As we all start to gear up for spring bear hunting, I constantly get asked "What advise do you have for me? What am I doing wrong?"
I bet you aren't doing anything wrong. The last couple years in Oregon our snow pack has not been what we've seen in the past. During spring bear, the first several weeks I like to start hunting in the lower regions. Not all the bears hibernate, many push lower into the valley and some feed on the edge of the snow line. It can get real frustrating on rainy days, but I want to remind you "It's all about timing." During the spring, the bears are moving back to their stomping grounds and preparing for mating season. When the weather is sunny, that's when you see them spending more time feeding in and out of openings. The bears that reside in the valley's, stay near properties, or are a nuisance, don't wonder far because they have a food source. If your trigger finger is itching, you can usually call these bears in with a predator call.
If you love to hunt in high country like I do, the best hunting times are the last two weeks of season. This is when you see the "mating ritual" show downs. Not to mention the snow in high country has mostly melted off and bears that were hibernating, start to come out. My favorite thing to do is sit down and glass timber openings, grassy meadows, water sources, sunny hillsides, and check all the spots I have seen movement. The best homework you can do, is leave a game cam up for a full year once you've found a spot with bear movement. You will start to see a pattern of times, enter/exit trails, length of time they stay in one spot, how long it takes them to pass back through, and the affect of time change and seasons. Black bears radius' can be up to 30 miles. If you pursue hunting in snow for bear, snow can be used in your favor. Not only you see where and which direction the bear is traveling, but you can usually tell when they passed through. If the prints have fresh dirt that's not frozen to the track, then you are looking at within a 2 hour or less time frame.
Black bears are strong animals. Shot placement is crucial! This leads me to the next most frequent question I get asked, "What rifle do you use for bear?" I'm using a .300 Remington with a Nikon scope that has a sun shade and shooting Hornady Superformance 300 WIN MAG 180 grain SST.