Alaska Department of Fish and Game
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Small Game Hunting in Alaska
Small game hunting provides a wonderful opportunity to introduce young and new hunters to the heritage of hunting. It offers an easy, cost effective, and accessible opportunity to begin a friendship, tradition, and outdoor activity that can last a lifetime. Small game hunting tends to be much more casual than big game hunting, does not require special permits, tags, or stamps, and a group can enjoy a midday hunt and be home for dinner. A child introduced to hunting through flushing hares out of a local willow draw or walking a gravel road for spruce grouse will become hooked on the tradition and friendship that going outdoors with friends and family provides. Small game hunting in Alaska offers abundant opportunities to work with or train a hunting dog and experience the thrill of watching your dog hold a point on a resting grouse.
In Alaska, small game includes hares, grouse and ptarmigan. We are extremely fortunate to have diverse and abundant small game populations throughout the state. Alaska has four species of grouse (ruffed, sharp-tailed, spruce, and sooty), all three world-wide species of ptarmigan (willow, rock, and white-tailed), and two species of hare (snowshoe and Alaska). All of these species are native to Alaska and can be legally hunted by both residents and non-residents under liberal season dates and bag limits. A hunter can travel anywhere in the state and have an opportunity to observe and harvest at least one if not four or five of these species in one location.
ADF&G Small Game Program
The Department's Small Game Program was created to promote the conservation of Alaska's small game resources for future generations. Biologists are not only working to study and understand the grouse, ptarmigan, and hares of Alaska but also develop educational opportunities through courses and seminars for interested individuals to become better informed on the hunting opportunities that are available. There are also numerous handouts and even a poster to help identify and understand these dynamic animals.
A number of short video clips are available under the Small Game Species tab showing grouse and ptarmigan in action, as well as ptarmigan capture, processing and radio collaring.
Are you interested in getting involved and helping small game biologists? Here are some ways you can help:
Wing Collections from hunter harvested grouse and ptarmigan: We are looking for volunteers statewide to provide one
wing and tail from each harvested grouse or ptarmigan. Biologists use these samples to determine the age and sex of
the bird. These data are critical in understanding the population productivity of game birds throughout the state.
If you’re interested in helping, wing envelopes are available at the Anchorage, Palmer, Fairbanks, and Juneau offices.
You can also record date and location of harvest, place the wing in an individual bag, and drop it off at your local
ADF&G office or mail it to:
ADF&G Wing Collections
1800 Glenn Hwy, Suite 2
Palmer, AK. 99645
After biologists examine each wing, you’ll receive the results of your samples and a summary report of the statewide results.
- Small Game Hunter Survey: Each spring and late fall the ADF&G asks a select few hunting license holders to complete a survey about their small game hunting effort, harvest, and general observations while afield. This allows biologists to better understand who hunts small game, where people enjoy hunting, and what species they enjoy pursuing when they hunt. This will allow ADF&G to better tailor future research and habitat enhancement projects. You will also receive an electronic copy of the summary report upon its completion.
- Suggestions: Please e-mail your suggestions, field observations, delicious recipes, or great hunting tales to email@example.com. Biologists will read these e-mails and respond if requested.
Rick Merizon is the statewide Small Game Coordinator based in Palmer. He and your local ADF&G biologists can help you with interpreting the regulations, help identifying the small game species, or other small game related questions you may have. Visit the contacts section of the website for more information.