An ADF&G game camera captured this photo of a buck on Mitkof Island October 23, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Dan Eacker)

Deer hunting on Petersburg’s Mitkof Island and the Lindenburg Peninsula opens Oct. 1. As KFSK’s Angela Denning reports, the resident hunt is much longer than in recent years and the bow and arrow hunt near town has expanded as well.

The deer hunt allows residents to harvest one buck Oct. 1-Nov. 7. That’s three weeks longer than last year and gives hunters the opportunity to take animals during the first part of the rutting season. 

The area for the bow and arrow hunt near Petersburg has also expanded the buffer area from a quarter mile to 100 yards. It allows residents and non-residents to harvest two bucks Oct. 1-Dec. 15.

The region-wide harvest goal for deer in Unit 3 is 900. The recent 5-year average harvest has been about 650 deer.

Frank Robbins is the Area Wildlife Biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Petersburg.

“It seems like things are looking good for deer,” Robbins said. “We’re seeing a steady increase in the numbers.”

Hunters on Mitkof, Woewodski and Butterworth islands have averaged 71 bucks a year the last three years and 46 on Lindenberg. For Unit 1-B on the mainland, the five year average harvest is about 100-110 deer.

Harvest data is the best way for managers in the region to track the species. The mountainous Tongass National Forest is too dense for aerial surveys and other tracking efforts like pellet surveys are relatively new.

Mangers in recent years have been flying Alpine deer surveys in the summer. Robbins says while it’s not the best way to figure out the total abundance it might give them some clues.

“It may give us some information on trend, how many animals we see from year to year,” Robbins said.

Other parts of Unit 3 have less restrictions and the season is longer. Hunters are allowed two bucks from Aug. 1-Nov. 30.

Biologists believe part of the deer population’s growth depends on how extreme the winters are and the number of predators, like wolves, in the area.