Marathon Road getting crowded with hunters

Posted: Monday, August 25, 2003

Moose season is off to a bang. Pardon the pun, but the conditions are a little too crowded for some hunters at one of the popular hunting areas in Kenai.

"Marathon Road becomes a freeway in rifle season," said Bo Winningham of Kenai in a letter to the Clarion.

Although some believe road hunting is for hunters too lazy to search and stalk animals, others find it perfectly acceptable, viewing road hunting as a form of "grocery shopping" and not a sport at all.

In either case, Marathon Road, Escape Route and the other dirt roads in the area, are favored by many hunters who take early morning or late evening rides though the area in the hopes of bagging a moose.

"This is the worst year I've ever seen for crowds," said Tony Gillham of Soldotna. "There's just a ton of people out here road hunting."

Gillham got an early start and began hunting back when archery season opened. He said he had high hopes of getting a moose quickly since last winter was so mild.

He said he has observed a few legal bulls in the area but hadn't taken any yet. However, now that rifle season opened, with each passing day the conditions in the area are growing more and more crowded with hunters, he said.

Gillham said he likely would be moving to an alternate location, such as the remote Caribou Hills area, in the hopes of getting away from the crowds.

Sherwood Williams Sr. and Sherwood Williams Jr. of Soldotna both hunt the Marathon Road area every year at this time and they, too, feel there's been a bevy of big game hunters this year.

"I've seen quite a lot of traffic around," said Williams Sr. "It doesn't bother me that much. I just start at daybreak to beat the crowds. I come in the evening, too, sometimes, but a lot of people are riding the roads then."

Williams Sr. said that although they hunt the area, they still like to get away from the roads. He and his son leave their vehicle and walk around or take out their ATV to get far back into the brush.

Williams Sr. said the crowds have made for unsafe conditions on at least one occasion that he was aware of.

While hunting last week, he was with his son when a cow moose and calf walked out of the woods several yards down the road and began to cross the drivable surface. Following close behind was a legal bull.

On the other side of the animals and further down the road, another hunter had observed the moose, as well.

Williams said the hunter was pulled off the road and out of his vehicle, which would make taking a shot legal once the animals were off the drivable surface.

However, a legal shot doesn't always mean a safe shot.

Almost in the hunter's line of fire were Williams, his son and their vehicle.

Williams said the hunter disregarded safety and took the shot, practically firing right down the road. They were only 10 yards out of his line of fire.

"He had to have seen our truck in his scope," said Williams Jr.

"A hunter should know better than to take a shot like that," said Williams Sr. "It could have ricocheted off some brush and hit us."

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