Bears are amazing, there’s no arguing about that. But when you’re face to face with a huge grizzly, then that’s something else. Hunting for bears comes with a lot of risks you have to take, and the biggest and most obvious one of all is handling a bear encounter. Personally, I’ve only tried bear hunting once—and here are the things I’ve learned on the way. Without further ado, I present to you how to hunt bears and how to stay safe on the hunt.
1. Stalk your prey
The first thing you need to know when hunting a bear is the locations they’re most likely to be found in. Most hunters say that south-facing slopes and ridges guarantee a bear present. Most often, bears will be found in places with vegetation, especially areas with grain and fruit, so make sure to check these areas first.
Additionally, a good bet is also a body of water, since bears will probably be hunting for fish.
Remember to tread carefully when you know you’re going to encounter a bear somewhere in the woods while hunting. Keep in mind that you are the hunter, and you will need to maintain noise at the minimum and your movements careful and fluid.
Stalking your prey also involves looking for signs of bear. Keep your eyes open for paw prints, claw marks on trees, and scat.
Tip: if you want to spot bears easier and safer, list down a pair of binoculars as hunting backpack essentials.
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2. Go scent-free
Bears have a sense of smell that is 2100 times better than a human’s, so you can bet that a bear can smell you and your things from miles away. To make sure that you don’t become the hunted, pack a set of hunting clothes that will be scent-free during the hunt.
To do this, wash your clothes with scent-free detergent and ensure that you rinse them thoroughly. Another good tip is to pack these clothes in a plastic bag to take on your hunting trip. This seemingly nitpicky method will ensure that you’re safe from the bear’s sensitive snout.
Note: cigarette smoke sticks to clothes easily. If you smoke, it is important that you do not do so when out hunting.
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3. Blend in the background
Bears’ sight isn’t as good as their sense of smell or hearing. A bear will see bright-colored hunting jackets as gray, however, they can detect changes in their usual color pattern.
To make sure that you camouflage well with your surroundings, select the right hunting attire the next time you go to the hunting goods store. However, you need to know the area you will be hunting in beforehand. For example, if you’re hunting in an area with lots of pine, you have to select a mix of dark brown and dark green camouflage.
An appropriate hunting attire will not only make you safe from bears, but it will also let you stalk your prey undetected.
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4. Use the appropriate fire power
Shooting with the right type of ammo will increase your chances of a clean and humane shot, while reducing the risk of the bear running away or attacking you. For bullet options, I highly recommend a heavy-for-caliber option with high weight retention and maximum penetration to give you a one-shot kill.
Tip: it is essential that you practice your aim and shooting before the actual hunt, just to make sure your skills aren’t rusty.
5. Use bait
Another method on bear hunting is to use bait.
Since spring bears are mostly thinking of how to fill their enormous stomachs, using food as bait is one of the most effective methods on how to catch your bear.
The basic thing you need to keep in mind about baits is that your bait needs to be strong-smelling. Examples of which are animal carcasses, overripe fruits, stale sweet pastries, and possibly leftovers.
When you’ve decided on your bait, a proper set-up will ensure that it won’t go to waste. To do this, position your bait site in line with your tree stand or blind spot. Practice aiming and estimate your shooting position while you wait for a bear to come sniffing by.
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6. Stay safe
The worst case scenario when hunting for bears is encountering one when you are unprepared. For cases like this, shooting a bear close range will entail an aggressive reaction. At times like these, you are very much prone to injury due to a bear attack.
So, what do you do when you encounter a bear that is too close while you are unprepared? Most hunters will tell you to play dead, and that is true. When you see a bear coming towards you, slowly lie down your back, completely flat on the ground. Be absolutely still while you do this, so when the bear comes to inspect, it will leave you alone.
Another option, albeit more risky, is to be aggressive in an attempt to scare the bear off. I personally do not recommend this option, but when you are left with none other, this may keep you safe. What you want to do is be loud, appear as big as possible, and wave around your arms.
Bears don’t attack without a reason and rarely attack humans. However, it is better to keep these tips in mind.
Photo credit: Rob Hurson via Flickr under a CC-BY-SA license
Before we end this list of bear hunting tips, let’s do a quick rundown first:
- Pack your hunting essentials, including a set of scent-free clothes
- Stalk your prey and do so carefully
- Set up baits if needed
- Use good camouflage
- Know what to do in the case of a bear attack
- Practice your aim and make sure to aim for a fatal shot (safest and humane)
These are the most important tips on how to hunt bears and stay safe while doing so. Keep them in mind the next time you take on this dangerous endeavor, and your hunt will be most fruitful.If you liked this article, please do leave a comment below on your experiences or suggestions. Thanks for reading, until next time!.
And one last thing, if you are bow hunter, this best bow sights list will help you have a good shot with your bow. Happy Hunting!