DELTA, Alaska - In my last column I lamented about the state of hunting in Alaska. I would like to see more bow-hunting-only opportunities in the state and did a little sleuthing to see in fact how many of these hunts existed in the Interior.
Here in Fairbanks I found a couple of opportunities. One is a “bull only” hunt at Creamer’s Field using a harvest ticket and runs in two phases: Sept. 1-30 and Nov. 21-27. Another hunt is for an antlerless moose at Creamer’s Field with a permit and runs Sept. 1- Nov. 27.
A muzzleloader season is open there by permit from Nov. 21- Nov. 27. In the Fairbanks Management Area, archers can take a bull with a harvest ticket from Sept. 1- Sept. 30, or from Nov. 21-27.
So if you have seen a nice bull in your neighborhood, you are legally allowed to shoot it with a bow and arrow in the Fairbanks Management Area. Of course, all other areas of Alaska that have regular hunting seasons are open to bow hunting at the same time. My point is why not have separate openings for bow-only hunts? Another bow-hunting opportunity exists in area 20 B, the drainage of the Middle (East) Fork of the Chena River. This bull-only hunt runs from Sept. 21- Sept. 30.
One more bow-only hunt is still going on in the Salcha River drainage upstream from and including Goose Creek from Sept. 21- Sept. 30 for bulls only. So for those of you out there who like to bow hunt, and perhaps enjoy a little more solitude and a little less hum from hoards of ATV and boat hunters, there’s still time to bag your moose right here in the Fairbanks area. Maybe if more hunters asked for bow-only hunts, we would get our wish.
I’d like to share parts of a commentary about “foot hunting” submitted to me by JV from Fairbanks:
As have virtually all modern American hunters, I’ve burned a lot of fuel hunting over the years. Residents of Fairbanks with some dedication and perseverance to archery skills may actually have it better than anyone in the state in terms of required financial investment for hunting success. Due to the “any bull” “archery only” harvest ticket hunt, Fairbanks might be the only American city where one can walk from their home and harvest a moose with relatively very little fossil fuel inputs, and thus very little relative cost.
One year I made this my big hunt. I walked from my cabin every day with a longbow and eventually found myself carrying my season’s moose meat home without ever firing up a motor, or a firing pin. As someone who is greatly concerned about our society’s dependence upon fossil fuels, this was highly satisfying. On a deeper level, the contribution to my awareness of what it means to be a hunter — both physically and mentally — was indispensable.
But before you accuse me of being unrealistic or ideological, I’ll assure you that I know the reality of hunting, of access, of packing out meat. Packing out meat long distances on Alaska terrain by foot is probably the most difficult thing I have ever done but also the most rewarding. I actually look forward to it and see the task of hauling meat as part of the hunt, a very critical part. In fact, I am willing to posit that no one has actually learned what it is to be a hunter until they learn the logistics of packing meat and caring for meat over multiple days in the field.
I am not going to put myself on a pedestal. I have done my fair share of road hunting, flying around, etc. I have pulled a boat right up to a downed moose and had the luxury of carrying the quarters 5 feet and dropping them in the hull. More importantly, I know that our elders and permanently injured cannot get out and hunt long distances on foot, and because I feel that hunting is such an important part of human culture, health, and awareness I do not wish to keep such people from participating by being militant. However, hunting in America is in a crisis as a result of its dependence upon machines, and all of us who care about its practice, about providing ourselves a wonderful source of wild, organic protein, and most importantly, about the integrity of our relationships with wild animals and wild nature, need to immediately reconsider our approach and our attitude.
In solidarity with the foot hunters of the future!
If you’d like to read JV’s whole commentary, I can send it to you by e-mail. He makes many other great points about the state of hunting in Alaska. Where do you stand on this issue?
Brookelyn Bellinger is an independent filmmaker and author of the book “The Frozen Toe Guide to Real Alaskan Livin’.” Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.