Story by SrA Jonathan Valdes on 08/14/2019Hunting season is now in session for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's service and community members interested in this outdoor activity.
The Alaska wilderness provides a unique challenge and experience which can turn into long-lasting memories, or tragic ones if not taken seriously.
A recent change to hunting regulations requires all hunters at JBER to have their hunter's education certification.
Regulations vary within the game management units verify with Alaska Hunting Regulations to ensure compliance with guidelines.
Prior to any recreation on the base's undeveloped areas, individuals 16 years and older must register in the iSportsman system.
iSportsman provides the public with tools necessary for undeveloped areas on base to be used for recreation opportunities, while also keeping both the public and military operations safe and thriving.
It is very important permit holder's sign in/out of the iSportsman system prior to entering the areas normally open for recreation because most of these areas are used for both recreation and training purposes.
"Before you pull that trigger you need to make sure what you're shooting at is what you want and it's legal," said Michael Lundvall, 673d Air Base Wing Safety Office occupational safety lead. "Hunters' safety education will teach you everything you need."
By selecting hunting as an outdoor activity, considering some things ahead of time could help the process run smoother and prevent any unwanted situation.
"You need to know your abilities, and don't take anything for granted," said James Wendland, chief wildlife conservation officer for JBER. "Always have a backup plan, and make sure you have enough gear. The weather changes quickly, and Mother Nature is unforgivable in Alaska."
Wendland also pointed out other ways to get prepared and enjoy a safer hunting season having by things such as:
Dry bag with changes of clothes
Global Positioning System (GPS)
First aid kit
Water filtration device
Renting a location beacon
Wear blaze orange to help identify your location to other hunters
Use caution when operating all-terrain-vehicles
Additionally, gun safety measures are essential to a safe hunting experience.
"Safety is paramount," Wendland said. "Know your target and know what's beyond that targetnot only from the safety aspect, but also from the legal aspect. Also, pay attention to the direction the muzzle is pointed."
Knowing what the hunter and equipment are capable of can help prevent common mistakes, Wendland said.
If they think they can take the shot, but they don't know they can, they probably shouldn't, Wendland added.
"Tombstone courage' describes what some individuals may feel when they think they are experienced in an activity they are about to partake in," said Mark Sledge, senior conservation officer for JBER. "This courage gives them a false sense of security when it comes to exploring Alaska."
In addition to equipment, Wendland suggests traveling in groups of two or three.
"Don't go hunting or hiking alone, and let someone know where you're going and for how long," Wendland said.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game website advises leaving a trip plan with a trusted individual who knows the area you're visiting and the plan for return, so they can alert authorities if you fail to return.
Hunting regulations differ depending on what area of Alaska you're visiting.
Being unaware of the rules will not be excused as the ADF&G provides guidance via their website and printed regulation booklets which include phone numbers to call for clarification. Violating those regulations can lead to legal ramifications which could include confiscation of equipment, loss of privileges and hefty fines.
Big game hunting on JBER will be by draw-permit only administered by the ADF&G.
For more information on wildlife and hunting on JBER, call 552-9453.
For additional resources, visit: Air Force Safety Center at https://cs2.eis.af.mil/sites/10178/Pages/Fall%20Safety/Hunting-Safety.aspx
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service https://www.fws.gov/hunting/
Alaska Department of Fish and Game http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hunting.main
Hunter Safety Course https://www.hunter-ed.com/
JBER Wildlife https://jber.isportsman.net/Wildlife.aspx or call 552-8609.