Black Bear Harvest Totals 70 for 2021
Black bear hunters enjoyed a good season in 2021, taking a total of 70 bears compared with 72 the year before.
Southeast Region Senior Wildlife Biologist Jeff Ford said the weather was warm and dry during the early part of archery season, leading to most of the bear harvest coming in the first 10 days.
Archery hunters took 66 black bears, while muzzleloader hunters could manage only four bears this past year in the open hunting area that includes all or portions of 12 counties in southeastern Oklahoma.
The record black bear harvest for Oklahoma was in 2018, when 85 bears were taken.
“There were some really big bears harvested, with several weighing over 500 pounds,” Ford said. “One tipped the scales at 613 pounds.”
This summer’s hot and dry conditions could make the 2022 black bear hunting more challenging, Ford said. “These conditions may affect the fall mast crop, making it harder to find some good bear sign in the woods. So concentrate on water resources to find sign. Bears will frequent watering holes when the weather is hot.”
“I would say the most important thing to help with having a successful bear season is to find an area with fresh bear sign and then just stay with it. Most successful bear hunters start early in the season, and you may have to sit all day.” Weather is a big factor during bear season; cold and wet conditions will make the bears less active.
Bears are all about putting on weight without burning calories to do so. They will always return to what is putting the most weight on them.
“If you’re going to hunt on public land where baiting for wildlife is not permitted, I would suggest to start scouting for a place to hunt in early September. Look for acorns (preferably white oak), which is most preferred by bears. The acorns will start falling around the first of October, and bears are going to be searching them out. If you’re not up on your tree species, there are some good apps you can download to help identify different trees.
All hunters wanting to pursue a black bear must buy either an archery or muzzleloader bear license before the opening dates of each season.
Archery bear season dates are defined in statute, running from Oct. 1 until the third Sunday in October. In 2022, archery bear season will close Oct. 16. Archery bear season has no harvest quota. Muzzleloader bear season will be Oct. 22-30, but the season will close as soon as a quota of 20 bears has been reached. Before they hunt, muzzleloader hunters must call for the latest bear quota information at (888) 901-3256.
For more on black bear hunting, consult the Oklahoma Fishing and Hunting Regulations, in the Go Outdoors Oklahoma mobile app for Apple and Android, or in print free at license dealers statewide.