Black Bear Hunting

SEASON DATES AND RESTRICTIONS
 

Season Dates - Searchable application

Chase-Only - August 1-31 and during the Quota Hunt with Dogs season
 
Archery/Crossbow - seven consecutive days starting the fourth Saturday in October*
 
Modern Gun - three consecutive days starting the second Saturday in December*
 
Quota Hunt with Dogs - two consecutive days starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving; two consecutive days starting the third Saturday in December
 
Youth-Only - two consecutive days starting the Saturday after Christmas*

* Seasons will end earlier if quotas are met before scheduled closing dates. 

BEAR HARVEST QUOTAS

Archery/Crossbow - 10 bears or five (5) female bears, whichever is reached first.
Modern Gun - 15 bears or five (5) female bears, whichever is reached first.
 
Quota Hunt with Dogs - 5 bears, either sex
 
Youth Only - 5 bears either sex​
 

BEAR HUNTING SEASON FAQ

Black Bear in Kentucky Frequently Asked Questions

CHASE-ONLY SEASON WITH DOGS

Unless license exempt, participants must purchase a Bear Chase Permit or Junior Bear Chase Permit. Bear Chase Permits are available for purchase online from July 1 – December 31.

Bears may be chased with dogs only within the Eastern, Central, and Western Bear Chase Areas. Bears shall only be chased during legal daylight hours. Hunters shall not chase bears from an area where bait is present or has been present for 30 days. Individual chase groups shall include no more than five (5) people and eight (8) dogs, except a chase party may total seven (7) people if two (2) additional youths accompany the party.

ARCHERY/CROSSBOW SEASON

Unless license exempt, hunters must purchase a Bear Permit, in addition to an Annual Hunting License. Bear Permits are available for purchase over-the-counter, by phone (1-877-598-2401), and onlineIf either harvest quota limit is reached, the season will close 30 minutes after sunset that day. Successful hunters must telecheck their bear by 8 p.m. Eastern time and also call 1-800-858-1549 within 24 hours of harvest to arrange for a physical check of the animal and receive a tag issued by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. Bears physically checked during the archery/crossbow season must include a carcass or an intact hide that contains the skull and proof of sex. Hunters must call 1-800-858-1549 after 9 p.m. each day of the season to check if the bear quota has been reached. If the quota has not been reached, the season will continue through next day

MODERN GUN SEASON

Unless license exempt, hunters must purchase a Bear Permit, in addition to an Annual Hunting License. Bear Permits are available for purchase over-the-counter, by phone, or onlineIf either harvest quota limit is reached, the season will close 30 minutes after sunset that day. Bears taken during the modern gun season must be checked immediately after leaving the field at a department operated check station by 9 p.m. Eastern time, where successful hunters will be issued a permanent tag by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. Hunters must telecheck their bear before leaving the station. Locations of check stations are available online or by calling 1-800-858-1549. Hunters must call that same number after 9 p.m. on each day of the season to check if the bear quota has been reached. If the quota has not been reached, the season will continue through next day.

 

Orange is the Law!

Kentucky’s Hunter Orange Clothing Law requires ALL HUNTERS and persons accompanying them, hunting for any species during the modern gun, muzzleloading, and youth fire - arm deer seasons, or a firearm elk or bear season to wear solid, unbroken hunter orange color visible from all sides on the head, back and chest.

BEAR QUOTA HUNT WITH DOGS

Unless license exempt, hunters must purchase a Bear Permit and a Bear Chase Permit or Junior Bear Chase Permit, in addition to an Annual Hunting License. Bear Chase Permits are available for purchase online.

If the harvest quota limit is reached, the season will close 30 minutes after sunset that day. Successful hunters must telecheck their bear by 8 p.m. Eastern time and also call 1-800- 858-1549 within 24 hours of harvest to arrange for a physical check of the animal and receive a tag issued by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. Bears physically checked during the bear quota hunt with dogs season must include a carcass or an intact hide that contains the skull and proof of sex. Hunters must call 1-800-858- 1549 after 9 p.m. on each day of the season to check if the bear quota has been reached. If the quota has not been reached, the season will continue through the next day

YOUTH-ONLY SEASON

Unless license exempt, hunters must purchase a Bear Permit, in addition to a Youth or Annual Hunting License. Bear Permits are available for purchase over-the-counter, by phone (1-877-598- 2401), and online.
 
