With only one day left on my December hunt in Afognak, the weather finally turned in our favor and that night the snow began to fall. When it snows on Afognak, the deer hunting is incredible. Because their food in the forest gets iced over, many of the deer make their way down to the beaches to feed on kelp. Even though it only snowed a couple inches, we went out the next morning with high hopes knowing there would be a lot of bucks about.
Once the deer settle on the beach, some sort of strange mental disconnect occurs. The bigger bucks are still fairly spooky, but as you can see in the video, many deer flat out ignore hunters. Does and fawns will let you walk right up to them on the beach, but in timber they spook with the snap of a branch.
I really don’t know why this is, no one does. My best guess is that they don’t associate things coming from the ocean with danger, but who knows? All I know is that it makes for some exciting encounters!
While Luke (one of our guides) and Wayne (a fellow hunter) took a cruise around the bay to see what the beaches were looking like, Josh (another guide), Dan (the winter caretaker for the lodge) and I worked on splitting firewood. After an hour or two, Luke pulled the boat up, telling us to get our gear, the deer were out!
We met them back at the dock, and Wayne had harvested a nice buck with his rifle already. We cut out toward where Frank had taken his buck three days before, and we were on deer in no time.
It took a little searching, but before long we spotted a dandy buck with some other deer on a secluded beach. Wayne elected to let me have the shot at him, and we quickly drew up a game plan. Fortunately, there were some rocks sticking out of the water about 200 yards from the beach. We pulled up behind them in the boat, and despite the surging water, Luke gently nudged us up to the edge and I jumped out onto one of the rocks. To get to a shooting position, I had to wait until the surge went down, and then hop across to a bigger rock. I sloshed my way into position while Josh followed much more gracefully. After getting a steady rest, I was able to drop the buck in his tracks with a single shot from my Ruger 6.5 creedmoor. He was a nice 3 x 3, and my best buck of the trip.
That week was one of the most fun hunts of the year, and I didn’t even scratch the surface of what Afognak has to offer. Now it’s back to work and reality, but with several new friends and a lot of memories. I did hear that Wayne got a buck with his bow the day I left, so congrats!