CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The firearm season for deer hunting is just around the corner, but hunters will also be out in some counties for late bear season at the same time.

Both seasons begin on Nov. 20, 2023, and will run to December 3, 2023. According to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the upcoming bear season is only open in all or part of 42 counties and is a “without dogs” hunting season. Officials say for this bear season, will be legal on both public and private property.

As with earlier bear seasons this year, hunters who harvest a bear are required to submit one premolar tooth per bear. Hunters that harvest a female black bear are also encouraged to save and submit the complete reproductive tract to the WVNDR in exchange for a $20 gift card.

The WVDNR uses data from these submissions to track the local black bear population.

There is also still an ongoing deer population study in four West Virginia counties. Any deer harvested on Nov. 20 or Nov. 21 in Barbour, Jackson, Mason and Upshur Counties must be taken to a designated Biological Game Examination Station. This three-year study is designed to help biologists manage deer populations in the Mountain State.

According to the WVDNR, the concurrent seasons give hunters a better chance to harvest either species because both deer and bears will be seeking similar food sources of red, black and scarlet oak acorns. Officials say this means feeding activity for both animals will be in the same locations.

“Concurrent bear hunting during deer season takes advantage of a time of year when the maximum number of hunters are in the woods,” said Colin Carpenter, black bear project leader for the WVDNR. “This helps manage bear populations by increasing the number of harvests, but also provides a unique opportunity for hunters who may have never hunted bears to harvest one.”

To see if all or part of your county is included in the bear firearm season that starts Nov. 20, visit the WVDNR’s Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.

Along with the bear firearm season running concurrent to deer season, two more bear hunting seasons are set to take place this year. Those seasons will be concurrent to each other, both running from Dec. 4 through Dec. 31. However, the hunting differ for the two seasons. The first takes place in all or parts of 26 counties and will be open for hunters with or without dogs. The second season is open in all or parts of 35 counties and will only be open for bear hunting without dogs.