Deer hunters are reminded that a concurrent bear season without dogs will occur from Nov. 25 through Dec. 7 in all or parts of 29 counties, according to Colin Carpenter, Black Bear Project Leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
Nineteen mountain counties will be open to concurrent deer and bear hunting on private land only, and require hunters to have applied for and received a limited bear firearms season permit or be a resident landowner hunting on their own property to participate in the concurrent bear hunt. The counties open to limited bear hunting on private land during the buck-gun season include: Barbour, Braxton, Clay, Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Lewis, Mercer, Mineral, Monroe, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Randolph, Summers, Taylor, Tucker, Upshur and Webster.
Concurrent bear hunting during the buck-gun season on both public and private land will be open in Berkeley, Boone, Fayette, Hampshire, Jefferson, Kanawha, Monongalia, Morgan, Preston and Raleigh counties. Hunters in these 10 counties do not need a limited bear firearms season permit to participate. This is an increase from the eight counties that were open for concurrent bear hunting during the buck-gun season in 2012.
“Counties open for bear hunting during the buck-gun season are above their management objective and need additional bears harvested to achieve their goal,” Carpenter said. “Timing is critical when setting bear hunting seasons, and the concurrent buck-gun bear season will occur when the maximum number of hunters are in the woods. The smaller than average acorn crop of 2013 will mean that hunters will have to find areas where hickory and beech are abundant to be successful. These special seasons offer a unique opportunity for hunters who may have never bear hunted before to harvest a bear. We hope they take advantage of this additional chance.”
Bear hunting opportunities continue after the buck-gun season as well. All or parts of 24 counties will be open for bear hunting with or without hounds from Dec. 9 through 31. In addition, all or parts of 37 counties will be open for bear hunting without hounds from Dec. 9 through 31. Successful hunters are encouraged to submit a premolar tooth from each harvested bear.
Also, hunters who harvest a female black bear are encouraged to save the reproductive tract or all the entrails. Hunters can get a bear tooth envelope at all official game checking stations. Hunters with reproductive tracts or entrails should keep them cool or freeze them and contact their nearest DNR District Wildlife Office to arrange pickup. 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 36-39 of the 2013-2014 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.