Oklahoma’s bear season coincides with the deer archery and muzzleloader seasons. The bear season will end when, and if, 20 bears are killed.
The state Wildlife Department has phone numbers for hunters to call daily to see if bear season remains open.
If bow hunters haven’t killed 20 by the time deer muzzleloader season opens, then bear hunting with muzzleloaders will be allowed.
Muzzleloader hunting for bears would remain open until 20 are taken or the deer muzzleloader season ends.
Hemphill doesn’t think 20 will be killed. He is predicting no more than 10 for the entire season.
"Bear hunting is about as difficult as there is,” he said. "If you don’t prepare for this, you are wasting your time.”
Richard Hatcher, state wildlife director, also doubts 20 hunters will have success before the season is over. But he thinks it will be close to that number.
"How many times have you’ve been to southeast Oklahoma and seen a bear?” he said.
"There are a lot of bears in southeast Oklahoma, but they are very secretive. Hard to see them. They are going to be hard to hunt.
"The ones that will probably get harvested are the ones that have started getting used to humans. The ones that will go into trash dumps and don’t mind coming up to a trailer if they smell food.
"The ones that are getting habituated to humans. Those are the ones we would like to see taken out anyway.”
But no one really knows what to expect Thursday.
"Bears could go back to the bait (by Thursday),” Hemphill said. "Being a new deal, who knows how it’s going to shake out.”