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Black Bear Hunting

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SEASONS And RESTRICTIONS

Season Dates - Searchable application

 

Bear McCreary Zone Wayne Zone Bell Zone Harlan Zone Letcher Zone Zone 2 West Zone 2 East Zone 3
Chase-Only Closed June 1 - Aug. 31 and Sept. 9-30, 2020 *WMAs opens the third Saturday in August*
Quota Hunt with Dogs* Closed Oct. 19 - Nov. 1, 2020
Archery/Crossbow Oct. 24 - 30, 2020 ​Closed​
Modern Gun Dec. 12-18, 2020​

*Any legal equipment may be used during the Quota Hunt with Dogs; this entire season is also open for chase-only.

*Chase-only season will not open on WMAs until the third Saturday in August due to leash laws. 

* Wayne County is now a separate bear hunting zone, the Wayne Zone. In any bear zone, a dog can be used to chase a bear on public hunting areas, except the chase-only and quota hunt with dogs seasons are closed in McCrea- ry County, the Daniel Boone National Forest, Miller-Welch Central Kentucky WMA, Beaver Creek WMA, Cane Creek WMA, Mill Creek WMA, Pioneer Weapons WMA and Redbird WMA. Zone 2 West now has a quota of 1 fe- male during quota hunt with dogs season, 1 female during archery season and 2 fe- males during modern gun season.


 

Bear Harvest Quota McCreary Zone Wayne Zone Bell Zone Harlan Zone Letcher Zone Zone 2 West Zone 2 East Zone 3
Quota Hunt with Dogs Closed 2 females 1 female 2 females 2 females 1 female 2 females 1 female
Archery/Crossbow 1 female 2 females 2 females 2 females 2 females 1 female 2 females Closed
Modern Gun 1 female 2 females 2 females 2 females 2 females 2 females 3 females 2 females
*No quota limit on male bears, but once the female quota is met in a zone, the season closes in that zone.

LEGAL BEAR HUNTING EQUIPMENT

  • A modern rifle of .270 caliber or larger, with a magazine capable of holding no more than 10 rounds
  • A muzzle-loading rifle of .50 caliber or larger
  • A muzzle-loading or breechloading shotgun no larger than 10-gauge, and no smaller than 20-gauge, firing a single projectile (slug, round ball, conical bullet or saboted bullet) only
  • A handgun loaded with centerfire cartridges with a case length of 1.285 inches or larger, firing bullets of .270 caliber or larger designed to expand upon impact
  • Firearms may not be fully automatic (capable of firing more than one round with one trigger pull)
  • Full metal jacketed or tracer bullet ammunition is prohibited
  • Archery and crossbow equipment that is legal for deer hunting
  • A person shall only harvest a bear using a legal weapon with the assistance of unleashed dogs that are actively pursuing, chasing, baying or treeing a bear prior to harvest. Dogs must be on the department-approved breed list for bear season.

LEGAL BEAR HUNTING EQUIPMENT

Q: Is it legal to shoot a bear that is feeding at a trash can or dumpster?

A: No. Garbage is considered bait.

NOTE: The bag limit is one bear per person per license year, regardless of season.

CHASE-ONLY SEASON AND BEAR HUNTING WITH DOGS

Unless license exempt, participants must purchase a bear chase permit or youth bear chase permit and an annual hunting license.

In any bear zone, a dog can be used to chase a bear on public hunting ar- eas or on private land with permission of the landowner, but chase-only and quota hunt with dogs seasons are closed in McCreary County, the Daniel Boone National Forest, Miller-Welch Cen- tral Kentucky WMA, Beaver Creek WMA, Cane Creek WMA, Mill Creek WMA, Pioneer Weapons WMA and Redbird WMA.

The chase-only season will not open on Wildlife Management Areas until the third Saturday in August due to leash law restrictions designed to protect young wildlife during the summer months.

Bears can be chased during legal daylight hours only. Hunters cannot chase bears from a baited area while bait is present or for 30 days after the bait has been removed.

The bear quota hunt with dogs season also is open as a chase-only season for any person with a valid bear chase permit, even if the quota for the bear quota hunt with dogs season has been met.

HUNTING SEASONS

Unless license exempt, hunters must purchase and possess proof of the appropriate valid bear permit(s) in addition to an annual hunting license

Hunters who harvest a bear during any bear hunting season must telecheck it 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 any hunting 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. (Eastern) on each day of a bear hunting season to check if the quota for that season has been reached. If the quota has not been reached, the season will continue through the next day.

If a harvest quota limit is reached, the season will close 30 minutes after sunset that day.

HUNTER RESTRICTIONS

  • The bag limit is one bear per person per license year, regardless of season.
  • Hunters and houndsmen may not disturb or take bears from dens.
  • Bear hunting and bear chase is prohibited in the following areas within the bear zone: Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Kingdon Come State Park, and the Hensley-Pine Mountain WMA.​ 
  • The chase-only and bear quota hunt with dogs seasons are closed in McCreary County, the Daniel Boone National Forest, Miller-Welch Central Kentucky WMA, Beaver Creek WMA, Cane Creek WMA, Mill Creek WMA, Pioneer Weapons WMA and Redbird WMA.
  • Hunters may not take female bears with cubs, or any bear weighing less than 75 pounds.
  • Hunters may not use bait or other substances capable of luring black bears.
  • 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.

HUNTER ORANGE REQUIREMENT

Bear hunters and those who accompany them, or any other person hunting on public or private lands in the bear hunting zones 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.​

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