Hunting

Hunting Caribou Adak photo by USFWS

In Alaska, hunting is a part of our traditions and an important source of food for many residents. All of the public lands in the refuge are open to both recreational and subsistence hunting. Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage. Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciate of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs. For more information about regulations and to obtain a license, visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website. 

For information about hunting caribou on Adak, please see the list of FAQ's below.  

 

ADAK HUNTING FAQ'S: 

FOR MAPS AND GPS COORDINATES CLICK HERE   
Despite the challenges of access to the animals, weather, potential changes in air service and the tendency of hunters in some seasons to stack up in the same areas, Adak can still provide a great hunt. The country is spectacular, and there no bears or fox to threaten your meat, only eagles. Just remember the same wanton waste rules apply here as anywhere. Waterfowl and hunting are also available and you may fish for Dolly Varden and salmon in season.

How can I get to Adak?
Alaska Airlines flies a 737 jet to Adak 

Where can I stay? Is transportation available? Are there public use cabins?
Apartment units, and rental cars and ATVs are available on Adak and charter boats may be available.  In the field, plan to camp on refuge lands. Only one cabin remains and is not maintained.

Are guides available?
A guide is not required, but guide permits are issued for Adak Island each year. Contact the refuge for more information on which guides have permits for guiding on the refuge.

Where are the animals found on Adak?
Caribou move across large areas. Most animals are on the south side of the island far from vehicle access. 

Where are refuge lands on the island, how will I know if I am on the refuge, and how can I get a map and GPS Coordinates?
View a land status map for Adak Island. Most of the land near town (northside) is private and belongs to the Aleut Corporation. Vehicles or ATVs are not allowed on the Refuge. ATV ruts are developing on Refuge land on the Mt. Reed unit from trespass use. You can avoid taking an ATV into the refuge by loading the coordinates of the refuge boundaries into your GPS. Download GPS coordinates for the refuge boundaries. The refuge boundaries are only signed on the Mt. Reed unit where the Heart Lake ATV trail crossed into the refuge. ATVs are not allowed beyond those signs. Download "Know Where You Are" to help find your way around Adak.

Can I hunt caribou on Refuge lands on the island (south side), and how can I get there?
Yes, all Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge lands are open to hunting. Access to the refuge is either by boat, on designated free public access easements which cross Aleut Corporation land, or by crossing Aleut Corporation land outside the easements after first obtaining a land use permit and paying a fee to the Corporation. Hiking or boating offers the best access to areas with caribou. Easement maps and coordinates are available here. The GPX files you download to your GPS will contain numerous files. The ones of most value to you are 7b - Husky Pass Trail; 4B - Shagak Bay Trail; 9C - Lake Betty Trail; 10 - Finger Bay Trail, and 0.193.79 - the Mt. Reed refuge unit boundaries. The easement allows access to public lands and waters and is open to foot and ATV traffic although only the Husky Pass and Shagak Bay easements are suitable for ATVs. However, you cannot hunt in an easement unless you have a permit from the Aleut Corporation. Even if you plan to hike to the refuge and hunt in the refuge, it is wiser to have an Aleut Corporation permit because you may see animals on the way in.

Do I need to get a land use permit from the Aleut Corporation?
Yes, unless you plan to hunt from a boat on the refuge end of the island, you will want a permit from the Aleut Corporation. All road and ATV accessible areas are the private property of the Aleut Corporation. On public access easements such as the Husky Pass Trail you can travel across Aleut Corporation land without a permit but you cannot hunt. If the world's record bull was standing in the middle of the easement you could not legally shoot it without a land access permit from the Aleut Corporation. To obtain a permit, call the Aleut Real Estate office on Adak at (907) 592-2325.

Should I walk or use an ATV and where can I use one?
ATVs are not allowed on refuge land. Both the Husky Pass and Shagak Bay trail easements are treacherously steep in places. Riders regularly roll their machines on sidehills. Because Adak's wet climate and fragile tundra are not ideal conditions for ATVs, trails deteriorate quickly and have become impassable in places. Damage done today with an ATV may not heal in your lifetime. Cold wet tundra plants and soils recover slowly. Dry lichens are so fragile that a single pass of an ATV will virtually eliminate them. It is now almost impossible to remain within the 25' designated easement on either the Husky Pass or Shagak Bay trails.

