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Afternoon bird hunt

By Troutnut on October 3rd, 2013
Winter's coming on quickly in Fairbanks, so we took advantage of one nice afternoon to drive up to a well-known bird-hunting spot, hike around, and maybe find some dinner. There weren't many birds, but I managed to get one rock ptarmigan.

Photos by Troutnut from Miscellaneous Alaska in Alaska

Comments / replies

SayfuOctober 4th, 2013, 10:26 pm
Posts: 560Ptarmigan seem like a great game bird. Are they generally found in good numbers around Fairbanks? And do you hunt with a dog? Are their other game birds? I'm a dedicated upland bird hunter with two good bird dogs. Had a fun Sharptail Grouse hunt last week, and will go again tomorrow.
TroutnutOctober 5th, 2013, 2:49 am
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
Ptarmigan are fun. For me it's more about the places they're found than the birds themselves... they like the high country in the fall, which is a great place to be. There can be decent numbers around Fairbanks (though you could say that for almost any town in Alaska). They're not migratory on a really large scale but they definitely move around from mountain to mountain and between highlands and lowlands fairly often, so they can be sort of a boom-or-bust thing (like most game and fish in Alaska).

One time up the Dalton Highway I came across literally hundreds of ptarmigan in a couple high valleys. Flocks of anywhere from 10 to 100 birds were all over the place, and you could hear them constantly. My friend and I were coming back from bowhunting for caribou and we tried for ptarmigan for a while, but I wasn't dialed in with my bird arrows and missed all my shots (no gun hunting is allowed in that area). I'm sure the birds moved on soon after that, but it's neat to just know that there are flocks of hundreds of them flying around from valley to valley up in the wilderness of the Brooks Range at this time of year.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
CutbowOctober 6th, 2013, 1:14 am
Post Falls, Idaho

Posts: 38
I love the photos and thats a beutiful setter you got there! This reminds me of the chuckar hunting I used to do on the Nevada/California border when I lived down there. Only I used shotguns, not archery. :)
"Once you catch your first fish on a fly you won't care about any other kind of fishing!"
SayfuOctober 6th, 2013, 10:53 am
Posts: 560Troutnut...I've watched, but one Alaska Ptarmigan hunt, and it was a good one. The host flew in from Anchorage, and not that long of flight. They hunted in the lava rock, and those short, berry bushes/plants. The Ptarmigan were very wary birds, and would make short flights to new locations as the two hunters, and dog approached. The dog was skilled at hunting them, and began his stalk, and points well away from the sighted birds. I can enjoy seeing, and dreaming about that hunting. My legs won't allow me to navigate that tough terrain anymore. I hunted sharptail yesterday in the CRP grass bordered by SAGE in wide open country, and pushed my legs passed their limit.
TroutnutOctober 6th, 2013, 5:31 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
I love the photos and thats a beutiful setter you got there!

She is beautiful, but she's not a setter or any kind of bird dog. She's a husky. Her role in the hunt is to stay on the leash, back with my wife, while I sneak up on a bird I've spotted... then come sniff it after the shot. :)
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist

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