Bear Hunting: Approach Hunting, Oat Hunting, and Other Modern Tactics
Bear hunting is the most dangerous and therefore the most attractive kind of hunting for an experienced hunter. When encountering this beast everything is decided by marksmanship, coolness, a steady hand and strength of mind. And bringing a bear carcass as a trophy among hunters is considered the pinnacle of skill. This article summarizes the key ways to hunt this animal:
- Content: What you need to know about the brown bear
- Bear hunting on oats
- Bear hunting with dogs
- Approach hunting
- Decoy hunting
- Tips for hunters
What do I need to know about the brown bear?
It is an intelligent, agile, strong and fast animal, and hunting it is not an easy task. It has practically no weaknesses: it is an excellent runner and swimmer and climbs trees well. Therefore, he must have the same opponent: strong, sturdy and well-prepared.
Bear hunting is one of the oldest trades in Russia. In the past, warriors proved their courage by going one-on-one with the beast, carrying only a slingshot and a dagger. Nowadays there are much more sophisticated weapons at a mans disposal during hunting. But for a beginner, even an accidental encounter with a predator can be fatal. To avoid this, you should first learn as much as possible about the prey:
- This is one of the largest animals in Russian forests: a small bear weighs about 150 kg, the weight of an adult predator can reach half a ton.
- In terms of speed, the bear can rival a horse and a moose. He is also a good long jumper.
- The animal marks its territory by leaving claw marks in the trees. Its easy to tell what size predator youre chasing.
- The animals hearing and sense of smell are best developed, but its vision is somewhat worse.
- It hibernates from October to March, but sleeps very sensitively. It used to be allowed to hunt bears in the den, but now it is forbidden by law.
- Before going to winter rest, the animal actively eats cranberries, so in autumn it is easier to find them in the bogs.
- The mating season is usually in June (in some regions it begins in May). In order to protect the bear from extinction and restore the population, bear hunting is allowed from April 1 to May 31, and from August 1 to November 30.
- A female bear may leave her newborn cubs, but if the cubs reach the age of one year, she will defend them to the death. It is the bears with their offspring that pose the greatest danger to humans. They can attack upon a chance encounter in the woods.
- Most often the bear hunts in the evening or at night, but it feels like a master in its territory, so it is easy to see it during the day as well.
A successful hunter is one who knows the habits of the beast and uses them to get the desired prey.
Bear hunting on oats
Bears are omnivores, but oat fields are especially attractive to them. On grain, the predator gains weight well and quickly, which is vital for them before winter hibernation. Usually, they visit the same field year after year and an experienced hunter will easily find traces of bears presence there. In this case, you can proceed to the second point of the hunt – the construction of a camp.
For it you should choose a reliable and strong tree with a dense crown. The camp should not be visible, otherwise, the bear will stop going to the field (until he is convinced that the territory is safe, which may take several years). There are some rules when building a hunting lodge:
- Build the structure high enough: at least five meters. Bear hunting is dangerous because the animal is much better at climbing trees than a human. Even if wounded, the wild animal is able to fly up the trunk almost with lightning speed.
- Do not use improvised materials for construction: neighboring trees and shrubs. It is better to bring logs with you. If a bear sees the construction process itself, it will probably not come to the field again.
- Make the hiding place comfortable: sometimes you have to wait for a very long time while hunting. A man should not be distracted, dozing, talking, warming up, or otherwise making noise. Thats why its better to have a soft seat and a footrest right away.
- Prepare the camp site in advance: before the hunting season begins.
Before taking a position, remember that bears are guided by their hearing and their sense of smell. Some experienced hunters, before going on a bear hunt, do not shave, smoke, drink alcohol or use any cosmetics (deodorants, colognes) for a week. Clothes and shoes are ventilated to get rid of all kinds of smells.
The success of bear hunting on oats largely depends on ones patience. Waiting can take a long time, but it is necessary to remain focused and attentive: the animal always appears unexpectedly, as it moves almost silently. There are also other recommendations, which are important to know for both huntsman and hunter:
- When hunting bear, you should take a proven weapon with heavy bullets that do not misfire.
- The effective area for shooting is the head and heart (it is located at the level of the bends of the forelegs).
- Shoot until the end – a wounded animal is extremely dangerous. The animal is able to run away quickly and far, even with severe injuries. Chase it alone under no circumstances. It is better to go in a group with dogs the next day. Defending itself, the predator can make a loop, go around people and attack them from the back. Such cases are not uncommon.
- Shoot only when you are sure there is a bear in front of you. When hunting, even experienced shooters are so nervous that they often mistake a domestic animal or a human for their prey.
