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Are you searching for the best bear hunting tips? Do you want to improve your hunting skills? We have done researched and provided you with bear hunting tips to take your bear hunting to the next level and help you take more bears home. If you need bear hunting tips for beginners, then these tips will help land you your first bear.
1. Size A Bear Up By Its Tracks
You can gauge the size of a bear by studying its tracks. Regular-sized black bears will leave front tracks that are 31/2 to 4 inches wide and rear tracks that are five to six inches long. A trophy-sized bear’s tracks will be larger with front pads five to six inches wide and rear pads eight inches or longer.
2. Check For Scat
Scat comes out green but oxidizes and turns black very quickly according to Mark Werner. He further states that the greener it is inside, the fresher it is.
3. Tracking A Gut-Shot Bear
Do not track a bear that you shot in the gut in the dark. If there is intestinal matter in the blood, this can only mean that you shot it in the gut. Tracking a gut-shot bear can be dangerous. You don’t want to follow it too quickly. Give it some time to bleed and die.
If it was shot in the morning, pick upon its trail after a minimum of four hours. If it was shot in the evening, wait until the morning.
4. Clean Kills
Mark Werner also states that you should never take a long shot at a bear because anything less than a double-lung hit makes recovery a fifty-fifty chance.
5. Black Bear & Your Food
Always remember that black bears love the food of humans. Remember this when you set up your camp to properly conceal your food before stepping out of the camp or going to bed. Black bears can smell your food and will come looking for it.
6. Stalking & The Wind
When you are stalking bears, take a route that approaches the bear from behind and prevents the wind from giving you up. According to Mark Werner, owner of BC Guide Outfitters, if the bear becomes alerted to your movement, stop for some time and wait. Only began to move forward when the bear goes back to feeding and looks relaxed.
7. Stalking Spring Bears
Winter is hard for elk and deer. If you are aware of areas where winter kills are located, chances are you can find a spring bear there.
8. Sizing Up A Bear
To determine if a bear is one to target make a mental note of the size of one ear. If the width of one ear separates the ears, it is too small. If it measures two ear widths, it is a medium-sized bear. If the ear width is three, it is a prime target.
9. The Colors of A Bear
Black bears come in many different color phases depending on their geographic location. A brown, cinnamon, or blonde-phase black bear is found in the west. If you want a black phase black bear, hunt the eastern states. White phase bears and blue phase bears are found in British Columbia, however; they are protected by the law in the province. In Alaska, you can find glacier bears.
10. Glassing Bears
When bears are feeding heavily, they will eat for about a third of the day and sleep the rest. When your glass for bears, they will show up during the feeding period.
11. Punching A Bear
If you are being attacked by a bear that wants to eat you, is in its sensitive nose.
12. Blueberries & Rose Hips
When searching for bears, areas with blueberries and rose hips are prime targets for bears as in early October, they are focused on eating. Using binoculars or a spotting scope, climb a ridge and monitor their food sources.
13. Baiting Bears
If you set bait for the bears you want to hunt, a good tactic is to lead them onto the bait. You can tie dead fish or a smelly piece of bacon to a piece of rope and drag it along the trails that lead toward the pile. Bears have an excellent sense of smell and once they discover the scent trail, they might follow it to your bait even if the wind is blowing in the wrong direction.
14. Bear Signs
When searching for bears, look for big branches of trees, claw marks in bark, and rubbed-out bark with bear hair in them. Additionally, fresh tracks on the ground measuring 6 inches wide or more are also signs of bears.
15. Crop-raiding Bears
If your state doesn’t allow hunting bears with bait, you will have to find out where they are naturally feeding. One way to get this information is to ask farmers in the area you are hunting if they are encountering problems with bears raiding their cornfields, gardens, or other crops. The information you get from farmers will be invaluable to targeting bears in that area.
16. Mature Timber
According to Mark Werner, owner of BC Guide Outfitters, when you are searching for bears, look for old-growth timber for denning, food, and water. If you can locate 10 to 50-acre parcels with all three of these search points, then you are on to finding bears.
17. Small Bear & Your Bait
If you set your bait and see a nervous small bear around your bait pile, don’t fire just yet. There’s a possibility that a larger, more dominant bear is in the vicinity. Be patient and wait for the big bear.
