Black bear hunting opportunities during West Virginia deer season

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.VA. — Deer hunters are reminded that a concurrent bear season without dogs will occur in 51 counties from Nov. 22 through Dec. 5.

All 51 counties that are open to buck firearms hunting will be open to concurrent bear hunting on private and public land during the buck season. Buck firearms season is closed in Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties.

“Concurrent bear hunting during deer season takes advantage of a time of year when the maximum number of hunters are in the woods,” said Colin Carpenter, black bear project leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR). “This helps manage bear populations by increasing harvest, but also provides a unique opportunity for hunters who may have never hunted bears.”

Carpenter also explained that mast conditions in 2021 vary widely based on location. The mast crops that produced the best in 2021 were beech, hickory, black cherry, grape, hawthorn, crabapple and apple. Bear feeding areas will change quickly as food sources are depleted, so hunters must continue to scout prior to the season. With bears distributed across the state, there has never been a better time to be a bear hunter.

Bear hunting opportunities continue after the buck firearms season as well. All or parts of 26 counties will be open for bear hunting with or without dogs from Dec. 6-31. In addition, all or parts of 35 counties will be open for bear hunting without dogs from Dec. 6-31.

Successful hunters are required to submit a first premolar tooth from each harvested bear. Information on how to collect and submit a black bear first premolar tooth can be found on page 37 of the 2021–2022 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary. Additionally, hunters who harvest a female black bear are encouraged to save the reproductive tract or all the entrails. The WVDNR will offer hunters who submit a complete reproductive tract a $20 gift card for their effort.

Hunters with reproductive tracts or entrails should keep them cool or freeze them and contact their nearest district office or Elkins Operations Center to arrange drop-off. Hunters can get a bear tooth envelope and information on what a complete reproductive tract consists of at all district offices or the Elkins Operations Center. Data obtained from tooth samples and reproductive tracts are used for black bear population monitoring.

Hunters are reminded to purchase their bear damage stamp, as well as an appropriate hunting license. Details concerning bear hunting seasons can be found on pages 34-40 of the 2021–2022 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary, which is available at WVDNR offices, license vendors across West Virginia and wvdnr.gov.