Outdoor Multimedia

Outdoor Journal

Oregon's Spring & Fall Black Bear
by Tim Rozewski

Oregon is becoming one of the hottest black bear secrets in the lower 48!

Since the passage of a House Bill in 1994, and a failed repeal in 1998, making it illegal to hunt bear or cougar with hounds, or to hunt black bear over bait, Oregon's black bear population has exploded. Based on Oregon wildlife biologists population estimates, Oregon may now have more black bears than any other state other than Alaska. This is shocking news to many black bear hunters across the country.

Does this mean that more hunters, especially Oregon hunters, are hunting black bear? Is the harvest exploding as well? The answer to that is not simple. Yes, the number of tag holders is up, as most big game hunters are purchasing the tag for incidental encounters while hunting other game. And, a new "sportsman" package allows those tag holders a black bear tag as part of the package. But it isn't necessarily increasing the number of hunters specifically pursuing Oregon's bruins. In addition, the controlled Spring bear hunts are not growing by leaps and bounds, as far as tag allotments, with one exception, Southwest Oregon. And consequently, the harvest success hasn't jumped dramatically, but it has gone up.

Those that are actively targeting black bears, are taking more black bears and more consistently. To those hunters who excitingly seek Oregon's black bear, the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Department has added additional opportunities by providing an "additional" fall black bear tag for the Southwest section of the state. So, you and I could potentially harvest 3 black bears per year (1 Spring Bear if drawn, and 2 fall black bear). How many states allow that many bears per hunter?

All this aside, it is still very difficult to hunt and take a black bear. Steep, dense terrain is often the norm for all habitat West of the Pacific Crest Trail. And, although must of the Eastern Oregon black bear hunting is done in more open (spot and stalk) habitat, the bigger bears are being killed in deep remote country. What does all this mean then? If you want em, come and get em, and you'll earn em! One last enticing tidbit. Nearly 40% of the black bears harvested throughout Oregon are color-phased bears, either cinnomon, tan/blond, or chocolate. That makes for a colorful display of hides!

~Good Huntin' - Tim

Contact us for more information about Spring Bear hunting in Oregon!