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.
I’m not so sure about the getting down to chase off a sow and cubs thing? Takes some big balls and often hunters confuse first year cubs and yearlings and in our area if you are chasing both off you would be doing a lot of getting down and chasing off...and most won’t leave anyway. I think I would just sit tight but that’s just my 2 cents.
Listen to your guide and wait for the right shot...
A Thermacell is a must have. Give yourself time in your travels to pick up the cartridges before getting in camp. Your outfitter may have plenty laying around, too. If you're flying and hunting around the Peace River, fly to Grande Prairie. It's completely worth the connection versus driving in from Edmonton. There is also a sporting goods store in town for cartridges, bear spray, etc..
In the stand, don't worry about scent. They know you're there. That stated, I do consider them leery of movement. I believe the baiting gets them acclimated to human scent (to a degree) but the bigguns' don't tolerate the visual confirmation. That's just one man's educated opinion. That's why a Thermacell is so important. without it, your swatting and swatting is no bueno.
Only take double lung shots. I don't care who says otherwise. A double lunged bear goes down fairly quickly if not in sight. A single lunged or liver hit bear won't be recovered by very many human trackers. Don't worry about the ribs; they are soft, imo. Stay away from the front shoulders and you'll get a pass through. There is absolutely no reason to rush a shot, anyway.
Judging bears is flat tough unless they are obviously huge. The old trick of judging their backlines against the height of the barrel can be misleading as bears and barrels aren't always at the same grade. The better metric is whether or not the bear will fit in the barrel (assuming it is a 55 gallon barrel). If you couldn't stuff it in the barrel, let 'er rip.
One last tip, if you're sitting a stand and hear a bear pulling or snapping trees but unwilling to come in, let your outfitter know you want to hunt the same stand the following evening. :)
Alberta is a great time. You should see a bunch of bears. Good luck.
How many thermacell cartridges are you going thru for a 6day hunt? Assuming six hunts 7-8hour each
In Manitoba, probably a bit further south than you will be in Alberta, I figure one butane cartridge per evening and two dispersal "Pads". Don't quite finish the butane cartridge or the second pad. Each evening is about 6 hours +/-. I take a spare thermacell unit along as well as four "Pads" and four butane cartridges. Probably overkill but they don't weigh much and take up very little space and I really don't want to get caught outside in the evening without protection.
Agree with the seat cushion recommendation. You'll be hunting evenings and it's usually a long sit. A head net will keep the mosquitoes away from your face. Take a couple of fishing rods with you. The fishing can be incredible.
If driving to Canada can you take bear spray and thermocell cartridges or do they need to be purchased in Canada?
Does having a two person setup lesson your chances of having big old boars come in due to scent, movement, etc?
A broadside diagram of "the middle of the middle" shot placement would be appreciated. I can't imagine it is where my mind's eye has it.
If you are driving into Canada thermacell gas cartridges are OK to bring along. The issue is with the airlines, not Canada. The airlines don't want such flammable materials on the aircraft and neither do you.
Matt, I tell my hunters to shoot the bear 2-4 inches behind the shoulder, just below the midline top to bottom. No heart shots, the bear ain’t ducking. It’s easier to understand.
momma and the baby's will leave when a big boar is coming in,and I actually shot the first bear I seen but it was on the second day! I let him walk the first day because I was told don't shot the first bear you see he was a record book bear at 18 9/16, seems to me the big bears eat first? if they're coming up the ladder pour water in there face and they will leave ,if your scent is blowing strait at the barrel its not good they'll booger out most times! bug nets a must ! thermacells are ok and do work as long as the winds not to strong! I've found bears don't like strong wind and they'll hole up! move slow in the stand, let them come in and get comfortable with you sitting in they're living room ..big bears will typically circle a few times before coming in where little ones rush right in! big bears don't rub or climb trees …..last thing I can think of is be ready to shoot when the guide leaves, the sounds he makes baiting the barrel is a dinner bell to them and 20 minutes tops and you start seeing black movement in the bush BE READY they're sleeping probably 100 yrds from the bait that's my experience in the 6 years I've been hunting baited bears good luck be safe and aim lower then you think you should your shooting down hill
Be aware that bears many time circle a bait before they ever come to bait. Be patient and let the bears come to the bait. Then evaluate size and shot opportunity.
Sitting still is paramount- a bear is the quietest animal I’ve ever hunted. The can appear like a ghost out of nowhere.
As above stated, take a fishing pole and enjoy some good fishing if you are camping close to a lake.