During the spring black bear hunt, it pays to recognize your quarry’s changes in behaviour—and put them to your advantage
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.