Bear Hunting FAQ

Bear Hunting Frequently Asked QuestionsWelcome to our bear hunting frequently asked questions archive. Here hunters can find the answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding bear hunting. Some of these answers will offer you a link to redirect you to another web page on our site. Below you can simply click a question and it will take you to the answer located on this same page. We thrive to provide the most accurate answers to your questions, however you should always check with the states natural resources or wildlife division if it’s in regards to laws or ordinances.

Bear Hunting Question Archive List

  1. Is bear hunting legal in the US?
  2. What permit(s) or license(s) do you need to hunt bears?
  3. Where can you hunt bears in the US?
  4. Is a guide required to hunt bears?
  5. What is the right rifle for bear hunting?
  6. What is the best method for hunting bears?
  7. What equipment do I need for bear hunting?
  8. How do I estimate the size of a bear?
  9. What do bears eat?
  10. What is bear baiting?
  11. What are some problems related to bear baiting stations?
  12. How do you Safely Field Dressing and Butcher a Bear?
  13. How do you tell male bears from female bears?
  14. What are the laws regarding drinking while bear hunting?

 

Is Bear Hunting Legal in the US?

Yes, bear hunting is legal. However, there are restrictions put into place by each state which limits what type of bears you can hunt and also how many bears can be hunted each year. We suggest you review the state’s official wildlife website you plan to hunt in for more details. We provided a detailed list of each state’s official website in our hunting resources.
 

What Permit(s) or License(s) Do You Need to Hunt Bears?

You will be required to have a hunting license. Each state may or may not also have additional permits or requirements to hunt bears in that state. We suggest you review the state’s official wildlife website you plan to hunt in for more details. We provided a detailed list of each state’s official website in our hunting resources.
 

Where Can You Hunt Bears in the US?

Obviously certain types of bears aren’t indigenous to certain areas of the US or have an extremely low population. If really varies state by state on the allowance of bear hunting and what type of bears you can hunt. We suggest you review the state’s official wildlife website you plan to hunt in for more details. We provided a detailed list of each state’s official website in our hunting resources.
 

Is a Guide Required to Hunt Bears?

Some states do require non-residents to have a guide while hunting bears. You may also want the assistance of a guide since it’s not very often you will stumble across a bear in the wild. A guild is a great way to learn how to track and stalk bears and help improve the chance of a successful hunt. Check with the local state requirements to see if you’re required the use of a guide. We provided a detailed list of each state’s official website in our hunting resources.
 

What is the Right Rifle for Bear Hunting?

Many experienced hunters and guides will suggest a .30-06 rile with a 180 grain soft-nosed bullet to be the lowest effective caliber when hunting bears; a .300 mag, .338 mag and .375 mag are also popular and a suitable caliber. You’ll also want to make sure your weapon is waterproof and sighted properly.
 

What is the Best Method for Hunting Bears?

You’ll need to be ready to spend long periods of time patiently waiting and watching. Your best bet is to locate an area that allows you to view the variety of terrain you’re hunting in; of course without being conspicuous. River valleys, open south-facing hillsides, tidal flats, and openings in thick, brushy areas are good bets.

Wind is not only an important factor with aiming it’s also important to prevent wind from allowing a bear to pick up your scent. Your location should have alternate locations to use during wind shifts. Remember, don’t move around too much as you’ll actually spread your scent around. Once you’ve found a suitable area get yourself as comfortable as possible. A pop-up shelter or windbreak is common among hunters.

You’ll want to use binoculars to locate bear movement or cover areas a bear might use. Watch for dark spots or unusually shaped bushes, logs or rocks. Bears like to hide and lie around these areas and if you suspect a bear is there use a spotting scope to check it out. A spotting scope is useful to decide if a bear is rubbed and estimate how big it might be. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to hunt, but bears may be active at any time.

Don’t bother chasing a rapidly moving bear; you’ll just waste your time trying to keep up. Instead, note the area it was first seen, it may return in a few hours or the following day. Bears will alternate their activities through out the day; this includes traveling, resting and feeding. You’ll need to be smart and try to anticipate where the bear’s activities will take it; then you can intercept it. Take advantage of cover and irregularities in the terrain as you approach the spot where you expect to locate the bear. Try to keep the wind in your favor as well.
 

What Equipment Do I Need for Bear Hunting?

You can get a better idea of the hunting equipment necessary for hunting bears on our hunting equipment web page.
 

How do I Estimate the Size of a Bear?

There are several different ways to estimate the size of bear; however, even the most experienced hunter doesn’t always accurately estimate the size of a bear. If you see two or more bears traveling together it’s most likely a mother with her cubs. Cubs that are around the age of two years will be around the same size as the mother. Cubs tend to lag behind their mother and you should always wait to make sure a bear isn’t a mother with her cubs in the rear. Heavy vegetation can hide cubs all together when traveling with their mother. A lighter-colored ring around the neck or chest of a bear can be a clue if the bear is three years old or younger.

Depending on the type of bear it may be mating season while you are hunting. You may see two bears, one pursuing the other. The pursuing bear is usually the male and it’s attempting to mate with the other bear, which is a female. You can easily tell which is the female since she’ll be nervous, stopping frequently and being aggressive towards the male.

Younger bears will have large heads and ears in relation to their anatomy. They also will have long legs and a sort of gangly. A larger adult male will appear bulky with blocky like features and rolling gait style. The average hunter is looking for a male which is 9 to 10 feet tall. A great method to estimate a bear’s size is to look at the broadside. Use your thumb and index finger and section off the head and neck area of the bear. Then see how many lengths you can go down the bear’s body between the shoulders and tail. With a 9 foot plus bear you should be able to go three head and neck lengths. Larger cubs will have a body length equal to 2 head-neck lengths.

You can determine the square footage of a bear hide easily. You would first measure across the hide from the longest claw on the left foot to the longest claw on the right foot; this is the front pair. Then, measure from the nose tip to the base of the tail. Take these measurements and add them together, then divided by two. Depending on the variables of the hide (salted, tanned or fresh) it will vary.
 

What Do Bears Eat?

Bears are omnivores and eat both vegetation and meat; however, most bear’s diet will consist of vegetation. The polar bear is the one exception which has a very high meat consistency in its diet. Meat sources can include insects, fish and small mammals. However, some bears will eat deer fawn and the polar bear is a fan of seal meat. You can review our types of bears web page to get a more specific diet on specific types of bears.
 

What is Bear Baiting?

This is the practice of luring a bear to a specific area to arrange a kill. A hunter will place certain amounts of food in specific areas and check those areas to notice if food is being taken; along with bear tracks. Once a location is confirmed a hunter will arrange a period of time where he will ambush the bear near the bait trap; killing it when it arrives to feed.
 

What Are Some Problems Related to Bear Baiting Stations?

First, several states have laws banning bear baiting stations. We suggest you review the state’s official wildlife website you plan to hunt in for more details. We provided a detailed list of each state’s official website in our hunting resources. Also, it’s common for a hunter who didn’t setup the station to hunt bears in that area. Sometimes bear hunting hounds will mark a bear bait station with urine after a bear has been there which will prevent the bear from returning.
 

How do you Safely Field Dressing and Butcher a Bear?

The CDC provides an excellent article related to this question and you can view it by clicking here.
 

How do you Tell Male Bears from Female Bears?

There is a perfect eHow article that describes this properly and you can view it by clicking here.
 

What is the Law Regarding Drinking While Bear Hunting?

As with any animal hunt you should never drink alcoholic beverages or take mind altering drugs while hunting. States have severe penalties for violating this and in fact it can result in injury or death.