Healthy deer populations promise plentiful buck season

Deer populations have returned to normal after a slump following the severe 2011-2012 winter. Buck season began Thursday, Aug. 1, with a four-deer bag limit. Photo courtesy Milo Burcham

Biologists believe that deer populations have returned to normal levels after a slump following the severe 2011-2012 winter. Hunters have been authorized to target bucks beginning Thursday, Aug. 1, with a four-deer bag limit for non-resident hunters and a five-deer limit for resident hunters.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that Prince William Sound deer are healthier now than in 2012, with thicker fat layers, according to a Fish and Game Department report. Bucks can currently be found anywhere from mountaintops down to sea level, said Milo Burcham, USDA Forestry Service wildlife biologist.

“Habitat conditions are good,” sportsman Nick Docken said. “I’m expecting to see bountiful deer numbers again like we’ve seen the last couple of seasons and hopefully some good-quality bucks as well.”

Hunters are advised to read the 2019-2020 Alaska Hunting Regulations, said Charlotte Westing, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department Fish and Game’s Cordova office. As always, wearing hunter orange and remaining vigilant for bears while packing out meat is recommended. However, hunters also shouldn’t neglect the hazards of wet and cold weather, Westing said.

“The thing that’s probably most likely to get you in a pickle is hypothermia,” Westing said. “Having a good little survival kit on you to deal with unforeseen circumstances is really helpful.”