Looking for some tips to help you out during spring bear season? Here are 4 things that I learned on my Washington spring bear hunt that might help you out.
It’s June and spring bear hunting season is now upon us in many parts of the United States. Bears are lots of fun to hunt, but they can be tricky animals and bagging a bear can be pretty difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Here are four lessons that I learned on my recent spring bear hunt in Washington that might help you fill your tag this year.
1. Control Your Scent
Controlling your scent may be the single most important factor in having a successful bear hunt. Bears have extremely sensitive noses (even more sensitive than a deer’s nose). They are also pretty smart and no mature bear will hang around long if they smell something amiss.
Though they probably won’t hurt, no amount of scent-killing clothing or spray will keep a bear from smelling you if the wind is wrong. Regardless if you are hunting over bait or via walk and stalk, watch the wind and only hunt when it is in your favor. If you will be stationary during your bear hunt, using a portable ozone machine can also be helpful.
2. Camouflage Everything
Especially when hunting them in thickly wooded areas, spring bear hunts often take place at close range. Bears also have pretty good eyesight. These two factors make full camouflage a must. While it is not 100% essential to use a brand name camouflage, you should at least wear dark colors that somewhat resemble your surroundings.
Bright colors and anything that is shiny should be avoided. Wear gloves and a face mask. Don’t forget about camouflaging your equipment. For instance, the barrel on my muzzleloader (above) is silver colored, so I covered it in camouflage wrap on my recent hunt.
3. Learn Proper Bear Shot Placement
Though black bears aren’t usually dangerous to humans, they are quite capable of severely injuring or killing a person if they are so inclined. With this in mind, the last thing that you want to do is wound a bear and have to follow it into some thick woods, especially at night.
To avoid this, you’ve got to place your shots properly. While a bear’s anatomy is similar to the anatomy of a deer, it is not quite the same. This video does a very good job of breaking down the internal structure of a bear and showing exactly where you need to place your shot.
4. Hunt from Ground Blind or Treestand
This tip works best if you are on a spring bear hunt where bear baiting is legal. Hunting from a blind or treestand can help minimize your scent and make you less visible to the bear.
If you are inside some sort of enclosed blind, you still need to be quiet and move as little as possible, though you’ve got a little more room for error and you don’t have to be completely still, like you would if you were sitting completely exposed on the ground. An elevated stand also has the advantage of increasing your field of view by getting you above the vegetation on the ground.
Good luck this spring!