Seems the trick it to locate them then call rather than blind call. Like getting in a bull's personal space. Gotta make it so close it's hard to pass up such an easy meal.
Before I actually tried to call them intentionally this season. I had called them in a lot during turkey hunts unintentionally. Seems like any sound can trigger their curiosity. And a few of the bears I tried to call weren't nterested in having to kill something over a ton of acorns. Even with trying a lot of different sounds.
If you can set up on a lone water source that you know there is bear sign then it'd probably be more efficient. They can hit it at any time.
Now I've try calling to see if they would respond when I would see them by chance deer hunting and yes it will work sometimes and sometimes they just stop look and keep walking the way they were heading. For the ones that do respond.. I think bear have a short interest in calling. If you stop calling they loose intrested real fast. I think this is do to the fact that they hunt 98% with there nose. So if you got one coming dont stop calling till you take the shot. Ed
My head swiveled from side to side at every sound coming from the slowly waking dense oak brush and pine forest that surrounded me. The low light of the morning and the dark shadows it created had me on pins and needles and even though it was a cool morning, sweat was on my forehead and my hands were moist. Every dark shadow, rock or stump took on the appearance of a bear. I was on the ground in a make shift blind with bow and arrow in one hand and a predator call in the other. By sounding like an injured fawn deer, I was advertising that I was on the menu and the kitchen door was open!
Twenty minutes had passed since I had started broadcasting agonizing fawn bleats and screams into the surrounding forest. I had begun calling with just a few whimpers, as not to startle any close by bears, and as time elapsed, I increased the volume of the bleats and screams, giving out my best imitations of a hurt fawn. Knowing that bears may not respond as vigorously as other predators, I continued to call with only thirty seconds to a minute between sequences. I was prepared to call up to an hour if needed.
The wind current, steady in my face, was being funneled down the wide ravine that I was hiding in. Before me was a large opening in the oak brush landscape and beyond that were aspen and pine tree mixed hillsides. Scattered among these trees were bushes filled with choke cherries, another favorite Fall bear food in addition to the acorns. Bears will eat almost anything to put on the fat for their winter survival and hibernation and acorns and berries are at the top of their list. I was betting that a fawn deer might be their second choice!
For the tenth time, I had just investigated another suspicious sound from behind me and had then returned my eyes to the front, when I spotted the bear forty yards away and he was swaggering right towards me. This bear meant business and he was responding to my dinner bell. His head was down, his fur was bristled, his eyes were narrow and he had not made a sound.
Bears are more difficult to hunt in Colorado than in the past. Ten years ago, Spring bear hunting was allowed and hunting over a bait and the use of bear dogs was popular. That all ended and the population of bears increased and many mountains towns were targeted by bears as a good food source especially during years when their natural food was not available because of drought. Bear hunting is allowed in the Fall and archers, muzzleloaders and rifle hunters can participate in a special September bear season. New tactics have been developed by Colorado hunters and those tactics include spot and stalking, hunting over a succulent berry patch or hunting in the vicinity of an oak brush thicket filled with acorns. Hunters have been doing well with an average harvest of six hundred bears per year. I had been utilizing these tactics during the past few weeks to no avail and the archery season was coming to a close in just a few days. This September had been hot and dry and it was very difficult not to make noise while stalking through the thick oak brush countryside, so I chose to remain stationary and try my ace in the hole, my Quaker Boy Distressed Fawn call.
I had learned a few hints that would be useful while predator calling for bears: 1. Keep calling up to an hour as bears take their time coming in and may lose interest if you delay calling too long between calling sets or quit calling all together. 2. The hunter must keep his vigilence up! Usually after twenty minutes there is a tendency for the hunter to believe that there is not a bear in the area and the hunter gets uncomfortable and starts to move around or even leaves. This bear and the mountain lion I called in two years ago, both took twenty minutes to materialize, so get comfortable from the onset and stick it out. 3. The best condition for calling is to visually spot a bear, so position yourself within a hundred yards down wind and try to work the bear into range. The second condition would be to scout an area and find fresh bear sigh such as bear scat and tracks, especially around a water source. Other evidence that a bear may be in the area is broken limbs from oak brush trees and choke cherry bushes. This second condition was how I prepared to bear hunt on this last weekend of the season. I constructed a small blind next to a large pine tree down wind from the bear’s kitchen, cleared out all possible litter from the bottom of the blind, and then settled in at first light with high hopes that a bear was at home.
