Black Bear Hunting

By Track & Tackle 9/3/2017 5 minutes

The black bear is abundant in Canada being found in all provinces across the country. It is estimated that 500,000 inhabit the forests with approximately 20,000 bears legally harvested annually. This ensures a healthy population and keeps incidences of nuisance bears at a minimum. Black bear fur is usually a uniform color except for a brown muzzle and light markings that sometimes appear on the chest. Eastern populations are usually black in color while western populations often show brown, cinnamon, and blond coloration in addition to black. Black bears with white-bluish fur are known as Kermode (glacier) bears and these unique color phases are only found in coastal British Columbia, Canada.

A bear’s range can be as little as five square kilometers to as much as 10,000, they have an average length of 4-7 feet with males weighing 200-300 pounds on average. Exceptionally large bears are common in virtually all provinces that weigh 500-600 pounds. If it is trophy black bear you are after it is best to do some research to find an area that has a strong history of harvesting 500 plus pound animals. Some impressive sizes across the country include a 760-pound bear shot in Ontario, 2014, a 751-pound bear in Newfoundland 2015 and an 805-pound bear shot in Manitoba. The record is believed to be 850 pounds plus, but was the result of a collision with a motor vehicle in Manitoba.

The following are some general areas that are currently known for trophy black bear:

·      Vancouver Island - primarily spot-and-stalk hunting in logging cuts

·      West-central Manitoba - good numbers of color-phase bears as well

·      Northern Alberta – remote area, difficult to access, low hunter presence

·      Northern Saskatchewan – low hunting pressure, few roads, like need to fly-in

·      Western Newfoundland – top predator with plenty of food and territory

When baiting for black bear in the falls it generally works best later in the season as easily accessed food in dumps has been depleted as vacationers are gone and abundance of food in the wild diminishes with the ending of summer. Spot and stalk is more challenging, but offers a chance to prove your hunting skills. Tips to keep in mind when in the field:

·      Scout for signs such as broken trees, claw marks on bark, bear hair, and tracks greater than 6 inches.

·      Look for fresh scat, the greener it is inside the better.

·      Fall feeding frenzy lasts all day as they store fat for the winter, look for food sources.

·      Bears don’t’ see or hear well but have an outstanding nose so be aware of the wind.

·      Be sure of a clean kill, a poor shot will result in a 50/50 recovery.

There are many bear hunt trips with great outfitters offered on Track & Tackle, be sure to take a look here.

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