Where to start?


Senior Member
Jun 6, 2012
I've never hunted spring bear. I'm quite honestly a turkey hunting fanatic and haven't given much thought to bear in the spring. However, I'm in Helena,MT now and I probably can't afford the travel required for me to get to one side of the state or the other every weekend to chase turkeys, so I'm going to try to get out some for bear.

Besides the obvious of glassing/looking for a bear. Where do I start looking for them in the spring. I know of a few areas that I found some sign last year in early summer while elk scouting, so I suppose I'll start there. I believe the season here in the Big Belts (same on the west side of town also) is Mid April to the end of May. There doesn't appear to be much snow in the mountains right now, so how does that affect the season? When will they most likely be up and about, mornings, evenings, mid-day? What are they feeding on at this time of year.


Jan 24, 2013
Bears need a few things right out of the den. Water and food are critical.
Usually, water and the best food in spring for bears (in mountain country) are found along the valley bottoms, along south or west facing slopes. Green grass gets going there first (an essential to get their system restarted after winter), and they will definitely key in on green grass patches. They will eat a lot of roots at this time (Hedysarum being one key plant, along with a number of willow species), which are usually abundant in the lower lying valley bottoms in conjunction with the green grass areas. Any winterkills are usually along the valley bottoms too, and a bear will defintely take advantage of these if there are any around. Basically, anywhere they can find an abundance of food, along with water, is a good bet for spring bear. I find these areas to be primarily near the valley bottoms.
As for time of day, in my experience, bears seem to be more active in early spring from mid-day to early evening.
This is what I've noticed along the eastern slopes of the Rockies. Hope this helps.