The Other Brother
Branch antlered bucks and snow capped peaks fill the minds of deer hunters obsessed with monster mule deer across the country. Then there’s the next level of addiction, thoughts that sneak through rain soaked ferns under a canopy of 100-year- old Douglas fir trees trying to catch a glimpse of the Grey Ghost of the Pacific Northwest, the Columbia Black-tailed Deer. But how about the other brother? For mule deer die-hards and for our third and final level of Mule Deer Madness is the Sitka Black-tailed Deer. Native only to the coastal rainforest of Southeast Alaska and Northern B.C., it is the least accessible of the three subspecies, making it a unique trophy. Comparable to the coues whitetail of Arizona and Mexico, few bucks break the 100-inch mark. B&C record books accept bucks that stretch the tape to 108 inches, and their distinct double throat patch makes for a beautiful mount.
There are two destinations that have proven themselves in the record books, Prince of Wales and Kodiak Islands. 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 9 deer near Petersburg were added to the mix. They took well and now there is an abundant population. However, Kodiak has experienced up to 50% winter kill some years due to severe winters. Add brown bears and unpredictable Gulf of Alaska weather, this is a tough place for a deer to make a living, and an even tougher place to hunt.
We hunt Prince of Wales Island, where milder weather and significant winter cover supports a 30 deer per square mile population density. Pair that with naturally occurring minerals and it’s a recipe for the world’s biggest Sitka bucks! The non-typical world record, a 5×6 scoring 134 inches was taken just 20 minutes outside of Craig, your jumping off point! The opportunity 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! Larger than the state of Delaware, Prince of Wales Island has 2500 miles of road, and with that many roads the competition grows every year. We take advantage of the other option, conducting the hunts from a 42’ Charter Vessel. With all the comforts of home, we access the southernmost reaches of Prince of Wales Island. The portion of the island that our outfitter hunts is completely roadless, so the hunting pressure is practically non-existent – classic Sitka Blacktail country. 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.
by Rudy Martin