This Reindeer hunt is one that has to find its way onto your hit list. On the island of Nunivak, located in the Bering Sea, approximately 30 miles west of the Alaska mainland, is home to only one permanent settlement, Mekoryuk, which is located on the north shore, with about 200 residents. Reindeer hunting has been a part of the traditional subsistence lifestyle of the Nunivak people on Nunivak Island for thousands of years. The island has a population of wild reindeer that was introduced to the island in the early 20th century, and the hunting of these animals is an important part of the local culture and economy, and is now an option for non-residents to hunt these amazing trophies.
Overall, the trophy size of reindeer on Nunivak Island can be impressive and is highly sought-after by hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. Reindeer with antlers exceeding 400 inches is a real possibility if a hunter can hold out and be selective. The island has a land area of approximately 1,850 square miles, making it the second-largest island in the Bering Sea after St. Lawrence Island. It is roughly 60 miles long and 20 miles wide at its widest point, and is characterized by a mix of flat tundra, rolling hills, and rocky coastal areas. The island is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including caribou, reindeer, muskoxen, foxes, and a variety of bird species. The outfitter uses boats and atv's to cover the island, so patience is key to located and harvest a true trophy of a lifetime!
The island's terrain is characterized by a mix of flat tundra, rolling hills, and rocky coastal areas. The island's interior is mostly covered by a vast expanse of tundra, which is a type of treeless, marshy plain that is common in Arctic and subarctic regions. The tundra is dominated by low-growing plants such as mosses, lichens, and shrubs, and is interspersed with small lakes, ponds, and streams. The island's hills and mountains rise up from the tundra, providing a varied landscape that is popular with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. The hills are generally covered with grasses and low shrubs, while the mountain slopes are characterized by rocky outcroppings and sparse vegetation. Each day you will go out into the field via ATV and glass for animals and once a trophy reindeer is located you will make the final stalk on foot. Hunters should be prepared for long rides on ATV’s (sometimes 20-30 miles per day) over variable terrain. The stalking part of the hunt can be quite challenging or fairly easy depending on where the animal is located and what the herd is doing. The island's coastline is rugged and rocky, with numerous coves, bays, and inlets that are home to a variety of marine mammals and seabirds. The rocky beaches and cliffs provide a habitat for a range of intertidal creatures, including sea urchins, crabs, and anemones.
Overall, the terrain on Nunivak Island is rugged and varied, offering a unique and challenging environment for outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, and hiking. It's important for visitors to be prepared for the island's harsh and remote environment, and to respect the fragile ecosystem that makes it such a unique and special place.
Many families on the island also have small cabins or homes, which are typically constructed of wood or other local materials. These homes are designed to be simple and functional, with minimal amenities such as electricity and running water. The traditional homes on Nunivak Island reflect the island's remote and harsh environment, as well as the self-sufficient and subsistence-oriented lifestyle of the local people. While modern amenities and technology have been introduced to the island in recent years, traditional homes and ways of life continue to be an important part of the local culture and identity.
WEATHER AND CLOTHING:
During the winter months, temperatures on Nunivak Island typically range from the mid-20s to the mid-teens Fahrenheit, with occasional dips below zero. The island receives significant snowfall during the winter months, with snow depths of several feet not uncommon. In the summer months, temperatures on the island typically range from the mid-40s to the mid-50s Fahrenheit, with occasional periods of warmer weather. The island's summer climate is characterized by cool, foggy conditions, with frequent rain and overcast skies. The island's weather can be unpredictable and harsh, with strong winds and rough seas common throughout the year. Visitors to the island should be prepared for the island's harsh and remote environment, and should bring appropriate clothing and gear to stay warm, dry, and safe.
You should come prepared for the weather. Be ready to deal with high winds, heavy rain and temperatures in the 30-50 degree range, depending on the time of year. Warm clothes that can be layered according to constantly changing conditions are a must. Rain gear is a must! Hunters should also bring waterproof hiking boots with good support, as well as a good pair of binoculars for glassing. A full list of gear and equipment will be provided.
The Nunivak people have a deep connection to the land and the sea, relying on hunting, fishing, and gathering for their subsistence. Traditional hunting practices include hunting for marine mammals such as walrus, seals, and whales, as well as caribou and other land animals. The island was first visited by Russian explorers in the 1700s, who established a trading relationship with the local people. In the early 1900s, American traders and missionaries arrived on the island, bringing with them new technologies and cultural influences.
In the 1930s, a group of Native Alaskan craftsmen on Nunivak Island began producing a unique style of Yup'ik art that combined traditional techniques with new materials and designs. Known as the Nunivak Island style, the art includes intricate carvings, masks, and other works that reflect the island's cultural heritage and history. Today, the Nunivak people continue to maintain their cultural traditions and way of life, while also adapting to the challenges of the modern world. The island's remote location and unique ecosystem make it a popular destination for researchers, scientists, and outdoor enthusiasts.
The Nunivak Cup'ik people use traditional hunting methods to harvest the reindeer, including stalking, tracking, and hunting with firearms. The meat and other parts of the reindeer are used for food, clothing, and other purposes, and the hunt is an important part of maintaining the cultural traditions and subsistence lifestyle of the local people.
In addition to providing a source of food and other resources, the reindeer hunt also plays an important role in the conservation and management of the island's reindeer population. Hunting quotas and other regulations are in place to ensure that the population remains healthy and sustainable, and hunters must follow strict guidelines and reporting requirements.
Reindeer hunting on Nunivak Island is a significant part of the island's history and culture, and it remains an important activity for the Nunivak Cup'ik people today. It's important for hunters to follow ethical hunting practices, respect local laws and regulations, and support the conservation efforts that help to ensure the long-term sustainability of the island's reindeer population.