The 1 Thing You Learned- Bear Hunting

Oregon Hunter

Well Known Rokslider
Rokslide Sponsor
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
Messages
835
Location
Beaverton, Oregon
Hey Roksliders! I’m back with another installment of the “1 Thing” theme, this time focused on the rapidly expanding popularity of Bear Hunting. I think most of us make a mistake over and over again. We go on a hunt, but don’t make the effort to think critically about 1 thing we learned and will do different next time.

Think about it, how often do magazines write about a hunt, but fail to single out an action item to change in the future? Just 1 thing, maybe something you learned about elk behavior, your rifle setup, clothing, or camping system. We can consume all the information we want, but if we don’t change anything, did it really do us any good? I’d like to continue the series of discussions to get us in the habit of reviewing our hunt, and share highlights about the 1 thing we learned on a particular topic. To start, 1 thing I learned is about Bear Hunting.

In the Pacific Northwest we have plenty of black bears, but I learned the hard way just how fleeting opportunities can be. After days of glassing old clearcuts, I finally saw a black mass amble out of the creek bottom. By the time I finally unscrewed my spotting scope mount from the window and got my rifle rest ready, it had made its way behind some trees and was gone forever. As a quadriplegic my hands don’t work great so this gear transition took longer than it would for an able-bodied person, but I think we’ve all missed out by not being quick enough before. Now I'm going to use the new Spartan Pro Clamp so switching between optics and my rifle takes just two seconds. In the future I’m going to make a much greater effort to be able to switch between glassing and a rifle ready shooting position as fast as possible!

So what is the 1 thing you have learned about Bear Hunting?


Pro Clamp.jpg
 

rclouse79

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
1,136
Finding bears can be very easy or very hard depending on multiple factors I have not completely figured out yet. We got a bear three years in a row doing spot and stalk, and I was beginning to think it was relatively easy. There were trips we would see multiple bears in one evening. Last year we hit all the same spots the same time of year and it was a ghost town. I think I put more hours in last season than the previous three combined and only saw one bear, killing zero. I am itching to get out again this year and get a little redemption.
 
OP
Oregon Hunter

Oregon Hunter

Well Known Rokslider
Rokslide Sponsor
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
Messages
835
Location
Beaverton, Oregon
Finding bears can be very easy or very hard depending on multiple factors I have not completely figured out yet. We got a bear three years in a row doing spot and stalk, and I was beginning to think it was relatively easy. There were trips we would see multiple bears in one evening. Last year we hit all the same spots the same time of year and it was a ghost town. I think I put more hours in last season than the previous three combined and only saw one bear, killing zero. I am itching to get out again this year and get a little redemption.
So what you're saying is bears are kind of like salmon. They are either there or they're not. Maybe the lesson is that if you're in an area you know bears can consistently be, if you don't see them, then move on to a different area for the time being?
 

rclouse79

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
1,136
So what you're saying is bears are kind of like salmon. They are either there or they're not. Maybe the lesson is that if you're in an area you know bears can consistently be, if you don't see them, then move on to a different area for the time being?
We hit new areas too. Sometimes it is nice when your honey holes don’t pan out because it forces you to explore new country.
 

Oncorhynchus

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 26, 2019
Messages
27
This past summer was my first year bear hunting. I had many take aways, but the one that really stuck with me is being able to capitalize on their food source. Hunting western WA, finding a huntable source of black berries or huckleberries is crucial for seeing bears.
 
OP
Oregon Hunter

Oregon Hunter

Well Known Rokslider
Rokslide Sponsor
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
Messages
835
Location
Beaverton, Oregon
Find the food that they’re eating at that moment. Yep, find fresh scat and analyze it. Then go find that food source(s).

Do be prepared for them to change their food choice at the drop of the hat. This is when bears can change ZIP codes literally overnight.

Find the food that they’re eating at that moment. Yep, find fresh scat and analyze it. Then go find that food source(s).

Do be prepared for them to change their food choice at the drop of the hat. This is when bears can change ZIP codes literally overnight.
Can you describe the progression of food sources you've noticed within a hunting season?
 
OP
Oregon Hunter

Oregon Hunter

Well Known Rokslider
Rokslide Sponsor
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
Messages
835
Location
Beaverton, Oregon
Its ok to sleep in. My buddy and I have killed one every year for the last 7 years. One of my favorite hunts. I like how laid back and easy it is compared to Muley’s or Elk. We spot and stalk.
Do you see more bears midday, or do you find they move all day?
 
OP
Oregon Hunter

Oregon Hunter

Well Known Rokslider
Rokslide Sponsor
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
Messages
835
Location
Beaverton, Oregon
This past summer was my first year bear hunting. I had many take aways, but the one that really stuck with me is being able to capitalize on their food source. Hunting western WA, finding a huntable source of black berries or huckleberries is crucial for seeing bears.
Sounds like it's almost a game of hunting for food sources
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
2,336
Can you describe the progression of food sources you've noticed within a hunting season?
Here are a few examples.

AZ 2021 (hunted multiple parts of the state)
* Bears were hitting lush green grass (from monsoons) as most traditional food sources were not available due to extended drought and fires.
* Bears stopped eating grass and started hitting other available food sources that started to ripen. This was very location dependent. Bears traveled a healthy distance to hit ripe prickly pears, yucca fruit, wild raspberries, wild grapes, etc. Whatever was "on" they went to. The normal eat A, then B, then C, then D did not apply as it was a crazy year between the fires and the record monsoon.

AZ 2020
* Bears were primarily hitting acorns and juniper berries where I was hunting. Area mostly dried up and it coincided with archery elk season ending.
* Bears moved in and started eating the carrion (majority still had their racks). Put a camera (until ran out) on each elk carcass found and all had an assortment of bears coming in at various times. The "intact" carcasses had more activity than the "field dressed" carcasses. They went from herbivore to scavenger PDQ. Area dried up from a bear perspective not much later (assuming due to no more viable carcasses to eat). Did not go back after the other elk seasons ended to check.

AZ Few Years Ago
* Had bears dialed in one general location. This one area had juniper berries, manzanita beans, and acorns. All plentiful and the bears were happy.
* Had been capturing a ton of bear activity every day on all of my cameras. One week before season starts, every camera captured all of the bears going west (leaving the area). Prickly pear were on somewhere to the west (none within miles of where I was at). Zero bears captured on those same cameras for the next couple of months. Glassing and boots on the ground confirm that most, if not all bears, left that area. So they clearly found something else to eat once the pears were gone. Still have no idea where they went to and stayed.

AZ Few Years Ago (not the same year as the previous section)
* Was in the desert flats over 30 miles from the nearest mountains. Was quail hunting and saw tons of bear sign (scat and tracks). The scat was full of hackberries. Did startle one bear who damn near ran me over. Since Game and Fish says there are zero bears in that unit, never gone back to check to see if the bears hit that area on an annual basis.
 

PredatorSlayer

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
Messages
1,312
Do you see more bears midday, or do you find they move all day?
Evening, definitely evening. But we have killed them as early as 11am. Just real hit and miss during the day. My first bear hunt we got up at 4am like we were elk hunting and road horse way back in so we could be glassing at first light…lol. Never again.
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
2,336
Calling with a distress call can work at times and is a fun when you can see a bear and watch its reaction to the call. But it's the bear you don't see that you need to be concerned about. Keep your head on a swivel if you chose to call.
Yep. Do need to also look out for lions. Have tags for both if you can.
 
Top