Black Bear hunting tips
It is one thing to go out hunting prey animals that generally won’t fight back. But hunting the great black bear – now that is a seriously toothy, meaty target indeed!
To hear experienced black bear hunters tell it, the adrenaline rush of hunting such a magnificent animal is unlike any other. It is simply an unforgettable experience, and thus one for the avid hunter’s bucket list.
Whether this is your first black bear hunting trip or you are a seasoned pro, here’s hoping these black bear hunting tips will offer new insights into taking down your target the first time, every time.
Tip 1: How to Take Down Black Bear With Predator Calling?
The predator calling method (sometimes called "calling them in") of black bear hunting is a very good choice if you are new to hunting black bears AND you plan to hunt with a partner.
SAFETY NOTE Never try this method if you plan to hunt black bears alone, since your calls may also attract other predator animals that enjoy similar diets and you will need AT LEAST two sets of eyes keeping watch in all directions at all times to ensure your hunting team's safety.
Predator calling is an especially good choice if you are new to hunting black bear for these reasons below
- Predator calling puts more initial physical distance between you and the bear (especially important if you also have some distance between you and your truck!).
- Predator calling gives you more time to study your target so you can learn how to identify young black bears, mature black bears, male black bears and sows with bear cubs (these, of course, are illegal to hunt).
- Predator calling gives you more time to set up your shot so as to be as humane and effective as possible.
- Predator calling gives you more leeway to work on your scent-masking and camouflage techniques, since basically you are waiting for the bear to come to you.
What You Need to Succeed
A hunting partner!, time, focus, patience, lots of practice, an area active with black bears, prey calls, effective scent masking, a safe and preferably elevated stand or hide, the right gear.
How It Works
The hands-down best time to use the predator calling method is in late summer in most areas. This is because black bears’ favorite foods are plump and ripe for the taking. By locating yourself in an area known to be replete with the bears’ favorite foods and active with bears, you increase your chances of bagging a black bear.
Your stand or hide should be elevated, difficult to access and upwind of the bears so your presence won’t be detected. You should also do your utmost to mask your scent in case the wind shifts.
Bears are smart, curious and innately unpredictable. In other words, you just never know what they might do! This YouTube video below gives you a great example of why it is so important to ensure your own safety in the design of your stand or hide!
Maybe in your wildest dreams you never would have thought a black bear would climb RIGHT UP into the hide with you – what would you have done if that was you up there?
Over time, you will likely discover some predator calls that work better for you than others (many hunters have a favorite call they use over and over again). As reported by Grand View Outdoors, each of these calls is worth exploring:
- Dying bleating rabbit.
- Bullet Point 2
- Field mouse squeak.
- Rattling call.
- Grunting call.
- Anything loud that sounds raspy and whiny.
Also be aware that not every state will permit electronically-generated calls, so check in advance to be prepared.
From here, your goal is to keep up the calling. The more loud and continuous you can make your calls, the better. Bears may hear the call, but if it stops, they will likely stay put. Once a bear appears, it should be all eyes and hands on deck, since bears are amazingly good at camouflage despite their often massive size.
Once the bruin appears, hunting success is up to you!
Tip 2: How to Take Down Black Bear With Spot-and-Stalk?
The spot-and-stalk method is about as close as you can come to our early days as hunter-gatherers.
A successful hunt using this method will also deliver a guaranteed adrenaline rush as well as a healthy sense of respect for both your hunting prowess and the size, strength and magnificence of your adversary. According to Peterson’s, some seasoned hunters liken it to a chess match, with the black bear as your chess partner.
SAFETY NOTE As Field and Stream notes, black bears are some of the most elusive predators you will ever find. They could be right next to you and you wouldn't know it until, well, they got hungry. So be cautious and don't go it alone out there!
The spot-and-stalk method is the hands-down best way to really get to know your target up close and personal in their own neighborhood. You need to do some heavy reconnaissance work beforehand to experience success.
What You Need to Succeed.
Super-sensitive long-range binoculars and a great scope, masterful scent-masking, a stalking route replete with obstructions you can hide behind (trees, rocks, etc.), very quiet and comfortable footwear (slip-on is best) and woolen wicking socks, quiet camouflage wear that blends in with your surroundings, hunting gear you trust intimately.
How It Works.
Your first job using the spot-and-stalk method will always be to scout for bear. Any land of 10-acres or greater that contains mature timber, water and plentiful food sources is a potentially good spot.
Look for signs of trampled underbrush, broken branches, bear claw marks on trees and fresh bear scat (the greener the better).
Then wait. And watch. And wait. And watch. Eventually, it will be time to stalk – good luck!
Tip 3: How to Take Down Black Bear With Baiting?
As Outdoor Life states, baiting (also called “bear hunting over bait”) is one of those topics that fairly guarantees a good debate. Some states allow it, while in other areas it is strictly off-limits.
Here, American Hunter makes the point that, as with most other methods, baiting can be as dull or as challenging as you make it.
In some parts of year, especially early spring or late fall when food sources are more scarce and less tasty, baiting can deliver your target more reliably than other methods.
However, as far as black bear hunting tips goes, baiting has its proponents as well. Here are some of the pros of using baiting:
- Gives you more time to I.D. the bear (and avoid killing a sow with cubs).
- Gives you a better chance of single-shot kills (by far the most humane method).
- Gives you more control over the encounter safety-wise, all variables considered.
What You Need to Succeed.
Enticing bait, lots of patience, a good elevated place to hide out downwind of the bait, great binoculars, hunting gear you trust, scent-hiding spray, a comfy cushion or chair (no sense trying to hunt if you will be too stiff to move after hours of waiting!), bear pheromone spray (to attract male bears).
How It Works.
The baiting method obviously relies on one key element: enticing bait. If the bear doesn’t encounter your bait, the game’s off. You don’t have to worry about their sense of smell – the average bear has a sniffer reputed to be seven times as sensitive as that of the average bloodhound!
But you do need to put the bait near an area where bears are. So that is your big challenge with this method.
Once your quarry encounters the bait, it is game on – your show!
Tip 4: How to Take Down Black Bear With a Float?
A popular hunting tactic in accommodating areas, the float hunt (or boat hunt), can be especially effective in spring when black bears are prone to hunting for fish rather than snacking on foliage and not-yet-ripe berries.
North American Sportsman makes a note that when you go – seasonally as well as time of day – is critical to success. In particular, you want to pick a time of year when the trees are starting to bud and flower, but the foliage isn’t so dense the bears can use it for camouflage.
What You Need to Succeed.
A worthy craft, a river with a launch pad upwind of your quarry, all the same tools you would need for spot-and-stalk (see Tip 2 here) hunting, since once the bear is spotted, you will have to pursue it on foot in most cases.
How It Works.
In an ideal scenario, you launch your boat well upriver from your campsite. You cruise and scan, cruise and scan, cutting your motor after a time so you can silently spot a likely target.
Once the target is spotted, you must be able to mobilize quickly and quietly without a scent trail. Then it is off to the races, with the bear most likely in the lead and the outcome of the day is firmly in your hands!
Ask any hunter if they have a good story to tell, and you are likely to hear one. Ask any bear hunter the same question, and you are guaranteed to hear one!
The moral of this story is, proceed with caution. Use all your senses, because you can be sure your quarry will be using all of their senses (each of which is much keener than any human’s ever will be).
Head out with a partner, especially if this is your first bear hunt. Be familiar with all your gear and as wary as if it was the black bear who was hunting you. Most of all, trust your instincts. They are still there and many decades of city living and modern amenities haven’t snuffed them out. They will help you if you lean on them.
Have fun and happy hunting!