View Full Version : Any Alaskan ptarmigan hunters out there??

November 2, 2009, 09:39 PM
Hey all!
I'm headed to Alaska in a couple of weeks, and just found out our fishing trip is now going to be an upland bird hunt- ptarmigan particularly. I'm really interested in advice on what size/ type of shot to use (12 guage double) and what would be the best type of boot for an all day hunt in mid to late November in the south central region (not exactly firearm related but still relevant I think).


November 2, 2009, 11:22 PM
I have shot my share of ptarmigan, but they are sort of a target of opportunity, ie, I rarely go out hunting for them. I have shot as many with AR-15 as with shotguns. As for shot size, I use 7 1/2 shot. Usually here above the arctic circle, just happen into groups of them while on the trapline or trail.

November 3, 2009, 12:40 AM
I usually use 12ga 1 1/8 oz #6 loads. If I'm going along a creek or gravel trail, I'll use a .22. You'll also get in plenty of spruce grouse too in south central.

Basically any dove load will work.

November 3, 2009, 01:29 AM
The first two years I lived in Alaska, I lived in a little cabin about 3 miles north of Healy (Lignite). I worked for the railroad and got laid off in the winter, (thats why my wife made me move to Anchorage and get a real job with APD), anyway I had to hunt for a lot of my food. Ptarmigan was plentiful, you just crused along and they were easy to find. Normally shot at relitavely short ranges. I carried a Savage 22/410 over and under, the 22 for rabits and the 410 for Ptarmigans. I think, in my case, a 12 gage, even with skeet shot would be overkill. If thats the gun you choose, then I'd go with an open choke so you dont concentrate the pellets to ruin the birds.

OH, by the way, roasted Ptarmigan are tastie.

November 3, 2009, 03:45 PM
Danner boots by far. There not cheap, but your feet will thank you at the end of the day. I always wanted to try a pair, but I never wanted to fork out the money for them. I found a pair on close out for about half price. There by far the best boots I have ever worn. I would defintely pay full price for them now if I can't find them on sale once these wear out.

November 5, 2009, 12:08 AM
Use a 22 for most of them but when I was teaching the kids to hunt we used a 2o ga with 7/8 oz of 7 1/2 shot wide open chokes. any idea where your headed its a big state and even in winter the temps vary widely as well as the terrain.

November 6, 2009, 11:08 PM
I have shot a few,I aways used a .22 rifle. they are easy to get close to.

November 7, 2009, 03:48 AM
Gun: If you must use a 12ga, 7.5 shot is plenty. Go to the range and test your patterns, find out how you're patterning at various ranges. Aim for the head.

I would recommend a .22lr.

Boots: I don't know where you're headed, but if deepish snow or rivers/streams are likely, a set of hip waders will serve you better than any boot. FWIW, I use Kamik rubber boots with a felt liner if the snow is less than 12"-18". Keeps my feet warm even when wet. I've hunted with guys who swear by Wolverine and Danner boots, but they are often ready to head back to the truck long before I am, usually because their feet are wet and cold.

Fishing: What are you fishing for?

John Peddie
November 7, 2009, 10:37 AM
I always used a .22 LR hard point, throat shot with a 4 X scope. Typical range might be 15-20 yards.

Cheap, light and spares the meat.

If you absolutely feel compelled to use a shotgun, a .410 is lots.

Calling it an upland hunt may be a bit of a misnomer. In more remote areas, they have so little fear of man that they refuse to fly. You have to groundswat them-no wing shots.

I have a picture from my daughter of a flock in their driveway, eating like city pigeons around bread bits.

November 7, 2009, 10:43 AM
I lived in Chistochina in the seventies and hunted them with a Winchester 190 .22lr. We shot them in the head as they roosted. Took me awhile to get the hang of spotting them. The secret was looking for their black eyeballs. Good eating.

November 7, 2009, 11:31 AM
I'd take what everybody has said so far and sort of combine it - plus a dash O' salt.

Gun - 12 ga. is an excellent choice. Bring at least three choke tubes (full, mod, I.C. are what I carry) or maybe your double has fixed chokes? It should be fine.

Ammo - bring a few different things - 7 1/2 and 6 shot combined with the apropriate choke will do fine. I'd also bring along some Brenneke slugs for just in case.

I've seen Ptarmigan dumb enough to kill with a club and I've seen em' flush so early you'll need that full choke and 6 shot. I've also stumbled across hundreds at once with no shotgun in hand only to hike back to the same area later (with a shotgun) only to find the area devoid of birds...

Boots - They need to fit well just like anywhere else -
I'd bring some ankle fit hip waders, lightweight but sturdy hikers and some insulated boots.

You should give more detail on the specific hunt area, methods of transport (mechanized, hike, ski or snowshoe?) and actual dates for more specific responses. Also, I live in south central (Kenai Peninsula). PM me.

November 9, 2009, 06:09 PM
just save your beer bottles.... i killed on with a 2x6 this weekend... they are SSOOOOOOOO easy to kill