These are five facts every serious black bear hunter needs to know.
Black bear hunting is a growing and evolving hobby, and more and more Americans are picking up on the practice. If you’re getting bored with whitetails, looking for something new, or even an avid black bear hunter looking for more information, these five facts can help in the long run.
1. Their scientific name is Ursus americanus for a reason.
Black bears are in every northern state, all provinces and many eastern and western states. Many people don’t realize there are bears in Florida, and there have even been sightings in Texas. Black bears are smallest bears in North America, and also the most populated. Numbers have been on the rise across the United States. Some of the biggest bears are found in the swamps and coastal areas of North Carolina. Black bear hunting opportunities are more widespread than ever.
2. In most places, black bears can be hunted in spring or fall.
In states and provinces with cold winters, April, May and June are a time when black bears have long and heavy coats in prime condition. Maine is a well established destination for black bear where the hunting season starts on the third Monday in August. During the first 30-days days of the season, baiting is permitted. After that hunting with bait, with dogs and even trapping are permitted. Some areas in Canada allow for two black bears to be taken during the same season and with the same license.
3. Black bears are not always black.
The color, also known as the pelage, can vary from region to region. The color can vary from whitish-yellow to brown to cinnamon and of course black. Some black colored bears will have a white patch or a white crest, usually on the upper chest or neck.
4. They aren’t all that big.
Many hunters are surprised to find out that the average black bear taken on a hunt ranges from 125 to 300 pounds. A lot of hunters think black bears are typically much heavier. Occasionally, black bears are killed by hunters that weigh in excess of 500 pounds. Record book bears have been reported to weigh into the 700-pound range, but this is far from typical and in fact extremely rare. Sows increase in weight for about six years while boars will continue to gain weight for twice that long. Cubs stay with sows for approximately 17 month so sometimes older cubs can be just as big as their mother.
More from Wide Open Spaces
5. Black bears often have quick, definitive reactions to foreign stimuli.
What does that mean? Let’s compare whitetail deer to black bear. When a deer hears a noise or gets a whiff of an odor, it usually freezes and looks toward the sound or smell. The deer may then quietly and methodically leave the area. In contrast, when a bear sees, hears or smells something concerning, it immediately goes into high gear and leaves the area. There is no pausing, looking back or attempting to locate the source. Something as seemingly insignificant as clicking off a rifle safety will often cause a bear to take off like a rocket.
Now that you know a little more about them, planning a black bear hunt should be in your near future. Get in on the exciting experience and you’ll likely find a game animal that’s just as appealing as anything else.