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Alaska hunting: Kenai Peninsula area: GMU 7 & 15

Species

The Kenai Peninsula, commonly referred to as the “Kenai”, consists of Game Management Units (GMU) 7 & 15. The Kenai is known for its high density of black bears and offers big game hunters the opportunity to harvest moose, caribou, mountain goat, sheep, brown bear, and black bear. Small game includes hares, spruce grouse and ptarmigan.

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Hunting Seasons

IMPORTANT: Seasons and bag limits for all species are subject to change. Check a current copy of the  Alaska Hunting Regulations before finalizing trip plans. 

Moose

Moose hunting season typically opens in late August or early September and closes in late September. Hunting is divided into “open” harvest areas, and “permit” only areas. Open areas allow any hunter with a valid hunting license and moose harvest tag the opportunity to hunt. A hunter must win a tag though a lottery to hunt the permit-only areas.

Open areas within the Kenai Peninsula limit the harvest to one bull with spike fork or 50-inch antlers, or three or more brow tines on one side. Harvest restrictions for the permit hunts vary but typically follow these same harvest guidelines. Some permit hunts allow the harvest of any bull and antlerless moose.

Caribou

There are four caribou herds on the Kenai Peninsula: The Kenai Mountains Herd, Kenai Lowlands Herd (closed to hunting), Killey River/Twin Lakes Herd, and Fox River Herd (closed to hunting). Caribou hunting on the Kenai Peninsula is by permit only.

The Kenai Mountains Herd population is estimated at 400 animals and is located in GMU 7. Hunters can access the herd north of the Sterling Highway and west of the Seward Highway; specifically near Big Indian Creek from the Resurrection Trail. Approximately 250 tags have been issued annually for this hunt in recent years. Hunters who are lucky enough to win a permit can take either sex. Hunting season opens the second week of August and last until the end of December allowing hunters many opportunities to harvest a caribou. Because of limited hunting pressure, the trophy potential for his herd is high.

The Kenai Lowlands Herd is located in GMU 15 (Subunits 15A and15B). In past years, a few permits were issued annually for this hunt. However, hunting was closed in the late 1990’s because of a declining population. The herd is now estimated at fewer than 150 caribou.

The Killey River/Twin Lakes Herd is estimated at 650 animals and is located in GMU 15 (Subunit 15B). Hunting opens the second week of August and closes the third week of September. Hunters can access the herd from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness Area. Because the refuge is closed to off-road vehicles and only allows limited aircraft use, horses are are a good access method. In recent years approximately 25 tags have been issued annually for this hunt. Because of limited access, the trophy potential for his herd is high.

The Fox River Herd is located in GMU 15 (Subunit 15C). In past years, 10 permits were issued for this hunt. However, hunting season was closed in 2004 due to population decline. The herd is now estimated at 100 animals.

Mountain Goat

Mountain goats inhabit most of the Kenai Peninsula and are most abundant in the coastal mountains. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) estimates between 3,600 and 4,600 goats. Hunting is by permit only through a lottery system. Goat season begins in early August and ends the middle of October. A long season offers hunters lucky enough to win a permit a tag a good opportunity to locate a trophy animal. Additionally, there is a late season hunt for mountain goats. This is a registration hunt and usually lasts the entire month of November. Hunters must register with ADF&G prior to going into the field. The registration hunting season can be closed by emergency order whenever harvest goals are met.

The harvest of male and female goats is permitted. However, the harvest of nannies with kids is prohibited. All non-resident hunters must be accompanied by a licensed big game guide. ADF&G encourages the harvest of billies.

Dall Sheep

Dall sheep are found throughout the central potion of the Kenai Mountains. The ADF&G estimates sheep populations s at approximately1500 animals. Both open area hunts and permit only hunts exist in GMU 7 and 15 for sheep. Sheep hunting season opens the second week of August and ends the third week of September.

The harvest of one ram with full curl horns or larger is permitted. Full curl requirement are described in the ADF&G hunting regulations handbook. All non-resident hunters must be accompanied by a licensed big game guide.

Black Bear

The Kenai Peninsula is well known for its abundance of black bears. According to the ADF&G, approximately 3,000 black bears call the Kenai home. Bears are dispersed throughout the Kenai but are more abundant in the remote coastal regions of GMU 15.

