Bear Hunting Opens In Parts Of New York

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced this past week the start of early bear hunting seasons in New York state beginning Saturday.

“Late summer is a great time to be afield, with pleasant days and cool evenings,” Seggos said. “By participating in early black bear season, New York hunters play an important role in helping wildlife managers control bear populations.”

Bears feed heavily at this time of year, building reserves for the upcoming winter. Bears gorge on wild foods like acorns, beech nuts, berries, and vegetation, and also frequently feed on apples and other agricultural crops like corn. Hunters can increase the odds of finding a bear by keying in on concentrated food sources.

In southeastern New York, the early bear season runs from Sept. 8-23 in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 3M, 3P, 3R, 4P, and 4R (WMU Boundary Map attached). The early bowhunting season for bears opens in all of the Southern Zone on Oct. 1, followed by the regular firearms season beginning Nov. 17.

In northern New York, the early bear season runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 12 in WMUs 5A, 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6C, 6F, 6H, and 6J. Bowhunting season for bears also begins on Sept. 15 in the other Northern Zone units (WMUs 6A, 6G, 6K, and 6N). Muzzleloader season then opens in all Northern Zone WMUs on Oct. 13, followed by the regular firearms season for bears on Oct. 20.

During the early bear season, hunters may use a bow (with appropriate bowhunting eligibility), crossbow, muzzleloader, handgun, shotgun, or rifle (where allowed). Because of the likelihood of warm weather, bear hunters should be prepared to skin and cool harvested bears as soon as possible to protect the quality of the meat. Hunters may opt to skin and quarter the bear in the field, then pack out the meat in game bags to a waiting cooler of ice.

From roasts, stews, and burger, to sausage and barbequed ribs, bear meat makes excellent table fare. Some hunters also render bear fat into grease or lard, which is a great oil for cooking or baking and can be used to waterproof leather or to lubricate patches for muzzleloading.