FRANKFORT – Hunters met their quota of 10 bears during Kentucky’s inaugural archery/crossbow season for black bears, which ended over the weekend.
The season opened Nov. 23 and was limited to nine days or until the quota of 10 bears or five females was filled.
“I consider it a success because hunters met the quota and because bears were taken outside of our traditional four-county bear zone,” said Steven Dobey, bear program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Prior to 2013, our bear zone included Harlan, Letcher, Pike and Bell counties. This year’s expansion to a 16-county region resulted in bears taken from four counties outside of that traditional area. That was exciting to see.”
Kentucky’s bear zone includes Bell, Clay, Floyd, Harlan, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Leslie, Letcher, Martin, McCreary, Perry, Pike, Pulaski, Wayne and Whitley counties.
Hunters took four bears in Letcher County, two bears in Perry County and one bear each in Harlan, Pike, Leslie and Wayne counties. The largest bear harvested was a 375-pound male taken with a crossbow in Wayne County on opening weekend.
“Quite a few hunters were afield for this first archery/crossbow bear season,” said Wildlife Division Director Karen Waldrop.
Four of the 10 bears taken this season were females; six were harvested with a crossbow. Each of the bears was taken on private land.
A poor acorn crop in eastern Kentucky helped hunters’ odds this year.
“That’s the primary food source for bears as they are putting on weight before they enter dens, which the females usually do around the last week of November,” Dobey said. “When the key food source is absent then they tend to remain active. They’re wandering more try to pack on those last few pounds before denning for the winter months. As a byproduct of increased movements bears increase their likelihood of encountering hunters.”
The archery/crossbow season isn’t the only opportunity for bears in Kentucky. The modern firearm season is up next, and it runs Dec. 14-16.