Have You Hunted Any of These States?
Bear populations have really taken off in the last decade. The stronghold states that have long harbored great populations are still doing well. States that haven't seen stable populations for a century are seeing more black bears, too. It's a great time for those who love to chase these big omnivores.
If you're in the hunt for the biggest bear you can find, there are 10 states you should focus on. The good news? They're scattered throughout the country. So you should be able to find one fairly close to you.
If you just look directly at the records, you might find the data slightly different than this list. Here we've broken down the list by total B&C entries per square mile. That takes away the size factor/advantage for larger states such as California and Alaska. By analyzing the number of entries per square mile, you get a better understanding of what a state's potential and capabilities are.
If you looked at straight records, it'd read: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Minnesota, California, Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan and Washington, respectively. The common denominator? Most of these are large states. The list below, courtesy of the Boone & Crockett Trophy Search, is quite a bit different.
So Wisconsin is just flat out phenomenal for black bears. It doesn't matter how you break down the data, Wisconsin is king. It's a great state if you're looking for a Booner black bear. The Midwest is still where it's at, eh?
Entries per square mile: .01204
All-time entries: 654
Pennsylvania is known for its rich hunting tradition. It seems only fitting for the state's black bear hunting to rank so high on the list. Move aside deer and turkey hunters. Black bear hunting reigns supreme.
Entries per square mile: .00760
All-time entries: 341
3. North Carolina
This state isn't great when it comes to whitetails and wild turkeys. But it is when it comes to big bears. The land of Tarheels and Blue Devils is packed with heavyweights.
Entries per square mile: .00289
All-time entries: 141
4. New Jersey
Most people might think of the city lights and beaches when they think of Jersey. Sadly, hunters aren't most people these days. They think of dang good black bear hunting.
Entries per square mile: .00242
All-time entries: 18
Top 10 All-Time List
1.Wisconsin — 654 entries
2. Pennsylvania — 341
3. Alaska — 232
4. Minnesota — 181
5. California — 165
6. Colorado — 153
7. Arizona — 142
8. North Carolina — 141
9. Michigan — 116
10. Washington — 76
Look at the deer hunting and this northern state has gone downhill in recent years. The black bear hunting? Not so much. It's still a powerhouse state.
Entries per square mile: .00227
All-time entries: 181
If you like big lakes, cold weather and black bears, this is the place for you. Michigan holds the record for the sixth most entries per square mile. Have you ever hunted this state?
Entries per square mile: .00204
All-time entries: 116
This little sliver of a northeastern state packs a big punch in the bear hunting world. While it falls all the way down to No. 19 on the all-time list, it's No. 7 for the most entries per square mile. Don't let the data fool you. If I was to go bear hunting, I'd probably pick Vermont (16 total entries) over California (165 total entries) any day of the week.
Entries per square mile: .00172
All-time entries: 16
Colorado is the first and only western state to make the list. It's No. 6 on the all-time list, but falls lower on the list (like several other western states) when factoring in land size. But if you're in the West, Colorado is still a great option.
Entries per square mile: .00147
All-time entries: 153
This is one of those states you might not immediately think of when it comes to black bear hunting. Maybe that's because it's No. 16 on the all-time list. Consider the land-size factor and it jumps all the way up to No. 9, though.
Entries per square mile: .00139
All-time entries: 43
10. New York
Another northeastern state. Seeing the trend? Black bear hunting is king in the northern and eastern states. New York is another pretty good state for Booner bears.
Entries per square mile: .00137
All-time entries: 65
Click here for more big game hunting articles and videos.
Follow us on Facebook.