- Only approach the carcass when you are sure the bear is dead. This rule applies to any hunt in general, not just in the feeding fields.
Bear hunting with dogs
All forest host hunting tactics can be divided into two big groups. The first assumes that the hunter waits for the beast in a specially prepared place (a camp or a lodge). Then the success of the event is directly related to how silent a man can be. If the bear hunt does not involve a long wait (the hunter follows the trail), the dogs will be excellent companions.
It is best to go to this animal with huskies. Two or three dogs are let off leashes. Their tasks include:
- Get on the trail of the beast. Usually bears are hunted in autumn, when it is very difficult to distinguish their tracks on the ground. Hunting is carried out in a free search mode: they bypass feeding places, rich berry grounds, bogs. As soon as dogs have smelled a bear, they wont lose its trace.
- Catch the animal and hold it until a human approaches. Laikas cant cause serious damage to an animal, but a bear can kill a dog with one paw. Thats why it is necessary to have several dogs. They take turns attacking, inflicting non-serious but painful bites. The bear sits down to protect his pelvis. In this position, the dogs continue to hold him until the hunter approaches.
- Track down a shot and warn of its approach. In hunting it is always recommended to shoot to kill. But often it goes according to another scenario: a wounded bear runs away to get around a man and attack him unexpectedly. Dogs are indispensable in the pursuit of prey. On the one hand they prevent the beast from confusing its tracks. On the other hand, they will warn of the approaching danger by their loud barking.
The shot should be made when the bear is in good visibility and in such a way that the dogs are not harmed. An experienced hunter knows how difficult it is to raise and raise a decent four-legged helper. He will not risk his skin in vain on the hunt. By the way, to bring up hunting dogs, they are put to sleep on a bears skin while they are still puppies. Growing up, they are not afraid of these predators, and bravely rush at them.
Hunting with approach
The most difficult, but also one of the most effective methods is bear hunting with the approach. It is chosen only by an experienced hunter, confident that:
- He will not be panicked by a chance encounter with a beast, and he will be able to act coolly and correctly.
- He will be able to track the beast without dogs
- He knows all the subtleties of hunting and will be able to approach a bear without giving away his presence, neither by sound nor by smell.
Prepare for hunting with the approach in advance. It should be done if there are a lot of small feeding areas in the forest which the animal visits in a chaotic manner and its just not possible to cover all the points with camping sites. Its better to be prepared for a long hike and to take everything you need. It is not advisable to follow known bear trails – it may frighten the beast.
You should move as quietly as possible. It concerns not only silent step: it is recommended to arrange all things in backpack so that they dont jingle and dont rustle. Accidentally knocking a spoon on a bowl will scare the prey, and the frightened animal will behave more cautiously.
The tactics of hunting with the approach is as follows:
- A man notices a bear feeding.
- Try to get as close to him as possible. Move very slowly. If the animal is suspicious (stops eating, moves its nose and ears, listens), you should stop.
- The shot is fired. Before shooting, one must make sure that the prey is clearly visible. Hasty shooting often leads to tragedy: it is quite possible that several people are hunting a bear at the same time, not knowing about each other.
Hunting for bear in a bait (or on a lodge) is similar to hunting on oats. But here a cow, elk, chicken or fish carcass is used as bait. The hiding place is built 20-30 meters away from the animal carcass, and then the hunter hides and waits. Despite the apparent simplicity hunting on a lure is one of the most dangerous. When planning it, you must take into account the following points:
- The stakeout should provide a good view of the bait.
- A bear can appear from any side, usually it happens unexpectedly. When hunting, you should not make a hasty shot – it will only scare the bear away.
- Not only game, but also territory can be used as bait: if you notice that the animal began to come to the apiary or an abandoned vegetable garden, study the animal trails and build a hideout so that everyone can see from it.
- Carcasses killed by the bear itself are also used as bait. If you come across a fallen moose in the woods, make sure the predator has gone away from its prey before taking cover. Its also possible that he lurks nearby, and then his unexpected appearance will not lead to anything good.
- The bait should be fixed in the right place: the animal often tries to drag it closer to the den or simply into the bushes. This can be done by nailing the carcass with thick stakes or tying it to a tree. This increases the chances of a successful hunt.
Tips for hunters
There are a number of other bear habits and characteristics, knowing about which, it is easier to organize a thoughtful hunt for a valuable trophy:
- Its better to lay the trap before the first snowfall: predators trust them more. Left on the snow, it is less popular – the animal may not approach it. When leaving the bait for hunting, remember that the bear is not the only predator that may be interested in the meat.
