For most hunting enthusiasts springtime means two things, and that is turkey or focusing on fishing until deer season. However, for some, the spring also bring another kind of hunting that you can participate in and that is bear hunting. If you have never had the opportunity to go on a spring bear hunt, then you are truly missing out on a great springtime hunt. It is a great way to fill time in May and June while you are waiting for deer season to kick off, and you never know you may find a new passion.
Since spring bear hunts are usually less common among hunters, this article is going to focus on bear hunting and will help you with all that you need to know. Hopefully, after reading this you will go out and plan your next great adventure, as many hunters consider a spring bear hunt to be a bucket list hunt. Below are some of the best tips and tricks for hunting bears in the spring.
Tactics of Bear Hunting
There are five different tactics used to hunt bears, there is baiting, calling, glassing, ambushing as well as using hounds. In the spring bears will be emerging from hibernation, and they will want to be out feeding, so this is a perfect time to set up near food sources to find these animals. However, it is important to remember that bears have a keen sense of smell and extreme power.
So, however, you choose to hunt it important that you keep upwind of these creatures. Also, you want to make sure that you respect these animals, they may be large, but they can move quickly and can attack you, so always be prepared. The most common bear hunting tactic is to hunt over a bait pile.
This way you are directly over the food source and can be up in a tree stand while waiting for a bear to begin eating. The other methods listed above can be effective as well, but the most success comes from hunting a food source because after hibernation bears are working tirelessly to regain their weight.
Finding a Food Source
As with any kind of hunting one of the first things that you will want to do is find a food source. Finding what bears are eating is a surefire way to fill your tag. This also will help you decide on a spot to place your bait or to begin stalking.
Bears will eat just about anything. They are omnivores, so they eat both plants and meat. One good thing to do is to find a south facing slopes. The snow will melt earlier in these areas, and you will find more vegetation growth here, so it is likely to find bears in this area.
Also, other telltale signs are torn up roots and tree stumps, grassy fields and meadows, or dandelion fields. Once you have located a good food source, you will want to look for scat or tracks, to let you know bears are in the area. You can also place your bait in a food source to double your chances of success.
Anatomy of a Bear
Bears have a good amount of thick bones and fur, and these are all major things to consider when you are hunting them. You never want to shoot a bear that is sleeping or laying down or standing up. The most ideal shot is to wait until they are broadside just like you would with a deer.
Bears have their own anatomy, and you should familiarize yourself with that before you hunt them. The heart on a bear is a little lower, and the large legs may be in the way, so you have little room for mistakes, however, if you want to drop a bear in its tracks this is the optimal shot. The best way to describe this is to follow the centerline of the bear's leg up to one-third of its body.
While a heart shot is the quickest kill, the best shot to guarantee success is a lung shot. The lungs on the bear are large, but they are positioned a little more forward then what you would find on whitetail deer. These shots offer the best kill ratio. To find the lungs you follow the leg up to about one third and they will be slightly behind the front legs.
Waiting for a broadside shot may not be easy, but if you take a poor shot, then you will have a good amount of tracking ahead of you. Also, there is nothing worse than a pissed off bear, so to make sure you make a clean ethical kill by waiting for the perfect shot.
Prepare for bugs
One of the biggest things that you can do to help yourself during a bear hunt is invest in some industrial sized can of off, and a thermacell. As the weather is getting warmer, the bugs will be out, and they will be vicious. It is better to come prepared, and have a thermacell and spray off, then to endure the wrath of thousands of insects making you dinner when you are out bear hunting.
Weather can determine a lot, especially in higher elevation areas that still have snow present. Some bears will not wake from hibernation until it gets much warmer, but that isn’t to say you can’t find them in the snow, it may only depend on when the bear wakes from his sleep. The one thing that you should be looking for though is greenery. Once the flowers start to bloom, and green grass begins to grow you will know that if there are bears nearby they will be looking to feed.
Bear hunting is an exciting way to spend your spring and summer. It allows you to get back into the woods and track a trophy animal. If you follow the tips above, you should find yourself on a pretty successful bear hunt. Also, if you are unsure of it, contact a guide and enjoy a guided hunt.