Some states have seen local extinction, sometimes called
extirpation, of black bear from the Midwest to the East.
However black bear still live in many U.S. states,
Canadian provinces, and Mexico to the extent that they
are not classified an endangered species anymore. Black
bear are also found in wooded areas in Arizona. The
often big, lumbering black bears seem to locate
themselves south of the Colorado River in Arizona.
Various guiding services in Arizona provide guided hunts
for black bear during specified hunting dates. All
possible dates are as follows (see,
restrictions during this period): 2015 SPRING BEAR
DATES: March 20 - April 30. A hunt in the spring can be
had only by permit through a bonus or draw point system.
The hunt in the fall requires the purchase of tags
(over-the-counter) which do not specify a particular
legal hunting area. That is, if you want to take a bear
in the fall, a non-permit bear tag lets you go to ANY
specified bear area, referred to as a unit (in Arizona)
for the hunting of bear.
As you may see, the permitted season is somewhat
restricted. Harvesting black bear must be carefully
controlled. The Forestry Service monitors the stock and
provides the greatest opportunity possible for sport
Arizona Indian reservations also have a hunting season
on their tribal lands. The White Mountain Apache Tribe
is located in an area in the central east part of
Arizona, and lies 194 miles north and east of Phoenix,
the capitol. The reservation covers three different
Arizona counties: Apache, Gila, and Navajo. The
reservation is an expanse of 1.6 million acres, while it
is the location of its former home on the Fort Apache
Indian Reservation. A hunter does not have to get a
state license to hunt on Apache land. He only needs a
tribal permit which can be purchased on the reservation.
If you want to hunt on Apache land for bear, a guide is
REQUIRED. It has been reported that hunts with guides
can run $1000 a day or more. However, as will be pointed
out again, the success rate is high, and the quality of
bear is top notch.
On the Apache Reservation at San Carlos, black bear are
usually foraging prickly pear fruit, while others are
looking in elm and white oak for acorns, or grazing for
manzanita berries and juniper berries, all of which are
found in the local foothills.
Black bear in Arizona in years of lower rainfall will
gravitate toward the lower desert to munch on prickly
pear cactus fruit. In years of high precipitation,
acorns and berries are plentiful in the higher levels
and they spend more time there. Hunters notice that the
bears still will move to the lower desert floor
searching for cactus fruit, but not nearly as much as in
very dry seasons. And what's more, realize that the
Apache Nation has its own places within the reservation
divided into areas.
Grizzly bears are often featured seen swatting at the
water fishing for salmon. This is not the behavior of a
black bear in Arizona. Most of the time the black bear
will eat the items listed above. In addition, as they
migrate to the lower desert foraging, they find mesquite
beans a delicacy.
To be acquainted with the Apache protocol call
(928)369-8-5087 or (928)338-4385 ext 228 or connect to
this URL for a map of the area:
http://www.wmatoutdoors.org/ , or write to: White
Mountain Apache Tribe Game & Fish Department P.O. Box
Whiteriver, AZ 85941.
Most of the guided hunts utilize spot and stalk or
predator calling. Rifle and bow hunts are both allowed
in the state of Arizona. These hunts in general are not
highly known for quantity necessarily, but for the
QUALITY of the black bears. Many are fully mature black
bears. Depending on the time of year, they can have
somewhat different colors. I have read of cinnamon,
brown, black, chocolate, and even more variations of
dark color being pointed out by hunters. These bears get
the moniker of cinnamon black bear, etc.
Of the 72 separate areas the Arizona Game and Fish
Department has subdivided the state into for hunting,
some don't allow black bear hunting. As mentioned
earlier, though black bear do come down from the
mountains seeking food during harsh times, the bear
populations flourish in the forested areas. But one
thing that is interesting about bears and Arizona is the
placement of mountains. Though higher altitudes full of
desert growth are referred to as the high desert, it
isn't unusual to see a huge mountain in the middle of a
dry lower desert floor. Rising up 1000's of feet, these
mountains have heavily forested areas where black bear
may live - particularly in southern Arizona. This does
not necessarily mean that it is legal to hunt bear
there. The hunter has to be informed about the units
that allow black bear hunting. When bear move to the
lower levels of the area it is referred to as the low
At certain times (specific dates determined by the state
authorities) a phone call must be made to decide if the
harvest quota has been met. If it has, that particular
season ends. If not, it continues. These phone calls are
required of each hunter. Reminder note: hunters may hunt
unimpeded up to that specific date when calls need to be
made. It cannot be emphasized enough that the quality of
bear in Arizona is very high. These regulations make
sure that enough quality black bear will populate the
area for the next season. This is hearsay, but what I
have gleaned from articles is that most of your
experienced hunters understand. To be fair, a phone
call after a specified date is not that restrictive.
Decisions about the hunt dates are made with
consideration to black bear reproduction schedules (once
every 2 years) and the reporting of the taking of a
female bear. The reporting is carefully analyzed through
a eco-evaluation system and a 48 hour required time
period for telephone reporting of the harvesting of a
female. Though I have tried to give exact information,
since this is an article, I recommend calling Arizona
Game and Fish for particulars. I can give you the number
that hunters need to call to make sure the hunt is still
on: 1-800-970-BEAR. Within ten days there is also a
physical inspection of the bear by authorities.
Baiting bears is illegal in Arizona. Covering a food
source area that the bears like is reported as the best
way to hunt black bear. Then, stalk and call is utilized
with the response of the bear highly unpredictable. I
repeat, the bear's reaction is highly unpredictable!
Some will charge, some will act as if curious, some will
wonder off, but the emphasis is on unpredictable! A GOOD
pair of binoculars with a tripod should be a priority,
while a scope for spotting can be useful, too.
For Arizona state regulations go to www.azgfd.gov.
Detailed information about the black bear season in the
Arizona units is available there and at
azgfd.gov/h_f/hunting. For current bear hunt draw
regulations see azgfd.gov/h_f/hunting_rules. This site
also informs of NO HUNT areas in Arizona.
You can hunt near a water hole in Arizona but must be at
least 1/4 mile from a camping/inhabited area. In the
fall it is generally dry in Arizona. From forum reports,
I have found that there is some common local advice.
Positioning yourself on a hill overlooking a watering
hole can be productive. You have a large range of area
to detect movement, and, of course, in dry weather (and
any other time for that matter) the black bears come
down to drink. Be cognizant of the fact that rules
change. This information was correct to my best
knowledge as of date of publication.
The three greatest reasons for hunting black bear in
Arizona include record potential, big body size, and
color phase. Hunting the black makes you work for the
kill, energizes you, and rewards you with a fine
specimen. It also has the possibility of winding up
being the best hunt of a hunter's life!
For additional general information, see
For more bear season information, see