Monday, September 27, 2010
Kodiak's Roadsystem Buck to Doe Ratio
Yesterday Gregg and I went deer hunting on the Kodiak Roadsystem and saw around 30 deer. Sounds pretty good right? But they were all does and on the roadsystem you are only allowed to shoot bucks. So there were no dee for us to harvest.
To see so many does and so few bucks has become fairly typical on the Kodiak Road system and I think it is a result of the 'bucks only' harvest rule. Elsewhere on Kodiak you are allowed to hunt does after October 1rst, and up until about 10 years ago on the roadsystem you were allowed to harvest a doe during the last week of the season. It is over the last 10 years that the sex ratio on the roadsystem has become so skewed.
I believe that the new 'bucks only' rule is the cause of the problem. Just 4 or 5 years ago you could still find bachelor groups of bucks up in the high country on the roadsystem. But no more, in the last two years I have not seen a single bachelor group of 3 or more bucks. On average, these days when I am hunting the roadsystem, I generally see 15 to 20 does and fawns before I see a mature buck. That's why I was so devastated yesterday - after just 15 does and fawns I should have seen a big buck!
I gather that a skewed sex ratio hurts the chances of bucks surviving the winter. They get worn out servicing the does during the rut and then die during the winter. So the fewer bucks there are in relation to the does, the harder they have to work and the more likely they are to not make it through the winter. It is a self-accentuating feedback loop. And every year near Kodiak we are seeing fewer and fewer mature bucks. I actually think there are now not enough bucks to go around. These days does without a fawn are a common sight, and fawns are getting born late into early summer (rather than spring) because the rut has to last longer before bucks can get to all the does. Fawns born later in the year also have less of a chance to survive their first winter.
A couple of weeks ago when Gregg, my brother , and I went goat hunting at the south end I was struck by the number of mature bucks in relation to the does. It was really amazing to observe a more normal sex ratio - big bucks were everywhere! On the Kodiak Roadsystem I think they should go back to allowing people to harvest a doe during the last week of the season. We need to get the sex ratio back out of whack. Patrick
Photos: Some scenics from yesterday's fruitless deer hunt.