Understanding Bear Behavior
A bear hunt is as about as much fun as a hunter can have. The anticipation of hunting something dangerous in breathtakingly beautiful country—plus good odds of taking a decent bear—make it one of the best hunts for the money.
To stalk a bear successfully is to employ every hunting skill you possess. You must be attuned to the wind, as bears have a keen sense of smell. You must walk silently, as their sense of hearing is stereophonic. You may be fooled by a bear’s myopic sight, but if its other senses detect your approach, you won’t even get close to these remarkably savvy animals.
Know Your Foe
- Sense of smell. A bear has a better nose than almost any other game animal, and just one whiff of human odor will cause a bear to vamoose. A bear can smell 2,100 times better than you can. A bear can smell your breakfast 20 miles away if the wind is right. Bear hunters who are not fanatical about the way they smell are not often rewarded with big trophy bears. Don't smoke while hunting and always stay downwind.
When packing for your bear hunting trip, select clothing that you will only wear at the tree stand while hunting. In advance, wash these clothes with scent-free detergent. After that, run them though the wash at least twice more with no detergent. Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the final rinse to remove all residue. This will help ensure your clothes are scent free. Pack your hunting clothes in a plastic bag to keep them scent free. If you are a smoker, do not smoke while wearing your hunting clothes. If you smoke in the tree stand, you are basically wasting your time if you expect a big trophy bear to come within sight.
- Think mint. Most bears love the smell of mint. If you go on a camping trip in many state parks, the wardens will tell you not to keep mint toothpaste or mint gum in your tent because the bears will smell it and go after it. The bear's craving for mint can be used to your advantage.
Find some mint soap. You may have to go to a health food store or shop online. The morning before the hunt, take a shower using the mint soap. Brush your teeth with mint toothpaste. Chew mint gum while in the tree stand and conisder having a glass of mint tea before the hunt and even keep a few bags of mint tea in your pockets.
- Hearing. The shape of bear's ears is mainly responsible for their extraordinary hearing. A bear's hearing is about four times that of yours. Rubbing of cloth or twisting of your tree stand can produce sounds that the bear can hear and you can't. Older male bears develop a crowned head and their ears move out to the sides giving them stereoscopic hearing, which allows them to pinpoint the origin of the sounds they hear. This is another reason why big old bears are harder to get. With this in mind, it is imperative to stay absolutely still. If you must move; do so very slowly.
- Vision. Contrary to folklore, bears can see quite well. Bears see in color and have quality of vision similar to humans. Their night vision is excellent and they are particularly attuned to detecting movement. It is believed that they rely on their other senses, such as their sense of smell, more than their eyesight which may account for the folklore. Bears are nocturnal. They have a reflective layer in the back of the eye called the tarpetum lucidum. In addition, as a bear gets older they become nearsighted so the brain compensates by being more sensitive to color differentiation. Just remember, the fact that you can't see them does not mean they cannot see you.
- Appetite. Bears are always hungry. In spring when bears emerge from hibernation, they are ravenous. In the fall, they are fattening up for the long winter. Where there is food, there will be bears. Bears are omnivores, eating a diet of both plants and animals. They eat mostly plants such as grasses, leaves, roots, berries, and seeds. They will also eat fish, insects, and carrion, and will occasionally hunt for prey such as rodents, young deer, and elk. Their diet depends a lot on what foods are available in a particular season and in their habitat. In addition, they have an affinity for anything sweet.
When scouting out berry patches, know that, just like you, bears prefer their berries soft and sweet, not hard and bitter. Similarly, the best time to eat acorns is just after they’ve dropped from a tree. Finding bears is really just a matter of finding each of those food sources as they ripen in bear country.
- Speed. Bears can run as fast as a horse (35 mph), and they can do it uphill or downhill. A bear can outrun you no matter what, so if you see one in the wild, do not try to run away from it. Instead, if you can (and we know it's easier said than done), you should stand tall, wave your arms, and talk loudly but calmly. Back away slowly, but stop moving if the bear follows you.
- Excellent climbers. When a bear is threatened, he usually runs from the perceived threat or goes up a tree. Black bears, in particular, are good climbers. Grizzlies can climb trees, but a mother grizzly, for example, will usually aggressively defend her cubs on the ground rather then send them up a tree as a black sow will.
Hiring a guide has great advantages. A guide offers gear, expertise, and experience. He has already done the scouting, set the baits, has the proper permits, and will take care of you during the hunt. And in Alaska, for example, hunting Kodiak brown bears with a licensed guide is a requirement. (Alaska Department of Fish & Game). Regulations vary depending on state, country, region.
Ready for the Hunt of a Lifetime?
If it's bear hunting you're after, you've come to the right place. Here at Dream Sporting Trips, you'll find some of the best guides and outfitters in the business. We never charge a commission and you're free to contact the guide yourself and book your trip or ask him questions. So go ahead! Plan your trip today.
Jake Ingram, Scapegoat Wilderness Outfitters, Havre, MT
Offering spring black bear hunts in true wilderness fashion, packing all their camp and clients in on mules and horses.
Bruno Martel Hunting Adventure, Inc., Alberta, Canada
Offering some of the best bear trophies in Alberta with an opportunity to harvest your two-bear limit.
Glen Kleinfelter, Homestead Lodge, Oxbow, Maine
Offering hunting packages for guided bear-over-bait in scenic northern Maine.
Chris Moehring, High Country Outfitters, Des Moines, NM
Offering fully guided hunts for black bear and other game. Rifle hunters primarily spot-and-stalk, while archery hunters primarily stand hunt.
Jack Cassidy, Colorado Big Game Hunts, Montrose, CO
Provides hunters with quality hunts for bear and other game at the famous Packrat Camp on the rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
Alfred Luis, Central Coast Outfitters, Santa Maria, CA
Offering California hunts for black bear, in addition to their other game hunts in New Zealand.
Ron Nemetchek, North River Stone, Alberta, Canada
Offering guided Grizzly hunts in remote, northern B.C. Our British Columbia grizzly hunts in the Cassair Mountains produce trophy-class bears.
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- "Come Experience Hunting Like Nowhere Else On Earth with One of Canada's Most Respected Outfitters"
There is a good population of grizzlies within the area, and as they are managed well, it is not uncommon to spot or see signs of bears throughout your hunt.