Close-Jagd in Adak - Alaska Outdoor Supersite (2023)

Caribou hunting on Adak Island combines the pursuit of one of North America's finest big game trophies with one of the most unique hunting environments in the country. The Adak caribou comes from a gene stock that has the potential to produce huge horns that would drive the average hunter wild with excitement. The island itself has no predators, so the Adak caribou has little to do but fatten up and grow huge horns. To say that the Adak caribou is unique is an extreme understatement.

Close-Jagd in Adak - Alaska Outdoor Supersite (1)Barren ground caribou were introduced to Adak Island in 1958 and 1959 in an attempt to provide an emergency food supply and recreational hunting opportunities for servicemen living there while the base was active. The original stock of sterile caribou consisted of 77 calves taken from the Nelchina herd (GMU 13) and raised on the island before being released to roam free. Only 23 of these calves survived to be released, but the population in 1999 had increased to around 1,200 head. youthe population remained relatively stable until the base was closed and the military evacuated from the base in the early 1990s. After base personnel left the island, hunting pressure on the caribou herd was reduced drastically and the population exploded. In 1999, the first general season hunt was opened to the public, with no ban or bag limit. At the time, an effort was underway to remove virtually all non-native species from the island, including the caribou herd. The local population in the town of Adak successfully lobbied to repeal this policy and eradication efforts have stalled for the time being.

There are no predators on Adak, so the caribou grow very fat and large. A large Adak caribou bull can be 20% heavier than bulls from the Nelchina herd (where they were originally transplanted from).

The Adak caribou spends most of the summer in the refuge on the southern tip of the island.

How to get around in Adak

Rental vehicles are available in Adak, but don't plan a circular drive around the island. The highway system is limited to the town of Adak, a bypass running north of the town to Clam Lagoon and on to Andrew Lake, a highway to the south and west along Finger Bay, and a network limited roads in the hills above. the airport, west of the city. If you plan to hunt on the highway system, rent a van so you can transport meat and equipment into town.

All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)

ATVs are a popular way to get around and are commonly used on the highway system and to some extent off-road. If you intend to enter the interior of the island with an ATV, forget it. Vehicles are prohibited south of a line from Expedition Harbor to the bay south of Campers Point. This line is the federal refuge limit. Caribou may be hunted on the refuge, but vehicles (including ATVs) are prohibited. In other words, if you're hunting south of the line, you're walking. It is approximately 8 miles from the line to the south coast.

Quads can be rented in Adak, and this is the most practical option. There are several types available, but you'll want to reserve yours well in advance or they can be rented when you get there.

A growing problem is emerging in Adak regarding habitat destruction by careless ATV drivers. Stay on established trails and go later in the year after the ground has frozen to prevent further habitat loss on off-road travel. If you shoot an animal near a trail, take it to the trail instead of driving off-road to the kill site.

mapsClose-Jagd in Adak - Alaska Outdoor Supersite (2)

The best map available is the Adak Island Hiking Trail Map, produced by the US Navy and distributed by the Homer, Alaska office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. For a copy, contact the Aleutian Islands Unity Homer office at 1 (907) 235-6546 and they can mail one to you.

invasion problems

Most of the land along the highway system is owned by the Aleut Corporation, where a fee-based activity permit is required. The license can be obtained from Adak. Contact them at 1 (907) 592-ADAK (2325) or by email atThis e-mail address is protected against spambots. You need to enable JavaScript to view it.. The most up-to-date land ownership map can be found atUS Fish and Wildlife Service website..

walk adak

Traveling on foot through Adak is obviously the cheapest means of access, however care must be taken to avoid areas where there are unexploded ordnance or other dangerous traps from the days when Adak was a military post. Rommel's peaks still appear occasionally; sharp steel spikes that are driven into the ground, with the intention of injuring invading troops or rendering equipment useless. Although most of them have been removed, some still remain and most of the time they are hidden under the grass near coastal areas. If you find any Rommel spikes, please notify the Adak authorities so they can be removed.

There is no tundra on Adak, and the ground is compact, though covered with tall grass that is sometimes waist-high. Walking is relatively easy, but the hills are steep and often require several traverses up or down. The following table, courtesy of the USFWS, shows the distances and estimated walking times between popular destinations on Adak Island.

Walking times and distances on the island of Adak

SinceForDistance (miles)Walking time (approximate)
white aliceshagak bay1,00,7
white aliceShagak Bay (north)3.63.0
finger baylittle thumb bay2.42.5
finger baythumb bay3.33.0
finger bayclimber pass2.72.5
finger baylake of gannets3.73.5
finger bayHidden Bay Cabin9,011,0
finger bayUnalga Bight Cabin10,012.5
finger baylago betty0,50,5
Unalga Bight Cabincabin with three arms4.33.0
ski lodgeTopo do Monte Moffett4.05,0
loran stationTop of Mount Adagdak1.32.5
sail bridgeZeta Bridge0,91,5
lucky point traillucky point2.22.0
demarie lakeLago Bonnie Rose1,01,5
demarie lakePaso Husky2.63.0
demarie lakelake constance4.24.0
Snowy partridge trailshagak bay1,51,0
Snowy partridge trailShagak Bay (spirito sul)4.13.5


There is no off-season for the Adak caribou, however during most of the summer months the antlers turn velvety as they grow and are useless from a trophy standpoint. The heat begins in mid-September and lasts until October, and since the bulls ingest hormone-saturated urine from the cows at this time, the meat has a strong, unpleasant flavor and is undesirable as table food. Therefore, the best times to hunt Adak caribou are late August (assuming herds have moved into areas accessible to hunters), early September, and again from late September (after rut) through December, when the largest bulls lose their horns. .

