In places where different hunting methods don’t overlap, there may not be overt issues of friction between bear hunters. However, when they overlap in the field or politically, there can be friction. Bait hunters, hound hunters and spot-and-stalk hunters can carry a chip on their shoulder in regards to the way they hunt. The tunnel vision can produce intolerance for other methods. It may seem harmless to vocally dislike another type of hunting amongst friends, but the long-term affects are real in the hunting community. Hunting culture is crafted by one conversation and one action at a time. Social media is also a major place where friction amongst bear hunters is evidenced.
The springtime for black bears is dominated by two biological realties, and a third is a major player. The need for bears to find food and build up their fat reserve after months of denning is the first reality. Black bears emerge from their dens between March and April in most parts of the bear range. They den from 90 to 150 days depending on their northern latitude and food availability. When they emerge, they are looking for green vegetation, carrion, and basically anything with digestible calories. Spring hunting, whether spot-and-stalk or bait hunting, capitalizes on a bears need to eat.
If you’re hunting with hounds you’re interested in the scent left by tracks, however, when still-hunting bears scent means nothing. You can gain three things from a bear track; the general size of the bear, how long ago he was here, and the direction he was traveling. That’s all the possible information that can be gathered. The hard part is that 90-plus percent of the Eastern Deciduous Forest is covered in leaf litter making tracks hard to discern. The only places you’ll find clear tracks in the dirt are in areas of bare dirt. These areas might include ditches along roads, mud holes, creek banks, pond banks, near springs or the odd place that’s void of leaves. Honestly, bears don’t leave a lot of visible tracks in this type of country, so when you see one you need to capitalize on all that it tells you.
As a Southern outdoorsman, hunting big game in the spring was a novel, but foreign idea. We chased big gobbling birds and caught crappie – both noble endeavors. In the spring of 2014, I went on my first spring bear hunt and I was hooked like a flathead on a trotline. What other big game animal can you hunt in April, May and June? What other beast inhabits such incredible wild places and have population numbers and meat like the black bear? Spring hunting opportunity abounds for both the do-it-yourself and folks looking for a guided hunt. Here are some answers about spring bear hunting that will get you headed toward success, adventure, and backstraps.
I get asked a lot of questions. I have found that there are a few common things that come up often, and one of these is the way people envision how and where to shoot a bear with an arrow. With very few exceptions, the hunters asking these questions have experience bowhunting deer and many have a hard time letting go of their notion that shooting a bear is just like shooting a deer. But if you look at the vital organs on a bear, they are not only different in position, but in size. Let’s take a look at some of these issues and examine how a better understanding of the bear’s vitals can help you make more of the quick, clean, humane kills that we all desire.
Anybody wanting to hunt a certain species has to become familiar with the evidence that the animal leaves in the woods. This column is for new bear hunters, and we’ll be breaking down the types of “sign” bears leave. All sign indicates valuable information; where the animal walked, what it is eating, how long it ago it was here, how many animals were here, and the animal’s size. Sign can be broken down into three different categories: scat, tracks and stuff animals do that leaves a mark. It’s really that simple. In this article we’re going to focus on bear scat, which I believe is some of the most important bear sign in the woods. Bear scat is MVP of bear sign.
“Bear hunting is 75% luck. If you put in your time, eventually it all comes together.”
Bear hunting is becoming trendy in the hunting community. It’s interesting because bear hunting is a foundational puzzle piece of our continent’s hunting culture. The resurgence makes sense because the descriptor was once a term of renown and prowess – bear hunter. Men the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett all identified as bear hunters...
If you are a bear hunter, (especially hunting over bait), the loss of a bear may either happen to you or someone you know during your hunting life. An underutilized method to increase your odds of recovery may include the use of a tracking dog. I am not talking about traditional “bear hounds” used to run and tree. I am talking about “blood tracking” dogs following a bow, crossbow, rifle or shotgun wounded animal.
There are proper times for being a tough guy, but spending hours in a stand, waiting on a stealthy bruin which possesses eyes designed to pick up the slightest flicker of movement, is not one of them.