The Dall Island Buck
July 31, 1999, Dennis Landwehr and I returned to the alpine areas described
in the article featuring our hunt which yielded the number one Sitka blacktail
in the Longhunter record book (See World
Record Blacktail ). Again we chartered
a boat ride to the beach and hiked up to the alpine. This year however
we avoided the alder avalanche chute and opted for the timbered cliffs
to gain access to the alpine. The eight hour grueling climb of last summer
took only six hours, climbing at a much more leisurely pace. We had water
all the way and used machetes to improve the route through the devils
club and heavy brush.
reached our last summer's camp area to find a black bear had used it for
a bedding spot. We cleared the areas of the bear's sign, pitched our tent
and relaxed, preparing for the mornings climb and hunt.
weather forecast was for the temperatures to reach the high 70's or possibly
the low 80's, a real scorcher in Southeast Alaska. We knew that we would
have to be up at first light, because with high such temperatures the
deer would be bedded in the sub-alpine timber by 7:00 a.m. We left camp
at 4:30 a.m. and climbed the hour to the alpine. The abundant deer of
the past summer were nowhere to be found.
reached the site where I had shot my deer last summer and we split up.
I hunted east and Dennis west towards the only deer we had spotted. I
worked across the broken ground as the sun began to show itself above
the distant ridges. I came across a fresh deer bed and tracks which lead
to a saddle. As I entered the saddle, I spotted a buck feeding 60 yards
distant. It was a good buck with wide, tall velvet antlers. He blocked
the rising sun. His reddish summer hair produced a reddish-golden outline
surrounding the black silhouette of the buck. He never saw me. I laid
down in the grass, placed the front bead behind his shoulder and fired.
The buck went down, kicked once, and moved no more. I approached the buck,
paid my respects and sat in awe of the land, the animal, and the experience.
It was only 5:45 a.m.
arrived and helped bone the animal. We found a snow bank to bury the meat
under and then we hunted the remainder of the afternoon. Conditions had
changed from last year. Where we had seen over 30 deer, mostly bucks there
were only seven deer seen, four of which were bucks. We saw at least nine
bears in this one alpine basin. The snow had just come off the alpine
and the forbes, grasses, and browse were just sprouting. It is possible
that the previous year's winter snows had taken a toll on a percentage
of mature bucks. The unseasonably warm weather, the lack of food for the
deer, the presence of so many bears all combined to cut our hunt short.
We returned to our camp that evening with my deer and the experiences
from a day in the alpine of southeast Alaska. Experiences that are always
following morning we descended the mountain, and camped in the forest
near the beach waited for our pickup the following morning. Our 6:00 a.m.
scheduled pickup was delayed a couple of hours by thick fog that slowed
the progress of our charter. As we waited to be picked up on the beach,
a wolf hunted along the shoreline, working its way towards us until it
scented out camping spot. It then paused for a few photos and disappeared
into the forest.
ride eventually arrived and we returned to our regular lives and family,
taking time to reflect on our experiences during the long boat ride home.
The buck's rack gross scores 95 0/8" with only 4 7/8 " deductions for
a final score of 90 1/8" under the Boone and Crockett scoring system.
This score may place this buck in the top ten of the Longhunter Record
Book for Sitka blacktail. It was a shame I did not hunt this buck two
to three weeks later when his antlers had fully developed, I bet he would
have scored closer to 100. There is always next year !!
Jim Baichtal, P.O. Box 19515, Thorne Bay, Alaska 99919 firstname.lastname@example.org