Bear claw marks on tree.

Although opening day is now behind us for 2020, Georgia bowhunters still have plenty of opportunities ahead to go to the woods and make memories. Aside from just making memories, many bear hunters thoroughly enjoy the products of a successful hunt: smoked bear meat, steaks, bear sausage, bear burgers, and pot roast to name a few.

Scat, worn out trails, and claw marks left behind by bears climbing trees to forage on oak acorns are just a few of the tell-tale signs die-hard bear hunters are diligently searching for as they hike the mountains of north Georgia. Fall is a very important time of year for black bears. During this period of time, bears are consuming high fat foods like acorns trying desperately to build the fat reserves they’ll need to help them thrive and survive in the den this winter. A process scientifically referred to as “hyperphagia.”


How does WRD predict acorn availability?

white oak acorns

White Oak acorns.

Game Management staff conduct oak mast surveys on more than 20 different areas in North Georgia to determine how the oak acorn crop looks each year. This information helps sportsmen and women as they prepare and plan their time afield. It also helps wildlife biologists better understand annual fluctuations in bear harvest, reproductive success, cub survival, body condition, nuisance bear behavior, and even variations observed in the number of road-killed bears. A thorough understanding of these important factors helps bear biologists to properly manage Georgia bear populations.



What does the mast crop look like for Fall 2020?

crossbow bear harvest

Landy Bishop with a beautiful bruin she harvested on Cohutta WMA in 2017.

It seems overall oak mast availability is going to be pretty good. However, white oak acorns which are highly preferred by bears, rated “poor” for the mountains this year. As a result, bears are likely to be moving around a bit during the early season searching for food. They’ll likely settle down later in the season and begin taking advantage of a fairly abundant red oak acorn crop though. If and when that happens, hunter success may slow down. Overall, this fall is expected to be a good one for the bears. When they emerge from their dens next spring, they should be in good shape and ready to start their annual life cycle all over again.


For more information on black bears – their biology and how to live responsibly with bears – check out: