To hunt black bears you have to find them. This type of hunting is a little different than deer or turkey hunting, scouting matters ALOT more. Bears are not as prevalent as other game and just because an area looks good for bears does not mean that they live there or are anywhere close. You must put in the time to find them before the season starts to maximize you chances of success ,and on this podcast episode I am going to help you learn how to do just that! 

Scouting for black bears requires some time investment but strategy matters even more. Bears need to eat and they love to hide, so the first thing you want to do is identify potential food sources that are likely to attract bears. Keep in mind these change depending on the season and regions you are hunting. Good food today may not be good food next week.

Then you want to find these kinds of food sources within reasonable proximity to heavy dense cover that the bears can disappear in. If you can locate these two things then you have the key variables needed to justify some scouting, NOT HUNTING. These findings are not enough to warrant a hunt, they are only sufficient to justify scouting. Many of these types of areas will hold no bears. You need to go there and scout first, before you hunt.

4 Strategies for Black Bear Scouting

Bear tracks are the simplest and most straight forward sign you will find but they are not as prevalent as you might think. Bears are big heavy animals, but they have very large paws, with much more surface area than the points of a deer foot. They will only leave tracks if the ground is very soft, wet, or muddy. Bear tracks are only about 10% of the sign that you are likely to find. However, you can learn a lot about the size of a bear and how recently it was in the area based on the tracks.

Bear droppings are more prevalent. These are big animals that eat a lot and leave a lot of droppings. If bears are around, you should be able to find bear droppings for sure. With just a little bit of research you can also determine the approximate diet of the bears based on their droppings. And if you can learn what they are eating you can also determine what food sources to find and camp out around. This is a great strategic win that can really help you.

Bear activity can include tearing up berry bushes, ripping up tree bark, breaking open fallen logs, flipping over rocks, and much more, all in search of soft plants, tree bark, honey, ants, or other forms of nutrients. Bears are not subtle, and can leave a wake of disruption and destruction. If you keep your eyes open, you should easily be able to tell the relative size and recency of such activity if you come across it.

Bear bedding areas are hard to find and search because they are so dense and thick. Rather than try to get into the bedding areas, likely leaving scent that spooks the bears out of them, you should focus on identifying areas with ideal bedding spots. This are very dense, cool, dark places that the bears can retreat to and disappear. If you do stumble into a bedding area, one of the clearest signs will usually be some bear fur left behind on the ground. 

Listen to this podcast episode for much more detail and information on how to scout for black bears!

How to prepare for a black bear hunt hinges upon how the battlefield is chosen. If you are hunting locally and you can pick the area, conditions, and weather then selecting gear is very easy. But if you are traveling to an unfamiliar battle ground, there are many unknowns and things you need to take into account. In this episode I talk about making bear hunting preparations for those newer to the sport.

Show Notes:

Most people do not start hunting bear as the first game they ever pursue, they have at least some experience hunting something else first, maybe deer, turkey, waterfowl or small game. Those skills can form the foundation of hunting knowledge you need to get started as you seek to add bear specific knowledge to your toolbox. I have done many other episodes focused on helping you build that knowledge base check those out.

The gear you need to hunt bear is almost entirely dependent on the location, weather, and strategy you use. Your deer hunting gear could be perfect. Or you may want gear more focused towards elk hunting. Alot of different types of gear can work if you know how to be resourceful and creative with your setup. Cheap gear can do a lot more than many people give it credit; however, you need to use that cheap gear differently.

For example, if you have cheap boots and cheap socks, you can get by better if you bring several changes of socks and two pair of boots. This will help keep your feet fresh, warm, and blister free. If you have cheap base layers, you can stretch their capabilities by bringing a second pair with you to rotate at mid-day to keep you dry, warm, and reduce chaffing.  

When it comes to firearms, a lot of rifles will work just fine. You want something that you can accurate shoot out to 150-200 yards and has enough power at that range to bring down a black bear quickly. For example, a 30-30 is just a bit light at range, but still just fine close up. A .308 is perfect, a 30-06 is just as a perfect, as is a .270, 7mm magnum, and many other chamberings. 

Listen to the episode to hear all the details.

Black bear hunting is intense, both in the pursuit and the habitat. It can be tough to hunt where these bears reside, especially when it is wet and cold. On this episode I interview Alaska native and long time black bear enthusiast Jeff Lund about how to find and take down these amazing predators and what to do once you have a bear on the ground.

Part 1: Black Bear Hunting 101 – Why, Where, When, Strategy & More

Take Aways

  • Jeff Lund is the host of The Mediocre Alaskan podcast
  • Jeff also recently released the book A Miserable Paradise – Life In Southeast Alaska
  • Black bear hunting often takes you into cold wet conditions requiring waterproof gear and a critical need to stay warm
  • The ideal firearm to use for hunting black bears is one you are well practiced with and shoot with reliable accuracy under field conditions
  • Moderate powered rifles such as the .270 and and 30-06 are more than sufficient for black bear hunts at realistic ranges up to 300 yards
  • These bears are not typically a threat to humans under normal field conditions, but always put your safety first
  • Depending on the bear’s diet, the meat can be outstanding and is very versatile when ground
  • Listen to the episode to learn about the tactics, gear, field care and more

Black bears are one of the most impressive predators you can hunt in North America. They have a large and diverse home range which affords many opportunities to newer hunters. On this episode I interview Alaska native and long time black bear enthusiast Jeff Lund about how to get started hunting these amazing creatures.

Part 2: Black Bear Hunting Tactics, Gear, Shot Placement, Field Care & More

Take Aways

  • Jeff Lund is the host of The Mediocre Alaskan podcast
  • Jeff also recently released the book A Miserable Paradise – Life In Southeast Alaska
  • Black bears can grow to up to 350lbs in some areas
  • The best place to find black bears is around food sources, often by streams full of fish or in the higher elevations with good forage
  • These bears are not typically a threat to humans under normal field conditions, but always put your safety first
  • Seasons differ across the country but the closer the bears get to hibernating the more temperamental they may become
  • Listen to the episode to hear about how beginners can get into black bear hunting.