Middle Georgia Bear Hunt Yields Three Bears

John Trussell | February 3, 2024

Kyle Beers dropped this 205-lb. female bear in Houston County on Dec. 16.

It was a great day to bear hunt with fairly good weather and mid temperatures, but the bears didn’t seem to be moving At the end of the day on Dec. 16, 2023, only two bears were brought into the Oaky Woods WMA check station for the middle Georgia bear hunt that covers private lands in Houston, Bibb, Twiggs and Bleckley Counties.

Kyle Beers was hunting near the Houston County landfill when a bear ambled across an old food plot, and he dropped it with his 45-caliber AirForce air rifle. He had seen the bear a few times while hunting earlier in the deer season and hoped it would show up on the bear hunt day. He got lucky when the bear walked out at a range of about 45 yards. The female bear weighed 205 pounds.

Wayne Sellers was the other successful hunter, and he was hunting in Twiggs County when he killed 160-lb. male bear.

With only two bears killing on the one-day bear hunt, the decision was made to allow an additional bear hunting day on Jan. 16, 2024. For that hunt, it was a cool and pleasant day, but only one bear was killed by Jason Gay in Twiggs County. It was a male bear that weighed 222 pounds.


WRD Biologist Bobby Bond (left), of Fort Valley, pulls a tooth for aging, while UGA graduate student Ben Carr pulls some hair follicles for DNA analysis.

WRD Wildlife Biologist Bobby Bond says the middle Georgia bear population is still around 300-plus bears, but a firm number is very difficult to scientifically determine. It is probably the smallest bear population in the USA that is hunted. UGA Bear Researcher Ben Carr is presently studying the movements of 20 newly tagged bears and hopefully his findings, coming out in 2025, can help shed more light on the middle Georgia bear population. Ben and Bobby took hair and tooth samples from the bears brought into the Oaky Woods WMA check station to do age and DNA analysis.

One of the main tools to check on the bears is hair snare traps. These consist of three short stakes in the ground, formed in a pyramid shape with barb wire running in two loops around them. There will be one low wire and one higher wire, which are used to snare a bear hair for DNA analysis. A handful of sour corn, sardines or raspberry treat is left in the center of the trap to get the bears to walk inside and leave a hair sample. Ben says presently there are 130 bear hair snare traps on WMAs and private properties in middle Georgia, so you may run across one.

Researches are continuing to study this small bear population to learn more. Meanwhile, the middle Georgia population continues to increase which presents another layer of challenges.

The 2024 middle Georgia bear hunt is set for Dec. 21, 2024. If less than six sows is taken in that hunt, another hunt will take place on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2025.

Wayne Sellers killed this 160-lb. male bear in Twiggs County on Dec. 16.

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