Hunting the Eastern Deciduous forest for black bear without the aid of bait or hounds is one of the toughest hunts in North America. Heavily wooded and rugged terrain combined with a “low density” animal to make the pursuit legit. Recently, I’ve been calling it the “sheep hunt of the South.” The only difference being the odds of killing a bear are probably lower. The first questions most people have are, “what does bear sign look?” and “what’s the best type of sign?”
By Bernie Barringer I intend to be bowhunting as long as I can, and one of the best ways I can ensure that I have the strength to do so is through diligent practice and exercise. This is especially true of a guy who’s about to turn 60, but anyone half that age can benefit from the advantages of regular practice.
By Al Raychard Black bear numbers are on the rise in the eastern half of the United States, and that is no more evident than in Maine.
By Al Raychard It has been said a trophy game animal is in the eye of the beholder. After more than four decades of hunting black bears, having traveled far and wide to do so and after seeing literally scores of bears taken by hunters in camps from Alaska to Newfoundland I believe that old adage is true. Some of those bears were unique in some way, perhaps with white “Vs” on the chest or were blonde, brown or otherwise off-color. My aging brain can’t recall each and every one, but I remember enough to say although there were some big bears in terms of weight only a small percentage were of such massive body size to be considered truly impressive. A fair number tipped the scales less than 200 pounds and only a faction, including only two of mine, had skull measurements that met record book eligibility. Yet, I can’t recall ever seeing a displeased look on the face on any hunter, and no doubt each bear was considered a trophy. And so they should have been, and should be, because every bear killed is a trophy in some way.
By Clay Newcomb If you are bear hunting from late May into June, your hunt will be influenced by the bear rut. Knowing all you can about it will make you a better hunter. In a research paper written by Kim Barber and Fredrick Lindzey in Washington State, they noted that female bears range from 6 to 16 days in estrous each spring with the average being 9.25 days. The length of estrous often depends on how quickly the sow is bred. During the research period, male bears were with females from 2 to 5 days, indicating that this was when they actually bred. It’s important to note that this data was collected by radio-collared black bears. Black bears are “promiscuous” breeders, meaning they can have multiple partners. Biologists once observed a female grizzly bear breed 10 times with 4 different males in a two-hour period.
By Clay Newcomb Why does it matter if modern hunting persists beyond our lives? It’s a legit question requiring some soul searching for an honest answer. The challenges surrounding the lifestyle of modern hunters in North America are numerous and even daunting. Just to name a few, we’re struggling with hunter recruitment, access to hunting land, and a population that is growing further away from its hunting roots. There is also a relatively small group of people who adamantly oppose hunting, the anti-hunting community, and they’re doing a good job of propagating their ideas to the undecided masses. Therein lies the lynch pin of protecting and securing our lifestyle – the undecided masses. As ironic as it sounds, the people that don’t care, have little information about and no history with hunting, will be the ones that help decide our future.
By Ed Hall Whether archer, bearhoundsman, or just around camp in bear country, a potent handgun on the hip is so much handier than a nine-pound rifle over your shoulder.
By Al Raychard Bears are bears are bears, they live for two primary reasons and the two are directly related. Studies by numerous state and federal agencies have concluded female bears that do not have sufficient amounts of the right foods may forego breeding some years or abort their young. It is also known it is not uncommon for both sexes to enter dens early if protein-rich late summer and fall foods are scarce and bears entering dens without adequate amounts of fat stores may have a difficult time surviving until green up once emerging in the spring. With all said and done, adequate food supplies are a major predictor of bear growth and reproductive success.
By Clay Newcomb One of the most asked questions I get when I come home from a bear hunt is, “What are you going to do with it? You’ve already got lots of bears.” My first response is usually aimed at making the person asking feel a little bit ridiculous. They act as if I haven’t thought this through, and naturally, I feel an obligation to make them reconsider their assumption. My next response is usually quick and blunted and often revolves around one of these five things to do with bear hide. Here are some ideas for your bear.
By Clay Newcomb Shooting young bears isn’t just a “trophy” mishap, but it’s a conservation mishap. Targeting mature animals is best from a management standpoint as well. And even better, targeting older mature males is the name of the game, and if you can select the right one for harvest, everybody wins. Judging trophy bear is difficult, and many consider the most difficult big game animal to judge. Horned game is relatively easy compared to it. Here are five thoughts on judging trophy bear that didn’t come from surfing the internet looking for the traditional judging methods, but have come from personal experience judging bears all across North America.