As the Kenai Peninsula moose hunting season approaches Sept. 1, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is reminding hunters — even experienced veterans — they must complete an online moose antler configuration orientation before heading into the field.
"Hunters need to review the criteria that make an animal legal for harvest before they enter the field," said Kenai area wildlife biologist Jeff Selinger. Concern has been growing at the agency that too many sub-legal bulls are being taken. Last year, 57 of 285 moose taken in Game Management Units 7 and 15 (the Kenai Peninsula and the head of Turnagain Arm) were illegal.
Consequently, hunters in those units must complete the online orientation. By early August, more than 2,200 had done so.
Any bull harvested on the Kenai has to have its antlers sealed, and that's where Fish and Game will check whether hunters completed the course.
Here's what makes a bull moose legal in those areas:
*A spike antler on at least one side.
*Antlers spanning at least 50 inches.
*Antlers with at least four brow tines on at least one side.
Still illegal are moose with fork antlers on both sides.
Fish and Game has fielded some criticism that the regs are too complex, but Selinger noted that a so-called "restricted hunt" allows a longer season, in this case through Sept. 25. "If you had an all-bulls hunt, the season would be much shorter, maybe a week long," Selinger said. "There's a lot of different ways to make it less complicated, for sure. But maybe then everybody couldn't participate.
"We trying to maximize opportunity."
Bruce Dale, Fish and Game's director of wildlife conservation, said in a press release, "I took it and found it very informative."
[Take the orientation here]
The certificate affirming that hunters completed the course is the size of a driver's license; the Kenai office of Fish and Game will laminate it if desired.
Women-only derby topped by 14.88-pound silver
When Valdez angler Chinda Heston reeled in a hefty silver salmon Saturday, her first impulse was strong.
"Get back to the harbor now," she said, according to the Valdez Chamber of Commerce, which runs that town's summer-long fish derbies.
It was a good idea, as Heston's 14.88-pound silver turned out to be only about a half-pound heavier than the runner-up as she won the one-day Women's Silver Salmon Derby, a tournament that drew 595 entrants. It's one of the biggest women-only fishing derbies in the country.
Heston assumed the honorary Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood title, and her coho was big enough to seize the No. 2 position in the larger Valdez Silver Salmon Derby, which runs though Sept. 3. If she holds that position, she'll claim a $5,000 prize.
Valdez Women's Silver Salmon Derby
Top 20 Finishers
1) Chinda Heston, Valdez, 14.88 pounds; 2) Kristina Bragg, Fairbanks, 14.28; 3) Sandra Virguez, Valdez, 13.44; 4) Corrine Garrison, North Pole, 13.0; 5) Shantel Weidner, Delta Junction, 12.98; 6) Rhetta Hosier, Delta Junction, 12.94; 7) Sara Williams, Valdez, 12.86; 8) Bonnie Saxum, Valdez, 12.76; 9) Lori Young, North Pole, 12.74; 10) Kamille Mulcaire, Arizona, 12.68; 11) Abigail Creer, North Pole, 12.68; 12) Suzie Koklich, Valdez, 12.68; 13) Shawn Wise, 12.66; 14) T.C.Corbin-Greene, Valdez, 12.64; 15) Marcia Cassino, North Pole, 12.56; 16) Dana McAlpine, Anchorage, 12.52; 17) Carrie Littlejohn, Fairbanks, 12.50; 18) Baily Bryant, Wyoming, 12.48; 19) Marika Poor, Florida, 12.44; 20) Bernadette Meyers, Arizona, 12.38.