To elevate the adrenaline factor, try a spot-and-stalk hunt with a predator call
Know the danger
It’s been said the only thing predictable about black bears is that they’re unpredictable. In general, they want nothing to do with people. But as top-level predators, bears are motivated mostly by food, so if you sound or smell like a meal, there’s a good chance they’ll come to investigate. For this reason, predator calling is a dynamite strategy for beckoning bruins.
In broad terms, spot-and-stalk hunting black bears is relatively safe, although the risk of danger does increase any time you try to sneak up close. Add calling to the equation, which can bring a bear into your personal space, and the risk is elevated even further. For the most part, bears attack in defence of their young or their food, or any time they feel cornered with no option for escape. It’s therefore important to choose a safe line of approach when sneaking in on a bear, especially when calling.
Also consider the risk from other predator populations. Where I do most of my black bear hunting, for example, there’s also a high density of cougars, wolves and grizzlies. With the very real possibility of attracting any of those species to my call, maximizing visibility is key (see “Mind the view”).
Whether you’re hunting with a firearm or bow, remember that mechanical problems and misfires can occur. And with the unpredictability of bears, they can become aggressive and manoeuvre in ways not conducive to making a lethal shot, especially with a bow. That’s why I’m a big fan of always carrying bear spray when calling—it provides just that little bit of added insurance.