View Full Version : Spring Bear Tactics

02-11-2012, 10:19 PM
Is anyone out there consistently successful while spring bear hunting the west? Here in the great state of Washington we are required to draw our spring tags, which can take years. On such a timeline the learning curve is rather slow, so I was hoping to find out how other archer are successful during the spring season. What do you look for? How does the weather factor into you hunting strategy? Does calling work? Spot-and-stalk? What is a common forage for bear in the spring? Thanks alot for your help and good luck on the spring bear draws this coming season!

p.s. Any idea if the Eastmans forum plans to add a "Bear" section in the animal species area? I have to say that chasing bruins with my bow ranks as some of the best highlights from seasons past, and I would love to see a thread open up for bear stories, tips and tactics. Just a thought.

Joe Hulburt
02-12-2012, 06:38 PM
I have of only been spring bear hunting seriously for four years and have killed three and passed on a little one in bow range the year I didn't connect. Prior to that I hadn't eaten any spring bear and assumed I wouldn't enjoy it but now that I did eat some they are in big trouble! Every year I set out with the bow but so far I have yet to kill one as I end up grabbing the gun when time starts running short and that is usually when I get an opportunity. This is an important thing to note! Spring bear hunting improves as the season progresses. I hunt hard in April and though I have had some chances all the bears I have killed have been in May. (our season in Oregon is April and May) I need to kill a P&Y bear with my bow in a bad way but I've been having fun with my old 30-30 I got when I was 12 and probably will kill one with it this year. I've never hunted elk with a gun in my life but for bears it really doesn't matter too much to me I guess.

Calling works! I called this big old bruiser in to 100 yards last May and although he was really interested, for whatever reason when he got to 100 yards he sat down on his haunches and drooled but wouldn't come any closer. I finally quit calling and let him start to walk off to get a clear broadside shot and was able to kill him with one well placed shot with the old 30-30. He was a 10 year old boar that weighed a little over 400 pounds as he was loaded with fat.

Spring of 2010 I hunted long and hard with the bow and had three really good chances but blew them all. I generally hunt anywhere the new spring grass is coming in and find it fairly easy to locate bears since locations are limited early in the spring here on the Oregon coast. I did a lot of calling that year but never got a shot opportunity....all of those were just spot and stalk and I should have had my P&Y bear! The last day of the season I left my bow at home in hopes of getting my wife her first bear with the gun but the dang things are always on the move and although we had this bear at under 40 yards for a good amount of time she could never get the gun steady and finally asked me to just shoot him. He was a 3 year old boar that weighed a little under 200 pounds I am guessing. He was feeding along an old abandoned grassy road.

In 2008 on my last day to hunt I grabbed a gun and started walking an old abandoned grassy road very slowly, and I mean very slowly! I came to a corner in the road and thought I saw a little black beside a salmonberry bush and pulled up my binocs and saw bear fur! I raised the gun and this big guy came swaggering out at 60 yards coming right toward me. He was a 7 year old boar that had an official B&C score of 20 13/16. He is my best bear to date and I have to think if I had been packing my bow I would have killed him just as easy with it but I guess I will never know....

The challenge with bow hunting for bears on the west side here is they are always on the move and it is harder for me to get a shot opportunity I am happy with. I have hunted out of a ground blind and had a good shot at a bear only to click my release on my video cam tripod and spook him. I think a lot of the time on the ground though they are winding me as my trail cam pics drop way off when I hunt my blind. I have hunted a lot of hours out of a tree stand and so far have yet to take a shot. We can't bait here so sitting in a tree waiting on a bear can start to seem like a really dumb idea after many hours of no sightings.

You want really nice weather if you can get it as it greatly increases bear activity. I rarely see bears out in the rain even on my trail cams. If your hunting the west side of the state key in on any opening that will get some sunlight and get the grass growing first....

Kevin Root
02-12-2012, 06:44 PM
Very nice post and bears Joe Hulburt!

Jon Boy
02-12-2012, 08:17 PM
Holy sh*t Joe the first and last bears are HOGS!

Bitterroot Bulls
02-12-2012, 08:19 PM
You're an inspiration, Joe!

I am going to give it a good shot this Spring, I hope.

02-12-2012, 08:33 PM
Thanks alot Joe! Last year I drew a spring tag here in Washington and was hammered by snow while I was searching my unit, in April no less. Do bear spring bear typically pick opens close to dense reprod or second growth? What type(s) of calls work best and when do you think the best time to call is? I really, really hope I can draw again, since last year was a bust. Thanks again for your help!

02-12-2012, 08:43 PM
Hey Joe,

Those are some great bears........very nice

Joe Hulburt
02-12-2012, 10:38 PM
Thanks guys! I have been having a lot of fun chasing spring bears. I have a trail cam pic of a bear that dwarfs the two big ones I have killed. He didn't stick around much after I started hunting him but hopefully in a couple months I will get another chance...

Thanks alot Joe! Last year I drew a spring tag here in Washington and was hammered by snow while I was searching my unit, in April no less. Do bear spring bear typically pick opens close to dense reprod or second growth? What type(s) of calls work best and when do you think the best time to call is? I really, really hope I can draw again, since last year was a bust. Thanks again for your help!

I think the later in the season you get the better a call will work. Elk calving time is the peak of bear predation for the year and that is late May. Believe it or not he big one I called in last May came to a Pronghorn fawn distress call on my Fox Pro. Of course we have no Pronghorn here on the coast but I like the pitch of that call better than the blacktail fawn distress so I used it more. I think the bottom line is any distress sound will work if you are set up in the right place at the right time. I have a couple mouth calls I use too and they work well but I get tired of blowing on them so I prefer the Fox Pro. I don't know if electronic calls are legal in Washington or not but if they are it might be a worthwhile investment. You will have to do a lot of setups with no result due to the fact if a bear can't hear you he can't respond. Sooner or later you will hit it right and when you do he will come charging in!

Last spring was a really bad one for snow on the east side so hopefully if you draw again you will have more favorable conditions. The unit I hunt here I can draw every year which helps a lot on the learning curve and due to lower elevations snow isn't a factor.

Good luck!

02-13-2012, 08:08 PM
I have only taken a few...
One with a bow...2 with a rifle in bow range and 3 at a bit longer...find your south facing slopes...find elk..follow the snow down..as the snow melts and the grass greens..you will find bears...glass..find an open hill side and watch it...

Joe Hulburt
02-13-2012, 11:21 PM
Nice bears Branden! I love the color phase bears you guys get over in the Mt's. I might have to venture inland one of these springs for a Cinnamon colored one.

02-14-2012, 09:49 PM
Spring bear is a blast...i was out 35 days lastyear...just for bears!