Mathews Inc.
Bowhunting Colorado Bears
Bears
Contributors to this thread:
midwest 15-Feb-20
Ambush 15-Feb-20
JohnMC 15-Feb-20
Grey Ghost 15-Feb-20
cnelk 15-Feb-20
Ursman 15-Feb-20
sticksender 15-Feb-20
Paul@thefort 15-Feb-20
wooddamon1 15-Feb-20
midwest 15-Feb-20
otcWill 15-Feb-20
Paul@thefort 15-Feb-20
JTreeman 15-Feb-20
Buglmin 16-Feb-20
cnelk 16-Feb-20
Whocares 16-Feb-20
Highway Star 16-Feb-20
midwest 16-Feb-20
Ermine 16-Feb-20
Jaquomo 16-Feb-20
MathewsMan 16-Feb-20
cnelk 16-Feb-20
BB 16-Feb-20
midwest 16-Feb-20
iceman 17-Feb-20
Orion 17-Feb-20
From: midwest
15-Feb-20
So hearing how parts of Colorado are thick with bears and tags are cheap, what if a guy wanted to come out and specifically target bears for a week or two in September? How would you hunt them? Sit water? Spot and stalk? Set up a treestand overlooking your camp waiting for them to raid your cooler?

I would consider doing something like this in early September before hunting elk elsewhere if it was feasible.

From: Ambush
15-Feb-20
Calling is also an option. Not sure if electronic calls are legal there, but that can take the focus off the shooter. And sometimes bears just wander slowly toward a call. Not allowed electronic for bears in BC and it gets real tiring blowing a call steady for half an hour. But sometimes they charge right in too.

From: JohnMC
15-Feb-20
I have killed 3 during archery season. All were over a waterhole. Bears being thick is over stating it. Maybe more than 20 years ago not enough bears to expect to go out and see bears regularly. I don't think you would have a lot of luck glasses and spot and stocking. Doable but tough to see enough to have many opportunities to put on stocks. Better place to go on a bear hunt but worth paying for a bear tag if you already going to be there hunting elk. Electronic calls are not legal for bears.

From: Grey Ghost
15-Feb-20

Grey Ghost's Link
No electronic calls for big game in Colorado.

The CPW website actually has some decent information on hunting bears in Colorado. If I were strictly targeting bears in September, I'd find lower country with water and berries. Bears seem to especially like choke cherries in the areas I'm familiar with. But I'm certainly no expert. Others will offer more advise, I'm sure.

Matt

From: cnelk
15-Feb-20
I buy a bear tag every year just so I don’t see a bear

From: Ursman
15-Feb-20
Find a ranch or farm with fruit trees. Set up a blind or tree stand. You might find a rancher that would like the bear(s) taken out. Not hard to find sign around fruit trees. Or you may get lucky and ask permission of a rancher that just might have an area where he buries or dumps dead livestock. Pretty sure hunting that way be legal as long as the animal is not. placed there specifically for the purpose of hunting over it. You can hunt over an elk gut pile as long as you don’t move it or tie it down. Check with the CPW to be sure. Seems to me it’s the same idea. I could be wrong, but rarely, LOL!

From: sticksender
15-Feb-20
Sitting isolated waterholes all day can be productive if you've got the patience. Another option is to create your own perfectly legal bait site by first harvesting an elk or deer and then sit over the ribcage/gutpile. Legal to do as long as you don't lash it down or move it's location. I've seen stalkable bears feeding in serviceberries and oak brush, but never when I had a tag in pocket.

By the way you'll notice a lot of Bear tags are B-list and some are C-list, meaning you may have the option to shoot multiple bears.

From: Paul@thefort
15-Feb-20

Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
the last weekend of the archery elk season, I called this bear to within bow range. Used a Quaker Boy Fawn in distress call. I had seen fresh bear sign in the area.
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
the last weekend of the archery elk season, I called this bear to within bow range. Used a Quaker Boy Fawn in distress call. I had seen fresh bear sign in the area.

From: wooddamon1
15-Feb-20
LOL @ cnelk! I stumbled onto bears while elk or turkey hunting, but never had a tag for them.

From: midwest
15-Feb-20
Exciting, Paul!

From: otcWill
15-Feb-20
Nick, holler if you'd like to kill a Colorado bear. You'll just have to ignore the bugling :)

From: Paul@thefort
15-Feb-20

Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Nick, my bear calling adventure
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Nick, my bear calling adventure
FINAL EIGHT

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 vigilance 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 twenty five 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.

From: JTreeman
15-Feb-20
I know the title says Colorado bears, but have you considered WY bears? Wyoming is right next to Colorado ;)

Legal to bait, affordable tags, quotas can be a little bit of a pain in the butt though. Just a thought.

—Jim

From: Buglmin
16-Feb-20
I live in sw Colorado, and hunt bear every year. I don't always kill one, but not because I didn't have the opportunity, just haven't seen one worth killing. Parts of Colorado are loaded with bear, some areas aren't. We had a bad year last year, with over 77% of the bears killed here in September being 150 pound bear or smaller. The big bears that we had on camera disappeared on us early September. Hunting pressure pushed them onto private.

