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Tracking Black Bear

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The goal of all hunters is a quick, humane kill where the animal drops in it’s tracks and is dead within seconds. But in a pursuit that has as many variables as hunting, sometimes things don’t quite go according to plan. However, game can be tracked and recovered with the right skills and with patience.

First of all, you need to wait the right amount of time after the shot before tracking a wounded animal. I’ve heard estimates of waiting 30 minutes for a hit in the vitals and 5-8 hours for a gut shot. Waiting overnight might be even better on very poorly hit animals, however for black bear the temps may not allow for this as the meat might spoil.

imagesB582SF66You don’t want to push an animal. Be patient and wait it out. If you push a wounded animal, and he gets adrenaline flowing, the odds are against you finding that animal.

You need to mark the exact spot where the animal was when it was hit. This will save you much time in searching for blood. Also mark the position where you took your shot from in case you have to return to it to regain that perspective. Once you find the trail that the animal took after the hit you should try and identify where you hit that animal. Dark blood can indicate a liver or muscle wound; bright red blood with bubbles in it is a good sign and indicates a hit in the lungs; green liquid or bits of food matter in the blood indicates a gut shot.

Take it slow and mark blotches of blood with flagging tape every 25-50 yards to trace the trail from afar to determine overall direction the animal took. Just remember to go back and pick up the tape when you’re done. You should walk to the side of the trail so as to not disturb the sign. If you lose the trail and can’t find more blood, start fanning out and walking circles from the last place you had blood.

2013-10-12-birch-012When tracking a wounded animal it is easy to get caught up in just looking at the ground, trying to find that next speck of blood. You should be aware of what is 100 yards out in front of you as well and be ready for a killing shot if the animal should get up in front of you.

If you take it slow, be quiet and be thorough, finding wounded animals can be done on a consistent basis. Follow these tips to help find the game that you might have not put the best shot on.

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Bear Encounter for Cyclist

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In urban areas, cyclists need to watch out for cars. But in more rural places, there are other dangers. 57-year-old Jim Litz, a science teacher in Missoula, Montana, learned this when he t-boned a black bear while riding his bike to work. Read on for the details.“I was lucky. I was truly lucky”

He was traveling about 25 mph when he came upon a rise and spotted a black bear about 10 feet in front of him. “I didn’t have time to respond. I never even hit my brakes,” Litz said.

He tumbled over his handlebars, planting his helmeted head on the bruin’s back, and man and beast went cartwheeling down the road. The bear rolled over Litz’s head, and its mass cracked his helmet. As the duo toppled over one another, the bear clawed at Litz’s cycling jacket, scratching his flesh from shoulder to buttocks before scampering up a hill above the road, where it stopped and whined.

Litz’s wife drove by soon after and took her husband to Community Medical Center, and he immediately called  Fish, Wildlife and Parks to report the unusual collision. Game wardens told him they didn’t think the animal was seriously injured, but was more likely suffering from some bruised ribs – just like Litz.

“I was lucky. I was truly lucky, because I accosted the bear and he let me live,” Litz said. “I truly respect them. They’re beautiful creatures.”

by:  Michael Graham Richard

Black-Bear-crossing-the-Alaska-Highway

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Hunting Bears With Bows – Decoy Tactics

Trophy boars are smarter than your average bear. But even the savviest old bruin has a few chinks in his armor. Using a decoy is an exciting way to exploit them. Even weary old black bears will come in spoiling for a fight. Here are three strategies for drawing a dominant, hungry bruin into bow range.

 1

The Intruder
Big boars are solitary animals and will claim a food source as their own, commonly defecating along entrance trails to warn other bears away. To get this bear’s attention, stake a small bear decoy near the food source, positioned with its head down and its backside facing the direction you expect a boar to approach. Attach a few strips of black cloth to the decoy’s ears and tail for added realism and collect some bear scat from another area—preferably from a boar—and with a plastic bag, transplant it on the entrance trails.

Now sit back. Any wise old boar that might otherwise camp just off the food until nightfall is almost sure to investigate when he sees your “intruder.” Keep in mind that a boar may visit a food site daily or stop by every second or third day while patrolling his home turf. Be patient, and don’t let your guard down.

