"A scan of the record books shows Kodiak is one of the best places for trophy Sitka blacktail, with mature 4x4 bucks likely to meet the Boone and Crockett Club minimum of 108 inches. It also lends itself to some great self-guided hunting. I recently joined a group there on a do-it-yourself Sitka blacktail hunt using Ninilchik Charters. They provide seven-day trips including transport, lodging and meals aboard the 53-foot Sundy for $2,650 per person.
"Ninilchik Charters does not provide guide services. The hunter must decide where and how to conduct his hunt, setting his own pace and level of difficulty. All hunts begin on the beach, reached by inflatable skiff with a small outboard. Deer are often located from the boat and stalked on the beach. In good weather, hunters can see 10 to 30 deer a day, even in the underbrush. Shot opportunities vary from 20 yards in the willows to 350 yards across a canyon.
"Hunters need not be in top physical condition. But, any hunt away from the beach is physically demanding due to willows, devil's club and head-high grass. Reaching the tops of even low ridges requires a long, hard climb. In the afternoons, and when the sun comes out after a cold spell, the deer begin to move. "This was my third boat-based deer hunt. Every day we saw a different part of the island and lots of animals. For the first few days, we stayed in Uyak Bay to hunt canyons a half-hour's hike from the beach. When weather permitted, we crossed to Spiridon Bay and hunted the mountains. Over the week, our group of five hunters tagged five deer. The biggest, a mature 4x3 with eyeguards, was spotted from the Sundy. We then moved in........(continued)