18. Planning A Spring Hunt
When you plan a Spring bear hunt, it is always a good idea to closely observe the weather. Bears will be active and move early in the season with warm spring. However, a cold spring will keep bears in their dens. Factor in a period of time as a cushion into your schedule if the winter weather lasts longer than normal if you are going to hunt in the west or in Canada.
19. Get A Hound Dog
Owning one hound dog for trailing black bears is a good investment.
20. Trimming Bear Fat With Multiple Knives
Bears put on a thick layer of fat during the summer and fall for the winter season when they are very inactive. If you shot a bear in the fall season, there will be a lot of fat that you will have to trim off the meat before storing it. It will take up less space and stay longer when the fat is trimmed off.
This process of trimming all of that fat off a bear takes time and you can save some of that time by having some spare knives and a sharpening tool with you.
21. Cool Bear Meat Taste Great
Before you butcher the bear by yourself, let it cool down a little. The meat is easier to work with if it is cool.
22. Listening To A Wounded Bear
Train your ears to listen carefully to the sounds a bear makes as it runs away after being shot. They make a lot of noise when moving quickly through the forest. Train yourself to relate visual landmarks with the sounds you pick up and you will find it easier to follow the trail of a wounded bear.
23. Is The Bear Dead?
Always make sure the bear you hit is dead before you get to it. As you come closer to the bear, look to see if the eyes are opened. If they are opened, that means the bear is dead. If they are closed, it may still be alive and it is best to put another round into it.
24. Bear Dogs & Raccoons
Raccoons behave like bears when they are being chased by dogs but don’t run as fast as bears. You can train a dog for bear hunting by starting training it by hunting raccoons.
25. Black Bear Attacks
According to Russell Annabel from the Field & Stream, Indian hunters state that fighting a black bear is more fearsome than fighting a grizzly or a Kodiak. The grizzly or Kodiak always seem to be in a frantic hurry after mauling a man, while a black bear will continue to rip and tear a victim as long as there is any sign of life in the victim.
26. Peeing Near Your Bait Pile
Animals use their urine to mark their territory and ward off others. Therefore, don’t urinate near a bait pile. It will only send the wrong message to the animals you are trying to attract.
27. Black Bear Eating Habits
Black bears usually eat berries, nuts, insects, and carrion. They also like to eat large animals like sheep, hogs, and deer. They like sheep and hogs, especially hogs as they have a special liking for pork. With this knowledge of their eating habits and preference for certain animal meat, you can target areas where these animals are found.
28. Where To Place Your Bait Pile
One of the very first things to do is to determine where to place your bait pile if it is legal to use bait there. Always place it at least a quarter-mile from the nearest road or access point. This will minimize the chances of other hunters finding your bait pile.
29. Black Bear Tracks vs Grizzly Tracks
Determining a black bear’s tracks from those of a grizzly track by the size of the tracks is not very accurate and the best way. You can find large black bears with tracks as big as medium-sized grizzlies. Moreover, the age and the sex of the bear also make determining the bear from the tracks even more inaccurate.
The most accurate way to determine if it is the tracks of a black bear or a grizzly bear is to draw a straight line across the base of the toes such that it is just touching the top of the front pad. If most of the toes are above the line, those are the tracks of a grizzly bear. If the inside toe is below the line, it is most likely the tracks of a black bear.
Moreover, you can get a good idea of the size of the bear by how large is the dropping. If it is a small dropping, that indicates it is a small one. However, if the diameter is about two inches or more, that is a large bear and you should be very careful and keep your eyes open at all times.
30. Playing Dead For A Black Bear
If you are charged by a grizzly bear, you should stand your ground with a non-threatening posture. Then slowly move away. Grizzly bears are very territorial. Most often than not, when they charge you, they are more concerned about defending its territory than acquiring you as a meal. If you are knocked down by a bear, curl up into a ball, lock your hands over the back of your neck and play dead until it loses interest.
However, if a bear attacks you, always defend yourself. Make yourself large, loud, and intimidating as much as possible by grabbing a stout branch. If it then knocks you down, fights back. You will only encourage it to start feeding off you if you play dead.
31. Distracting A Curious Bear
One way to distract a bear that is in pursuit of you is to drop something that you are carrying, especially if it has food in it. This may distract the bear and give you some time to getaway.
