Archery season for deer and fall turkey began September 6.  Read the 2014-15 Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide before hunting.​

The hunting season for dove and some other migratory birds began September 1.  Read the 2014-15 Dove Hunting Guide before hunting.​

 Kentucky Bear Hunting - Frequently Asked Questions

Chase-Only Seasons with Dogs

Can I chase bears with dogs during any open bear season?

No. Bears may only be chased without the intent to kill during the Early (August 1-31, 2012) and Late (December 24-28, 2012) Chase Seasons.

Can I chase bears with dogs anywhere within the 4-county Bear Zone?

No. Bears may only be chased within the East (Letcher County), Central (Harlan County), and West (Bell County) Bear Chase Areas.

What permits are necessary to chase bears with dogs?

Unless license-exempt, houndsmen must possess an Annual Hunting License and a Bear Chase Permit ($30) or Junior Bear Chase Permit ($10).  Purchase licenses and permits here online.

Can I purchase a Bear Chase Permit at Wal-Mart or other store?

No. Bear Chase Permits are only available for purchase on the KDFWR website. This is necessary to capture buyer information because all Bear Chase Permit holders must submit a Bear Hunter Survey in January 2013.

When can I purchase a Bear Chase Permit?

Bear Chase Permits are only available for purchase From July 1 – August 31.

Important Note: Only persons that purchase a Bear Chase Permit may apply for the Bear Quota Hunt with Dogs.

Gun/Archery/Crossbow Season

Is there a lottery for the Gun/Archery/Crossbow Season for bears, like the elk hunt?

No. Bear permits ($30.00) are available over the counter from all license vendors. However, bear hunting is open only to Kentucky residents. Unless license exempt, all persons hunting bears must have a Bear Permit in addition to an Annual Hunting License.

Is a Bear Permit included with the purchase of my Sportsman’s License?

No.

Is a Bear Permit included with the purchase of my Senor/Disabled Hunting License?

No.

What are the dates for the 2012 Gun/Archery/Crossbow season for black bear in Kentucky?

December 8 – 10, 2012; the general bear season is now 3 days, rather than 2.

In 2012, where can I hunt bears during the Gun/Archery/Crossbow season?

Only in the 4-county Bear Zone that includes Bell, Harlan, Letcher, and Pike Counties in southeastern Kentucky. Bell County was added to the Bear Zone this year.

Are all public lands in the Bear Zone open to bear hunting in 2012?

No. Hensley-Pine Mountain Wildlife Management Area is closed to all bear hunting. All other public lands listed in the 2012-2013 KDFWR Hunting and Trapping Guide are open to bear hunting within the 4-county Bear Zone.

Why is Hensley-Pine Mountain WMA closed to bear hunting?

Almost a decade of research has shown that this WMA on Pine Mountain serves as an important denning area for female bears. Currently, bear hunting is being prohibited in this immediate area to protect reproducing females while denning with young.

I own property on Pine Mountain adjacent to Hensley-Pine Mountain WMA. Can I legally hunt my property for bears?

Yes. However, bear hunting on private property immediately surrounding Hensley-Pine Mountain WMA is restricted to landowners, their spouses, and dependent children. This restricted area surrounding Hensley-Pine Mountain WMA extends roughly from KY Highway 160 on the north side of Pine Mountain to US Highway 119 on the south side of Pine Mountain.

An interactive map of the area restricted to landowners, their spouses, and dependent children may be viewed by clicking a link below.

Can I hunt bears in Kingdome Come State Park?

No.

Can I hunt bears in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park?

No.

There is a quota of 10 bears or 5 female bears for the 2012 hunt. What happens if more than 10 bears are harvested?

It is possible that more than 10 bears or 5 females will be taken during the 2012 bear hunt. All hunters are guaranteed the ability to hunt the entire first day of the hunt during legal hunting hours.

If more than 10 bears or 5 females are harvested on the first day, no hunters will be penalized for exceeding the quota on opening day. In that case, however, the season will then be closed at the end of the day and bear hunting shall not be permitted on Sunday December 9 or Monday December 10. The same scenario applies for the second day of the 3-day hunt.

If the quota is not reached on day one, the season will remain open for the second day of Sunday December 9. Again, if the season is open on Sunday then all hunters will have the ability to hunt the entire day during legal hours, even if the quota is exceeded. The same process applies for Monday December 10. The Gun/Archery/Crossbow season for bear is closed to all hunters on Tuesday December 11.

If I am bear hunting, how will I know if the 2012 season is open on the second or third day?

Persons interested in hunting bears on Sunday December 9 must contact the KDFWR to see if the bear quota was met on opening day.

Hunters may check to see if the bear season is open by calling the KDFWR Information Center at 1-800-858-1859 after 9:00 pm Saturday December 8 and Sunday December 9, or by visiting the Season Dates Page.

If I harvest a bear during the Gun/Archery/Crossbow season, must I take it to a check station?

Yes. All successful hunters during the general bear season must take their bear to a KDFWR-operated check station to be legal. Upon checking in a bear, hunters will receive a permanent kill tag that will make possession of their bear legal. In addition, successful hunters must Telecheck their bear before leaving a check station.