There is no closed season for black bears in GMU 7 & 15 and hunters can harvest two bears per regulatory year. However, only one bear may be harvested from January 1st through June 30th and one bear from July 1st through December 31st. Historically, hunter success rates are higher during the spring season, specifically the month of May.

The harvest of male and female bears is permitted. However, as with brown bears, taking males bears is encouraged. Evidence of sex and sealing within 30 days is required. The harvest of cubs and female bears with cubs is prohibited.

Brown Bear

Brown bears are found throughout the Kenai Peninsula with the exception of the coastal portion of GMU 7. Highest bear densities are found west of the Kenai Mountains in GMA 15. In 1999, the hunting season for brown bears was reduced to two weeks in October Hunters must register with the ADF&G prior to the start of the hunting season. The spring season is closed.

Hunters can harvest one bear every four regulatory years. The harvest of males bears is encouraged by the ADF&G. Evidence of sex must remain attached to the hide and sealed within 30 days by ADF&G. The harvest of cubs and female bears with cubs is prohibited. Non resident hunters must be accompanied by a licensed big game guide.

Geography

The Kenai Peninsula extends approximately 150 miles (240 km) into the Gulf of Alaska and is situated between Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet. The Kenai Mountains begin at Turnagain Arm and extend along the eastern side of the peninsula to the Gulf of Alaska. Mountain elevations reach 7,000 feet (2,134 meters). A large portion of the Kenai Mountains is covered with glaciers.

The western side of the Kenai Peninsula along Cook Inlet is low lying marshy terrain. Innumerable small lakes dot the landscape with several larger lakes to the south west. Larger lakes on the Kenai include Kenai Lake, Skilak Lake, and Tustumena Lake.

Numerous rivers and streams are located throughout the Kenai Peninsula. Many of these receive salmon runs of astronomic proportions. Some of the better known salmon rivers on the Kenai include the world famous Kenai River, Russian River, Kasilof River, Deep Creek, and Anchor River.
 

Transportation

Several major metropolitan centers are located on the Kenai making access simple. Metropolitan areas include Seward, Kenai / Soldotna, and Homer. Highway vehicles are the most common mode of transportation.

Seward is connected to Anchorage by the Seward Highway. Bus service to and from Anchorage is available daily. Air services and charters are available. Additionally, Seward serves as a port for cruise ships and the Alaska Marine Highway. There is also a small boat harbor and two boat launch ramps.

Kenai / Soldotna is connected to Anchorage by the Seward Highway, connecting to the Sterling Highway. The Soldotna Municipal Airport provides facilities for charter services and local air traffic. The Kenai Municipal Airport, located 10 miles away, offers scheduled flights and float plane facilities. Seaplanes are also used at Mackeys Lakes.

Homer is accessible from Anchorage by the Seward Highway and Sterling Highways. Homer has an airport, float plane basin, and a seaplane base at Beluga Lake. The city is served by several scheduled and chartered aircraft services. The Alaska Marine Highway and local ferry services provide water transportation. There is a cruise ship dock, a small boat harbor, and a 5-lane boat launch ramp.
 

Weather

Click for Kenai, Alaska Forecast

The eastern portion of the Kenai Peninsula has a maritime climate. Winter temperatures average from 17° Fahrenheit (F) (-8° Celsius) to 38° F (3° C). Summer temperatures average 49° F (9° C) to 63° F (17° C). Annual precipitation includes 66 inches (168 cm) of rain and 80 inches (203 cm) of snowfall.

The western portion of the Kenai is also somewhat maritime. During the winter, average temperatures range from 6° F (-14° C) to 27° F (-3° C). Summer temperatures vary from 45° F (7° C) to 66° F (19° C). Average annual precipitation is 24 inches (61 cm), including 55 inches (140 cm) of snow.
 

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Hunting Area Descriptions for elsewhere in Southcentral Alaska

Anchorage
Gulf Coast - Cordova area
Dillingham
Glennallen
Kenai Peninsula - Kenai area
Alaska Peninsula - King Salmon area
Kodiak
Matanuska-Susitna Valley - Palmer area

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Western & Arctic Alaska

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