Blacktail deer populations in Game Management Units 6 and 8, including Prince William Sound, the Gulf Coast and Kodiak Island, were struck hard by the deep snow during the 2011-12 winter. When the snowpack finally retreated, deer mortality observed in parts of Prince William Sound was as high as 60 percent, while in Kodiak the winter kill ranged from 30 percent to close to 70 percent.
Not surprisingly, hunters can expect to find fewer deer in most areas. Cordova Area Biologist Charlotte Westing conducted extensive spring and summer deer surveys, and found that deer numbers in the Prince William Sound region are the lowest they’ve been in decades.
“Last year many locals did not hunt deer to give the population a break, and many may make the same choice this season,” Westing said.
Hunters on Kodiak and the surrounding islands will also find lower deer numbers, and they’ll have to work harder to bag a decent buck.
There are several regulation changes to report for the Last Frontier. The Lindenberg Peninsula will be closed to non-residents; hunting season has been moved to Oct. 15-31; and hunters can only bag one buck.
Hunters in Unit 5A are also limited to one buck. There will be a youth hunting season in the unit from Oct. 15-31. Youth hunters must be 10 – 17 years old, they must be accompanied by a licensed resident adult 21 years old and older, and they must have completed a hunter education course.
Despite lower deer numbers, Units 2, 4 and 6 still allow hunters to harvest multiple deer across seasons. But several areas are off limits, so hunters should consult the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website for a current list of lands prohibiting hunting.