As of today, Thurday, October 29th the bear season stands with 17 bears having been registered. The bear season will end once 20 bears have been taken. Archery and Muzzleloader season ends this Sunday. Of the 17 bears taken, 16 were with bow and only one with a muzzleloader. To find out the status of the Oklahoma season, you can call the Bear Quota hotline at 1-888-901-3256.

The first bear of the 2009 Oklahoma season was taken at 8:46am on the opening day. Joe Russell a lifelong hunter from Pushmataha County was the first hunter to connect with a bear.

Before the end of Thursday, three more bears had fallen in Le Flore County, bringing the total to four on the opening day of the archery season.

This leaves 16 more can be taken before they reach the state Wildlife Departments limit of 20 bears that can be killed in the inaugural hunting season. This number though taken on opening day was short of what some hunters were predicting.

Many in the southeastern Oklahoma counties of Le Flore, Latimer, McCurtain and Pushmataha thought the season would open and close on the same day. Hunters on private land who had been baiting black bears for weeks were seeing numerous black bears on trail cameras before opening day.

Wildlife biologists estimated the age of Russells bear at 6 or 7 years old. It and a male bear taken in Le Flore County that weighed the same were the largest bears claimed by hunters Thursday (200 pounds).

Joe Hemphill, southeast region supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, still thinks muzzleloader hunters will get their shots at Oklahomas black bears.

If bow hunters do not get 20 bears by October 24, then bears can be hunted with muzzleloaders until the season ends on November 1 or until the limit of 20 is reached.

State wildlife officials say the population of black bears in southeastern Oklahoma has grown large enough to justify a limited hunting season. They respond to more complaints about bears every year. Black bears have broken into cabins, trailers and campsites when they smell food. Some bears are trapped and relocated by the state Wildlife Department because they have become such a nuisance.

ORIGINAL STORY - 9/29/2009

This Thursday, October 1st will be the opening day of the 2009 black bear season in Oklahoma. The state's inaugural black bear season begins despite the usual objections from animal activists.

Hunters will have to follow a series of rules and will be only allowed to take a total of 20 bears statewide. Still, some say no one should be taking aim at Oklahoma's black bears.

In other states, black bears are often spotted rummaging through trash or scurrying through neighborhoods. But until recently, it was a rare sight in Oklahoma. Wildlife officials say that has changed and hundreds of bears now live in the southeastern part of state.

"It's an opportunity now where the population is growing enough we can harvest a minimal amount of bears," said Colin Berg, Department of Wildlife Conservation.

That harvesting begins in Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain and Pushmataha Counties. In order to participate, hunters much purchase a special $100 license before October 1st. And once 20 bears are killed, the season is over.

Oklahoma is now the 29th state to allow black bear hunting. If all goes well, the state plans to make bear season an annual season.