Apr 14 2016
By Shane Auman
The small cinnamon bear was only 10 yards away as he stared through a hole in the ground blind! I told Josh to get ready as he was taking still photos of the bear, and before he had time to ask why, I hit the bear with an apple. As quickly as I tossed the apple, he came to the blind to investigate. When people hear about hunting bears from a ground blind, “why?” is one question that is asked often followed by a statement equivalent to, “tell me more about this type of craziness!”
Black bear hunting can be done out of a blind. Wilderness bears are typically not that concerned with a blind, but more pressured bears may be. If so, consider a natural blind rather than a pop-up blind.
Why is the easiest question for me to answer. There is absolutely no other reason other than the sheer excitement that can come from being on ground level with a 300 to 500 pound predator. The odds of being mugged at Wal-Mart are greater than having a problem with a black bear, but the thought is always on one’s mind, especially when a bear comes within feet of where you’re sitting.
I feel shot angles can be greatly improved upon by hunting from the ground. While on a bait site, bears are constantly moving and contorting their bodies into less than ideal positions for shot placement. While hunting out of a ground blind, it is more noticeable when a bear is contorted into a less than ideal position. I came to this conclusion after shooting a bear one evening that I thought was broadside. I watched the nock disappear on this particular bear exactly where I wanted it to hit, but after a longer than average blood trail, I was certain it had been a double lung hit. It turned out to be a mid-body entrance. What had happened in the dwindling light was the bear had turned his rear-end towards the front causing the arrow to strike mid body. For me, it is easier to notice these types of situations while on the same level as the target animal.
Ground blind hunting offers a unique angle to a bear hunt - a ground-level angle. It can be super exciting to hunt from the ground.
I have found that a few minor adjustments may need to be made to the bow for hunting out of a ground blind. First, the peep site may need to be changed out for a larger aperture. I like to have one with at least ¼ aperture size. This will allow for more light to be transferred in the dark conditions of a ground blind. Specialty Archery Products makes a peep called “Super Peep” which comes in a kit with different size apertures that can be changed out with an allen wrench. This kit is really handy if one’s hunt is calling for different hunting styles. If spot-and-stalk hunting is being utilized one day, a person can simply change to a smaller aperture to allow for better accuracy in full-light conditions. The sight needs to be equipped with fiber optic pins, and one may even opt for a larger top pin. Say .029 or .039 fiber size. If entering the animal into Pope and Young is not a concern, a sight light can definitely be added insurance. One thing I have noted for me in low-light conditions is my sight pins will run together or even see double images of my aiming pins. I combat this by using a single pin slider sight. I use an Axcel Accutouch with a .019 pin and light.
As with many types of hunting, it is a waiting game in most situations. Additionally, one thing that is for certain when it comes to spring bear hunting are bugs. Mosquitoes, flies, and no-seeums can be torture unless properly prepared. Since the introduction of the ThermaCELL, annoying insects can definitely be kept at bay. When used in conjunction with a blind, ThermaCELLs even work better, and you will feel at home. With the amount of time that is required on a bait site waiting for a bear, a comfortable chair is a must. I have spent many hours in a tree stand, and have yet to find one as comfortable as a lounge chair that can be utilized in a blind. One can also be faced with inclement weather, rain, hail, wind, and even snow. A 50-degree, rainy, 8-hour sit with a north breeze in a tree stand is not fun. I’ve done it along with many other hunters, but when you can use a blind it sure makes the day more enjoyable.
I have witnessed bears being killed out of blinds within hours of the blind being setup on a bait site and the blind wasn’t even brushed in. Though I am not convinced this is the best practice, it does work in the right situation, especially in the Northern wilderness where bears aren’t as afraid of humans. I know I feel more confident if the blind is brushed in, however, I have experienced bears being extremely cautious of a blind that was brushed in on a bait site, too. There are no guarantees, but bears are more laid back about than blinds than deer, no doubt. That being said, I feel it would be advantageous to setup and brush in the blind well in advance. One thing to remember is that bears will find the blind and can destroy it.
As with other types of hunting, try to utilize soft, quiet clothing that will allow for easy, non-binding movement when positioning one self for a shot, especially while moving in a chair. It is also critical to check for window clearance for the arrow, and that sufficient clearance is available to draw the bow. If using a traditional bow, you may need to dig a shallow pit in the blind to gain some over-head clearance. Problem areas can be the back wall by sitting to close to one side. It does not take much contact to these areas to create enough noise to alert an already cautious bear, which can cause the bear to spook.
Adapt a few of these tips into your hunting strategy so you can give ground blind bear hunting a try. Once tried, I feel you may be even more addicted to bear hunting than you already are. Clay and I sure are.
The author with his second ground-blind bruin of the week in Alberta, Canada. He had no trouble setting up the blind the day of the hunt and killing this 19 2/16" bear out of it.