If you choose to hunt during the early part of the deer season, in August or early September, you will need to get to some higher elevations where the deer will be. There is no timber on the island but the brush can hide a bear or a deer very well. Although previously discussed, the brush can be very thick and brutal on Kodiak so once you get above the brush line, it is smooth sailing for deer hunting. The other benefit to hunting during the early part of the season is that you can enjoy fishing and sightseeing without the weather being a huge killjoy, unlike later in the year.
The two biggest downsides to early season is that you have to climb rocky hills and the hides on the deer will not be the greatest taxidermy specimens due to shorter hair and their necks will be skinnier than during the rut. Don’t forget about the bears. Brownies will be trying to feed as much as possible and Kodiak is infamous for bears stealing freshly killed deer right out from under hunter’s feet. You must watch for bears and especially right after you ring the dinner bell with the report of a rifle.
The benefits to a late season hunt are many. As far as taxidermy goes, there is nothing prettier than a prime blacktail cape with long hair, swelled neck and that beautiful double white throat patch. If you are lucky enough to hunt close to the rut, the deer will be down in the lower elevations and that makes them easier to reach. I also like late season because there are no bugs and the bears are usually fatter and slower, and they are not as aggressive. Of course, bears are unpredictable and they still demand the utmost respect.
Regulations and bag limits change frequently in Alaska but most years hunters can kill one to four deer each. To me, two deer produces about all the meat I want to deal with. Also, you don’t want to be stuck out in the wild with two deer to take care of because it increases the chances that bears will become part of your hunting experience, so never shoot two together. The weather is very predictable this time of the year because you can always assume it will be crappy, so most hunters try to plan extra days into their hunts in case they get stranded. Bush planes don’t fly unless there is acceptable visibility. Just one of many details that hunters have to deal with.
Kodiak is an awesome experience, but planning for a trip there will require attention to many details.