Summit Treestands
Judging a big bear?
Bears
Contributors to this thread:
Mike Ukrainetz 08-Mar-22
Buffalo1 08-Mar-22
Hancock West 08-Mar-22
Nick Muche 08-Mar-22
Mike Ukrainetz 08-Mar-22
Rob Nye 08-Mar-22
Cazador 08-Mar-22
Mike Ukrainetz 08-Mar-22
Rob Nye 09-Mar-22
Shug 09-Mar-22
Dale06 09-Mar-22
Fran 09-Mar-22
Hancock West 09-Mar-22
Mike Ukrainetz 09-Mar-22
Hancock West 09-Mar-22
Dino 10-Mar-22
Mark Rodo 10-Mar-22
Mike Ukrainetz 10-Mar-22
Dino 10-Mar-22
rattling_junkie 11-Mar-22
carcus 11-Mar-22
Shiras42 11-Mar-22
Mike Ukrainetz 11-Mar-22
Shiras42 11-Mar-22
Hancock West 11-Mar-22
Longbow42 16-May-22
Longbow42 16-May-22
DonVathome 16-May-22
08-Mar-22

Mike Ukrainetz's embedded Photo
This boar actually exceeds the 5 ft mark by about 6 inches and what we would call a bit of a fat boar, slight paunch. They have to get 420+ to get any sort of hanging belly at least where we are in Alberta.
Mike Ukrainetz's embedded Photo
This boar actually exceeds the 5 ft mark by about 6 inches and what we would call a bit of a fat boar, slight paunch. They have to get 420+ to get any sort of hanging belly at least where we are in Alberta.
Mike Ukrainetz's embedded Photo
Mark Rodo from last spring season.
Mike Ukrainetz's embedded Photo
Mark Rodo from last spring season.
Mike Ukrainetz's embedded Photo
20 13/16 green score skull, almost a Booner!
Mike Ukrainetz's embedded Photo
20 13/16 green score skull, almost a Booner!
Mike Ukrainetz's embedded Photo
Crushing the Honda!
Mike Ukrainetz's embedded Photo
Crushing the Honda!
I thought bowsiters might like to see how we judge what a big male bear looks like on a baited hunt? He’s 36 inches tall to the top of his shoulders and 5 ft long from butt to eyes. 5 by 3. That’s it! Forget every other thing you might have heard about a crease in the head, small ears, hanging belly, blah, blah, blah…That is all very subjective and leads to many old sows being shot. You need an exact measurement like a 36 inch tall post or a barrel at the site, or if you are hunting from a tree stand a 5 foot long log works best, a light colored big poplar or birch is perfect so it can be easily seen in low light and the bears are less likely to move it. This boar with a relatively flat, high belly weighed 385 lbs in the spring and had a 20+ inch skull, a giant Alberta bear.

From: Buffalo1
08-Mar-22
Mike,

What area of Alberta do you hunt?

From: Hancock West
08-Mar-22
Mike, can you use a standing barrel as a guide for height? I think they are close to 36" tall

From: Nick Muche
08-Mar-22
The problem with a standing barrel is they don’t stay upright very long :)

08-Mar-22
We are in NW Alberta, 50 miles north of the city of Grande Prairie. Barrels are ok, but they vary in height from 34 to 38 inches, and amazingly enough, most people never actually measure them with a tape measure. So if it’s a 34 inch barrel and the bear covers it, how tall is he? 34” could be a tall 3 1/2 yr old 200 lb boar with a 17 3/4 head where 36” is a 320 lb boar with a 19 inch head. Then if a barrel is full and heavy, compared to empty it can vary how much it sinks in the ground. And like Nick says unless they are strapped to a tree they get knocked over, our barrels are 24” edge to edge of the lid when laying down so it does kind of give another reference though. So a barrel from a ground blind is ok but not as good as a post that is exactly 36” tall and painted white on top, and stuck in the ground where the bears pass by. If the post disappears, it’s a shooter, no other guessing needed. If a bear walks up to a barrel and lifts his head to see what’s in it, or lifts his paw to knock it over, doesn’t pass by it, then it’s more difficult to tell shoulder height exactly.

From a tree stand a 5 ft log on the ground is definitely the best. I like 2-3 of them because they don’t always stand near the one you have. You can lay them right beside the trail they walk in on, or line it up perfectly with where they stand to feed. From a tree stand a barrel sucks, it’s just too hard to tell exact bear shoulder height from above and 2 inches is all the difference in the world. A giant sow is 32” tall but she will be super fat. A 32” tall boar is long and lean.

