All hunters go afield with high hopes of taking a fine trophy and bringing home some excellent meat for their freezers. However, too often hunters return from the field facing criminal charges and visits to the Alaska Court system. In almost all cases, prior planning and some common sense could have prevented a negative incident.
Experienced moose hunters realize the job they have ahead of them when they successfully take a moose. These hunters know the limits of their physical fitness and the terrain that must be overcome when packing out an animal the size of a moose. Every hunter is different and needs to be honest with themselves when deciding to shoot that bull three miles from camp across a swamp. If you're not up to the task, don't pull the trigger. Even caribou can present a challenge to retrieve from the field if shot far from camp or in inhospitable terrain.
In response to increasing violations, the Department of Public Safety's Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection (F&WP) will be increasing the patrol presence in the eastern slopes of the Alaska Range. With a known increase of both Alaska resident and unguided non-resident hunters in this area, sportsmen should anticipate being contacted in the field by Troopers. Troopers will be temporarily assigned to the area from as far away as Kodiak Island and will be using both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters for patrol.
The extra patrol effort will be aimed at assuring compliance with Alaska's laws prohibiting hunting on the same day as airborne, and with the proper salvage and transportation of the edible meat of big game animals. Hunters are reminded that "edible meat" includes all of the meat of the neck, ribs and brisket of big game in addition to the meat of the quarters, backstraps and tenderloins, except the meat that was damaged by the method of take.
Another common violation is transporting the antlers of big game prior to transporting the edible meat. Antlers can be transported only after all meat has been transported from the killsite or simultaneously with the last load of meat. Hunters also need to be aware of land ownership and respect the private property of others and comply with the license and tagging requirements.
Hunting season runs from Sept. 1 (for residents) or Sept. 5 (for non-residents) through Sept. 20 in some game management areas, and longer in others. For more information on the regulations contact the Department of Fish and Game, or Fish and Wildlife Protection.
Greg Wilkinson works for the Alaska State Troopers.