KFSK file photo

Deer hunters around Petersburg could see a longer season under a pair of proposals before the state’s Board of Game next month. At a meeting earlier this month, Petersburg’s Fish and Game advisory committee voted to support longer hunting seasons but wasn’t unanimous on the change.

Petersburg resident Steve Burrell submitted the two proposals to extend the local deer hunting seasons from the current closure date of October 31 until November 15, adding 16 days and making it a month long. The proposals cover the seasons on Mitkof, Woewodski and Butterworth islands along with the Lindenberg Peninsula of Kupreanof Island.

Tom Schumacher is regional supervisor for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Wildlife. He listened in to the meeting by phone and told the committee the change might double deer harvests during the local seasons. But he explained deer numbers show some signs of increasing.

“Our deer estimates we don’t have much for Mitkof, but for Kupreanof and Lindenberg, least our alpine counts have been going up,” Schumacher said. “We don’t really know yet how alpine counts relate to the numbers of deer in the woods but the harvest has also gone up quite a bit so we think they probably parallel each other somewhat.”

Schumacher said the department is neutral on the proposals but thought there was some room to lengthen the season. Department comments about the proposal note that doubling the harvest may not be sustainable.

Hunters on Mitkof, Woewodski and Butterworth islands have averaged 71 bucks a year the last three years and 46 on Lindenberg.

Committee member Frank Neidiffer wondered about conservation concerns in the area. “Well I’m kind of opposed to it because we’ve had meetings here where we’re taking too many deer, remember, just by the proxy hunts and such they were complaining about too big a harvest,” Neidiffer said. “This is just going to increase the harvest quite a bit.”

The season and bag limit on Mitkof and the Lindenberg Peninsula are among the most restricted in the state because of population concerns. Hunters have 15 days and can take one buck. The state board shortened the Lindenberg season in 2013 over concerns about deer numbers.

Committee member Stan Malcom also sounded opposed. “Doubling the season length is a big move,” Malcom said. “I would have a little concern with doubling the season length.”

But others on the committee thought a longer season is a good idea.

“I know the guys who have been doing the aerial deer counts the last several years,” said David Benitz. “It’s pretty extensive survey they’ve been doing and the deer numbers on Lindenberg Peninsula have been going up steadily. There’s deer there now to harvest. I think we should extend the season and harvest those deer while they’re here.”

Lengthening the season would also provide hunting opportunity when deer are in rut, or during mating, and hunters typically have more success.

raised that point.
“I sure would like to get a crack at that first week of November I know that,” said Don Spigelmyre. “That’s that peak of that rut. Me being a primary archer, for me that’s a time a year that I might get a chance and score with my bow.”

The vote was eight in support, four against and one abstention. The input from advisory committees around the region, public comment and staff reports will help the state board decide the proposals in mid January.

There’s opportunity for public comment during the state board meeting. The board is also accepting public comment on the proposals until December 28th.