32. Hauling A Dead Bear
Hauling a dead bear can be dangerous if you properly prepare it to avoid an accident with other hunters. Wrap the carcass of a bear with hunter orange material if it is small enough that you can carry it across your back.
33. Put Off Unwanted Predators With Human Scent
One of the problems, when you carry fresh bait deep into the woods, is attracting the attention of wolves and coyotes. To ward them off your bait is to leave anything of yours like an old dirty pair of socks near the bait pile that has your human scent. The human scent on the socks will frighten off the wolves and coyotes but not the bears.
34. The Grizzly & Your Kill
If the elk, moose, or deer you kill, dressed, and packed is discovered and taken by a grizzly bear, don’t engage it without your firearm. The grizzly is very dangerous in that situation and will do anything to protect its find. You can also make a lot of noise as you approach your kill to help spook the bear and get it to move away.
35. Hunting In Heavy Rain
Bears have a very good sense of smell and it will be very difficult to hunt them when the wind is blowing strongly or changing direction quickly. The bears will get your human scent from the wind carrying it. Don’t bother hunting bears in heavy wind.
36. Black Bear’s Lungs
The lungs of a black bear are a smaller target for a hunter than other parts of the black bear. The lungs are not as large as those of a whitetail deer and they are situated further forward in the chest cavity.
37. Finding Feeding Bears
Follow a fresh trail in new snow if you are still-hunting bears. Look for bruins by moving through the forest on foot. Bears are known to make a lot of noise while eating, breaking branches, turning over logs, and destroying rotten stumps. Be alert and keep your eyes and ears open. Bears also make noise when moving through the forest and they snap large branches when walking.
38. Right Dog Size
The right size for a bear dog is between 40 and 70 pounds. This size is large enough to get bears running, fast enough to keep up with the bears over long distances, and quick enough to dodge a bear when it is cornered.
39. Hound Dog On A Bear’s Trail
If you shot a bear, quickly put your dog on its trail if you have a dog. The dog will follow the freshest trail it can find and if there are other bears in the vicinity, you don’t want them to spread their scent over the area which makes it more difficult for your dog.
40. Talk Loudly When Approaching Bait Pile
According to Russell P. Smith, author of The Book of the Black Bear, you should talk and make regular noise when you are checking on your bait pile. You should not sneak in to hunt a bait pile. A bear may be startled by the sudden appearance of a human if it is feeding on the bait pile. This may cause the bear to avoid the bait in the future or only feed on it in the night.
You should warn bears in the area of your movement towards the bait pile before arriving there. You should talk in a normal and calm voice. This will make the bear aware that you are on your way before are close to the bear.
41. Tracking Line & A Blood Trail
According to Richard P. Smith, author of The Book of Black Bear, you can keep track of a bear’s blood trail by using spools of game tracker line. When you are trailing a bear that you have shot, just let the tracking line payout behind you.
This will provide you with an easy-to-follow, continuous record of the trail that you are following and you won’t have to break your concentration tying a bit of surveyors tape to branches or marking the trail another way.
42. Drive Trailers
When you put on a drive-through thick cover, it is always good to post a number of shooters behind the drivers. This is a good tactic to get a big bear. The older ones don’t easily get startled and they will avoid abandoning their security cover if it is possible.
They don’t run out ahead of the drivers like the younger bears might do. They will just circle around them and hunters posted behind the drivers will have a good chance of spotting the bears that behave like this.
43. Freezing A Bear’s Hide
If you need to freeze the bear’s hide to prevent it from decomposing, don’t salt the hide before freezing it. The salt will prevent it from freezing. This is important if you intend to get the hide to a taxidermist but can’t get it there within 24 hours.
44. Bear Trails
Bears tend to step in the exact same places when they take familiar routes. Well-used bear trails look like old, deep footprints embedded into the forest floor rather than smooth, groove-like paths of game trails.
45. Late Season Is A Great Season
Late season bear hunting is a great time to hunt for several reasons. Bears move more often when the weather is cool. Additionally, in states or provinces in which baiting is legal, hunters will stop maintaining their bait piles after filling their tags.
Bears that were feeding on that bait will start searching for new food sources thereby making your own bait pile more attractive. Moreover, if you kill a bear when the air is cold, late in the season, it will be easier for you to get the meat out of the woods before it gets sour.
