Previously, we discussed choosing the proper weapon for bears and also the need to choose a sound bullet for closing the deal. Getting tips from outfitters and longtime bear hunters is also a great way to be successful. I have learned lots of tips, both first-hand and second-hand, during decades of hunting and guiding, and living in Alaska has helped put me in touch with guys who have killed piles of bears. Here are some more tips that I have gleaned from the experts.
Black bears get a bad rap for poor eyesight, but they can see movement very well. They also have an ‘X-factor’ that is unexplainable. One old bear guide once told me that wise bears always have a sense of when they are being watched. He claimed that he has spotted many bears over a mile away and after he zeroed in on them with a spotting scope, they became uneasy and headed for cover. I looked in this guide’s eyes and he wasn’t kidding.
The takeaway from his tale was to never mess around watching a bear. If you are presented with a shot, take it. Don’t gamble during what could be a short window of opportunity.
Another common mistake while spot-and-stalking bears is hunters misjudging how far and fast they can travel while it appears they are just meandering. They can cover a lot of ground, so don’t think you can go chasing them if they are on open hillsides feeding away. Try to get in front of bears and cut them off, wind permitting.
Another common mistake that some bear hunters make is to mistakenly shoot a sow with cubs. I think that most hunters want to prevent doing this, and I honestly don’t know where it is even legal to do so. Nobody wants to walk up to a bear kill and have their pride destroyed by seeing a baby bear trying to figure out what happened to its mother. Making sure of your target is basic gun safety, so don’t cheat yourself out of enjoying a successful hunt. Know your target.
Finally, always give your shot bear the proper amount of time. Being impatient after kill shots is unnecessary and even if you have gotten away with it on deer or other big game, bears are dangerous, so give them twice the amount of time to die than you would a deer. Safety is underrated you don’t want to be “that guy.”