Alaska's Best Bear Area Has New Owner


Published: April - 2005

Outfitter Chris Goll of Rainbow Lodge averaged one Boone & Crockett brown bear a year when he hunted Katmai National Preserve's Moraine Concession. With 10 to 12 hunters taking 9½ foot bears with 26 to 28-inch skulls every year, you might think there's not much room for improvement. But new concession operator Jim Hamilton thinks otherwise. Hamilton, who owns True North Adventures, recently took over the Moraine Concession and plans to increase opportunities for even bigger bears.

The Moraine is an exclusive guide area that sprawls about 650 square miles within the Katmai National Preserve on the Alaskan Peninsula. It is bordered by Lake Iliamna to the north, and surrounded by millions acres of land closed to all hunting - namely, Katmai National Park to the south; and the McNeil Bear Preserve and McNeil Game Sanctuary on the east. This entire area is known for its high bear densities. In fact, the area shares the distinction with Kodiak Island of having one brown bear for every square mile.

Goll's last season in the Moraine was the fall 2003 hunt in which all of his hunters killed bears by the second day of the hunt. This past spring was Hamilton's first season running the concession on his own. Out of five bear hunters, four killed bears. Three of those green-scored 27 inches or better. Scores were 27 11/16, 27 3/16, 27, 26 3/16 and 26. The hunter who did not take a bear passed on a number of bruins, holding out for one that would crack the B & C minimum of 28 inches. Hides on the bears taken averaged 9½ feet.

A couple of factors contribute to the high success and quality of the trophies from Moraine. While the bear densities are as good as Kodiak Island, Hamilton says the Moraine area is, by Alaskan standards, much easier to hunt. Kodiak is thick with alders and heavy brush and requires daily climbs from sea level to high elevations to spot bears and then intercept them. The Moraine area is a volcanic shoal and has a........(continued)

 
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