The theory that bear hunters would be more selective with a guaranteed three weeks of hunting this season didn't pan out.
Oklahoma's black bear archery season opened Monday in southeastern Oklahoma, and hunters had killed 32 bears in the first two days.
In Oklahoma's previous black bear hunting seasons, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation placed an overall limit on the number of bears that could be killed at 20.
That led to one- and two-day seasons as hunters arrowed the first bear that walked by.
This year, the 20-bear limit was ended, guaranteeing a three-week season.
With more days to hunt, state wildlife officials thought hunters would be more selective and pass on smaller bears and wait for a chance on a bigger animal.
“I'm not sure it worked for us as well as we thought it would,” said Joe Hemphill, southeast region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
Hunters were still eager to take bears because they had quit seeing them, especially big bears, on trail cameras in the week before the season opened, Hemphill said.
“They assumed the big bears had left and only the smaller ones were still around the bait,” he said.
Through Thursday, more than 40 bears had been checked in. Most of the bears were killed in Le Flore County, but more bears were killed in Latimer and McCurtain counties than past years, Hemphill said.
Pushmataha County is the only other county where bear hunting is allowed.
Most of the bears taken by hunters ranged between 125 and 200 pounds, but the biggest was 465 pounds, Hemphill said.
The archery season on bears is open through Oct. 21 and will be followed by a bear muzzleloader season.