Warm weather slows Sand Point buffalo hunt
Warm winter weather along the south coast of the Alaska Peninsula may have delayed some buffalo hunting plans, though not by much.
The annual buffalo hunt is underway in Sand Point, managed by the Shumagin Corp., the village Native corporation for the Popov Island fishing community in the Gulf of Alaska of about 1,000 people.
"It's going very well," said Glen Gardner, corporation president.
Earlier this month, Aleutians East Borough Mayor Alvin Osterback of Sand Point said hunters were waiting for cooler temperatures, for better meat curing conditions. Gardner said Tuesday that he's already seen plenty of buffalo meat suspended around town, and said the just-right temperature is a matter of individual preference.
Both men said Sand Point doesn't see much white stuff anymore. Gardner said the town had finally gotten a little snow, though just a "dusting." Osterback said residents don't use snowmobiles, unlike many rural villages. "There's no snow," and four-wheel all-terrain vehicles are the preferred ride, he said.
In an Oct. 30 raffle, about 55 people, a high turnout, spent $150 on tickets for a chance at 30 permits, he said. The hunt opened Nov. 1 and continues until Feb. 28 for shareholders and one-year local residents. Another five sell for $3,000 each, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Hunters pursue adult bison mainly on four-wheelers, though others go by boat, and a few might even hike, Gardner said.
Every hunter is required to donate 30 pounds of choice meat to an Elder, chosen by the corporation.
"Drawing winners have an obligation to their designated Elder, and therefore must make every effort to take their buffalo," according to the hunt's rules. The rules also state that large-caliber rifles are the only weapon allowed, and specifically prohibit shotguns, handguns and bows and arrows.
Every hunter needs to be accompanied by an observer, approved by the corporation, who has the final say on which animal can be shot. All the meat must be harvested. Trophy-horned heads are optional recoveries, as there's no requirement to salvage non-edibles. However, some keep the furs, for rugs or blankets, according to Gardner.
Jim Paulin can be reached at email@example.com.