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Are you interested in hunting black bears? Do you want to learn how to hunt black bears? Hunting black bears is very challenging and dangerous as they have a good sense of smell, picks up movement very well, and have very good navigational skills. In this article, we discuss hunting strategies to help you successfully hunt black bears.

How To Hunt Black Bears
How To Hunt Black Bears

How To Hunt Black Bears

1. Scouting Black Bears

Black bears live in forests, densely timbered mountain ranges, and swamps. Black bears eat almost anything such as young deer and elk, salmon, other fish, grasses, forbs, buds, corn, peaches, apples, alfalfa, honey, acorns, pine nuts, hazelnuts, and beechnuts. They also eat fruits such as cranberry, huckleberry, bearberry, and wild strawberry. Black bears also eat insects and insect larvae.

When you are looking for black bears, look for areas that have the food they eat and you will improve your chances of finding black bears. Keep your eyes open for apple orchards, salmon streams, moose gut piles, berry patches, and dead animals.

Additionally, when you are looking for signs of black bear activity, keep your eyes open for overturned rocks, pawed-up ground, shredded stumps, rotten logs, abandoned fish carcasses along streams, and the remains and crushed bones of carrion. Markings on trees from teeth and claws indicate territorial markings and those are signs of black bears. Rubbing marks on tree trunks and clumps of hair on barks are also signs of black bear activities.

2. Spot and Stalk Hunting

The spot and stalk hunting method is one of the most popular methods used by hunters to hunt black bears. With this hunting method, hunters glass the food sources from an elevated point. When a hunter spots a black bear that he wants, the hunter will slowly and quietly stalk the black bear, remaining undetected until he gets into shooting range and can take a good shot to take the bear down.

When stalking black bears, always hunt into the winds to keep your human scent from reaching the bears. You can use binoculars or spotting scopes to search over fields and other areas to find black bears. If you are interested in binoculars or spotting scopes, then read the reviews of the best hunting binoculars and the best spotting scopes.

3. Baiting

Baiting is a commonly employed hunting method for black bears, particularly in areas where natural food sources may be scarce or difficult to access. Hunters typically set up bait stations with attractants such as food scraps, sweets, or other enticing scents to lure bears into the area.

This method allows hunters to create a controlled environment where they can observe bear activity and select their target. Baiting can be especially effective during the spring and fall when bears are actively foraging and preparing for hibernation. However, hunters need to follow local regulations and ethical guidelines regarding baiting to ensure sustainable hunting practices and minimize potential conflicts with wildlife.

Tricks For Hunting Black Bears
Tricks For Hunting Black Bears

4. Ambush Hunting

Ambush hunting is a strategic method used by hunters to target black bears. It involves positioning oneself in a concealed location along known bear travel routes, feeding areas, or water sources, and patiently waiting for a bear to appear within range.

This method requires careful scouting and knowledge of bear behavior to identify suitable ambush sites. Hunters often rely on natural features such as dense vegetation, rocky outcrops, or elevated stands to conceal their presence and provide a vantage point for observation.

Ambush hunting can be an effective approach, especially during periods of increased bear activity, such as early morning or late afternoon when bears are more likely to be on the move. However, it requires patience, stealth, and precise shot placement to ensure a successful harvest while minimizing disturbance to the surrounding wildlife habitat.

5. Still-Hunting

Still hunting, a method of hunting where the hunter moves slowly and quietly through bear territory, is a challenging yet effective technique for hunting black bears. Unlike other active hunting methods, still hunting requires patience, stealth, and keen observation skills.

Hunters carefully navigate through dense forests, along riverbanks, or across open meadows, constantly scanning the surroundings for any signs of bear activity such as tracks, scat, or fresh rubs on trees. The goal is to surprise the bear at close range, often within shooting distance, by moving quietly and remaining undetected.

Still hunting allows hunters to cover a wide area while minimizing disturbance, increasing the chances of encountering a bear unaware. It requires a deep understanding of bear behavior and habitat preferences, as well as the ability to stay focused and alert for extended periods. Still hunting for black bears demands a high level of skill and experience but can result in rewarding and memorable hunting experiences.

You can also hunt black bears using the still-hunting method. With this hunting method, you quietly and slowly move and stop regularly to scan the area for bears. You use any vegetation as cover as you move to keep you undetected as you search for bears.

The direction of the wind also has to be taken into consideration as you work the fields looking for bears. Bears have a very good sense of smell that is used to also sense danger. If they pick up your odor, they will retreat to dense forests where they feel secure.

Tricks For Black Bear Hunting
Tricks For Black Bear Hunting

6. Calling

Calling is a hunting technique commonly used to attract black bears within shooting range by mimicking the sounds of distressed or mating animals. Hunters utilize a variety of calls, such as predator distress calls or mating calls of prey species like deer or elk, to pique the curiosity or trigger the territorial instincts of nearby bears.

This method requires skill and knowledge of bear behavior, as well as understanding the appropriate timing and location to use calls effectively. Hunters are often set up in concealed positions with a clear line of sight and use electronic or handheld calls to produce realistic and convincing sounds.

Effective calling can lure bears out of cover and provide an opportunity for a shot, but it also requires patience and discretion to avoid spooking the bear or attracting unwanted attention from other wildlife. Additionally, hunters must exercise caution and be prepared for close encounters when using this method, as bears may approach cautiously or aggressively in response to the calls.

Strategically choose an area to call in which you have a very good view of all sides that a bear may come from and set up in a position where the bear can only approach the calls from in front of you. If you are interested in predator calls, we reviewed the best predator calls on the market.

