Arizona Indian Reservation Offers Hunts For Record Book Black Bears


Published: August - 2010

In one of those just-back-from-the-field subscriber reports [see Report ID 7758 in our database) that we love to receive here at The Hunting Report, subscriber Robert Gregg recounts taking a big-bodied, cinnamon-phase black bear which, at 20¾-inches, just missed the Boone & Crockett All-Time record book minimum of 21 inches. He took the bear this past May on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, and reports hunting from natural blinds over bait and seeing bears every day of what he describes as an "excellent and fun hunt."

All hunts on this reservation are conducted by officially licensed and registered guides. While all the guiding for elk is done by tribal members, all predator hunts, including bears, are conducted by non-tribal guides selected and licensed by the tribe's Wildlife & Outdoor Recreation Division. (Killing bears is a cultural taboo for tribe members.) All deer hunting on the reservation is reserved for tribal members only; no outside hunters are allowed to take deer.

There are currently seven guides/outfitters licensed to hunt bears and mountain lions on the reservation. The split season runs from April 1 through August 30 then re-opens October 10 through November 30. Bear hunting is closed during September and early October when the trophy elk hunts are conducted on the reservation. The limit is one bear per $300 tag (plus $25 "application fee"), but hunters may purchase two tags. Rifle, shotgun, handgun and archery are all legal.

According to Jesse Palmer, a biologist for the White Mountain Apache Tribe's Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation Division, there are approximately 4,000 to 5,000 bears on the 1.64-million-acre reservation. Hunters typically take about 75 bears per year, most during the longer spring season. Spot-and-stalk, baiting and hunting with hounds are all legal. The bears here eat mainly acorns. The terrain is diverse, with most of the hunting taking place in rolling foothills at altitudes above 2,500 feet (the highest point on the reservation is over 12,000 feet). For more details on the bear hunting on the Fort Apache Reservation, go to www.wmatoutdoors .org/guided%20bear.shtml.........(continued)

 
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