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Can You Hunt Bears? Everything You Need to Know

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bear in the forest

Whether you can hunt bears depends on a number of factors. You will have to look up your state and local regulations regarding bear hunting season, species, sex, age, and method. In most locations, bear hunting is legal as long as you stick to the regulations. 

In other words, there’s no one easy answer to if you can hunt bears. You will have to do a little bit of research based on your location to determine if hunting bears is legal, and the specifics of hunting if it is.

Keep reading to learn more about how to find out if you can hunt bears in your area, as well as what you’ll need to begin bear hunting.

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Facts That Impact if You Can Hunt Bears

In order to determine if you can hunt bears, there are a few factors you need to think about. Here is a look at the different factors that will impact if you can hunt bears where you live:

State and Location

Before you start bear hunting, the first thing you need to think about is the state laws. Many states allow bear hunting with limits¹, but there are a few states where bear hunting is completely illegal. Any state where bears are protected does not permit bear hunting. For example, it is illegal to hunt American black bears and Rhode Island¹ because the species is protected there.

bears in the mountain
Image Credit: Adam Willoughby Knox, Unsplash


If you live in an area where bear hunting is allowed, you can only hunt bears during the correct season¹. In most locations, bear hunting season is at the beginning of fall, such as in September. If you are hunting outside of the hunting season, you are breaking the law.

Species, Sex, and Age

You also have to consider the individual bear you are hunting. In North America, there are three types of bears¹: black bears, brown bears, and polar bears.

When most people are hunting bears, they’re hunting black bears specifically. Black bears are not protected in most locations, but they are protected in certain states. Brown and polar bears are endangered and protected in most places, which means you cannot hunt them. Make sure to read up on which species you can hunt in your area.

There are laws about which sex of bears you can hunt as well. In most locations, you can hunt both males and females, but this is not always the case.

There are even laws pertaining to the age of the bear you are hunting. These laws are all over the board. So, it’s important to check your local regulations to find out how old the bear has to be before you hunt it.

Bag Limit

All states have a bear hunting bag limit¹ per hunter. This limit is typically one or two bears. You will have to look up your state regulations to find out the bear limit. Once you exceed the limit, you are breaking the law.

hunting big bear
Image Credit: Volodymyr Burdiak, Shutterstock


Finally, the last factor you need to consider is the hunting method. States will specifically mention the legal ways that you can hunt bears. The most common methods approved include guns, muzzleloaders, and archery. Some states allow you to hunt with dogs, whereas others do not.

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How to Find Out if You Can Hunt Bears

You can easily find out if you can hunt bears in your location by visiting your state’s Wildlife Resources Agency. This agency will tell you all you need to know about bear hunting, including season date, specific regulations, and general information. Always make sure to check with this agency every year because the regulations may change.

hunting aiming the target
Image Credit: Body Stock, Shutterstock

What Do I Need to Bear Hunt?

Once you determine if you can bear hunt in your location, you will need to gather your supplies¹ to hunt safely. Some basic items you need include thick gloves, rubber boots, rope, machete, a light source, compass, skinny knife, and lighter.


In addition to the basic tools, you will also need a license. Bear hunting requires a license in every state. You can learn how to obtain a license by contacting your state’s wildlife agency. Whenever you get this license, you will also learn about the laws and stipulations for bear hunting in your area.

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Unfortunately, there’s no fast answer to whether you can hunt bears. Where you are located and the state stipulations will determine if you can hunt bears, when to do it, and how to do so. The laws will also explain how many bears and which bears are up for hunting.

What this means is that you should always check with your state wildlife agency before going bear hunting. Doing so will ensure that you have a correct license and are following state laws. Even if you are a routine bear hunter, still check with this agency to make sure you are following the most up-to-date laws from year to year.

Featured Image Credit: Zdeněk Macháček, Unsplash

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.