We are fortunate enough here in Montana to have resident black bear tags over-the-counter (OTC). Black bear hunting is one of my favorite hunts of the year. You see lots of game, find sheds, and get to enjoy glassing black bears in the pleasant spring temperatures. Over the past two seasons I’ve found that these five steps were keys to finding bears in the spring.
1) Find where bears live. – In the springtime bears that come out of hibernation primarily feed on green grass. Figure out where the first spots to turn green are in an area. Old logging clearcuts, open faces surrounded by timber, south facing slopes, and old logging roads are great places to start. One key is to make sure that adequate cover and water is available nearby. Bears typically inhabit these areas away from the presence of humans so be looking about 1-2 miles from the nearest access point or roadway.
2) Follow the snow line. – Many spring black bears will almost always be just below snow line where the grass is really starting to green up. The higher the snow line in your area, the higher your going to have to hike to find the bears.
3) Find the greenest grass. – You’ve picked a location, found some clearings and are up by the snow line, but still don’t see any bears. Find where the greenest and longest grass is in the area. These bears want a quick easy meal, and the longest grass is their best chance at filling their belly.
4) Search logging roads. – Old logging roads are a highway for spring bears. Logging roads that have been seeded tend to be the first to grow grass in an area. These black bears congregate on grassy logging roads and are a great place to search when looking for feeding bears. They not only feed on these roads, but use them to travel easily from one location to another.
5) Find bear sign. – Logging roads are a great place to start looking for sign. Find green grass? See multiple bear scats on the road? Your in the right place! The best way to fill your bear tag is to be patient. Find a good vantage point of the area where you have been seeing the bear sign, and wait. The best times for bear activity is first thing in the morning and last light. When I say last light, I mean the last 30min of shooting light. Somedays you will need to sit all day, just to get an opportunity. Often we have spotted bears briefly as they get up for a quick mid-day snack and are able to move closer so when they come out in the evening we are in position. Good luck out there and have a great spring black bear season!
Posted By: Travis Boughton