2

The Easy Meal
Black bears are fond of fresh meat and will drop their guard to capture an animal in distress. Any small, furry decoy, like those used for foxes and coyotes, wiggling about in plain sight is sure to catch a passing bear’s attention. With a little luck, the bruin will move in quickly to finish off what he thinks is hapless prey. If he hangs up, though, add a few squeals from a dying-rabbit call to entice him.

If whitetail deer are prevalent in your area, a fawn decoy can be too much for any hungry black bear to ignore. Try a few fawn contact bleats, and if that fails, go to a fawn-in-distress call. Nock a broadhead and get ready. The bear will come in fast, so be prepared to shoot pronto.

3

The Feeding Female
You’ll have to wait a few months to use this setup, but it’s a good one to have in your arsenal. Black bears rut in late spring and early summer and will visit bait sites, looking for a sow in heat. If baiting is legal in your area, position a small black bear decoy with its head in the bait barrel, and hang a few scent canisters soaked with sow-in-heat urine 3 or 4 feet off the ground nearby.

Big boars are ultracautious around bait, so odor control is critical. As you’re setting up, wear rubber gloves and spray the decoy down liberally with a quality scent remover. The boar will approach the decoy warily. Don’t rush the shot. As he investigates, you should have plenty of time to draw.

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Bear Hunt Mistakes

wawanglakebearBeing Afraid of the Dark
Sounds silly, but don’t let it fool you.  It is an ungrounded fear and one people need to overcome in order to have a successful black bear hunt; especially if you are hunting for a trophy. It can be very intimidating leaving a bear stand, by yourself, in the middle of the dark when you know with 110% certainty that there are active black bear in the area.  You’d be off your rocker if you weren’t a little apprehensive.  When you are hunting into the twilight hours, and getting ready to depart your stand, remember this, since 1883, in North American there have only been 30 reported black bear fatalities, most of which occurred during non-hunting activities. That means in 125 years, there has only been 30 fatal black bear attacks and subsequent deaths.  With the 100’s of thousands of hunters that take to the woods every year, that puts the odds of being attacked by a black bear inconceivably in your favor.  Hunting until you can’t see anymore gives you better odds when pursuing that trophy black bear of a life time. Most BIG black bears are taken within a half hour from dusk, when the smart animals feel most secure eating from an unnatural food source.  Stay in your stand as late as you can, and the odds of shooting a monster increase tenfold.

And should there still be bears on your bait when your ready to leave your stand (although this rarely happens), shining a light or a sudden loud noise will send these skittish critters running for miles. Black bears, in their natural setting, are extremely fearful of humans, and would rather turn tail and run then face an unknown advisory.

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Recovering Your Harvested Bear
Many people take to the bear stand, rightfully so, with excitement and anticipation of a successful hunt. Myself included, I get like a little child full of excitement when hunting these magnificent creatures. While most hunters will do a tremendous amount of prep work prior to the hunt, few prepare for what happens after the hunt.Bears rarely pile up on the bait or in an open area with easy access. Instead, these hearty creatures are famous for taking a double lung shot and running for miles, deep into thick woods and cedar swaps.Having a plan on how to recover your trophy will put you light years ahead of most black bear hunters when it comes to a successful hunt. Planning should include how to track and more importantly flag the path the animal takes. What to do if it starts to rain or gets dark. Who will help you track the animal and once found, how will you get it out? And how to protect the meat from spoiling on a warm fall night.

Weather
Avid hunters know that fall weather can change in a heart beat. It can go from warm, to cold, windy and raining in the blink of an eye. Having the right clothes in your back pack can make the best of a somewhat undesirable situation.

bear over logBugs
can be a huge annoyance in the great outdoors. Especially when you are forced to sit still for extended periods of time. Avoid bug sprays when bear hunting… PERIOD! A new, unfamiliar scent, along with an intuitive feeling that something isn’t right, will keep trophy bears from over coming fear and committing to your bait. Bug jackets and bug nets are a must. (Oh, on side note, make sure you practice shooting with your bug net on, more about that later). Regarding the portable propane bug eliminators. I have seen hunters use them with success. In fact, in 2008 there was a beautiful 350lbs sow taken while a hunter used one, however my vote is not in on them.

Boredom
Nothing will end your hunt faster than impatience and constant movement in your stand. If you are like most guys who can’t sit still for more than 30minutes at a time, you must bring something with to occupy your mind. I personally use a book. I have also seen guys use those portable, pocket video games. Regardless of what you use, make sure you sit sill and be quiet!

Natural Calls – Ever been in the stand when all of the sudden you have to take a pee? Sucks, doesn’t it? I don’t know how many times I have had this happen to me, yet somehow I always forget to bring a container along. Put a portable urinal on your packing list. Doing so will make the difference between shooting that monster and taking it’s offspring.

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The Best Shot Placement for Black Bear

SO, you’ve opted for a lung shot. Good choice. But where exactly you should place your bullet depends on your quarry, as the following tips reveal. (Please refer to the organ legend) Sometimes you only get one chance to bring down a big-game animal. Here are 7 ways to help make sure it truly counts.

  • Avoid the head-the target is too small and you’ll ruin the best part of your fireplace rug. You’ll also render your bear ineligible for official scoring.
  • As for spine or neck shots, it can be difficult to visualize exactly where to find the spinal column thanks to the bear’s long hair and thick body.bear-target

Again, lung shots are your best bet. Trace the back of the front leg up to about one-third of the way into the chest. The lungs on a bear are positioned a little more forward than on an ungulate, so you don’t have as much leeway if you shoot back of your aiming point. For the shoulder/heart shot, which is popular for anchoring bears in their tracks, follow the centerline of the front leg up to the one-third point of the body. Be careful not to shoot low or forward, or you’ll quickly have a wounded animal on your hands.

WOUNDED and lost big game animals are part of the somber side of hunting. None of us is comfortable with the subject, but if you have any measurable hunting experience, you’ve undoubtedly seen examples. Maybe you’ve even lost an animal or two yourself.

It’s a certainty that as long as there’s hunting, game will be wounded and not recovered. In such situations, it’s just as certain that the bullet didn’t hit the animal in the right place. Why exactly can be blamed on any number of variables, but in most cases it’s safe to say the shot should never have been taken in the first place.

As hunters, our most important priority is to do everything possible to ensure a clean, quick, humane kill-it’s our moral obligation every time we head afield. Here are some important considerations in making that happen.

BULLET PLACEMENT
Much has been written and discussed about selecting the best rifle, cartridge, bullet and optics for hunting specific species under various conditions. Most of this advice is sage indeed, helping hunters learn about and understand the limitations of their equipment. But when it comes to a quick kill, the single most important factor is bullet placement. A .243 in the heart or lungs of even the largest big-game animal, for example, is more certain to result in its demise than a .500 Nitro Express in its leg. Just think of hunting legend Karamojo Bell. It was his fanaticism over bullet placement coupled with an understanding of his quarry’s anatomy-that allowed him to tale down so many elephants with his meager .275 Rigby, a cartridge equivalent to today’s 7×5 7.

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MARKSMANSHIP
The first step in ensuring accurate bullet placement comes with the decision to squeeze the trigger. Before you hit the switch, you must have an extremely high expectation of putting the bullet right where you want it, and that means understanding your own limitations as a marksman. I’ve never been much impressed by tales of 450-yard kill shots on deer or other game. While such shots are possible, not many hunters can make them with any consistency. With few exceptions, I shudder when I hear hunters talking about their long shots-much like a gambling addict bragging about his one win, for each tale of success there are likely tenfold as many unspoken failures.

The longest shot I’ve ever taken was with a 7mm Rem. Mag. on a five-point bull elk in B.C.’s Muskwa Valley. It was 360 yards away. I had a solid rest, a reasonable amount of time and a mild, though gusting, wind. The bull was dead when we got to him, having never moved. Despite that, I’m not sure I’d take the same shot today if it were presented. Perhaps I no longer feel the need to, as I might have back when I was a much less seasoned hunter. Experience has taught me that too much can go wrong in such a situation-not to mention the fact few animals can travel as far, or as quickly, as an ells can when wounded.