If you do use an ATV on Adak, stay on the trail easement, and be prepared to walk. When the trail easements are slick or boggy, park your ATV and continue on foot. People who forge ahead despite conditions may widen or cause further damage to trails, and often end up with a mired vehicle. Also, watch for signs and know where you are. The Mt. Reed unit is the area of the refuge you are most likely to accidentally wander into with an ATV. Several operators on Adak rent ATVs from 4 wheelers to 6 wheeled ARGOS.

Do I need to worry about unexploded ordnance or other remnants of military use of the island?
Yes, Parcel 4 shown in red on the Adak downtown map is closed to all public access due to live, unexploded ordinance. Military cleanup has been in progress on Adak for many years but there is a chance you could encounter unexploded but still dangerous ammunition and even bombs anywhere on the island. Do not touch or pick up any item that might be old ammunition, bombs, grenades or other explosive devices. The Adak map has a section describing what you should do if you should find any of these items.

What licenses and tags do I need to hunt caribou?
Alaska residents need an Alaska State hunting license and a harvest ticket for each animal taken. Non-residents need an Alaska State hunting license, a big game tag and a harvest ticket for every animal taken. A guide is not required. Purchase tags and licenses, online, or by calling 800/478-2376, or at a license vendor.

For harvest tickets contact Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) (800/478-2376). Harvest tickets must be obtained from a licensed vendor or from an ADF&G office. Adak is in Game Management Unit 10.

You do not need an additional permit to hunt on the refuge. A Special Use Permit is only required for commercial guides or transporters.

Are caribou native to Adak?
Caribou and reindeer were introduced to several of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge islands during World War II and the Cold War to provide emergency food for military serving at isolated outposts.On the wilderness island of St. Matthew, far out in the Bering Sea, the last WWII servicemen left within two years after the reindeer arrived. Without human or animal predators, the herd grew so quickly and so large that it ate itself out of food (slow-growing lichens). The majority of the herd died during the winter of 1963-64. The last reindeer died by 1983. More recently, surveys of Adak island showed another boom and bust from a high of 2,751 in 2005 down to 1,217 animals in 2019. In recent years, caribou have begun spreading from degraded habitat on Adak to the nearby pristine Kagalaska Island.

What is the season and bag limit?
Please check with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for the most current regulations regarding the harvest of caribou on Adak Island. Meat from each animal must be utilized in accordance with ADF&G wanton-waste regulations. When packing out meat from the kill site, the antlers must be removed with the last load of meat. Wanton waste is a punishable offense and is enforced.

When is the best time of year to hunt?
That depends on what you want. High winds and driving rain or snow can happen at most any time of year. The Aleutians are the "Cradle of the Storms" so be prepared with high quality rain gear and layers of wool or poly fleece.

  • If you want bulls, you must hunt between August 10 and December 31.
  • If you want antlers in velvet, then hunt until the end of August.
  • If you want velvet-free antlers, then hunt after September 1st.
  • If you want edible meat, then do not take a bull caribou from late September to mid October during the rut. Most game meat processors will not even accept meat from rutting bull caribou.

What is the difference between Fish and Game and the Fish and Wildlife Service?
Alaska Department of Fish and Game is the state agency that manages sport hunting and fishing in Alaska. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the federal agency that manages national wildlife refuges. Land on the south side of Adak is administered as part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

Who should I contact for more information?
For fishing and hunting regulations, purchasing hunting licenses and big game tags: Alaska Department of Fish and Game (800/478-2376)

For general Fish and Wildlife Service questions, questions specific to Adak parcel 4 boundaries, and unexploded ordnance information contact alaskamaritime@fws.gov

For information regarding services, facilities, rentals and access to private land on Adak contact the City of Adak