As it repeatedly slashed the ground and huffed, the black bear moved its head side to side and wouldn’t back down. “One more step closer and I will shoot,” I thought. Then the bear clawed the ground and faked a charge, bringing it even closer. With the animal now a mere eight metres away, I released. When my arrow pierced the bear’s lungs just behind the front shoulder, the boar quickly dashed away and dropped, ending an intense and scary situation. I often think back and wonder if it was absolutely necessary to shoot that bear, but I have no regrets about the decision. And when I spoke to my family afterwards, they were glad I was around to tell the story.
Through years of hunting over bait stations during the three-month spring black bear season, I’ve witnessed a variety of bear behaviours, from parental routines to battles for dominance, breeding rights and food sources. I’ve also watched juvenile animals entering situations older bears avoid. As a result of all this, I’ve learned to identify aggressive bears, and to respect every animal until I can gauge the situation accurately. Here are some black bear behaviours unique to the spring season, and how hunters can capitalize on them.