Plains bison were introduced to the state in 1928 in hopes of providing future hunting opportunities. That year, twenty-three plains bison were moved from the National Bison Range in Montana to Alaska's Delta River area. The herd grew to 400 animals over twenty years and hunting began in the 1950s. Today four herds totaling about 900 animals range freely in the state. The largest herd, currently numbering about 450 animals, is located near Delta Junction. Smaller herds have been established by translocation from the Delta herd to the Farewell, Chitina River, and Copper River areas.
Hunting tips - The Hunt
Hunting free-ranging, wild plains bison in Alaska is one of the most unique big game hunting opportunities on the continent. Many people incorrectly assume that hunting bison is easy. However, hunting these animals can be more complicated than hunting other Alaska big game.
Bison are herding animals, with massive bodies, and they can be difficult to kill. Unless a hunter has an either-sex permit, the hunter must distinguish cows from bulls; this is not as easy a task as one might think.
Another challenge is that much of the scheduled hunting for bison occurs in winter with cold, dark, and windy weather. In addition, as with many other types of hunting, hunters must obtain landowner permission to hunt on private or otherwise restricted lands. The key to successful bison hunting is taking the time to do it right.
* Stalk to within at least 100 yards of the selected animal.
* Confirm that the target bison is the correct sex.
* Only select an animal that is separated from its herd and away from the trees.
* Aim carefully; make a double-lung shot.
* If a wounded bison rejoins the herd, do not shoot again until you are absolutely sure which animal you hit. Then, shoot only when there is no chance of hitting another animal.
Hunting Tips - Shot placement
The objective of every conscientious hunter is to kill an animal as quickly as possible to avoid its suffering and to insure the highest quality meat. An animal that must be shot several times will have muscles flooded with lactic acid and adrenaline, resulting in poor tasting meat. Before a hunter takes a shot, it is his or her responsibility to be sure they can make a clean and accurate shot. Alaskan game animals will quickly die when both lungs and/or heart are hit by a bullet or arrow.
Heart & Double Lung Shot
The best shot placement is when the animal is broadside to the hunter or slightly facing away. A heart-lung shot from either position will likely puncture both lungs with the following advantages:
1.When an animal is hit in the heart/lung area, a quick death is certain because an animal cannot function with a loss of both lungs and heart. If the bullet exits, the animal will probably leave a visible blood trail.
2.The heart-lung area is likely to remain stationary. Because an animal’s head and neck frequently move it more difficult to accurately place a shot in those areas.
3.A heart-lung shot minimizes a loss of meat if the bullet enters and exits through the ribs.
Shooting an Illegal Bison
Oops! What happens if you shoot an illegal bison (e.g., the wrong sex, more than one)? If you shoot an illegal bison, you are required to field dress the animal and bring it to either the ADF&G office in Delta (Richardson Highway Milepost 266.7; phone 907-895-4484) or the nearest Alaska State Troopers office (Alaska Highway Milepost 1420.7; phone 907-895-4681). It is best to contact either the Alaska Department of Fish and Game or the Troopers as soon as possible to let them know that you will be field dressing an illegally shot animal and will be bringing it in. The State is required to confiscate the carcass, head, and hide, and will issue you a citation for a Class A Misdemeanor. You will be given a court appearance date but, with prior approval from the Court System, the court appearance can be conducted over the telephone. The State has the authority to reduce the Class A Misdemeanor to a Violation (similar to a traffic violation) if the hunter himself or herself reports their illegal kill.
* It is unlawful to shoot from or across a road.
* As of 2010, it is now legal to use radio and cellular phones for hunting.
* It is unlawful to shoot at a bison from a motorized vehicle.
* It is unlawful to chase, herd, or molest bison with motorized vehicles, or use a motorized vehicle to pursue an animal that is fleeing.
* It is unlawful to hunt the same day you have been airborne in other than a regularly scheduled commercial or commuter airplane.
* It is illegal to shoot a bison that is wearing an orange, numbered visual collar.
Caring for a Bison Carcass
Even in the coldest weather, it is very important to skin your bison carcass and allow it to cool quickly. Bison have very thick fur and the entire hide must be removed for the meat to cool adequately, preventing spoilage. Also, because bison wallow in the dirt, their coat is full of sand and grit. Bring several sharp knives and be prepared to sharpen them often.
When butchering the bison, remember, unless a hunt allows you to harvest either sex, state regulations require hunters to leave evidence of sex naturally attached to the carcass. Horns do not qualify as evidence of sex, so you must leave genitalia attached on both bulls and cows in a selective-sex hunt.
If hunting on farm land, please be courteous to the landowner and remove all bones from the farm fields after butchering your animal. Discarded bones can damage farm implements.
Hunting tips - Where
Bison on private land are usually found on private farms located north and south of the Alaska Highway in and around Delta Junction. You must obtain permission from landowners before entering their property to hunt. Some landowners do not allow hunting, and others charge access fees for hunting on their land. These restrictions are not dictated by Alaska Department of Fish and Game regulations.
No public right-of-way exists along roads in farm land located north of the Alaska Highway. Instead, private property begins at the edge of the drivable surface. Other private property boundaries may be difficult to identify. When hunting on private land, be sure to clarify property boundaries with the landowner.
There are several private bison herds in the Delta Junction area. They are located on Clearwater Road, and on Tracts D, O North, and 1A. All of these private herds are within fenced areas where you will not be given permission to hunt. If you are watching bison inside a fence, be aware that they are most likely not part of the wild Delta herd.
Refer back to Alaska Hunting for the map of hunting units. Each unit will give specific information about the area, bag limits and more.
Unit 11 Wrangel Mountains / Chitina River Area
Unit 13 D Nelchina / Upper Susitna area - includes Paxson, Mentasta, Glennallen,
Eureka, Copper Center, Tonsina and Chitina
Unit 19 McGrath area - includes Kalskag, Lime Village, Aniak, Stony River and
Unit 20 D Fairbanks / Central Tanana area - The Delta Junction Bison Range is state land open to hunting. Unfortunately, theft and vandalism on the Bison Range have required that we use locked gates to restrict highway vehicles from some fields; however, you may take snow machines and 4-wheelers into the fields for hunting during the bison hunting season (from July 1–September 30, the fields are closed to use of motorized vehicles for any type of hunting). It is unlawful to shoot from a motorized vehicle or to use one to herd, harass, or chase bison, including a fleeing or wounded animal. Click Here for more information on hunting the Delta Bison.
Bison can sometimes be found on the Fort Wainwright, Donnelly Training Area East (formerly Fort Greely Military Reservation), particularly later in the hunting season. However, be aware that some parcels of military land are closed to hunting. Military regulations require that hunters have a Recreation Access Permit (RAP) to hunt on military land. For more information about military land or requirements, stop at the Fort Greely Visitor Center located at Richardson Highway Mile 261.1 or call the Fort Wainwright Natural Resources office at (907) 873–1616 or (907) 873-4714.
This is not a substitute for the Alaska Hunting Regulations. For more complete infomation read the regulations and the permit hunt supplements. They are available at Alaska Department of Fish & Game offices and establishments that sell hunting licenses and tags.
If you killed an animal, check out with ADF&G within 24 hours of killing your bison.
If you did not hunt or hunted but did not kill an animal, mail your drawing permit report card to ADF&G within 15 days of the end of the hunting season.
Always Check the Alaska Hunting & Trapping Emergency Orders before planning to hunt an area or species as restrictions may apply. Click Here - For more information on hunting the Delta Bison Click Here - For information on permits for Drawing hunts, Regrestration hunts, or General Season hunts