- The larger the animal, the bolder it is. This manifests itself in everything: a large animal will come to the bait faster, it is more likely to attack a human in an unexpected encounter.
- Everyone knows that bears love milk, honey, and fish. But few suspect that they are just as attracted to the smell of diesel oil: if they find a spilled stain in the woods, they will never go around it. Use it for hunting.
- Most often, wild animals feed at dusk. In the fall they come to feeding grounds at dawn and in the spring at dusk. Knowing this, you will spend less time on the hunt waiting.
Bear hunting is a complex task that must be approached wisely. Make sure that you are fully prepared, take with you a proven weapon that does not malfunction. For the first time to go out on this dangerous beast is better still in the proven company of experienced gamekeepers. Later you will be able to go hunting on your own.
Rules for bear hunting
A bears skin is the main trophy of a seasoned hunter. Everyone knows about the strength, speed and danger of this animal. The bear is a clever and cunning predator. Thats why not every hunter will dare to take such a risk. In order to have a successful bear hunt the hunter must be experienced, know certain rules and be confident in his abilities. For human safety as well as for the preservation of natural resources this kind of hunting is specially regulated by the order of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia. Before hunting you should get acquainted with its latest edition, which can be found on the Internet. The order allows hunting on the den, with dogs, on bait and on oats. In addition to the official regulations, it is not superfluous to know the rules of experienced hunters, which they have accumulated over the years.
Hunting for prey is possible only at certain times. These dates vary and should be checked with the local natural resource protection authorities. Usually, they do not exceed 60 days and fall in the fall and spring. Local authorities may direct the shooting of injured animals, as well as bears awakened in winter hibernation. Such animals are dangerous to local residents.
Den hunting is not as easy as it seems. Finding a den, especially at the end of winter, is very difficult. In the fall, when the bear chooses a place to hibernate, he purposely mixes up his tracks. To find it, one can orientate oneself on the torn moss, broken branches of trees and bushes, as well as on footprints. The bear is hunted in a group. No matter how much the hunter wants to face the beast alone, it is too dangerous. Hunters observe silence and caution. It is customary to take the dogs. They come to the den early in the morning and in complete silence, because the bear can jump out of the den at any moment. The hunters take their positions, and only one man stays near the entrance. The others are positioned on both sides of the lair in order to avoid being shot by each other. Next, the dogs wake the bear by barking. The louder the barking, the closer the animal is. Males are especially quick to respond to the bear, but females may not come out of the den for a long time. When a bear comes out of the den, its actions are completely unpredictable. Furious, it can attack dogs and people alike. The shooter has only a few seconds. He has to hit the vital area, otherwise a minor wound will only make the beast angrier. If a bear escapes from the hunters, it has to be hunted down and killed, which takes two days. Such jackknifed bears are dangerous, they can accidentally walk into a village close to the forest. For roaming bears they organise so called round-ups. To organise a round-up, the first group of hunters creates a noise, shouts and walks in a semicircle towards the roe deer. The bear, trying to get away from them, attacks the shooters. They are obliged to make accurate shots.
Hunting with dogs is also very common. Trained huskies find and pursue the bear. The hunter follows the bark. By orienting himself to it, he understands how far away the animal is. When the bear gets tired of the chase, it starts to attack. Thats why several dogs always participate in the chase, which prevents one barker, which is difficult to stand alone against a bear, from getting hurt.
Bait hunting consists in creating an ambush for the beast and placing a bait not far from it. Usually it is a dead animal. The bait is attached to the ground with spades, so that the bear does not immediately run away with it into the woods. This type of hunting is usually done in the spring. The animal is hungry and looking for carrion. The key to success is a good camouflage of the bait, otherwise the bear may feel something wrong and not come close to it.
Oat hunting is not the most frequent choice of hunting enthusiasts. It is usually organized for clients who have come to the base to hunt. Experienced shooters do not like this kind of hunting, because it does not require skill, experience and proficiency. The huntsman leads the hunter to the point where he is waiting for the beast. Hunting on oats lasts about two weeks. It is in the summer, when the bear eats oats. The bears presence can be seen on oat stalks, which seem to be sucked up, and also on traces of the bears rolling on the ground. Then a small camp is built in this place, from which a large enough space can be seen. The hunter sits in it in advance to get a shot. The hunting starts in the evening. Its impossible to determine the exact time of bears coming; thats why the hunter watches him quietly on the camp. The shot is made when the animal comes as close as possible. If the animal is wounded, it is chased by trained dogs. According to the rules, a wounded bear must be found within two days.
So, bear hunting is a difficult and risky activity, which is carried out in a group of experienced hunters. Together people gain experience and do not put themselves in danger.