A Sitka black-tailed deer munches on dandelions along the Glacier Highway Bypass on Thursday, May 31, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

A Sitka black-tailed deer munches on dandelions along the Glacier Highway Bypass on Thursday, May 31, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Experts expect plentiful deer season

Warm winter helps deer population, biologists say

Deer hunting season starts today, and biologists are projecting it to be another busy one.

Ryan Scott, the regional supervisor for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, said they usually issue more than 10,000 harvest tickets in Southeast Alaska for deer and there’s no reason to expect this season to be any different.

Experts believe the deer population will be healthy this year, Scott said, and an ADFG release stated that because of an unseasonably mild winter, there has been good fawn production and very few deer died as a result of cold.

Deer season runs from Aug. 1-Dec. 31 on Douglas, Sullivan, Lincoln and Shelter islands. There are different rules on the mainland and vary depending on the area around Juneau. Specific regulations can be found on the ADFG website at www.adjg.alaska.gov and there are free hard copies available at grocery stores and sports equipment stores.

From Aug. 1-Sept. 14, hunters can only take bucks. After that, either sex can be taken. During the buck portion of the season, evidence of sex must remain naturally attached to the meat, or antlers must remain naturally attached to the whole carcass. Roy Churchwell, the regional biologist for Juneau, said hunters are limited to four deer per person.

The mild winter is good for the deer population, but the hot summer could create some challenges for hunters. Avid deer hunter Mark Stopha said hunters will have to go pretty high up into the alpine at the moment to get a good shot at deer.

Stopha said the biggest challenge as the temperatures hang around 70 degrees is figuring out a way to keep the deer meat cold once the deer has been killed.

“That’s the main thing in this hot of weather, is to be able to take care of the meat right away,” Stopha said.

Stopha said it’s a good idea to try and put the deer in water as quickly as possible. He mentioned putting it in saltwater or putting it in a plastic bag and then putting it in freshwater. He also suggested going to places like the Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul and buying cheap pillowcases in which to store the meat afterward.

Weather forecasts predict that temperatures will drop this weekend, which could be a good thing for hunters, both Stopha and Scott said.

Hunters must have a valid hunters’ license, which can be obtained in person at the ADFG office on Douglas or on the ADFG website, www.adfg.alaska.gov. They must also have harvest tickets in possession while hunting. Harvest tickets must be validated in sequential order and unused tickets must be carried while hunting.

Hunters are required to turn in their deer harvest report within 15 days of taking the bag limit, or 15 days after the close of the season. This report is required even if the owner didn’t hunt.

Stopha, who said he likes hunting on Admiralty and Prince of Wales islands, said Douglas Island is a popular spot for hunters. The deer population remains fairly high on Douglas, he said, and it’s just an easy place to hunt.

“There are lots of trails and more accessible,” Stopha said. “You can drive all the way up to Eaglecrest and you’re already up that high before you’ve got to start hiking.”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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