Congratulations to Wyatt Colby and Pablo on a job well done! Hunting bugling bulls with bow and arrow is one of the finest experiences in the Idaho woods….
Another great bear season has come and gone and I’m reminded of all the good aspects in the sport of hunting.
It’s not only the thrill of the hunt that endears us to the sport, but also the comradery with our friends and basic appreciation of the outdoors that holds hunting so near and dear to our hearts.
Sometimes I see fellow sportsmen who are so consumed with filling a tag that the quality of the experience hinges upon whether they punch a tag or not. In my mind they’ve missed the boat. They are basically cheating themselves out of all the different, wonderful aspects of our sport that many folks never get to experience.
So next time when you’re out there in the wilds, remember to stop and smell the pines, appreciate the beauty of sunset and enjoy time spent with a good friend. Then when you fill that tag it’s just icing on the cake!
It’s bear season! Can you give me any tips that might help me bag a bruin this spring?
I am one of those fellows who genuinely enjoy the spring bear hunt, whether it be in Alaska or here in the good old Clearwater mountains. For me, it’s not just about the animal, but also a special time of year when optimism is vibrant in the air. Spring brings renewed hope and vigor to all of nature’s creations, especially after a winter such as the one we just endured.
If you are looking to become a successful bear hunter, you must first learn to think like a bear. To accomplish this initial task, there are two key habitual characteristics every hunter must always keep in mind. Most bears prefer not to awaken before 10:00 a.m. and enjoy any and all food items that don’t require much effort, on their part, to obtain. With these qualities, one might surmise a run for county commissioner is not out of the realm of possibility, but the bear is not an overly ambitious creature and his tendency to remain concealed would probably preclude any attempts at public office.
The three most popular methods of bear hunting are generally, spot-and-stalk, baiting and pursuit with hounds. Considering not everyone has a pack of bear dogs, let’s concentrate on the first two methods, keeping our unique characteristics in mind.
During the early weeks of spring, bruins emerge from the den and look to feed on the fresh green growth that can be found on most southern facing hillsides or avalanche areas. This is where I would concentrate the spot-and-stalk method. Find yourself a high vantage point with as large a field of view as possible, then glass until your eyes are tired and glass some more. Once you’ve located a bear out grazing, then make your move into ethical shot distance. I’ve always had more luck in the evening with this method, but that’s not to say you can’t get lucky in the morning as well.
Baiting is another option we have in Idaho and it’s a very effective tool in bear management. It may be more time- consuming and expensive, but tends to get results as it focuses on a bear’s tendency to seek out an easy meal. I prefer bait locations in heavy cover as bears tend to feel more comfortable coming to and from the bait in a concealed manner. They are not persnickety eaters and enjoy a myriad of different table fare. Pastries, leftovers, anything greasy, it all mostly works if your bait location is well chosen and you keep the bait replenished in a timely fashion. I do highly recommend you check your regulations though, as there are precise rules that you must adhere to when it comes to baiting. Distance from a maintained road or year-round creek are a couple of important ones. Also, the use of wild game on baits is prohibited. So do yourself a favor and go over the regs.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about bears is that they possess an unrivaled sense of smell. This is a factor you must always keep in mind when placing your tree stand over bait. Take some time to discover which direction the prevailing wind likes to blow and set your stand with the wind in your face. Likewise, you must always stay upwind when stalking a bruin or eventually his wonderful sniffer will pinpoint you and he’ll fade into the shadows as fast as he appeared.
With the knowledge that a bear’s olfactory sense is ridiculously keen, now comes, perhaps, the most difficult part of bear hunting. No matter how tempting it becomes to stop by Seasons Restaurant before the hunt and indulge your insatiable appetite with a hot, steaming bowl of Dakota Sabatino’s scrumptious navy been soup, do yourself a favor and quell your hunger until after the evening’s foray into the woods. The only scent wafting through the cool mountain air should be emanating from your bait! If you are looking to gain a few brownie points with the wife, treat her to a generous helping upon you return. She’ll appreciate the gesture, at least until bedtime, but unfortunately we’ve run out of time to discuss the intricacies of dutch oven cooking in this week’s column.
Thanks again for your question Earl, and good luck this spring,
Black bear shot placement is a subject that doesn’t receive enough attention in my opinion. When it comes to bears, it’s not just as simple as put the crosshair behind the shoulder and pull the trigger.
Bears are notoriously tough and will take the lead a considerable distance 9 times out of 10. For this reason I prefer to try and catch a shoulder on the exit side of the animal. If you can enter through the lung or heart and exit through the shoulder, typically with one wheel out of commission he may not travel quite as far after the hit. I’m not quite as big a fan of hitting the entry shoulder, as I have seen several deflections off that heavy shoulder bone where the bullet never entered the vitals.