Spring is often a welcomed time of year, but for many hunters, it can mean the end of their hunting season. Luckily there are still things like fishing and other outdoor opportunities to keep us busy. And hunting is mostly limited to turkeys, wild hogs, and varmints. But there is another hunt that many hunters may be unaware of or have never considered a western black bear hunt!
Public Land Locations
Many western states offer spring bear hunts, each with their own set of regulations. Some will allow baiting or the use of hounds, while others allow neither. Idaho and Montana seem to be the go-to states for many first-time spring bear hunters, and these states are home to plenty of big bears.
In a state like Idaho or Montana, it is not uncommon to see a half dozen bears in a single day. The terrain varies from dense forests and blowdowns, to open canyons and burns where you can glass for bears on the move. If you want to see plenty of bears and have lots of public land at your disposal, Idaho or Montana may be your best bets!
When it comes to bear hunting, there are many different hunting strategies that you can use in order to be successful. A few of these include:
- Still Hunting
- Baiting (legal in Idaho, not in Montana)
The method you choose will primarily depend on your preferences and style. Glassing is the primary method used for most western bear hunters and will typically result in seeing the most bears in a day. This involves getting up on high vantage points and using your binoculars to survey the surrounding areas to find feeding or traveling bears.
Another great method is still hunting. This is basically just hiking at a slower rate, taking the time to walk quietly and carefully view your surroundings. Using this method, you can bump into bears and typically get very close shots. While a little more physical, it is a great way to explore some new country.
Calling in Bears
Calling is another option that some hunters may choose to use. Best results are usually from using a fawn-in-distress call and choosing a calling location where there’s plenty of fresh bear sign. Bear country is very large, so choosing a good location is the key here.
The last method is baiting, although it is not legal in all states. In states like Idaho, where it is legal, it is a great option for people who either have plenty of time to hunt or are local to the area. Bait stations take lots of time to establish and prepare, so for most out of state hunters traveling to hunt bears, this is probably not the best option.
No matter where you go, review all of the different rules and regulations pertaining to bear hunting in the state you hunt. A spring bear hunt is a perfect way to stretch your legs and keep your hunting skills sharp until fall, and you may even kill the bear of a lifetime!