If the harvest quota limit is reached, the season will close 30 minutes after sunset that day. Successful hunters must telecheck their bear by 8 p.m. Eastern time and also call 1-800-858-1549 within 24 hours of harvest to arrange for a physical check of the animal and receive a tag issued by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. Bears physically checked during the archery/ crossbow season must include a carcass or an intact hide that contains the skull and proof of sex. Hunters must call 1-800-858-1549 after 9 p.m. each day of the season to check if the bear quota has been reached. If the quota has not been reached, the season will continue through the next day.
 
Hunter Orange Requirement
Bear hunters and those who accompany them, or any other person hunting on public or private lands in the bear hunting zone during a firearm season for bears, must comply with the hunter orange clothing law. This requirement also applies to any person chasing bears during the Bear Quota Hunt with Dogs season.

Other Restrictions

  • Bear hunting is open to Kentucky residents only.
    Q: Is it legal to shoot a bear that is feeding at a trash can or dumpster?

    A: No. Garbage is considered bait.

  • Hunters and houndsmen may not disturb or take bears from dens.
  • Bear hunting is prohibited on Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Kingdom Come State Park, and the Hensley-Pine Mountain WMA. Additionally, bear hunting within the 12,094 acres surrounding Hensley-Pine Mountain WMA and Kingdom Come State Park is limited to landowners, their spouses and dependent children hunting on their own property.
  • See map for detailed bear reserve boundaries.
  • Hunters may not take female bears with cubs, or any bear weighing less than 75 pounds.
  • Hunters may not use bait during any bear season.
  • Dogs may not be used to hunt bears during the archery/crossbow or modern gun seasons, but leashed tracking dogs may be used to recover wounded bears.
  • Hunters 15 years old and younger who use a firearm must be accompanied by an adult, who shall remain in a position to take immediate control of the youth’s firearm.
 

Where to Hunt Bear

Bear hunting is allowed in the following 16 counties for firearms, archery and crossbow seasons:

  • Bell
  • Clay
  • Floyd
  • Harlan
  • Knott
  • Knox
  • Laurel
  • Leslie
  • Letcher
  • Martin
  • McCreary
  • Perry
  • Pike
  • Pulaski
  • Wayne
  • Whitley

 

PUBLIC HUNTING AREAS 
 
Only portions of these public hunting areas within the bear zone are open to bear hunting:

 

Asher Hunting Access Area, Beaver Creek WMA, Boone Forestlands WMA, Buck Creek WMA, Buckhorn Lake WMA, Burchell-Beech Creek WMA, Cane Creek WMA, Carr Creek Lake WMA, CONSOL of Kentucky WMA, Corrigan WMA, Cranks Creek WMA, Czar Hunting Access Area, Dewey Lake WMA, Elk Forest WMA, Fishtrap Lake WMA, Fortner- Davis WMA, ICG Hunting Access Area, Jefferson National Forest, Kentenia State Forest, Kentucky Ridge Forest WMA, Kentucky Ridge State Forest, Martins Fork Lake WMA, Martins Fork WMA & State Natural Area, Paul Van Booven WMA, Ping-Sinking Valley WMA, Redbird WMA, Revelation Energy Hunting Access Area, Robinson Forest WMA, Shillalah Creek WMA, Stone Mountain WMA & State Natural Area, and Wells Hunting Access Area.


Bear Check Stations:

 

Floyd County
 
KDFWR Prestonsburg Office
2744 Lake Road
Prestonsburg, KY  41653

 

Harlan County

Mountain Outdoors
16 Chappell Drive
Baxter, KY  40806

 

Laurel County

KDFWR London Office
85 State Police Road
London, KY  40741
Call (606) 878-9595 for directions
*Located at the London State Office Building, next to the State Police Post and National Guard Armory on the north side of Hwy 80/Hal Rodgers Parkway, approximately 1/2 mile east of the I-75 interchange.

 

McCreary County

KDFWR Beaver Creek Office
11990 N Hwy 27
Parkers Lake, KY  42634
Perry County
 
Vicco-Sassafrass Volunteer Fire Dept.
357 Main Street
Vicco, KY  41773

Pike County
 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
2204 Fishtrap Road
Shelbiana, KY  41562

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