Bear Seasons Open With Changes

Bear seasons are open throughout the country, and several states have made changes hunters need to know about.

Bear Seasons Open With Changes

With Labor Day over and the official start of autumn underway, black bear seasons are starting to open throughout the country.

With bear populations being managed due to increases, several states have made changes hunters need to know about. Some states are coming off record harvests in 2019, such as Virginia, while others are seeing continual interest in applications. In Michigan, 57,162 hunters applied for either a preference point or bear license, with 7,080 bear licenses awarded.

As always with any game animals and hunting seasons, check for changes in state and federal regulations or laws before going afield.

Here are a few popular bear-hunting states and their changes for the 2020-21 seasons:

New Hampshire

New Hampshire's season opened Sept. 1 with a new method of notifying state game officials about a successful hunt. 

Hunters can notify conservation officers electronically by completing a few lines of personal information and initiating contact. They will be called as soon as possible by an officer in their area to schedule their bear’s registration. To contact a conservation officer electronically, go to

All bear harvests must be reported to Fish and Game Conservation Officers within 12 hours of take. Phone notification still can be done to schedule a harvest registration process.

More information: See the regulations

West Virginia

A hotbed for black bears, West Virginia now will allow hunters to use leashed dogs to track and locate mortally wounded bears (and deer). Bear numbers are strong and growing in the state with ample public land for hunting. Bear seasons also now include Sunday closing days to offer hunters a full weekend.

More information: See the regulations


Oklahoma may not immediately stand out as a bear-hunting possibility but the bruins have a good foothold in the Sooner State.

Oklahoma's state wildlife agency has set the 2020 muzzleloader harvest quota at 20 bears. If the quota is met the muzzleloader season will close. There is no harvest quota for bear archery season.

Hunters should check via telephone whether the quota has been reached before going hunting each day.

More information: See the regulations


Keystone State bear hunters will see expanded dates and Sunday hunting this year.

The Sunday opportunity is Nov. 22 during the bear firearms season.

State officials also increased bear hunting opportunities for archers by adding a week to the archery bear season. It created an overlap in the first week with the muzzleloader deer and bear seasons

Officials also moved the start of the extended bear seasons to Monday of the first week of firearms deer season in all WMUs with extended bear seasons.

More information: See the regulations


Changes in the Minnesota bear season include subdividing the southern portion of permit area 45 to create a new area for more opportunities.

Licenses for Area 451 are not awarded by lottery drawing and will be available to any eligible hunters. Bear hunters in permit area 451 do not need to apply in the lottery. 

An unlimited number of bear licenses also will be sold over-the-counter for the no-quota area that includes east-central and far northwestern Minnesota. No-quota licenses are valid only in the no-quota area. Hunters with a no-quota license can harvest one bear.

More information: See the regulations


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