How to "fit" into Adak

Virtually any Alaskan town located near relatively good hunting grounds sees an influx of non-local hunters each fall. To be honest, it's a mixed blessing for the locals. On the one hand, we contribute much-needed money to the local economy. On the other hand, hunters can be a loud and unpleasant bunch. And they don't know how things are done in the village, so they can inadvertently cause trouble for the villagers.

For starters, camouflage clothing isn't necessary on Adak unless you're hunting ducks. There are no trees and you will follow your approach to the caribou using the available terrain and the wind. If you simply must wear camouflage, use brown patterns, not green. In all seasons except summer, it's about waist-high dead grass, very sparse brush, and a few rocks.

Spend some money in the city. Some hunters, in an effort to save money, bring all their food. Adak has a large grocery store with pretty much everything you need, and the prices are better than you'll find in many small Alaskan towns. There are only a few places to dine, and you may want to check them out. One is at school. There is a small grocery/variety store there, and they serve burgers and such. There is also a bar that serves food. If you're hunting on the road system, these are great places to meet other hunters and compare notes.

The fuel table: there is a gas station in the city; It is self-service and is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. It is not open on weekends. The gas station accepts all major credit/debit cards.

If you are renting a vehicle (recommended) or renting a local house (also recommended), get to know the people you are renting from and ask if you can bring anything from town. Shipping cargo to Adak is expensive, and the locals appreciate any respite they can get.

Clean up after yourself. Do not leave caribou carcasses or parts lying on the road (even if the caribou fell there when you dumped it). It does an excellent job of salvaging meat, and if you're staying somewhere that has a garage, put a tarp on the floor if you're going to be cutting meat in there. Some of the places were left in a mess by hunters who left bloody animal parts in the garage for someone else to clean up. Housekeeping staff are there to change sheets and pillowcases, not caribou carcasses. If the place stinks from the last bunch, grab a bottle of bleach from the local market and give your garage floor a good wipe down on your way out. Do the dishes and wipe down the kitchen in your housing unit and clean out the freezer of any blood that may have gotten in there when you froze your game meat. Finally, take the trash to the dump! Housekeeping doesn't always make it to your unit the day you leave the island, and anything you've left in the trash will make the place dirty if they can't get there right away.

Regions and Methods

The Adak caribou can be found anywhere on the island, but it moves with the seasons. The general pattern of migration is for the animals to remain in the road areas of the island during most of the winter months before migrating south to give birth. After the birth of their young, they remain on the southern tip of the island until mid-August or a little later. In the first week or two of September there are usually some caribou available on the road system. Some animals never actually make it to the road system.

Close-Jagd in Adak - Alaska Outdoor Supersite (3)

Map Notes: This is a portion of the USGS Adak 1:250,000 scale map.

map key

  1. there is an airport
  2. Docks, Fish Processing Plant, Jetty - Some fishing in this area for halibut, bass and greenling.
  3. Residential area, grocery store
  4. beach: goodbeach and loneliness comb
  5. Departure from Lagoa das Amêijoas: scenic, some fishing on the beach, shellfish.
  6. Monte Adagak
  7. Andrew lago
  8. Unexploded ordnance (UXO) area off limits!
  9. Monte Moffett
  10. Shagak Bay Trail: Walking trail, not suitable for ATVs due to steep terrain.
  11. shagak bay
  12. heart lake
  13. Mt. Reid / Unauthorized ATV Trails: Mt. Reid is part of the refuge, where ATV use is prohibited.
  14. Husky Pass Trail – ATV access to Expedition Harbor, however trail may be unusable due to deep mud.
  15. Lago Bonnie Rose
  16. port of shipment
  17. Lake Betty Trail
  18. lago betty
  19. finger bay trail
  20. finger bay
  21. Federal Refuge: Motor vehicles prohibited.

