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Bear Hunting In Arkansas

Hunting Methods  Fair Chase - Baiting

Arkansas used to be known as the Bear State. Arkansas's bear population once exceeded 50,000. Early settlers pushed the bears to the brink of extinction as they cleared land to farm and killed bears for their hides and meat. In 1928 there were only 25 bears left in the state.


When Did Bear Hunting Start In Arkansas?

Bear hunting was banned from 1927 to 1980. Bear hunting has occurred in the state since the ban was lifted.


Is The State Broken Down Into BMUs (Bear Management Units)?

Arkansas is divided into 8 Hunting zones. Four Zones are open to Bear hunting; Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 5, and Zone 5A.

When Is Bear Hunting Season?

  • Archery: In Zone 1 and 2; Sept. 22-Nov. 30

  • Firearms: Zone 1 and 2; Nov. 10-30 Zone 5; Nov. 24-Dec. 2 Zone 5A; Nov. 17-Dec. 2 

  • Muzzleloader: Zone 1 and 2; Oct. 20-28 

  • Youth (Firearms): Zone 1 and 2; Nov. 3-4

What Weapons Are Permitted?

Archery: Long, recurve, and compound bows with a 35-pound pull minimum. Scopes, string locks, and mechanical string releases may be used, and arrowheads must be at least 7/8-inches wide; Crossbows with at least a 125-pound pull and a mechanical safety, and arrowheads at least 7/8-inches wide.

Firearms: Shotguns 20-gauge or larger using only rifled slugs; Rimfire cartridges, military or full-metal jacketed ammunition; Any centerfire Rifle or Pistol smaller than .22 caliber; Handguns with barrels shorter than 4 inches.

Muzzleloading: Rifles with a barrel of at least 18 inches long .40 caliber or more; Electronic pulse ignition

Muzzleloading: Handguns with a barrel at least 9 inches long and at least .45 caliber if they shoot conical bullets (200 grains or heavier). If round balls are used, the minimum caliber is .530; 

Can Hunters Kill Cubs?

No. It is illegal to kill cubs or mothers with cubs.

Can Hunters Kill A Bear Over Bait?

Yes. Baiting is legal.

Is Dog Hunting Permitted In Arkansas?

Dog hunting is not permitted while hunting bears but is allowed when hunting other wildlife.

What Procedure Must Hunters Follow After They Kill A Bear?

Immediately upon harvesting a bear, before it is even moved, hunters have two options;
1. Check the harvest Online and have a confirmation number readily available.


2. Fill out either the issued game tag and attach to bear; or write legibly on a piece of paper the hunter's name, the date and bear zone of harvest or the confirmation number and attach to bear. The hunter then has 24 hours to check the harvest of the bear online.

Upon checking a bear, a shipping package will be mailed to each successful hunter to send in a collected pre-molar tooth. They have seven days within receiving the package to send the tooth and must be done to complete the checking process.

Note: Whether it be the game tag or written on a piece of paper, it is required to be filled out in ink.

What Is Their Reasoning For Hunting Bears?

  • Regulating bear population

  • Controlling nuisance problems

  • Recreational opportunity for sportsmen and women

What Is The Government Organization(s), That Is In Charge Of Bear Hunting/Wildlife?

  • Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC)

  • Arkansas Wildlife Federation

When Does The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Hold Their Meetings?

The AGFC has roughly ten meetings a year. Meeting dates, times and locations can be found here-

Are The Meeting Open To The Public?

They do have Public meetings. The dates and locations can be found here -

Who Has The Power To Stop The Hunt?

The Governor and Arkansas’s elected General Assembly Members have the power to introduce or vote on proposed law changes.

Ford Overton - Commission Chairman of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Hunt Clubs And Organizations That Participate In And Fund Bear Hunting.

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission -
The Outlaw Guide -

World Class Outdoors -

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