Bear Hunting Season In New York State
"Early black bear hunting seasons are an important tool for managers to control and maintain healthy bear populations. Bears are feeding heavily this time of year, gorging on wild nuts and berries and corn in the field if they can find it. Hunters can increase the odds of finding a bear by keying in on concentrated natural food sources."
In southeastern New York, the early bear season runs from September 10 - 25 in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 3M, 3P, 3R, 4P, and 4R. The early bowhunting season for bears will open in the entire Southern Zone on October 1, followed by the regular firearms season beginning November 19.
In northern New York, the early bear season runs from September 17 - October 14 in WMUs 5A, 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6C, 6F, 6H, and 6J. Bowhunting season for bears also begins on September 17 in Northern Zone WMUs 6A, 6G, 6K, and 6N. Muzzleloader season opens in all northern WMUs on October 15, followed by the regular firearms season for bears on October 22.
During the early season, eligible bear hunters may use a bow, 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.
DEC regulates black bear hunting in order to manage healthy bear populations and limit bear nuisances.