Oklahoma's three-week archery season for black bears ended last weekend with a total of 66 bears being checked in by bow hunters.
This was the first year that bow hunters did not have a quota. Of the 66 bears killed, 33 were males and 33 were females.
The breakdown by counties was 36 bears checked in from Le Flore County, 12 from Latimer, 11 from Pushmataha and seven from McCurtain.
The largest bear was taken by a Savanna hunter near Sardis Lake. An initial report has the bear weighing an estimated 675 pounds but Joe Hemphill, southeast region wildlife supervisor guesses the bear weighed closer to 600 pounds when it was killed.
“He broke our scales,” Hemphill said of the bear, which had been in the field two days and was very bloated at the time of check-in.
“We have 500 pound scales. He weighed over 500 pounds, that's all I can tell you for sure.”
For only the second time, bear hunters will get a muzzleloader season in the four southeastern Oklahoma counties.
The bear muzzleloader season, which runs simultaneously with the statewide deer muzzleloader season, opened Saturday.
In Oklahoma's first bear hunting season three years ago, bow hunters did not meet the 20-bear quota so there was a hunting season for muzzleloaders and three bears were taken.
Based on how difficult it was for bow hunters at the end of the archery season, Hemphill thinks there will be very few bears killed during the muzzleloader season.
There is a large acorn crop on the ground and bears will be difficult to bait. Any bears killed during the muzzleloader season likely will be done by deer hunters who have bought a bear tag and happen across one, Hemphill said.