Jon Hanson - Tiffin, IA 440 lb. black bear

Jon Hanson – Tiffin, IA 440 lb. black bear

No, I’m far more impressed by the hunter who tells me he snuck in to within 75 yards of a herd of elk, or never shoots at running game or at any animal beyond 150 yards. This is the hunter I admire, for he clearly understands that undisturbed game and cool-handed marksmanship should be the rule, not the exception. This is the hunter who believes that 20 bullets can equal 20 deer, and he’ll wait to shoot only when he’s extremely confident of accurately placing a bullet.

HEAD & NECK SHOTS
So, where on an animal should we try to place our bullet to ensure a one-shot, clean kill? There’s no denying the surest fatal shot is to the brain or spinal column. Either will put an animal down almost instantly, and result in very little ruined meat. Under most circumstances, however, this is not a shot I would recommend. For starters, the brain is a relatively small target, and even a narrow miss can result in a broken jaw, lost eye or other similar wound that condemns an animal to a most unpleasant, slow death. I once shot an antelope sporting a fresh bullet wound through the bridge of its nose. Whether the hunter who first hit it was aiming for the brain, I can’t say for sure, but the buck was clearly laboring, almost choking on blood, and would have suffered considerably had I not come across it.

Neck shots are equally uncertain, as the spinal cord must be severed to ensure instant death. Miss by even a little bit, and you’ve probably got an animal with a muscular wound from which it will likely recover, but not without considerable agony. In the worst-case scenario, you may sever the trachea-the animal will likely escape, but suffer a lingering demise. When neck shots don’t connect directly with the spinal column, an animal will often drop to the ground almost immediately but quickly recover and run off. If you shoot an animal in the neck whether by design or by accident-it’s therefore important to keep a close eye on it until you’ve confirmed it’s down for keeps.

Head and neck shots do have their place in the right circumstances, but they should only be taken at close range by capable shooters who know their quarry’s anatomy. They’re also acceptable in the rare event of an emergency, when a dangerous animal needs to be brought down in a hurry.

SHOULDER SHOTS
Some hunters prefer shoulder shots because they will disable game while also inflicting fatal damage to the heart or lungs. Even when no collateral damage occurs, a broken shoulder, or two, will bring down an animal, rendering it helpless. In my opinion, this shot should be reserved for dangerous game, particularly bears. While some hunters use shoulder shots on larger animals such as moose and elk, I find the resulting dispersal of bullet and bone fragments ruins too much meat. Having shot a whitetail through the shoulder last year, I can speak first-hand of the meat that was wasted. Another thing to keep in mind when considering the shoulder shot is that if you shoot too high or too far in front, you’ve got either a clean miss or an animal with agonizing wounds. And if you shoot too low, you’ve got an animal with a broken leg that can still escape, only to later succumb to its wounds or predators.

images539SD7BZHEART SHOTS
The heart shot gets a lot of attention, though I suspect most hunters don’t actually realize just how low in the chest the heart lies in big game. While no doubt fatally damaged if hit, the heart offers a small target, and is often covered by the upper leg. There’s little room for error: too far forward and you’ve got a non-fatal brisket shot; too low and you’ve hit muscle or broken a leg, with no expectation of quickly recovering the animal. And if your bullet strikes too far back, you’ve got a gutshot animal. The only practical room for error is if you shoot high and take out the lungs. While many believe the heart shot is almost instantly fatal, most experienced hunters will tell you that a heart-shot animal typically travels farther before collapsing than one that has been lung-shot.

