Anybody wanting to hunt a certain species has to become familiar with the evidence that the animal leaves in the woods. This column is for new bear hunters, and we’ll be breaking down the types of “sign” bears leave. All sign indicates valuable information; where the animal walked, what it is eating, how long it ago it was here, how many animals were here, and the animal’s size. Sign can be broken down into three different categories: scat, tracks and stuff animals do that leaves a mark. It’s really that simple. In this article we’re going to focus on bear scat, which I believe is some of the most important bear sign in the woods. Bear scat is MVP of bear sign.
“Bear hunting is 75% luck. If you put in your time, eventually it all comes together.”
Bear hunting is becoming trendy in the hunting community. It’s interesting because bear hunting is a foundational puzzle piece of our continent’s hunting culture. The resurgence makes sense because the descriptor was once a term of renown and prowess – bear hunter. Men the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett all identified as bear hunters...
If you are a bear hunter, (especially hunting over bait), the loss of a bear may either happen to you or someone you know during your hunting life. An underutilized method to increase your odds of recovery may include the use of a tracking dog. I am not talking about traditional “bear hounds” used to run and tree. I am talking about “blood tracking” dogs following a bow, crossbow, rifle or shotgun wounded animal.
There are proper times for being a tough guy, but spending hours in a stand, waiting on a stealthy bruin which possesses eyes designed to pick up the slightest flicker of movement, is not one of them.
There are many reasons hunters should try to shoot boars whenever possible, but the difficulty in telling the difference is a hindrance. Here are some distinguishing characteristics to look for.
We often identify animals by their color. If you use these criteria on black bears you will be mistaken, as black bears come in at least four major colors. No North American animal has more color variation than black bears. I’ve been fortunate to see them all. With a little travel, you can see them all too.
You are about to learn something that will surprise you. If you want to hunt black bears over natural food, the formula may be easy. Eastern and northern black bears are largely dependent on acorns. Acorns are their meat & potatoes. In Alaska, their meat & potatoes are blue. Although bears are known as non-specific feeders or omnivores, eating almost everything from whitetail deer to ants to sedges for most of the year, they prefer and seek out the best foods before denning.
Word rapidly spread throughout town that a huge bear had been shot and was hanging on “Cherry” Kempf’s wrecker down by the bank. My girlfriend Mary (now my wife) and I were part of the crowd that quickly gathered to look at/admire this magnificent creature. The head was at the top of the boom on the wrecker and the feet touched the ground. The bear was estimated to be twelve years old, was 665 pounds field dressed, and measured 7 feet 10 inches long.
Looking through the lens of North America’s thriving black bear population, use these six points to understand who we are and the invaluable service we provide to society. Despite the efforts and opinions of those who would seek to discredit the hunter/conservation model of wildlife management in North America, one powerful fact remains – there are more black bears in North America today than in the past 150 years. In fact, biologists believe that there are more bears today than ever before. In a 2015 article in National Geographic titled “Black Bears are Rebounding – What Does That Mean For People?” the author states, “Scientists believe there are more black bears in North America than there were when settlers arrived in the 1600s.” Hunting over bait, running hounds, spot and stalk and trapping haven’t diminished bear populations, but rather they’ve been in place during a time period when bear populations have thrived. Could there be a connection?