46. The Most Dangerous Bear
A bear that has killed a prey is the most dangerous bear other than the female bear tending her cubs. A bear will cover the carcass of its kill and lie on top of it. Other times they will be in the brush watching their kill. They might run away when someone approaches or they may not. They can sometimes charge ferociously at you. Be on the lookout.
47. Bears Alarm System
Bears, black bears, and grizzlies don’t have the best eyesight. Their sense of smell is stronger than their eyesight. This knowledge can help you as you hunt bears. They are good at smelling.
48. Best Weather To Spot Bears
According to Russell P. Smith, author of The Book of the Black Bear, the best weather to spot bears is when it is raining lightly or misting with little to no wind. Bears are aware that few hunters will be out in such weather. They are also more active because the air is cooler and they can stalk prey more quietly.
49. When Black Bears Are Dangerous
After the long winter season, in the spring, bears are very hungry and will attack large animals. This is the period when bears are very dangerous. They will even ambush and attack the moose.
50. Contracting Trichinosis
Bears are carriers of trichina worm larvae, therefore you should not eat raw or undercooked bear meat. Any bear meat you eat should be heated to at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two minutes.
51. Ravens Bring Bears To The Party
Always scatter some food in open areas near your bait pile. The scattered food will attract ravens and they will attract bears who hear the loud croaks and caws of the ravines when they are feeding.
52. Allow Enough Time To Die
If you shot a bear with a bow, exercise caution when you are tracking it. Don’t be in hot pursuit of it. Give it some hours before you track it. Try to be mindful of where on its body you hit it. If it was hit in the lungs, wait at least half an hour before following it.
If it was hit in the liver, wait for at least an hour. If you shot it in the gut, wait for four hours before you track it. If possible, take along a hunting friend.
53. Determining The Sex Of A Balck Bear
Determining the sex of a black bear in the field can be difficult at times. Male black bears, called boars, are much larger than females (sows) and have larger heads and longer bodies. Male black bears can easily grow up to 500 pounds while female black bears rarely grow up to 350 pounds.
The best way to determine a young male bear from a female is to look for a penis. It is easier to find it in the spring and summer months, but more difficult in the fall when the belly hair is long.
54. Best Place To Shoot A Bear
Directly shooting a black bear in the center of its shoulder is the best place to shoot a black bear with a rifle, shotgun, or handgun. If you are using the right caliber, that is .270 or higher, the impact of this shot will break both of the bear’s shoulders and penetrate its lungs.
If it is facing you, shooting it in the center of its chest is the best place to shoot it. Facing away from you, shoot the bear in the center of its back, directly between the shoulder blades.
55. Learning From Bear Droppings
The droppings of a bear can give you more insight into the bear. Bear droppings dry quickly so if you come across moist droppings, that is an indication that it was recently deposited and you should keep your eyes open for a bear hot too far from you. The droppings can also give you an idea as to what it has been eating and this information will help you look for the food sources it is frequenting.
56. Pique A Bear’s Predatory Instinct
If you spot a bear in thick cover, you can bring him in by imitating the sound of a prey animal in distress. The bleat of a distressed fawn or a squalling rabbit can call in a bear into shooting range.
57. Bait Pile Patience
If all of sudden you stop any bears signs around your bait pile, don’t jump to the conclusion that the bears have been spooked. They will stop feeding on bait when they discover new food sources in the area. However, they will return to the bait pile once the new food sources have been depleted.
58. Black Bears vs Grizzlies
You have to learn how to distinguish between a black bear from a grizzly bear when hunting in the West. Black bears can be hunted but grizzlies are protected under federal law. One of the features you should look for to distinguish the two is a hump on the shoulders. Black bears do not have a hump on their shoulders while grizzlies have one. You should study the bear’s face profile. A black bear’s nose slopes down from its forehead in a straight line.
A grizzly bear, on the other hand, forehead dips inward from the forehead before coming out into its nose, resulting in an indented face with a slightly concave appearance. You should not take its color into consideration when trying to distinguish the bears as many black bears have the same blonde coloration associated with grizzly bears and many grizzly bears have a darker color.
The Bottom Line
Bear hunting tips can help you land your first bear or the next big one. If you want to sharpen your skills as a black bear hunter or if you are a beginner bear hunter, these hunting tips will help you be a better bear hunter.