He was indeed at home and now only forty yards away and closing. I only moved my hand slightly to recover my bow that was leaning against a tree and the bear stopped. I know he saw the movement but I was well camouflaged and the bear continued forward but tried to circle to my right. At twentyfive yards, the bear emerged from behind a blow-down. I fawn bleated with my mouth, released the arrow, and a second later the blood stained arrow was sticking in the ground on the opposite side of the bear. The bear spun in his tracks, bit at the impact area, and then lunged up and disappeared over the hill.
Rocking back on my heels, I just sat there in amazement and pondered what had just taken place. It was the last weekend of the bear season. I had been hunting hard, 24/7, and with only one day remaining, I had just called in and harvested a bear. No doubt, I was extremely excited and it had all come right down to the wire. After waiting an hour, I followed the well-marked trail for seventy yards and found him dead just over the hill. He was a two hundred pound cinnamon-phase of the black bear that would later score a PY measurement of 16 2/16.
If you have been convinced that the only way to archery hunt bears is with dogs or over a bait pile, think again! This archery hunt proves that there is more than one way to hunt bears to be successful and that is to attract them, archery close, with a call that emulates a hurt animal. But remember, that hurt animal is you, so keep a sharp eye open for an up-close and very personal encounter with a very hungry predator! While I chose to hunt off of the ground, a tree stand is surely a welcome option for this type of hunting. As a safety measure, I placed a can of bear-pepper spray, within easy reach.
A few events made this hunt special. I was hunting on public land without a guide. The archery equipment I used was the same equipment that I had harvested seven of the Colorado big game species with, during the previous eleven years (whitetail and mule deer, mountain sheep, mountain goat, mountain lion, pronghorn and elk). The event that was really special was that this bear represented the final species of the Colorado Archery Big Eight. I was to become the fifty-first archer to do so.
About The Author: Paul has been hunting all of his life and began his early outings in the duck marshes of northern Ohio back in the mid-1950s. An avid and passionate bowhunter, he fell in love with the wide expanses and rugged mountains of Colorado in the late 1980s and moved to Colorado in 1992 where he and his wife Tricia owned and operated a tourist lodge on Lake Granby until 2001. He has now retired, but as he states, “not from life.” He has now completed the Big Eight and has made numerous trips out of state for deer and turkeys and even a Coos Deer buck from Arizona last year. Paul is very active with the Colorado Bowhunter Association and is on the Board of Directors and is the Liaison between the CBA and the Colorado Division of Wildlife and writes a DOW column for the CBA magazine. Paul also states that, “all bowhunters should be part of the solution to protect their bowhunting opportunities and they should join and support their state organization or any other state bowhunting organization where they hunt!”
Equipment used: Bow-Oregon Compound Arrows-Easton 2413 Broadheads- 125 gr. Thunderheads Release-Truefire Camouflage- Predator Predator Call- Quaker Boy Binocular-Cabela’s Alaskan guide Boots-Rocky Boots
The next weekend I hiked in a drainage that held water and the oaks were producing acorns. I found fresh bear droppings and cold called a couple of sets but the running water may have blocked some of the sound, or perhaps there were no bears within earshot.
I hiked perhaps another quarter mile down the drainage, heard a noise, and turned to see the rear of a bear ghosting into the brush about 80 yards away. I nocked an arrow and began calling. I could see the bear in the brush with my binos. He sat and looked toward me, then began angling downstream. I am unsure why he headed that way, as he should have gone upstream to catch my scent based on the way the breeze was going. I stalked slowly and occasionally called as our paths converged. Finally I had a shooting lane and I shot him at 40-yards broadside when he stepped into the opening. Slick Trick entered behind the front leg, shattered the offside humerus bone, bear "woofed" and stumbled off, dead in 50-yards.
My first bear, meat has proven to be delicious, 6'-6" nose to tail with skull well above P&Y minimum.