Welcome to our official bear hunting guide. This article is designed to help you prepare properly for a bear hunting experience, while optimizing your ability to both locate and successful kill a bear. This is a generalized guide for all different types of bears however we will make notations if anything pertains to a specific species. We hope this guide helps you if you’re a first time bear hunter, and if you’re not we hope to give you a few extra bear hunting tips.
Preparing for Your Bear Hunt
Preparation is the key to a successful bear hunt. Being properly equipped and having all the essentials will ensure the highest probability of you getting your bear trophy. The first step is to figure out where you’re going to hunt for your bear. Once you’ve decided on a location you’ll need to check with the state government’s wildlife department on required permits and license. You can access all official state government ran websites regarding this on our bear hunting laws web page.
You’re next step will be to make sure you have the right equipment. Most likely you won’t nab a bear on the first day, heck you might not even nab one on your first trip. So, you’ll need to allow at least a week for your hunt. This means you’ll need camping equipment and proper supplies unless you’re renting a cabin or staying in a hotel. Depending on the climate you’re hunting in the required equipment can vary. However, we provided a generalized list of what you’ll need on our hunting equipment web page.
Understanding the Nature of a Bear
You would think with the size and strength of a bear it wouldn’t be easily scared. However, this is far from the truth! Bears just like any wild animal have a fight or flight instinct, and majority of the time an animal will choose flight. Remember, an animal’s basic instinct is to survive and they know if they are injured they can die. Heck, they can’t visit a doctor or hospital like we can.
With that in mind you need to prepare yourself to be able to wait patiently and for long periods of time. You’ll need to learn how to wait in a specific position and not move. This is an art itself and takes practice; something many experienced hunters will stay can take years. Bears may have not so good eye sight, but they can still see; and they have an amazing sense of smell. This means you’ll need to take good care not to move when a bear approaches. You’ll also need to make sure you don’t have anything scented; this includes soap, shampoo, cologne, insect repellent, etc.
You’ll also want to know about bear habits, which includes feeding, traveling and foraging. Bears will visit the same feeding site often, unless they feel threatened at that location. This is why people utilize baiting stations to attract bears to a pre-defined location. Bear’s have a diet that consists of vegetation, fish and insects. However, a polar bear is mostly a carnivore and has the highest meat concentration diet. Know what a bear eats and when it eats is an excellent way to determine a stalking location.
Preparing Your Hunting Spot
So, once you locate an area you think is good for a bait station and/or waiting for a bear you’ll need to do a few things. First, you’ll need to find the best location that gives you a full open view of the area while giving you protection from sight. You should attempt to be downwind so your scent doesn’t reach your target area. It’s a good idea to try and find an area with bear markings such as torn up logs or claw and bite marks in a tree. Finding an area a bear has visited gives you a good chance it might return.
You can opt to place a bait station in this location and many others you think a bear might visit. This task means you won’t be hunting the bear that day. Instead, you’ll leave multiple bait stations and check back everyday or so to see evidence of a bear being there; such as fed on food with bear tracks. Once you’ve gotten action at a bait station its then time to decide on what day you’ll reload the station in the morning and wait for the bear to return. Some bears are nocturnal so you might be waiting quite awhile.
A Bear Approaches!
This is the key moment; you see a bear approach the area. The first thing you do is FREEZE and make no moment. Do not reach for your gun, you should be watching the bear with your binoculars; never use a rifle scope; you want to make sure it’s a bear and not another hunter! You’ll want to take a few minutes to make sure it’s not a sow (female bear), if no cubs follow behind then it’s not a nursing bear.
Now, you’ll want to estimate the size of the bear and try to determine if it’s rubbing (shedding). Our article gives you some great infield methods to estimate the size of a bear. If this appears to be the size bear you’re looking for then you’ll want to take the shot when possible. DO NOT raise your rifle or bow until the bear is not looking directly at you. Do this slowly and with slow even breaths to prevent rapid movement.
So, now you’ve got the bear in your sights and you’re ready to take the shot. First thing you want to do is wait for a clean vital organs shot. This is in the middle of the chest wear the lungs, heart and kidney are located. This is the humane way to put the bear down fast, if you just wound it then it will run off and you’ll never catch up to it. Remember, a vital shot won’t put it down instantly and you’ll most likely have to track it afterwards. Watch which direction it goes as even a vital kill shot might not leave a blood trail.
After the Kill
After you’ve bagged and/or skinned your bear it’s time to head back. You always want to make sure you follow the CDC’s Game Safety guidelines to prevent food borne illness and infectious blood transfer. You’ll also need to make sure you report to the properly state authorities are required by bear hunting laws in that state or county. Remember, this helps keep an accurate number on the bear population and helps conservation efforts.
Summary of Bear Hunting
As you’ve probably guessed bear hunting can be exciting and really test your merit as a hunter. However, bears are not a joke and very powerful animals. They can easily kill a human if they wish to. They can run much faster than you and even climb a tree better than you. Always respect the animal you’re hunting or you might be the one hunted. Never attempt to track and continue to hunt a non-mortally wounded bear. They are most aggressive at that point and can turn on the hunter.
Always try to contribute to the local conservation fund ran by the state. This helps keep the bear population up and help keep hunting costs down. Almost 90% of all state government wildlife departments are funded thru permits and licenses so please always hunting legally. Animals are a precious commodity on this planet and hunting them can be fun and entertaining however we must make sure to protect these animals and help them thrive.