Contributors to this thread:
1st Time Black Bear Hunters Alberta-HELP
Myself & 4 buddies are headed up to Northern Alberta in the middle of May this year. We're all long time deer hunters from the Midwest but none of us know anything about bear hunting. Any advice on things to do or NOT to do would be greatly appreciated. Paperwork, cover scent, movement, sitting out the rains, best moon phase if it affects bears, camp stuff, anything that's relevant that I'm not thinking of. We'll be in a walled tent camp
Number one thing you need are Thermacells……..
Thermacell units are bought. i'm told we're supposed to buy the cartridges once we arrive in Canada due to them being restricted items for flying.
Yes, you do need to pickup the cartridges in Canada if you are flying.
The Thermacells are a must! Maybe you're outfitter can supply cartridges to save you the hassle of finding them?
Get access to a bear target and practice shooting it in the right location, both broadside and quartering away. Your outfitter will handle the rest.
Read, and re-read the Thread on "Judging Bears" some really good stuff in there. Don't rush the shot, you usually have plenty of time, so wait for a good angle.
I assume you guys are going on a guided hunt, LISTEN TO YOUR GUIDE. More harm has done by trying to outthink the guide than you can imagine. They want you to be successful, their reputation and business depend on it.
Watch a lot of videos before you go and take a lot of pictures!
Find out about things to do in the mornings like fishing, as most Baited Hunts hunt the afternoons.
Take a look at where the vitals are; different than the deer you're used to.
Biggest complaints from Bear Outfitters is misjudging size of bears, and wounding bears. Take care of those two controllables on your end, and you're paying for the rest. Enjoy Canada!
Don’t shoot the first bear! You need to see a couple to tell size.
Also stay away from the shoulder. None of that silly TV whitetail “heart” shot they wait overnight to recover either. Aim Middle of the middle with a big blade will kill fast.
Watched a ton of videos, read the judging bears thread & all the bowsite sponsor bear threads from 2019. All very informative. We are beyond excited to see Canada and all its beauty. Do hunters need scent remover or do the bears always know your there?
"Do hunters need scent remover....?"
Only out of respect for the other hunters around you :)
I’ve arrowed five black bears and one brown bear. Never used any scent remover. I doubt it works anyway.
Thanks guys keep the advice coming. I'm that one guy in the group that talked everyone into going so I kind of feel an obligation to do most of the upfront preparations to make sure we start out on the right foot, then them & the outfitter have to do the rest. Seems like every group has that guy.
X2 on not busting the first one you see unless you have the size judging thing figured out. With any luck, someone else in camp will get one and you guys can get up close and personal to it and observe the various characteristics of small/medium/big bears, male/female, etc.
Most guides I've ran into up there are pretty sharp and will go the extra mile to help you be successful. Try not to "guide the guide". If the guide(s) are less than professional, bring it up to the outfitter. Be patient on the baits if the guides say there is a decent one coming in. If you do not see any daytime bears big or small whatsoever in the first day or so at the same bait, ask the guide to set you up with another bait. Nocturnal bears do you no good. Along that lines....do not leave your foreign scent at the bait. Use a piss bottle, no smoking, don't leave candy/food wrappers at the stand. I wouldn't walk up to the bait to check it out either....unless you're on a semi-DIY type hunt.
My perspective on these guided hunts is you spent alot of coin and vacation time and you're there to hunt, not goof off or hit the booze till all hours of the night.....unless you tag out early and are waiting on the rest of the party to fill tags.
Bring a fishing pole if the opportunity presents itself.
If you are hunting a baited site the bears will always know you are there, scent i would say is still a factor but i wouldn't say scent remover is absolutely crucial, hunting the correct winds would be more crucial for scent. Sit as still as possible in the stand, the less movement the better as your movement can make a bear very uncomfortable and it will leave and simply return after dark, Or in the case of some younger bears they may get curious and want to investigate. Listen to your guides and outfitter, they spend a lot of time in the bush with these bears along with reviewing a massive amount of trail camera footage and will most likely know the bears patterns. (if it's a bear that basically lives at the bait site or only comes around every few days, or only comes in on sunny days etc. etc.) Thermacell will be a must in Northern Alberta but i would highly suggest bringing a bug net for over your head as well, keeps the bugs from driving you crazy. Practice shooting at a bear target out of a tree stand, it will make you much more comfortable with your shot when the time comes. Enjoy the hunt and good luck
34 hunts, 16 bear taken with a bow and I will never believe that a hunter can sit 12-20 yards from a bears dinner table and it not know you are there. The one's you see are not the one's you fooled. The one's you see are the one's that don't care you are there. The one's you don't see are the one's that cared you were there.
These things know that humans frequent the site. They count on it. If humans stop coming to the site so will the bears.
Movement is something else, don't be moving and getting them on alert or agitated, but scent is a different thing all together.
Rob or Mike may feel differently and they would sure have the experience to validate it if they did.
Does anyone have pics with proper shot placement illustrations from various angles?
Boubound has it right. I would add that bears have excellent hearing so stay as quiet as possible after your guide leaves. Big bears will often look you over then turn and walk away. Usually they dont go far and then return and commit to the bait. I hate to think how many times hunters have made poor shots when they rushed it. “I thought he was leaving so I ripped one at him”. There is nothing easier to kill than a bear if you hit him right and nothing tougher if you don’t. Be patient wait for a good shot; all 4 feet on the ground standing broadside or QA. Dont shoot them laying down or standing upright no matter how tempting in my experience it ends badly way too often. Good luck have fun.
Insure all of you have correct passports and if anyone has any prior convictions, check and make sure they are cleared
Both Bou & I know of a guy, trying to cross int Canada and he was sent straight back, no hunt for him.
Have a blast!
That’s awesome man! Hope you guys have a great trip and kill Some bears. In no particular order... 1. Go slow. Bear hunts allow lots of down time. Take it in. Sounds like your with friends so enjoy the company. 2. I’m in the middle of middle camp. Lost a few tight to the shoulder. Every bear shot middle died quick. 3. Practice close shots! 4. Wait for really really good looks. Don’t rush the shot on a marginal look. If he gets to the bait, he’s there for a reason and will be around for a bit. Unless he’s a giant and your hunting the rut, those big bears only care about one thing and it ain’t donuts! Know the bears in the area and if there a hot sow on bait. Your outfitter should help you with that info. . He doesn’t want you to kill a small one. 5. If your hunting an area where you’re looking for 19” bears the space between the ears should be around8”- 9”. That’s similar to the spread from my pinky to thumb when I make the hang loose symbol. If that makes sense?!
Like Bou said, don't let them see you move and don't scare off the small bears, however if a sow and cubs come in do everything you can to scare her off or she will ruin you hunt, last year I had a sow and cubs more in, I got down, chased them off, climbed back up and here comes a booner, grabbed my bow and killed it, it would have never come in if she was there.
There is a lot of good advice here, I would also suggest that you take a quality seat cushion with you. If you are in an uncomfortable stand, it will make the hunt a little more enjoyable. I also believe that a large open on impact broadhead is ideal for bears. I generally shoot fixed blade heads, but bears are the exception for me. The chances of recovery on a marginally hit bear increase dramatically with a large open on impact head, just food for thought! Other than that, enjoy the trip, it likely won't be your last.