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Bear Hunting In West Virginia

Hunting Methods - Hounding

By the early 1900s, the West Virginia Black Bear population was nearly eradicated. The combination of uncontrolled hunting of bears, land clearing for crops, and uproar in human civilization led to the bears only being found in remote mountain areas.

When Did Bear Hunting Start In West Virginia?

West Virginia's first Bear Hunting Season dates back to 1980.

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

West Virginia does not section the Bear Hunt into "zones" or "units". The hunt is divided Statewide by hunting style, counties, and dates.

When Is Bear Hunting Season?

Bear hunting season begins on September 2nd, in Logan, McDowell, Mingo, and Wyoming counties.

Archery: Sep. 30-Nov. 18th (Logan, McDowell, Mingo, and Wyoming Counties)
 Dec. 4th-31st (In counties open to Firearm Hunting WITHOUT dogs)

Firearms: Nov. 20- Dec. 2 (Berkeley Calhoun, Gilmer, Hampshire, Jefferson, Lewis, Mercer, Monongalia, Morgan, Summers, Taylor, Wirt, Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Clay, Fayette, Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Kanawha, Monroe, Nicholas, Pendelton, Pocahontas, Preston, Raleigh, Randolph, Tucker, Upshur, Webster, *By Permit Only: Cabell, Doddridge, Harrison, Lincoln, Marion, Marshall, Mineral, and Wetzel Counties.)
Dec. 4-31 (Barbour (West of Route 92), Braxton (West of I-79), Brooke, Cabell, Clay (North of Elk River), Doddridge, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Lincoln, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Mineral (East of New Creek), Monroe (West of Route 219) Ohio, Pleasants, Putnam, Ritchie, Roane, Tyler, Upshur (West of Route 20), Wayne, Wetzel, Wood, Berkeley Calhoun, Gilmer, Hampshire, Jefferson, Lewis, Mercer, Monongalia, Morgan, Summers, Taylor, and Wirt Counties.)

Firearms with dogs allowed: Sep. 2-10 (Logan, McDowell, Mingo, and Wyoming Counties)
 Sep. 23-29 (Hardy, Mineral (West of New Creek), Monroe (East of Route 219), Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Tucker, Upshur (East of route 20), and Webster Counties)
Oct. 7-13 (Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Raleigh, and Hardy Counties)
Dec 4-31 (Barbour (East of Route 92), Braxton (East of I-79), Clay (South of Elk River), Grant, Logan, McDowell, Mingo, Wyoming, Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Raleigh, Hardy, Mineral (West of New Creek), Monroe (East of Route 219), Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Tucker, Upshur (East of route 20),  and Webster Counties)

Mountaineer Heritage Season: Jan 10-13: Statewide (Archery contained to Logan, McDowell, Mingo, and Wyoming Counties.)

Note: All those who participate in the Mountaineer Heritage Season must have a license for the year it takes place, but the harvest(s) will go toward the hunting season of the previous year.

What Weapons Are Permitted?

Permitted: Archery; Crossbows that have a draw weight of at least 125 pounds and working safety. Bolts must be at least 18 inches long and broadheads are required to have at least two sharp cutting edges at least 3/4 inch in width.

Firearms: Rifles larger than .25 caliber, Revolvers, or Pistols using a straight-walled case with at least .357 magnum cartridge or a bottlenecked case with a minimum .24 caliber. Shotguns using ammunition loaded with more than one solid ball are illegal.

Primitive Weapons: Flintlock or Single-shot side lock muzzleloading rifles of
.38 caliber or larger, Longbows and Recurve bows. Telescopic sights are illegal.

Note: Primitive weapons are only allowed during The Mountaineer Heritage Season.

Can Hunters Kill Cubs?

No. The killing of a bear under 75 pounds is illegal.

Can Hunters Kill A Bear Over Bait?

No. Baiting is illegal.

Is Dog Hunting Permitted In West Virginia?

Yes. Refereed to as, "Dog Training on Bears" is permitted.

What Procedure Must Hunters Follow After They Kill A Bear?

Any persons who have harvested a Bear must attach a completed Feild Tag to he carcass with their Name, Address, Hunting License Number, and date and time of the kill. That must stay on the bear until the DNR-issued game tag number is given.

Within 24 hours of the kill, hunters must electronically register the bear to receive a DNR-issued game tag number. That must remain attached to the bear if traveling more than 75 miles from the harvest location until the skin is mounted or tanned.

Each hunter must submit a first premolar tooth to the DRN by January 31 of the year following the kill.

The DNR encourages hunters who have harvested a female bear to remove the whole and in-tact reproductive organs. Procedures and contact information can be found here.

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?

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources -

When Does The West Virginia Division Of Natural Resources Hold Their Meetings?

 The WV DNR has their meeting dates and locations posted here

Are The Meeting Open To The Public?

The WV DNR does hold meetings open to the public and encourages the input of the community.

Who Has The Power To Stop The Hunt?

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

Natural Resources Commissioners:

  • Jeffrey S. Bower- Franklin, WV

  • David M. Milne- Bruceton Mills, WV

  • Kenneth R. Wilson- Chapmanville, WV

  • Byron K. Chambers- Romney, WV

  • Peter L. Cuffaro- Wheeling, WV

  • Thomas O. Dotson- White Sulphur Springs, WV

  • Gregory K. Burnette- Elkview, WV

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

Dual Shot Outdoors -

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