Where are the check stations for the 2012 bear hunt?

One check station will be open in each of the Bell, Harlan, Letcher, and Pike Counties. Directions to the check stations can be found on this website at the following link:

  • Check Station Map
  • Bell County: Division of Forestry Office- Pineville, US Highway 25 E, Pineville, KY 40977. From Pineville, travel south on US Hwy 25E, pass US 119 on left and office is on immediate left.
  • Harlan County: Mountain Outdoors, 16 Chappell Drive, Baxter, KY 40806
  • Letcher County: Taylor Metal Roofing & Siding, 1314 Gateway Industrial Park, Jenkins, KY 41537
  • Pike County: Fishtrap Lake U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Office, 2204 Fishtrap Road, Shelbania, KY 41562

What are the operating hours for bear check stations?

Bear check stations will be open from sunrise until approximately 9:00 pm. However, successful hunters must take bears to a KDFWR-operated check immediately upon leaving the field.

What weapons can I use to hunt bears?

Hunters may take bears using archery, crossbow, or firearms. Muzzleloader firearms must be at least .50 caliber and modern forearms must be at least .270 caliber to hunt bears.

Do I have to wear hunter orange during the Gun/Archery/Crossbow season for bears?

Yes. Because this season is open to firearms, all hunters must wear hunter orange visible from all sides on the head, back, and chest.

Is baiting legal for hunting bears?

No. The intentional or unintentional feeding of black bears is illegal in Kentucky- and that includes during the hunting season.

Can I hunt bears that are visiting garbage cans or open dumpsters?

No. Garbage cans and open dumpsters are classified as baiting and hunting over or near these attractants are illegal.

Are there weight restrictions on bears that can be killed?

Yes. Hunters cannot kill bears less than seventy-five (75) pounds. This restriction will protect bears of the year and smaller females.

Is it legal to shoot a female bear with young?

No. It is illegal for hunters to harvest a female bear with any young.

May I harass a bear out of its den for the purpose of killing it during a hunting season?

No. It is illegal for anyone to disturb or harass a bear from its den. This includes during all bear hunting seasons.

Can dogs be used to hunt bears?

No. Hunters shall not use dogs during the Gun/Archery/Crossbow Season, except leashed tracking dogs may be used to recover wounded bears.

Bear Quota Hunt with Dogs

When is the Bear Quota Hunt with Dogs?

December 17-21, 2012.

How do I apply for the Bear Quota Hunt with Dogs?

Hunters may apply for this quota hunt on the Department’s website at http://fw.ky.gov/ from September 1 – 31; only persons that purchased a Bear Chase Permit may apply for this quota hunt.

Can I apply for the Bear Quota Hunt as a party?

Yes. Hunters must enter the draw as a hunt party of up to 5 people to be selected for the quota hunt (as is the case with pheasant and deer quota hunts).

What happens if the annual quota of 10 bears or 5 females is met during the Gun/Archer/Crossbow season for bears?

If the annual bear quota is met prior to the during the Gun/Archer/Crossbow season for bears, there will be no Bear Quota Hunt with Dogs. For this reason, there is no fee to apply for this quota hunt.

If drawn for this quota hunt, can I chase/take bears with dogs anywhere within the 4-county Bear Zone?

No. Bears may only be hunted with dogs within the East (Letcher County), Central (Harlan County), and West (Bell County) Bear Chase Areas.

How many hunt parties will be drawn?

The number of hunt parties drawn will be dependent on the number of bears that were not harvested during the Gun/Archery/Crossbow Season for bears.

When will hunt parties be drawn for the Bear Quota Hunt with Dogs?

Hunt parties will drawn the day after the close of the Gun/Archery/Crossbow season (December 11, 2012).

What permits are necessary to participate in the Bear Quota Hunt with Dogs?

Unless license-exempt, all hunt party members drawn for this quota hunt must possess an Annual Hunting License, Bear Chase Permit, and Bear Permit in order to participate.

What is the bag limit?

Each drawn hunt party may take one bear per year; any hunter designated to that party may shoot the bear. However, the annual bag limit for one person is 1 bear per year.

Can my hunt party chase a bear from a den?

No. It is illegal to harass or disturbed bears in den sites for the purpose of chase or harvest.

Can my hunt party chase a bear from a baited area, including garbage?

No. The use of bait (including garbage) is not permitted to chase or take bears during any season.

If I harvest a bear during the Bear Quota Hunt with Dogs, must I take it to a check station?

No. Successful hunters must first telecheck the bear, then call the KDFWR at 800-858-1549 or 800-252-5378 within 24 hours of harvest to arrange for KDFWR personnel to attach a metal kill tag to the carcass or an intact hide that contains the skull and proof of sex.

How many bears can be killed during the Bear Quota Hunt with Dogs?

The annual quota of 10 bears or 5 females shall apply to the Bear Quota Hunt with Dogs; the KY bear hunting season is closed when this annual quota is reached