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Sitka Blacktail Deer Hunting

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Sitka black-tailed deer are also called Sitka deer and are the subspecies of Columbia black-tailed deer. They are smaller than the black tailed deer of the pacific north coast. Adult Sitka deer bucks can weigh up to 200 pounds while ‘does’ are around 100 pounds.  The most important and interesting feature of this animal is that it does not have upper teeth and food has to be mashed with their tongue to the roof of the mouth. It is the smallest amongst the three types of deer native to Alaska. Coat color is reddish brown in summer camouflaging it in the fields and forests and turns thick gray brown in winters. Average life span is 15 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity, however few deer live that long, they are either hunted or fall prey to predators. Predators include bears, wolves, and humans. Two thirds of their tail is black at bottom and remaining is brown, giving them the name black-tailed deer.

Sitka deer are good swimmers and have been spotted crossing deep channels between islands in Alaska. They inhabit the higher and lower altitudes forests in summer and come down to the beaches in winter, as the snow cover is less. They feed on a variety of leaves and other vegetation in summer and switch to evergreen plants and twigs in winter. Like all deer specie only the males grow antlers.

Sitka deer are found in the coastal rainforests of Alaska and northern British Columbia. However, they have been transported to several other islands. Migratory herds of Sitka move up to higher altitudes in summer and come down to lower altitudes in winter to forage and protect them from heavy snowfall. Summer foraging builds up their fat reserve, which is critical in surviving harsh winters. Sitka deer have a healthy reproductive rate, with does giving birth to twin fawns in late spring every year. Deer population is stable in Alaska and is monitored by Alaska fish and game to prevent decline due to over harvest and predations. Sitka deer hunting season usually begins at the end of September and continues up to middle of December. Sitka deer are hunted with both firearms and bows. A bow with a draw weight of 60 pounds is ideal. Arrow weights of 300 to 500 grains are recommended along with razor sharp broadheads. I use 100 grain broadheads but I am sure 85 grain broadheads would do the trick.

Personal gear

If hunting with a rifle, a .243 win, .270 cartridges and .30 caliber cartridges will do the trick with 130grain -180 grain bullets. A .30 caliber rifle  can easily take care of a Sitka black-tail deer, Mountain Goat, Moose, Caribou, and Dall sheep if on a combination hunt. However you might also want to carry a higher caliber rifle because you may encounter large Black bear or Brown bear. Snow and rain proof binoculars in the 8X-10X class recommended. A small lightweight range finder will prove handy while spotting. Also carry a good quality lightweight daypack to carry personal gear, a rangefinder, a small or medium hunting and skinning knife, a bright flashlight or headlamp with additional batteries, insulated upland boots, sleeping bag capable of keeping you warm in minus 20 degrees, thermal under clothes, four pairs of woolen and light wool socks, woolen pants, woolen shirts, warm gloves, insulated shooting gloves, rain suit, down filled parka with hood, water bottle, insect repellant, towels, salt, and game bags to carry the trophy, hide, and meat. 

On a solo hunt top quality tents that can take high velocity winds are recommended. A small cooking stove and an aluminum cooking pot will provide hot food after a tough day out.

A solo black-tail hunt in Alaska will enable you to experience the true meaning of high quality adventure.

Posted February 15, 2014 by Justin Ott

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