Bear Hunting

Hunting Regulations Icon Vermont Hunting

Vermont has an abundant bear population. Bears can be found all over the state except the Champlain Islands. Your hunting license comes with a “late season bear tag” good from the first day of November rifle deer season through the second Sunday of the November rifle deer season. An “early season tag” for September 1 through the day before the first day of the November rifle deer season may be purchased separately (hunting license required).

Hunting bears over bait is prohibited. Bear dogs may be used with a permit, but no commercial guiding is allowed with bear dogs.

Some of the best bear hunting occurs in September and October when you can stalk bears by finding concentrated food sources near prime bear habitat. Early in the season, preferred foods include berries, cherries, and standing corn. As the season progresses, wild apples, beechnuts and acorns become more important. Stalking bears in a stand of nut-rich beech trees half way up a mountain on a crisp October morning is one of hunting’s most exciting challenges. The reward is also great-tasting, nutritious meat. When properly prepared, bear meat compares favorably to pork.

General Bear Hunting Seasons

Early Season: Sept. 1 – Nov. 9, 2018

Late Season: Nov. 10 – 18, 2018

  • A hunter may take one black bear in a calendar year.
  • Bears may not be taken alive.
  • Bears may not be trapped.
  • Hunters may not use bait or a baited area to take a bear. A “baited area” is defined as an area where any animal, vegetable, fruit, mineral matter, honey, or any other substance capable of luring or attracting bear has been placed or deposited.
  • It is illegal to shoot a bear that is visiting a bird feeder.
  • It is illegal to feed bears, even when not hunting for them.
  • We recommend that you do not shoot a bear with cubs or a bear with a radio collar around its neck.

Hunting Hours

Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. (See Sunrise/Sunset Tables.)

Tagging Bear

Bear must be tagged immediately when taken. The tag must be placed on the carcass open to view and remain there until the carcass is cut up for consumption.

Reporting Bear

A person taking bear shall within 48 hours report the taking and exhibit the carcass to the nearest game warden, official Fish & Wildlife Department Reporting Station, or to a person designated by the commissioner to receive the reports. It is mandatory that the hunter provide a pre-molar tooth from the bear at the same time. No bear carcass shall be transported out of state without first being reported.

New This Year A hunter must take a warden to the kill site of a bear if requested to do so by a warden.

New This Year Bears must be field dressed prior to reporting.


A tagged bear may be transported only during the open season and for 20 days thereafter. See also Transporting under Big Game.

Use of Dogs to Hunt Bear

Permit Required

Hunters may take bear with the use of dogs only when the person in control of the dogs has a bear-dog permit available from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. The permit is required to pursue black bear with the aid of dogs for training purposes or for hunting and taking a bear. It is unlawful to shoot a bear that was pursued by dogs without a permit.

A copy of the regulation on use of dogs in bear hunting is available from Vermont Fish & Wildlife or at www.vtfishandwildlife.com. Resident and nonresident permit applications also are available with the regulation.

A person shall not advertise, barter, exchange goods or services, expose or otherwise sell the use of a dog or dogs for the purpose of taking black bear. It is unlawful to take a bear that is being pursued by hounds if you are not a permit or sub-permit holder.

New This Year Non-resident bear hound hunters may not hunt in Vermont until September 15.

Additional changes to Vermont’s bear hound hunting laws have been made, and will be included with information provided in a bear hound hunter’s permit.

New this year

Several changes were enacted to bear hunting regulations in 2018. It is now mandatory that harvested bears are field dressed prior to reporting. A warden may now request that a hunter takes the warden to the kill site of a bear. And new language clarifies and improves regulations around the use of bear hounds for hunting, as well as delaying the starting date for nonresident bear hound hunting to September 15. More specific information about changes to the bear hound regulations will be included in the information packet that accompanies a hunter’s bear hound permit.

How old is that bear?

Black Bear Tooth Collection is Required

The Fish & Wildlife Department needs your help. Knowing the age of the bears that are harvested by hunters is a very important part of Vermont’s scientific bear management program. Starting in 2017, a tooth is required by law to be submitted by the hunter from every bear harvested in Vermont.

Removing the bear’s pre-molar tooth is easy and does not affect the mounting quality of the bear. Visit http://tinyurl.com/BearToothRemoval for a video on removing the pre-molar. Please ask the check station operator for a tooth envelope so you can send your bear’s tooth sample to the department. Every tooth we receive from hunters helps the bear project.

You will receive the age information in the spring when the age information is returned from the lab. Thank you.