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
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
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:
(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!