From their elusiveness and sheer power, to the iconic presence they have in all things wild, my eyes and ears were wide open to them. At the time, it sounded like one of those things that I would dream about, but never actually do. That curiosity never waned, and by the time my mid twenties came about, I just couldn’t handle it anymore. Within a few months, my first bear hunt was upon me. I had no clue what I was doing, but knew that I wanted to learn. That was about 7 years ago. Since then, I’ve hunted bears in the West every spring and fall. Each season that went by, I’d collect another piece of the puzzle that was, and is, bear hunting. The learning curve can be a great one for a first timer in the West pursuing black bears. Preparation is key and can go a long ways once in the field. Here are some ways to help you prepare for your first western black bear hunt.
Learn About Bear Biology
Actually taking the time to learn about the species you are hunting is huge with bears. Putting into focus why a bear does what it does, what draws them to certain areas, and how they move through these areas throughout the year will pay big come hunting time. This information will help a hunter cross off areas on a map so they can put their time where it matters most. A great way to get an idea of how bears interact with the landscape you plan on hunting is to contact the local Game and Fish office and speak to a biologist. Before doing this though, take time to research on your own. Learn about the preferred food sources at different times of year. Where there might be water. Notate access points. Mention these things to the biologist, so they know you are serious. They can give you insight into where you might find certain food sources or reliable water sources. Don’t expect them to tell you right where the bears are. Put more of your focus on finding out where ideal habitat is located. This is an area where I feel many folks don’t put a lot of focus. In turn, they often have trouble finding bears.
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November - December 2019