For all the anxious hunters of the Kenai Peninsula, this may be the season to fill the freezers.
"Regarding moose, the winter was generally mild, which in moose-hunter terms means that we had good survival of our calf population," said Gino Del Frate, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
A warm winter and a high calf survival rate means yearlings will be plentiful this hunting season.
"Yearlings make up a pretty good section of the spike side of the regulations," Del Frate said, adding that he hopes moose season, which opens Aug. 20, will turn out be a good one.
"The harvest will be better than the past couple of years because we've seen lean years in the past few."
Aug. 10 heralds the opening of the special archery season in most of Game Management Unit 15A and part of 15B. The areas north of Kenai, Soldotna and Sterling constitute 15A, while 15B is basically everything between the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.
Both areas are closed from Aug. 15, when the archery season closes, to Aug. 20, when the regular season opens.
For the best hunting, Del Frate suggests heading to Game Management Unit 15C for the regular season.
"Generally speaking, most of the moose are harvested in unit 15C, south of Tustumena Lake and the Kasilof River," he said. "Mainly because they have a fairly large area in 15C. It is good access with quite a few trails that allow people to cover a lot of ground."
In the past, unit 15A has produced the second highest number of moose kills. But Del Frate said the hunting is becoming more difficult in that area. The 1969 burn area has grown back enough to make the forest dense and the terrain difficult to negotiate while hunting.
More trees mean less visibility and more trouble seeing the target enough to ensure you are playing by the rules. While the regulations are essentially the same as in years past, they can still be confusing and need to be heeded with care. (See related story, page C-1.)
"Most of the regulations are still the same as they were last year.," Del Frate said. "The main thing (is) antler restrictions are still in place."
The basic regulations boil down to three main points. A bull must have one of the following:
Either a spike or a fork on one side. These are generally the yearlings, which may prove to be the most prevalent this season;
A 50-inch rack; or
If the rack is less than 50 inches, the antlers must have at least three bow tines.
"I would just impress upon folks to get a copy of the reg book," Del Frate said.
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