Closely related to the Columbia Blacktail, the Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) is native to the wet coastal rainforests of Southeast Alaska and north-coastal British Columbia. Its range has expanded via transplants, and established populations now exist near Yakutat, in Prince William Sound, and on Kodiak and Afognak islands. It is the least accessible of the three mule deer subspecies, making it a unique trophy.
Hunting the beaches and old growth timber, calling a rutted-up buck out of the mist, or chasing bachelor herds above timberline during the early season, this is a true Sitka Blacktail Deer hunt. This is his home turf, making the reward of taking that big buck like none other.
- Alaska has TONS of blacktail deer!
- VERY little hunting pressure in some of the more remote areas.
- Amazing archery hunting opportunities.
- In some areas up to five bucks per year!
- Good combo options for sea ducks and fishing.
- Success is almost guaranteed if you’re willing to work a little bit and have a decent plan.
The best places to hunt Sitka blacktails.
Kodiak Island and Prince of Wales are considered the top spots for deer hunting in Alaska.
Although there are lots other spots, certain areas stand out for bigger bucks. Prince of Wales Island, and Kodiak Island are a few of the hot spots for Sitka blacktail deer. Both islands have some amazing deer hunting. Winters aren’t quite as bad on POW, so the bucks can be slightly larger, but you’ll see more deer on Kodiak since it is more open. Only black bears live on Prince of Wales…and Kodiak is notorious for its brown bears. Don’t write off the smaller islands surrounding Kodiak and POW or the mainland between Juneau and Ketchikan. A good rule of thumb is the more expensive and difficult it is to get to a spot, the more likely it is that there will be bigger bucks and fewer hunters.
In 1924 Kodiak Island received its first transplant of deer, 1930 saw two more taken from Prince of Wales Island and the final shot was in 1934 when nine deer near Petersburg were added to the mix. They took well and now there is an abundant population. *Kodiak can have severe winters, so be sure to talk to us before you book to make sure there hasn’t been a recent winter kill.
Prince of Wales Island
Larger than the state of Delaware, Prince of Wales Island has 2,500 miles of road, and with that many roads the competition with other hunters grows every year, so you have to get remote. Prince of Wales Island has mild weather and naturally occurring minerals, making a recipe for the world’s biggest Sitka bucks! The most common way to hunt blacktail is from a boat and cruising the shorelines looking for a buck.
- The combination of mild weather, significant winter cover, and good nutrition supports 30 deer per square mile!
- The non-typical world record, a 5×6 scoring 134 inches was taken just 20 minutes outside of Craig, Alaska.
- The opportunity definitely exists to harvest a mature 3 or 4 point buck between 80 and 100 inches. We’re always searching for the magical 100-inch buck and this area has the genetics to produce!
Sitka blacktail deer aren’t big, but hunting them is fun!
Comparable in size to the coues whitetail of Arizona and Mexico, an average mature buck will score in the low to mid 80’s, and are typically unsymmetrical with broken tines. Bucks over 100 inches are VERY RARE. Keep that perspective in mind and you’ll have a ton of fun. Normal adult antler development for Sitka deer is three points on each side.
While they aren’t much in the trophy department, they are tons of fun to hunt, and many hunters list them as their favorite. Pope and Young minimum is 75 inches, and Boone and Crockett is 100 for the three-year awards, and 108 for the all-time book. An average mature buck will score in the low to mid 80s, and are typically unsymmetrical with broken tines…bucks over 100 inches are VERY RARE. Keep that perspective in mind and you’ll have a ton of fun.