As you can tell I’ve spent wayyy too much time thinking about it all! Haha

From: Rob Nye
08-Mar-22

Rob Nye's embedded Photo
Rob Nye's embedded Photo
I tell everyone “When you see a true giant you will know instantly it’s a giant. You will forget all about the stuff at the bait to judge him by - you won’t need it .” Every client that killed a Booner said it was true - they knew it was a jumbo without question the instant they saw it.

From: Cazador
08-Mar-22
Mike,

The 5 foot stick is a great “ruler” on one of my baits a few years back I watched a bear for 20 minutes and couldn’t really get a feel for how big he was. He stepped next to the 5 1/2 stick, was as long and I arrowed him. Turned out to be 19 & 6, thanks!

Another Bowsite gem!

08-Mar-22
I agree 100% Rob on a giant boar! And if that’s all you are after you are good to go. But can a rookie hunter tell the difference between a 300 lb, 19 inch boar and a big fat, 250 lb sow? Or even an 18” youngish 250 lb boar? That’s where the trouble starts I believe…

From: Rob Nye
09-Mar-22
Agreed Mike! Having those tools at the bait is a good thing and will help avoid judging mistakes. Good luck this Spring everyone is getting antsy to get after some bruins!

From: Shug
09-Mar-22
Rob and Mike Just out of curiosity… How often doesn’t it happen that one of your hunters takes a big old sow and says how they killed a giant ( before recovery)

From: Dale06
09-Mar-22
I was on a northern Mn guided bear hunt 20+ years ago. The guide put out 4 hunters mid afternoon. It was any weapons, and several used rifles. The guide picked me up just at sundown, I’d seen nothing. We went on to get the next guy. We stopped on the road and his stand was 200 yards in the woods. When we stopped, three fast spaced gunshots rang out. We walked in to the hunter and his BAR 7 mm magnum. He was shook up and said he’d just shot a real big bear. We took up the blood trail. In 50 yards, we found the monster, a 100 pounder, at best.

From: Fran
09-Mar-22
Excellent threat with lots of great information .

From: Hancock West
09-Mar-22
is it proper to ask an outfitter for a 5ft log or a 36" stake if they don't have them already? I don't want to be the guide the guide kind of hunter.

09-Mar-22
Shug, I used to get ground shrinkage a lot from several hunters a year when my coaching was the same as everyone else, which was describing the subjective “look” of a big, mature boar that everyone hears. Even hunters with 20+ bear kills under their belt would screw up, usually they would do it on a big, old sow, especially if she was aggressive to other bears at the bait. If she had a crease in her skull, small ears, fat body and was actively chasing off other bears, being dominant she got shot, usually it was an old dry sow, sometimes they even just made Pope and Young, which wasn’t a bad kill but it wasn’t what the experienced hunter was looking for. It made me really search for an objective measurement that was simple and even a complete rookie hunter could use. Now often the hunter with zero bear hunting experience does the best because all they use is the 36” post, nothing else.

Hancock West, it probably would be tough to tell the guide, outfitter that’s what you want. I would not have been happy in my first 15 years of guiding bear hunts if you told me that’s what you wanted. Plus it can mean adding a new thing to the bait, right before you are hunting, when I just want you to shut up and get in the tree. And a big old smart boar could be tipped off and go nocturnal with the guide changing what he’s done at the site for the last month before you got there, it’s a tough call.

Another thing is that a big boar in one area might only need to be 34” to 35” tall and only 4 1/2 ft long. Some places rarely kill boars with 7 ft square hides, even at 10+ yrs old, with 20+ inch heads. Boar sizes can really vary in Wilderness areas dependent on feed, a 20 yr old timid boar might only be 250 lbs where an aggressive 10 yr old who gets the best feed might be 400 lbs, yet both have 20 inch heads! Their shoulder heights and body lengths are probably very different too? That’s not my specialty, maybe it is for Rob?

Plus, sorry for the ramble, in some areas, you mainly only see the dominant boars at the bait. They won’t allow sows and cubs or even young bears of either sex, until breeding time when they are with a female. In our area we have been baiting the same spots for 20-30 years and we get everything at our baits, often in one evening you can see over 30 different bears, how the heck do you sort them out? Especially from a box blind where you can’t see them come in and watch how they walk and act? They just appear in front of you, it’s difficult especially if you are freaking out a bit with up close action. You need an objective, yes or no to tell you which one to shoot.

From: Hancock West
09-Mar-22
Thanks for all the detailed information, Mike. I appreciate it.

