Kentucky Bear Season Opening Soon

Kentucky Dept. Fish & Wildlife, Bear Hunting Magazine

Kentucky bear hunting season will open on December 10th this year, a week earlier than in the past. Hunters will be able to participate in a two-day quota hunt for black bears in Harlan, Letcher and Pike counties.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources hopes that the earlier season dates will avoid an overlap with early season snow storms and increase hunter success. The hunt is open to any Kentucky resident who purchases an over-the-counter bear permit. Unless exempt, a person must also possess a valid Kentucky annual hunting license.

This is the third year Kentucky has had a bear hunting season. Past years snow storms played a major role in moving the season forward. In 2009, a massive snowstorm limited the opportunity to bag a bruin as more than two-feet of snow fell atop Pine and Black mountains. Likewise, access was limited last year when a snowstorm hit the three-county bear zone just days before the hunt. Despite last year's untimely snowfall, hunters recorded Kentucky's first successful bear season by taking two male bruins on consecutive days.

The quota harvest is limited to ten bears total or five female bears, whichever limit hunters reach first. Most female bears are already denned at this time of year, which will limit the number of females available for harvest. It is illegal in Kentucky for hunters to shoot any bear inside of a den. Hunters must call Kentucky Fish and Wildlife's general information number at 1-800-858-1549 after 9 p.m. December 10th to check if the harvest quota has been reached. If the quota has not yet been reached, the hunt will continue on December 11th only.

The bag limit is one bear per hunter. Successful hunters must take their bear to one of the check-in stations set up in each of the open counties. Locations are listed at the department's webpage online at, or hunters may call 1-800-858-1549 during regular weekday business hours prior to the hunt for check-in station locations. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife biologists will weigh the bears, take body measurements and biological samples for research, and attach a permanent tag to each harvested animal. Hunters must also Telecheck their bear before leaving the check station.

The Hensley-Pine Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is closed to bear hunting, and a 12,500-acre area surrounding the WMA is open only to landowners, their spouses and dependent children hunting on their own property. Those boundaries are clearly delineated in the 2010-11 Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide, available wherever hunting licenses are sold and online at

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