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North to Alaska! Bird Hunting

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BY CHRIS BATIN
This is part of a series of overviews that will help OWAAers prepare for the September 2012 Alaska conference. Expect a variety of tips, recommendations and ideas on Alaska fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation opportunities. Descriptions and reservation info for guided and unguided trips will be provided as I receive them, but all will be posted by February 2012.
Bird Hunting
Alaska waterfowl hunting season will be in full swing in early September, but I’ll address that activity in one of the future monthly updates. This month, I am going to focus on the many species of grouse in Alaska’s Interior that are easy to hunt.
Alaska’s grouse and ptarmigan season is at its peak during September. Leaves start to fall off the birch and aspens. Young birds are fully fledged out and focused on eating ground-level berries. I’ve hunted for grouse in the hills and flatlands of Alaska’s Interior for more than 30 years, and action is usually good to excellent.
Throughout Alaska’s Interior, hunters will find spruce, ruffed and sharptail grouse, with large flocks of willow ptarmigan in the upper elevations of the White Mountains, starting about 10 to 20 miles from city center. The baglimit is generous, and it is possible to hunt areas that offer several species of birds in a morning of hunting. I have frequently taken grouse in the lower elevations near Livengood, while heading to the high country of Manley and taking ptarmigan and sharptails on the windblown ridges overlooking Minto Flats.
Most of the good grouse hunting can be had on state and federal land off the main highway system.
Recommendations include the forested sections east and south of Delta Junction, as well as the White Mountains to the north and east of Fairbanks. Many hunters have good luck in the Tanana Flats and hills just south of Fairbanks. I have always enjoyed chasing birds on a drive out to Circle Hot Springs, spending the night, and hunting again on the return trip to Fairbanks. Tok has some great sharptail hunting in early season in the fire-burned timber areas. Maps of these areas are available at local Bureau of Land Management offices in Fairbanks.
For more information on Alaska grouse hunting, refer to the chapters on upland bird hunting in my book, “Hunting in Alaska: A Comprehensive Guide.”
Most bird hunting I have done in Alaska has been without the use of a dog, but if you care to bring your own dog, be sure it is well trained and that it quickly obeys verbal commands. Bears are plentiful in Alaska berry patches where birds like to congregate.
Shipping firearms to Alaska on the airlines is no different than transporting them to any other state. If you plan to drive through Canada, you’ll need to adhere to Canadian customs and regulations regarding transport of firearms. Some might consider shipping firearms to a local gun dealer in Fairbanks. Check online for the most current information on firearm regulations and passport requirements for driving through Canada.
Coming up next month: Alaska travel considerations and tips. ♦
-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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