Explore America's Campgrounds
Black bears have a wide distribution with numerous hunting options. You can hunt a quality bear anywhere from the eastern United States to Canada and Alaska. The best hunting opportunities are determined by bear density, size and the regulations. In some states, hunting over bait is the standard while others require a spot and stalk scenario. Spring and fall hunting seasons are the standard but dates and rules vary by state and country.
Alaska is home to a large population of black bears with plenty of hunting opportunities. Prince of Wales Island is one of the top locations for black bear in Alaska. The island has a road system and the majority of the land is public. The bear population is healthy and no brown bears live on the island, making it a safer hunt. The interior of Alaska is primarily accessible by small aircraft and requires more planning for a hunt but the opportunities are numerous.
British Columbia, Canada
British Columbia is similar to Alaska with chances to hunt high mountains, coastal regions and a combination of areas accessible by road or aircraft. Vancouver Island is a popular bear hunting destination with a population that only experiences a black color phase. Other regions have black bears with brown, black and blonde fur. The regulations do not allow for baiting but the population density is very high. Non-residents are required to hunt with a guide.
The Rockies have some large black bears, ample public lands and a range of color phases. The landscape is ideal for high-country spot and stalk hunting and the states of Idaho and Wyoming allow hunting over baits. Spring and fall hunting seasons are available as well. The region where northwest Montana and eastern Idaho meet is home to large sections of national forests, grassy clear-cuts and logging roads that make great bear habitat.
The population is not as high as in British Columbia or Alaska but the province of Manitoba holds some very large bears. Hunting over bait is legal and bears in all color phases are present. Hunting from a tree stand placed over bait is common but spot and stalk is also possible. Using a tree stand is ideal for archery and shotgun hunts. As with British Columbia, non-residents are required to hunt with a guide.
Northeast United States
New York and Maine offer excellent hunting. Pennsylvania does as well but the hunting seasons are longer in the latter. Maine wildlife officials estimate the population is greater than 30,000 bears, making it a state with ample opportunity, low pressure and large areas of public lands. Hunting over bait is legal in Maine and the seasons are generous as the state attempts to control the growing bear populations.
Zach Lazzari is a freelance outdoor writer specializing in hunting, fly fishing and the general outdoors. He guided fly fishing trips for 10 years in Colorado, Alaska, Montana and Patagonia-Chile. Zach lives in Montana and splits time between the river and keyboard.