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Bow Hunting Bear

Hunting bears makes for an exciting challenge, and there are several ways to get close enough for a successful bow hunt. First, make sure that you have strong archery skills, both at target practice and in the field. You should really understand your bow, and be in good enough shape to travel longer distances and remain still for multiple hours.

There are a few considerations specific to bow hunting bear. This article will guide you through the essentials to make your next bear hunt a success.


Image – 3-D bear target

You shouldn’t need to level up your bow to hunt bear if you have used it for deer hunting. Make sure you have a strong understanding of your bow’s killing power, and where its limits are. Consider your bow’s set-up, poundage, and type of broadhead.

You may want to invest in a 3-D bear target before starting your hunt. There are some bear targets that come with vitals outlined, so you can get a strong sense of where to shoot. When you’re taking a shot at a mature black bear, you definitely don’t want to miss their vital area.


Image – drawing of bear vitals

A bear’s heart sits further forward in its chest than a deer’s heart does. The lungs are higher than a deer’s. Get used to making out the bear’s form underneath all of its fur to make sure you can aim correctly. Practice your shots from many angles, but a quartering away shot is generally best for bears. A head-on shot is particularly difficult with a bow, and should be avoided.

Hunting Method

Image – bear bait

Close shots are necessary for bow hunting, but they are also the norm in hunting bears. Most hunters use bait piles, which are usually only twenty yards from the treestand. This is a fine distance for bow hunting.

If you’re not hunting over bait, you may be using dogs, or finding and stalking the bears. Either way, you’ll still likely be shooting the bears from 20 yards.

Hunting bear can be highly rewarding, as there is often a great success rate. This makes bear hunting trips more appealing, because you are more likely to come home with something to show for your time.

Identifying Size & Age

Image – young bear

If you live in an area without many bears, it can be difficult to notice the nuances that indicate a bear’s size and age. Before you hunt, take some time to learn more about bear appearance and behavior. When you’re just starting out, you can request a guide to sit with you and identify the type of bear that is crossing your path. It may even be worth taking a trip to your local zoo, or watching bear hunting videos on YouTube.

A mature bear has a more square face, while a young bear has a pointed, dog-like face. The younger bear’s fur will be more puffy, while the mature bear will have a sleek coat. Younger bears have proportionally larger ears, while a mature bear’s ears will be smaller in proportion to the head, and spaced further apart.

For weight, look to the bear’s belly. If it hangs low, the bear is larger. You can also check its limbs to see whether they look lanky or stocky beneath the fur.

Female bears are typically pear-shaped, with a wider backside and thinner shoulders. A male bear has a more square build, and is more likely to be spotted alone rather than with cubs.

Scent Control

Bears have an excellent sense of smell, even better than deer. You therefore have to be extremely careful to make sure that you are scent-free. Get clothing that can contain your human scent. Use scent-free sprays (including bug sprays) and rubber boots.

When you are getting into position, be careful not to touch any brush, which leaves your scent behind. Stay quiet and climb to your position quickly. You will likely need a quality bug suit, which can help you stay motionless in your stand in buggy areas instead of swatting away mosquitos. Before you go, practice shooting your bow while wearing your head net. This can affect how much light you are actually using to identify your target.