Everyone hunts fall bear over ponds now a days, and the fight over waterholes is ridiculous. You can't leave a stand up over night, and if you do, anyone can use it, legally. And if you become a jerk and make threats, you can actually be arrested for assault. You have to have your contact name written on the stand big enough so officers can read it from the ground. Spot and stalk bears in the oak brush is fun, as well as finding them in chokecherry thickets. But you gotta do your scouting to find the areas the bears are using. Don't come out here expecting to see bear everywhere, and make sure you're here for seven to ten days. It's usually not as easy as most guys say...

From: cnelk
16-Feb-20
@Buglmin - the tree stand rule applies to State owned wildlife properties- not NF.

From: Whocares
16-Feb-20
Congrats Paul! Thanks for a great story. Could feel your apprehension and caution hunting from the ground. A lion or bear could have paid you a visit! Kinda the feeling I had last Fall when I discovered a lion circling me for 20 minutes while calling elk in the evening! I found myself looking behind me more than normal!

From: Highway Star
16-Feb-20
If you call bears solo it will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, but isn't that why we do it. Scott

From: midwest
16-Feb-20
Great story, Paul!

From: Ermine
16-Feb-20
I buy a bear tag every year. In 22 years of hunting I’ve only been able to kill 2. I hardly ever see them when out actually hunting. I’ve even sat on gut piles etc

Some areas are better than others due to densities. I have a buddy who shoots a bear over water almost every year.

From: Jaquomo
16-Feb-20
Same as Ermine. I've only killed one, and that was by calling with a lost calf call. SW CO is way better than the part of the state I hunt.

As an aside, I've had cameras on waterholes in bear country for thousands of hours and have only ever gotten two photos of a bear, FWIW

From: MathewsMan
16-Feb-20
The waterhole spot we hunted 25 years I rarely even saw a bear unless it was coming into camp after our trash in the middle of the night. The I started shooting any mule deer or elk before the last weekend and setting a tree stand up over the gutpile. Bears came out of the woodworks, it actually ruined the elk hunting over water because of all the bears in the area.

From: cnelk
16-Feb-20
This sow and cubs came running into my cow mews while elk hunting

From: BB
16-Feb-20

BB's embedded Photo
BB's embedded Photo
Nick, I used to hunt Colorado for elk for many years. In those day a guy could just purchase a bear tag. I think they have changed that now, but I may be wrong. Do you have bear points? I used to sit treestands a lot, as I like to take photos of what was happening, and I quite often saw bears.

Here's a fun story about one bear I took while elk hunting.

My daughter's birthday is Sept. 14th and my hunting partner wanted to go early with his 12 or 13 year old son for the opening of the muzzleloader season, but I told him I had to stay for my daughters birthday part and than I would drive over after the party.

I got to our camp very late and there was about 6 six inches of snow and it was a cold night for that time of year. They had my cot all set up and I quietly snuck in, took my clothes off and got in bed. Then my hunting partner, who I thought was asleep, as me if I had noticed the nice bull his son had taken that evening. I said no, what type of bull did he get and he said it would bet worth you time to go take a look. So without putting on my pants or other clothes,I just slipped on my boots and went out to see it. Pretty nice huh he yelled. I said where its it I haven't seen it yet. So he gave me instructions to where he horns were, which was all bull, as his son had not killed a bull.

We got up early and hunted the morning hunt and came back to camp. I told him I was going to run over to a small waterhole I like to hunt and place a stand, as I wanted to treestand the evening hunt. He tried to talk me out of it as his son needed a nap. I told him I placed many stands to just stay there and I would got get it done by the time they had taken their nap.

Again he wanted me to go with them to call elk, but I bowed out and went over to sit my stand. About 7 that evening I looked up the main tail to that waterhole and this big old bear came strolling down the path right to the water. It turned sideways, and laid down to drink.

I had an arrow nocked and my bow hanging. I reached over and grabbed my bow and arrowed the bear. It ran right back up the trail about 30 yards and died right on the trail. It was pretty nice bear, one of the bigger ones I have ever taken and the largest I took in Colorado. I positioned the bear as best I could for photos, but it was getting dark, so I decided to go back to camp and get my buddy to come over and take some photos for me. So when I got back to camp, they were there. We talked a few moments about their hunt and he then ask me about mine. I told him I had a nice bull come in and I shot him and felt like I hit him perfect, but it was just before dark and I couldn't find any blood and was wondering if would come over and help me find it. He is a great tracker and so we had a quick snack and headed for the water hole.

By the time we got there it was pitch black. My buddy immediately picked up good blood and called me a blind bat. I had also told him I could not find my arrow to check the hit. Immediately he found my blood soaked arrow and told me this was one of best blood trails he had every followed. He led the way with his flashlight pointed basically straight down. He almost stepped on the bear ,before he rocketed into the sky as he jumped back in fright. He then ask why I did that and I just simply said pay backs are a bitch!

Anyway Nick you ought to give me ring sometime and I think I can help you and tell you about an area that has quite a few bears in it, and with the way you are willing to cover the country and hike into a few tough places, I think in 10 days of hunting you would see several bears and most likely get to arrow one of them.

Have a great bowhunt. BB

From: midwest
16-Feb-20
hahaha....Bill! I could listen to your stories all day.

Yes, Bill, Colorado is handing out bear tags like candy, now. This year, they are even offering them as an add on to your regular deer or elk tag.

I need to give you a call, I haven't talked to you in forever. We'll talk soon!

From: iceman
17-Feb-20
Nick, we've done pretty well on water holes. Especially last year when it was dry as hell everywhere.

From: Orion
17-Feb-20
My kids and I have been a 100% on waterholes for the last ten years

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