Mount Moffett and the highway system

The most popular time and place to hunt caribou in Adak is anywhere on the road system during the first two weeks of September. Since late August, caribou can be found wandering from the southern end of the island (the refuge) to the busy part of the island. In the first week of September, the annual migration of hunters boards the plane for Adak, and the airport lounge at this time is packed with camouflaged Outsiders, gear bags, backpacks, and bow or rifle cases, vying for space in the terminal. with hunters leaving, their equipment pile augmented with meat boxes and antler bundles. In some years, road hunting can become quite chaotic, depending on the number of hunters using the area. There are reports of hunters in the field claiming caribou were shot by other hunters and other activity reminiscent of the opening day of deer season in some of the lower 48 states. The usual tactic is to locate a vantage point and glass for caribou herds, then make a plan to pursue them using the prevailing wind and terrain to protect their approach. If you feel like walking, you can take some of the pressure off by walking to the Lake Betty area or the slopes of Mount Moffett.

the area is

Two highlights on the eastern side of the island are the Caribou Peninsula and the Yakak Peninsula. Caribou tend to roam the two peninsulas, but both are linked to the island by narrow stretches of land that form bottlenecks where caribou can be intercepted. In both places there are booths for public use. The first, Unalga Bight Cabin, is accessed by land via one of two off-road walking trails to Expedition Harbor. The first trailhead begins at the end of the road near Lago De Marie, and the second begins at the end of the road at Finger Bay. Both trails take you to Lake Constance and Bereflag Cove in Expedition Harbour. From there, take an inflatable canoe or kayak to Unalga Bight, about four miles away on the southeast coast. The cabin is on the left side. Winds can be very strong in this area, making takeoff dangerous or impossible. Also, southerly winds can blow the ship up and make it impossible to reach the shore. Hug the shore and be prepared to beach your boat and quickly take cover if the winds pick up. If you are taken out to sea, you can land in the lee of any of several islands further out towards the mouth of the Bay of Islands.

The second of the two bottlenecks is called "Slaughter Alley" and is located where the Yakak Peninsula joins the island. The Three Arm Bay Public Use Hut is located at this location and makes a good hunting base in this area. However, getting there is the real challenge. A dirt walk is prohibitively long and there is no trail. The use of ATVs in the refuge is prohibited, so vehicle access is not possible. The only viable option is a landing of ships in the city of Adak. But the journey is long and completely exposed to the elements. Don't put all your eggs in this basket. If you plan to hunt at the Three Arm Bay cabin, you also need a backup plan in case the weather turns bad. Note that it may be possible when dropped, but it can drop while out in the field, making it impossible to be picked up for many days.

It should be noted that the public use cabins throughout the island are not necessarily maintained. It is not recommended that you hike long distances to any of these cabins without alternative shelter with you (such as a sturdy four-season mountaineering tent). Always have a backup plan in case the cabin is in poor condition.


The area bounded by Betty Lake to the north, Expedition Harbor to the west, Beyer Bay to the south, and Boot Bay to the east is characterized by rolling hills and small lakes. As in similar areas of the island, the hills can be steep and slippery, especially when the grass is wet. This area provides adequate cover for rifle hunters, however archers will need to make special use of the terrain to protect themselves from animals approaching on low hills. There are some higher mountains to the southeast of Expedition Harbor that offer good opportunities for chasing. The area around Hatchet Lake offers similar advantages, as do the small mountains to the south.

Heading towards Boot Bay there are some higher hills that offer elevated glassing opportunities and the terrain, while not as rough as the area between Hatchet Lake and Expedition Harbor, does offer chasing opportunities.

Cascades Bay to Boot Bay

Bounded by the Yakak Peninsula to the west and Boot Bay to the east, Adak Island's southern shoreline is arguably the most remote point on the island, and as a result sees very few hunters in any given season. The use of all-terrain vehicles in this area is prohibited and the distance over exposed seas is too great for reliable landings and embarkations. Air access from Bush does not exist, so the only reliable means of accessing this area is on foot. Considering that it is more than 11 kilometers from Expedition Harbor to the south coast over very rugged terrain, accessing the area on foot is no easy task.

Caring for meat and trophies

Unlike most of the state of Alaska, Adak Island is free of predators. This means hunters don't have to worry about a bear or fox finding their game meat while packing it up for camp (adak caribou are extraordinarily large and in most cases cannot be packed into a load). On the other hand, the island has an overabundance of bald eagles and unless precautions are taken, they will come across game and contaminate the meat with feces when eating it. The meat must be carefully covered and camouflaged with grass.

If you stay in one of the bunkers, you can hang the meat in a frame made from scrap wood. You may have to search for materials. Avoid placing meat on the ground, even on a tarp. Adak has a prolific rat population and can attract visitors. If you're staying at one of the local rental houses, you can hang your meat in the garage. Place a tarp under the meat so blood doesn't drip onto the floor.

Avoid the temptation to transport entire carcasses to your rental unit with plans to disembowel and skin them inside. Past experience has shown that some hunters cannot clean up the mess afterwards and many of the garages in the rental units reek of dead meat. Process your animal in the field and save the detailed work for before the trip home. If you choose to bone the meat before the return flight, do so on a tarp and take the bones and scraps to the trash. Do not leave anything in the garage of the house you are renting. Take all your trash to the dump, including bloody tarps and such.

additional resources


adak on the sites

aleut company, a website operated by the Aleut Corporation, one of the largest private landowners on the island. The site is primarily aimed at customers interested in buying fuel in bulk.

vote update, an informational website operated by the US Navy that contains videos, photos, and other materials related to the unexploded ordnance at Adak, as well as cleanup efforts related to the more than 50 years that Adak has been a military base.

US Fish and Wildlife ServiceIt operates a place of interest for hunters and fishermen.

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