7. Drives

Implementing drives is a strategic hunting method often employed for hunting black bears, particularly in areas with dense vegetation or rugged terrain. This method involves a coordinated effort by a group of hunters to drive the bears towards waiting hunters stationed strategically along escape routes or natural funnels.

Typically, one group of hunters, known as drivers, moves through the bear’s habitat, making noise and using non-lethal deterrents to push the bears in a specific direction. Meanwhile, the waiting hunters, positioned strategically downwind and at elevated vantage points, anticipate the bears’ movement and prepare to take a shot when the bears come into view.

Drives require careful planning and coordination to ensure safety and effectiveness, as well as knowledge of the bears’ behavior and preferred escape routes. While drives can be an effective method for hunting black bears in certain conditions, they also require a significant level of teamwork, communication, and skill to execute successfully.

You can organize drives to push bears out of an area. With drives, you and your hunting partners can set up in an area where one person is the driver in wet areas, young clear-cuts with dense vegetation, stream bottoms, bogs, and agricultural fields, while the others position themselves as the shooters.

Tips For Hunting Black Bears
Tips For Hunting Black Bears

8. Hunting With Hounds

Hunting black bears with dogs is a traditional and highly effective method that relies on the keen senses of specially trained hounds. These hounds often breeds like Plott Hounds, Treeing Walker Coonhounds, or Black and Tan Coonhounds, are trained to track the scent of bears and pursue them through dense forests and rugged terrain.

Once the dogs pick up the bear’s scent, they eagerly give chase, baying loudly to alert the hunter of their pursuit. The hunter follows closely behind the dogs, using their signals and vocalizations to gauge the chase’s progress. When the dogs corner the bear, they will bark upward to the tree, indicating that the bear has sought refuge in a tree.

At this point, the hunter approaches cautiously and assesses the situation before taking a shot. Hunting bears with dogs requires a deep bond between the hunter and their canine companions, as well as skill in tracking, handling firearms, and understanding bear behavior. It’s a challenging yet rewarding pursuit deeply rooted in tradition and the camaraderie between hunters and their faithful hunting dogs.

If you experience difficulty finding bears in an area, although your pre-season scouting and other resources, like other bear hunters and wildlife biologists, confirm that black bears are in the area, then you can hunt them with the help of black bears.

When hunting black bears with hounds, the hounds will pick up the scent of the bears and track them until they are located. Usually, this hot pursuit will pressure the bears to take refuge in trees. This allows you to decide if you want the bear and take a good shot to drop it.

Ideas For Hunting Black Bears
Ideas For Hunting Black Bears

Black Bear Hunting Tips

1. Do thorough pre-season scouting in areas you believe inhabit bears by looking for bear signs.

2. The spot & stalk hunting method is one of the popular ways of hunting black bears.

3. Black bears can also be hunted using predator calls like fawn bleats, injured rabbit distressed calls, and turkey calls.

Ideas For Black Bear Hunting
Ideas For Black Bear Hunting

4. Still-hunting can also be used to hunt black bears.

5. Black bears are omnivores; they eat anything. Fruits, fish, dead animals, corn, acorns, pinenuts, hazelnuts, insects, calves, fawns, etc. are some of the food they eat.

Hunting Black Bears
Hunting Black Bears

6. Black bears have a very good sense of smell, hearing, and good navigational skills.

7. You can hunt black bears using hounds.

Hunting Black Bear Tips
Hunting Black Bear Tips

8. You can also hunt black bears by organizing drives.

9. Always check the hunting laws in the state you hunt to verify which hunting methods are legal for hunting black bears.

Hunting Black Bear Ideas
Hunting Black Bear Ideas

10. Bait can be used to lure bears into your shooting range.

11. When scouting for black bears, look for territorial markings on trees that include head-high tooth and claw marks, shredded stumps, overturned rocks, pawed-up ground, rotten logs, fish carcasses, and crushed bones of carrion.

Black Bear Hunting Tips
Black Bear Hunting Tips
When are black bears most active?
Black bears are most active at dawn and dusk as they are considered crepuscular animals. However, they can be active at any time in areas where humans are active in.
What is the best time of day to hunt black bears?
The best time to hunt black bears is in the morning or early evening.
Is black bear hunting hard?
It is challenging to hunt black bears as they reside in dense forests, and have a very good sense of smell, hearing, and good navigational skills.
What is the best gun for black bear hunting?
A .308 Winchester or .30-06 Springfield loaded with a 165- or 180-grain spitzer bullet can work well for hunting black bears.
How do you attract black bears to hunt?
You can use food that black bear eats as bait to lure them into your shooting range. Additionally, you can also use predator calls like bleat calls, turkey, and injured rabbit distressed calls to lure black bears.
Where do you aim at a black bear?
The best place to aim at a black bear is behind the front shoulder where the vital organs are located. Wait for the bear to step forward with the near side leg exposing the heart and lung areas.
What is the best bait for black bears?
Dead mammals and fish like salmon are some of the best bait for black bears.
Is eating black bear good?
Eating black bear is good, just make sure it is well cooked.

The Bottom Line

Hunting black bears is very challenging as they have a very good sense of smell, hearing, and navigational skills. They live in dense forests and eat anything. They can be hunted using a number of hunting methods such as spot and stalk hunting, ambushing, still-hunting, calling, baiting, drives, and using hounds.

In this article, we discussed the methods to successfully hunt black bears. If you would like to learn more about hunting bears, then read the best bear hunting tips. You can also read how to hunt brown bears.