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Birds and bears and fish, oh my! Outdoor adventure aplenty in Alaska

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BY CHRIS BATIN
For the Fairbanks, Alaska, conference, location, outdoor and travel expertise and timing are all in our favor, plus the mystique of Alaska makes selling stories from the pre- and post-conference tours a virtual goldmine.
The conference will be held in early September, at the peak of Alaska’s fishing and hunting seasons.
For most pre- and post-conference tours, early sign-up is mandatory. Unlike other conferences, where you can wait until a few weeks before conference, these trips are on a first come, first serve basis. Fishing and hunting trips and some tours requiring advance reservations will be published in OU, and must be booked online before late December 2011. Other tours will remain available until conference time.
Upland bird season will be in full swing, and the Interior offers some of the state’s best hunting for spruce, ruffed, sharptail grouse and ptarmigan. Also, waterfowl season will be in full swing, with sandhill cranes, ducks and geese available locally or via fly-out duck camps or field hunts in the Delta Junction area.
Alaska offers a variety of open areas for non-residents to enjoy moose hunting. Success rate for road hunters hovers around 20 percent, while fly-out hunters enjoy a 60 to 90-percent success rate in many areas. Success rates improve from the time conference ends to the season closure in mid to late September.
For the visiting hunter, there is an excellent chance of success when hunting caribou. Depending on your taste for adventure, consider the Central Arctic or Western Arctic herds, as well as the Mulchatna or 40-Mile herds. For best success, hire an air-charter service to access the major migrations at that time of year. Hunting is possible off the Dalton Highway, but restrictions apply, plus you need to be in tip-top physical condition.
Black bear hunting is good in September, as bears are easily stalked as they fatten up on alpine berries throughout the White Mountain area. When hunting the coastal or alpine areas, there is also the opportunity for hunters to take a wolf, or pursue blacktail deer, which will also be in season throughout the coastal areas.
Brown bear, mountain goat and Dall sheep seasons are open in select units, but unless you are related to an Alaska resident within a second degree of kindred, you’ll need to hire a registered guide to pursue these species.
Fishing opportunities are excellent in late August through September. Silver salmon season will be in full swing, and saltwater fishing as well as fly and spin fishing in local rivers and streams along the coast will be excellent. Silver and chum salmon fishing is fair to good throughout Interior waters starting in early September and continuing through early October. Halibut fishing remains good, as is bottomfishing for rockfish and lingcod through various charter services. Trout fishing is excellent.
Sheefish fishing peaks on the Kobuk River in mid to late August, and Dolly Varden charfishing is at its peak from mid August through October. And don’t forget the Arctic grayling, which is plentiful in Interior streams and rivers, including the nearby Chena River.
Perhaps the best time of the year to be in Alaska, early September is awash in golds and reds of autumn, which offers a spectacular backdrop for wildlife photography in the state’s many national parks, refuges and national forests. Weather permitting, the aurora borealis will be ablaze.
Be sure to look for upcoming details on an OWAA exclusive post-conference wildlife photo shoot into Denali, offered by the National Park Service.
Expect a variety of tours and travel-related opportunities from sea kayaking to glacier hiking and trekking, rock climbing, to zip lining, to Iditarod sled dog exhibits and riverboat adventures.♦
Chris Batin has been a member since 1979. He is the 2012 conference local chair. He is also editor and publisher of Alaska Angler, and Alaska Hunter Productions and Video Productions. Contact him at ChrisBatin@AlaskaAngler.com.
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