Lots to do while waiting for winter activities

Posted: Friday, August 31, 2001

Fishing in the summer, snowmachining in the winter. Kenai Peninsula residents know their hobbies, even in the fall.

While not so obvious to the visitor's eye, the Kenai Peninsula offers a wealth of activities during the autumn months.

"We do see kind of the hunter/gatherer activities in the fall," said Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Ranger Candace Ward.

A variety of hunting seasons are open during late summer and autumn. From grouse to caribou, hunters have the opportunity to find virtually any type of game.

"Of course, we always have hunters pursuing the elusive moose," said Ward.

Silver salmon fishing is at the height of its season as well. Many people take advantage of the decreasing tourist traffic to spend more time on the rivers and in the ocean.

Others find fall a prime time to take the family camping. Campgrounds are less crowded, yet the evenings are still warm enough to enjoy sleeping outdoors.

Another popular pastime is picking berries. Adults and children alike wander onto flats and meadows armed with buckets, plastic bags or bowls.

Low bush cranberries are abundant in the Kenai-Soldotna area, Ward said. Highbush cranberries are not very plentiful here, and blueberries are most plentiful above the treeline.

Some people also gather rosehips, she said. These are used for teas, jellies and other goodies.

Berries are canned, frozen or made into fruit leather. They can also be used for paint and dye.

Aside from building food stores, opportunities for viewing wildlife abound in the fall.

Bears continue to eat berries and fish in an attempt to further build their fat stores for the winter. They often can be viewed from the air as well as from the ground.

Provided one schedules around hunting season, moose also seem more plentiful. Many people claim that the animals are aware of when hunting season is open and find places to hide.

Stories abound of trophy moose that are spotted the day before the season opens and the day after it closes. Yet, they seem to vanish into thin air during the days between.

Hiking peninsula trails is a good way to see more wildlife. However, hikers need to be aware of trails that might not be safe due to hunting activities in the area.

During hunting season, the safest hiking area is at the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area, Ward said. The area is closed to big game hunting, with certain areas open to bow hunting.

Whatever the activity, remember to wear bright-colored clothing when in the woods. Hunters and other recreational outdoors users can see and recognize other people more easily when their clothing contrasts with the shadows of the trees.

Take a buddy along, or let someone know where you are headed.

Then open your eyes and ears, and see what beauty awaits the autumn adventurer.

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