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Bear Hunting In Kentucky

Hunting Methods  Fair Chase - Hounding

Hunting and habitat loss contributed significantly to the near extinction of Black Bears in Kentucky during the early 1900s. The black bear population has only begun to recover over the last 20 years.

When Did Bear Hunting Start In Kentucky?

In 2009, after a century of being banned, Bear Hunting opened again in Kentucky.


Is The State Broken Down Into BMUs (Bear management units)?

The State is broken down into 8 Bear Zones;

  • McCreary County Zone

  • Letcher County Zone

  • Harlan County Zone

  • Bell County Zone

  • Wayne County Zone

  • Zone 2 East

  • Zone 2 West 

  • Zone 3

Zone specific hunting dates can be found here -

When Is Bear Hunting Season?

Archery: Zones 1 and 2; Oct 27-Nov 2

Chase-Only (With Dogs): All 3 Zones; Aug 1-31 and Sept 9-30

Modern Gun: Zones 1 and 2; Dec 15-21

Muzzleloading: Zone 3; Dec 8-16

Quota With Dogs: All 3 Zones; Oct 20-Nov 2


What Weapons Are Permitted?

Archery: Compound, recurve, and longbows with any draw weight; Crossbows with a working safety of any draw weight; Wood, metal, or carbon arrows, fixed blade or mechanical broadheads at least 7/8” wide

Firearms: Modern rifles .270 caliber or larger, with magazines holding no more than 10 rounds; Handguns loaded with centerfire cartridges with a case length of 1.285 inches or larger, firing bullets with a minimum of .270 caliber.


Muzzleloaders: Muzzle-loading rifles with a minimum caliber of .50; Muzzle-loading or breechloading shotguns no larger than 10-gauge, and no smaller than 20-gauge firing a single projectile which is limited to slug, round ball, conical bullet or sabot bullets.


Can Hunters Kill Cubs?

No. Killing of cubs or mothers with cubs is prohibited.

Can Hunters Kill A Bear Over Bait?

No. Baiting of any kind is illegal.


Is Dog Hunting Permitted In Kentucky?

Yes. There are two seasons in which dogs may be used to hunt.


What Procedure Must Hunters Follow After They Kill A Bear?

Immediately upon killing a bear, all hunters must fill out a harvest log. A telecheck confirmation number must be obtained and written on the harvest log by 8 p.m. on the day of the kill. Within 24 hours, hunters must call 1-800-858-1549 to arrange for a physical check of the bear and receive a tag issued by the department.


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?

  1. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR)

  2. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Conservation

  3. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Federation


When Does The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Hold Their Meetings?

The KDFWR holds a quarterly meeting every month. Dates will be posted here-


Are The Meeting Open To The Public?

The meetings are open to members and non-members for those who want to attend.


Who Has The Power To Stop The Hunt?

The Governor and Kentucky’s elected General Assembly Members have the authority to introduce and vote on proposed law changes.


Karen Waldrop- Deputy Commissioner of the KDFWR


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

Wildlife Properties, LLC -

Coal Country Outfitters -
Wildlife Properties -

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