LUNG SHOTS
I believe the lung shot is the appropriate shot for 90 per cent of the big-game hunting situations in Canada. First and foremost, a bullet through the lungs results in an almost certain one-shot kill. In most cases, the animal won’t drop on the spot, but seldom will it travel more than 100 yards or so before falling over; the damage a modern bullet does to the lungs is that devastating.

images5VJ79DJ0The lungs also offer a relatively large target, bigger than any other assuredly fatal zone on a game animal. This allows for a fair margin of error. Shoot low, and you’ll take out the heart; a bit high and you’ll sever the spinal column. Too far forward and you have a debilitating shoulder shot. Only when you shoot too far back do you have a problem-animals shot in the paunch typically suffer lingering deaths, and if you do happen to recover one, you’ve got a heckuva mess on your hands when it comes to field-dressing it. If you shoot just a little too far back, however, you may get lucky and strike the liver. Animals hit in this vital organ tend not to go too far before lying down.

The lungs on a game animal generally cover about two-thirds of its chest area when viewed broadside, more or less in the centre and a little toward the bottom. A professional hunter in Africa once told me he thought North American hunters tended to shoot dead centre in the chest of an animal; he believed the more effective shot was to the top of the lower third of the chest. He may well have been right, but 1 still maintain that allowing as much room for error as possible is the wisest thing most of us can do. As such, when my quarry is broadside, I generally aim for the centre of the chest, just behind the shoulder. Often, an animal will not react immediately to a lung shot, causing some hunters to think they’ve missed when they’ve actually made an excellent shot. I remember one moose I shot three times in the span of about 10 seconds. It didn’t take two steps during that time, and I couldn’t understand how I could be missing such a big target. The animal dropped soon after the third shot, however, and when I skinned it out, a salad plate would have covered all three holes in its chest and lungs. (For species-specific tips on lung shots, see “Top targets” on page 48.)

SHOOTING ANGLES
While we all prefer broadside shots, as often as not we face shooting opportunities from an angle. You still want your bullet to enter the chest cavity, however, so it’s important to visualize the path your bullet must take. With an animal quartering toward you, your target should be somewhere between the base of the neck and the point of the facing shoulder. If an animal is facing you directly, the centre base of the neck is the preferred target. The more difficult shot to visualize is when an animal is quartering away. Take your shot with the intention of breaking the far side shoulder and you’ll generally send your bullet through the desired lung region. Be aware that the tendency in this situation is to shoot too far back, resulting in an unwanted paunch shot. I recommend not shooting when animals are quartering away at extreme angles or facing directly away from you. While we all know the old “Texas heart shot” through the behind can be fatal, the odds are your bullet will break up or deflect on contact with bones, impeding its ability to get into the vital organs. I know some may disagree, but this is one shot I simply won’t take, and I advise others to follow suit. If you absolutely must tale this shot, at least be sure to use a well-constructed bullet designed for maximum weight retention and penetration. Remember, when it comes to shot placement, the goal isn’t simply a freezer full of meat it’s also to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

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Hunter Fends Off Grizzly by Shoving Arm Down Its Throat

Grizzly

Sticking an arm down the throat of a bear is regarded by some as an effective last-ditch tactic for fending off an attack.

There are few animals in North America as frightening as an adult grizzly, and if one of these massive animals get it in their heads to attack you, your day just suddenly got a whole lot worse. Twenty-six-year-old Chase Dellwo was expecting to bag some elk in the Montana back country near Choteau last Saturday, but a chance encounter with a bear ended with him sticking his arm into its roaring mouth instead.

That decision may have saved his life.

According to the Great Falls Tribune, Dellwo was bowhunting near a creek bed with his brother Shane. Strong wind and intermittent snow and rain kept visibility to a minimum, but the brothers heard elk bugles in the area and Dellwo was eager to make his first elk harvest of the year. The hunter had been steadily driving the animals toward his brother, but the weather also hid a sleeping grizzly, which Dellwo practically tripped over. At less than three feet, there was little that Dellwo could do before the animal charged him.

“I had an arrow knocked, and I put my bow up in front of me and took two or three steps back,” he told the Tribune. “There wasn’t any time to draw my bow back.”

The grizzly knocked Dellwo off his feet and bit him in several places across his head. It then reared back and gave what the hunter later described as the loudest roar he had ever heard, before attacking him again and biting his right leg. It was at this point that Dellwo recalled that an old survival tip about how bears have sensitive gag reflexes—so the hunter plunged his arm down the animal’s throat.  The bear promptly left.

