct. 1 to the top of the 12 months. The deer are small, and it takes several to get a full wintry weather’s meat.

We had unsuccessfully hunted on the street system for deer in fall 2014 toward the tip of the season when the deer were skittish from being hunted for weeks already.

Hunting off the road method

Afognak Island is the 2nd-largest island in the Kodiak Archipelago and is placed just to the north of Kodiak Island. Despite the fact that Kodiak Island has a number of villages, the settlements on Afognak are constrained to logging camps, a hatchery and motels.

The village of Afognak was once destroyed in the tsunami following the 1964 earthquake. Residents had been relocated to Kodiak Island and named the new group Port Lions.

The state of Alaska park system maintains up two cabins in Afognak Island State Park, which is ready 75,000 acres on the north and east sides of the island. The cabins are to be had for public use. We reserved the Pillar Lake cabin online.

After arriving, we chose to hike up to a steep meadow that appeared like a possible location for deer. A wooded slope led up to the bottom of the mountains throughout the lake from our small cabin.

The forty five-minute hike through the woods, which we'd grow to be making three more occasions, was once awful. The ground between the timber was included in devil’s club that caught into our jackets and stabbed by means of my pants.

Pulling stickers from our fingers, we climbed atop a rock outcropping under the meadow. We noticed several deer right away because, in late August, they're vivid tan and handy to peer even from a distance, even though we had to use a compact spotting scope to verify for antlers.

Leaving the outcropping, we hiked up the meadow to just under where the meadow turns into cliffs at about 1,200 feet up the mountain, heading for where we had noticeable the deer.

Bridger headed up into the cliffs and off to the facet into the meadow at the same time I waited under. I anticipated him to head up, scout for quarter-hour or so, and then be back, but i ended up waiting there for more than an hour.

After an hour, I headed along a recreation path on the lookout for Bridger and came head to head with a first-class buck.

He couldn’t have been more than 30 yards from me and we stared at each different for 5 minutes while I whispered, “Bridger!” time and again and wished that we had a 2d gun. The buck meandered out of the little meadow.

Meanwhile, Bridger had covered numerous the meadow even as I was once ready under. From the cliffs he had spotted one of the vital bucks we’d seen earlier than and crept up on it, however it moved behind trees just when he was once about to take a shot. He hiked throughout the meadow to the place he could be above the buck and sat there unless the buck popped out of the timber. He stopped and Bridger shot from about a hundred and fifty yards above the deer, dropping it immediately.

Bridger started hiking to the deer when he heard brush cracking and noticed a 2d buck run out of the trees. It was covering ground heading straight up a gully to the highest of the mountain. Bridger rapidly moved to a better vantage factor and received right into a prone role.

Via that point, the deer was drawing near the highest of the mountain. It paused and Bridger fired a shot aiming excessive seeing that of the space. His shot broke the deer’s backbone and it tumbled down the mountain, stopping against timber.

I had started heading in the direction I anticipated Bridger had long past before listening to the shots and that i speeded up after listening to his first shot. After the 2d shot killing the 2d deer, Bridger referred to as my identify.

We made speedy work area dressing the first deer and slid the portions into recreation luggage.

We loaded up, hiked to the second deer and butchered it.

We tied one of the vital meat in a tree cache and headed down with heavy packs.

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Due to the fact we didn’t need to go up and round a meadow of bushes with our packs, we wound up bushwhacking through heavy salmonberry bushes about one-1/3 of the way in which down the mountain. Branches caught at our garments, and we ended up losing an empty Nalgene water bottle within the brush.

Then it was once again through all the satan’s club and we arrived at the fringe of the lake just as it received completely dark.

Exhausted, we selected to go away Bridger’s heavy percent in a tree on the threshold of the lake, and he took my lighter one to hold again around the lake.

Stuck on Afognak

We awakened early on a Monday. Our flight was once supposed to arrive someday in late morning, and we had been involved we wouldn’t make it as much as the meat and back off earlier than the aircraft arrived.

A small boat used to be beached subsequent to the cabin and we chose to paddle it so we wouldn’t need to haul the meat across the lake, which integrated a tremendous dogleg that doubled the strolling distance.

Checking the shed, Bridger discovered that no longer simplest were there no oarlocks (first-class to have, but surely now not a necessity), but there weren’t any oars. There have been two kayak paddle halves, or, extra effectively, there have been two halves of two entirely specific kayak paddles.

One was once a quite nice metallic one, even as the second used to be made utterly of plastic and the threaded part where the two parts of it joined collectively broke section way across the lake.

Nevertheless, we made it across and tied it to a tree.

Back via the woods and devil’s membership another time.

The expertise in the cabin told us to be particularly cautious of bears and to not go away any meals out, however when we back to the high meadow, we determined that neither the tree cache of meat nor the gut piles had been touched.

Listening breathlessly each time we heard a aircraft, we headed go into reverse the mountain, piled our meat into the boat and paddled again throughout the lake.

The wind was gusting and trying to blow us into shore. Utilising kayak paddles, considered one of which used to be broken, to paddle a ship that is made for rowing was no longer convenient, but we made it just about all of the method back to the cabin before being blown ashore.

We were wiped out.

However because the afternoon wore on, we started disturbing about the aircraft. It didn’t arrive.

It didn’t come on Tuesday either. We had a lot of meals, and if that gave out, we had lots of deer meat, however we had no cell and that i used to be unable to name my work and tell them I wouldn’t be coming in.

We hung out taking part in cribbage, pace, gin rummy, Scrabble and pace again. The pleasant factor about cabins wherever is they typically have at least a deck or two of cards and a few magazines.

If we had identified the airplane wasn’t going to come back, we'd have hiked up again to try for another deer.

It was sunny and we hiked to the seaside, a 5-minute walk from the lake, and basked in the solar. By means of the best spotting scopes, we would just see the windmills on Pillar Mountain above Kodiak metropolis.

Eventually, on Wednesday morning, the plane arrived.

The pilot informed us when you consider that of the small measurement of the lake with mountains high round it, it wanted to be flat calm or the airplane couldn’t land.

We loaded up and took off for Kodiak. The following couple of days have been busy with chopping the meat up into steaks, stew meat, roasts and smaller pieces for grinding into burger.

Lifelong Alaskans, Bridger and i have both grown up looking and dwelling off the meat our households harvested. Due to the fact that we hadn’t been positive in 2014, we're pleased to have our possess meat in the freezer for the upcoming wintry weather.

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