Legend has it that Davy Crockett, who roamed the frontier lands of the northern Cumberland Plateau with his pal, Fentress County's Coonrod Pile, "kilt him a bear when he was only three."
A 3-year-old bear hunter might be a bit of a stretch, but northern Cumberland Plateau hunters will soon have the opportunity to hunt black bears again, albeit in limited fashion.
Sources told the Independent Herald Friday afternoon that the Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission gave the go-ahead to an archery hunting season for black bears in its monthly meeting in Nashville Friday morning. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency had proposed the hunt last fall.
Details of the TFWC's action were not immediately available, but the hunt proposed by TWRA would include Scott County, Fentress County, Pickett County, Morgan County and Cumberland County, excluding the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.
The bear hunt proposed by TWRA would follow the same season dates as Tennessee's archery season for whitetail deer: Sept. 27 through Oct. 24. Hunters would be limited to only legal archery equipment — compound bows, traditional bows and crossbows — and permitted only one bear per calendar year. Baiting and the use of dogs would be illegal.
In Scott County, only lands west of U.S. Hwy. 27 would be open for the hunt, under the proposal by TWRA. In Pickett County, only the area east of S.R. 111 would be open. In Cumberland County, only the area north of Interstate 40 would be open. All of Fentress and Morgan counties, excluding the Big South Fork NRRA, would be open.
The black bear population along the northern plateau has been estimated at 300 animals, according to a recent survey by TWRA and other agencies, with most of those bears residing in Scott and Fentress counties.
The Big South Fork NRRA served as the host region for a reintroduction of black bears by TWRA and the National Park Service in the mid 1990s. From the release of pregnant sows and cubs from the Great Smoky Mountains, a sustainable bear population grew. Today, bears are commonly spotted not only inside the Big South Fork but also on private property adjoining the park, which is where hunting will be permissible.