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What’s Bruin for Fall Black Bear Hunting

fall black bear hunting
Troy Rodakowski

Here are some fall black bear tips and tactics that work.

Fall is here and in full swing. Blackberries, huckleberries, salmon and service berries, hawthorn, apples, pears, honeycomb, wild nuts, spawning fish, nuts, grubs, fresh grass and the like are ripe for harvest. Hungry bears will be on the move, feeding and rooting about after a long, warm summer, trying to build fat reserves for the cold winter months ahead.

The highest bear traffic will be where feed and forage is most abundant. Bears will become even more visible during daylight hours as they travel between food banks. Black bears are opportunistic feeders and will grab whatever is easy and most abundant. These are just a few of the reasons why I always carry a bear tag when hunting for deer and elk in the autumn. Finding a good source of food that is high in fat, sugars or protein will be to your advantage in the fall when targeting bear.

Fall Hunting
Fall Hunting (Troy Rodakowski)

Whats bruin with fall black bears?

Specifically, the early morning and evenings are when they search for food sources and gorge themselves on nature’s bountiful harvest. In August, berries are becoming ripe throughout the state. Cold air and snow will arrive very soon across the vast majority of the continental U.S. Many bears will be found on slopes with southern exposure, where the sunlight is most abundant. Here, they will enjoy the warm rays of sunlight while feeding along hillsides and in draws.

Canyon bottoms are great places to find bears moving throughout the day. Most of these places are not easily accessible to humans and they feel safest in these locations.

Bears will be feeding in patches near the edge of clear cuts, ridges, small canyons, creek bottoms, marshes and meadows. Of course, bears will retreat to bigger old growth timber, especially once the sun is up. Finding isolated hillsides or clearings is ones best bet. These locations provide not only excellent feed but a place to temporarily warm their bodies.


According to Gary Lewis, author of Black Bear Hunting Expert Strategies for Success:

“To find a bear in the fall, hunt the food sources that are available. In September, hunt the high mountain meadows and old burns where huckleberries grow. On high, alpine mountains, small berry bushes such as crowberry, blueberry and blackberries.”

Lewis also points out that in October and November, when berry season has passed, bears will be searching for meat. This is an excellent time to try to call a bear. In addition, orchards, vineyards and other agricultural lands hold various delicacies bears salivate over during the fall. I have heard of bears digging under vineyard fencing to get to the grapes.

In fact, one producer had to keep filling in various holes on a regular basis until the grapes were all gone. These bears will be somewhat tougher to observe during daylight hours, due to the higher frequency of human activity. Harvest equipment, pickers and such keep bears away from these locations during legal shooting hours.

If a bear’s biological clock does not tell it that it’s time to hibernate, it will still be feeding until it feels there are enough fat stores to endure the long winter ahead. Do not give up on bagging your bruin just because it’s late in the season. They will be scraping the last morsels from the woods that they possibly can to aid in their survival.


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What’s Bruin for Fall Black Bear Hunting