Dellwo is not the first person to have stuck their arm down a bear’s throat and lived to tell the tale. The trick is commonly regarded as a last-ditch defense against bear attacks. As recently as last November, a hunter in British Columbia used to same trick to disable and ultimately kill a large grizzly sow near Fernie. According to CTV News, Wilf Lloyd was seriously mauled by the bear before he was able to stop its biting by jamming his hand down its mouth. While the bear was still on top of the man, Llyod’s son-in-law arrived and shot it dead with a rifle.

Lloyd also received a bullet in the leg during the chaotic struggle, but he did not blame his hunting companion in the least.

“The man saved my life,” Lloyd later said. “What Skeet did and because of his fast reaction, the shots, I had maybe fifty stitches in my hand and that’s it. So I was very fortunate that way.”

Dellwo echoed Llyod’s sentiment after his own bear encounter. Shortly after the attack, he was able to reunite with his brother and was transported to a local hospital, where he was treated for various cuts and punctures on his head and right leg. Dellwo expects to be back in the woods later this year for rifle season.

Officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks are currently investigating the case and believe that the bear involved was a 400-pound male. Experts added that the brothers seemed to have done everything correctly and that the bear will likely not be tracked down since the attack was not predatory in nature.   By: Daniel Xu

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Your Success Is Our Goal – Black Bear Hunters [with video]

Andy's 475 lb (dressed)

Andy’s 475lb (dressed)

Black  Bear  are  known  predators  and  Ontario  has  the  largest  population of black bear than anywhere in the world. Furthermore, north-western Ontario leads in the concentration of these animals than elsewhere in Ontario, and, rates highest in population concentration  for all of Ontario that also allows for bating practices.

Many deem baiting unfair, giving the hunter a considerable advantage. But contrary to what some would have us believe, it’s far from easy and holds no guarantees!  Bear can sneak in undetected, grab a morsel of food and disappear as fast as they arrived. Bear can also skulk around the bait for hours, never showing themselves. As experienced outfitters we’ve learned that many of our bear will move in cautiously to inspect the provisions. The advantage of hunting in the fall is bear are eager to fatten up for the winter.  The biggest advantage to baiting is that, if and when a bruin finally commits to the bait, it allows the hunter a  an opportunity to assess size, stature and time for shot placement.

About Bear
Black bear habitant range can span from two to 10 miles and resident populations often hold a variety of boars, sows and cubs, so it’s not uncommon to have multiple bears visiting the baited site.  Ontario only offers a FALL BEAR HUNT therefore the chance for the large TROPHY bear is increased dramatically.  Most hunters fear poor coats or hides due to the fall hunt but our area does not suffer that fate. With little to no burrs or ticks, our bear don’t succumb to ticks causing ‘rub’ or dry patchy fur.  We also are known for our high number of white chevrons (patches) to make your trophy even more unique. Black bear

Jon Hanson - Tiffin, IA 440 lb. black bear

Jon Hanson – Tiffin, IA 440 lb. black bear

Black bear have relatively poor eyesight, but outstanding hearing and acute sense of smell. Once they get a taste of your bait, and, as long as it is replenished regularly, they will be reluctant to leave the area.  In fact, once a site is established properly, you can and will see the same bruin day after day.

Location is Critical
Our bait stations have been established for many years (since 1972) and placed along the bear’s natural movement corridor. Heavily  timbered forests near cutovers and waterways often sustain good bear densities.  With berry crops like wild blueberries and raspberries nearby, black bear favor the accessibility and abundance of such forage and most often reside in the proximity.

Claw marks on deciduous trees and there may even be fresh markings, these lasting scars unveil a historical presence. Nomadic creatures, bear commonly travel traditional trails along waterways and natural movement corridors like valleys and ridges.  Finding fresh scat can instill further confidence that bear have frequented the bait.  Keep in mind that well established bait stations offer much more success than new stations since bear follow these game trails year after year.

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