From: Dino
10-Mar-22
Another great thread Mike, super informative as well. There's always a story in story, Mark Rodehutskors the large dude pictured in this thread, is a new bowhunter. He lost his dad when he was 8 yrs old, he toughed it out, went on to play University Basketball, along the way he fell in love with hunting birds and that morphed into bowhunting. Upon graduation his mother wanted to give him a gift, coincidentally, Mike was offering deeply discounted bear hunts for Alberta residents, so a bear trip to Mike's Outfitting was organised. Mark was set up in ground blind in location secretly labelled as," Doug's" The giant bear he was after was dropping his nocturnal habits as he was after the new lady love of his life. When he showed up, Mark turned his video on and made a great shot. The big boy went less than 50 yards...upon retrieval, guide Gerard, kept saying, "Jim Dandy, that's a nice bear!" It's a great bear for a deserving and passionate young man. The young guys don't use this web forum like we do, but I will see if he can post that video of the shot here, so you get another look at "Judging a big bear!"

From: Mark Rodo
10-Mar-22

Mark Rodo's Link
Thanks Dino for the kind words! I was super lucky to be invited on the trip up to Mike's bear camp and it was an unbelievable experience. The setup Mike has for measuring bears really is foolproof, making it so even rookie bear hunters like myself can judge these bears, especially with so many on the bait at one time often. That being said, as Rob said above, when this bear walked in, there was really no need for measuring! Hopefully this video link works and also shows the difference between the boar and the big sow he was with that lured him in!

10-Mar-22
Dam Mark, that was beautiful!! Besides you making a perfect shot, which isn’t easy with a pumping heart and a giant bear, it perfectly illustrates the beauty of the 36” tall white post. That huge boar just covers it and the sow is about 4 inches below, forget everything else. If those were the first two bears you had ever seen in your life you would know which one to shoot, even if the boar was nowhere in sight you would have passed the sow and waited for the boar. Congrats man! So great to watch again!! Thanks so much for posting it!

From: Dino
10-Mar-22
Damn, that is awesome footage…you must have almost had a heart attack when that bugger disappeared behind the crib!?!?

Thanks for posting that Mark, it’s a great illustration of patience and the effectiveness of the 36” post!

11-Mar-22
Great advice Mike, bear hunters would be wise to listen to your vast experience. Great shot, looked like it was just behind the front leg!

From: carcus
11-Mar-22
Like Rob said you know instantly when its a giant, if you questionable, its not

From: Shiras42
11-Mar-22
Mike & Rob, I had a guide tell me another good way to judge a good bear is to picture stuffing him into the 55 gal drum as he stands by it. If you try to cram the bear in to the drum and he completely fills the entire thing it is a good bear. What do the two of you think of the strategy?

11-Mar-22
Shiras24, I would mostly agree with it to keep guys from shooting a small bear of any sex. But if you watch Mark’s video, could you stuff that sow in the barrel? Maybe yes, maybe no? She might get shot, and she isn’t a huge sow, make it a 250+ lb sow and she would almost certainly get shot. A long, lanky 3 1/2 yr old boar falls in the same category, mentally fold his legs up he may or may not fit? The concept works beautifully if only the big boar walks in, there is no way he is fitting in the barrel, the barrel would fit inside him! So if a giant boar only is your goal and he clearly wouldn’t fit in the barrel it is a great big picture judgement method.

From: Shiras42
11-Mar-22
Thanks Mike. Makes sense. I guess that may be a good barometer for those looking to shoot a good bear but not necessarily a really good bear if that is a fair statement to make (point taken on the sow part). I know for me I knew it when I saw this last one it was one I wanted. Not a giant, but a solid 345lb boar.

Thank agian.

From: Hancock West
11-Mar-22
Oh man he smoked that big bear. Dino i know my heart would of sank after he walked off.. awesome

From: Longbow42
16-May-22
Great info here. I've killed 10 bears with my longbows and compound; biggest was just over 20". I'm headed up Sunday to hunt with Kyle of Eagle Eye. Prior to me killing my biggest, I read a good book and video by Richard Smith on judging really big bears and Mike and Rob covered it already with the 36" height and 5.5' length. Another tip is the triangle head; meaning that the measurement between the ears, looks equal to the measurement from the ear to the nose forming a three sided triangle. I know that has helped me in the past as no one I've hunted with used the post method.

From: Longbow42
16-May-22
Mark, Great video and congrats on the kill! You were lucky not to spook the big guy when you drew your arrow, which was pretty noisy in the video. I've seen big bears spook with the slightest un-natural sound.

From: DonVathome
16-May-22
Good post. Of all the big game animals I have hunted on NA black bears were the hardest to judge.

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