While deer have declined throughout the Kodiak Archipelago, the area least affected was the southern portion of Kodiak. Based on that information, I hunted near the village of Old Harbor on the southeast coast with transporter Jeff Peterson of Kodiak Combos. He uses a 26-foot boat to reach the hunting areas, and we hunted on Sitkalidak Island, a large native-owned island near Old Harbor. Each day, we saw 15 to 20 deer, including two or three bucks. This is low compared to hunts before the die-off, when one could look at 50-plus deer a day. However, as one fish and game biologist put it, "Now it's more like real hunting than it was when deer populations were high." Furthermore, the reduction in the total number of deer is not all bad. Along with severe weather, winter forage is believed to be a major limiting factor in both population size and trophy quality, and with fewer deer, winter forage will be more abundant. That means the bucks that survived the 1998-99 winter will be in good condition. Trophy quality should improve.
Our hunt was only three days long and both my partner and I harvested bucks. His was a large 4 x 2 that will make SCI, and mine was a smaller 3 x 3.........(continued)