If you love bowhunting big game in fall but don’t want to wait until September to get started, don’t overlook springtime black bears. Chasing bruins with archery tackle makes for a great challenge. Not convinced? Here are five reasons why you should be bowhunting bears this spring.
Spring bear hunting allows you to chase big game at a time when you can only dream of chasing bugling elk or rutting mule deer in the mountains. Bear seasons usually ramp up in April and run through June. Not only do they provide a fun opportunity to bowhunt during what would otherwise be downtime, but they’ll also keep your skills sharp so you don’t skip a beat. You can also test your gear so you can get more use out of your favorite optics, brand-new backpack or other items you’re excited to use.
Spring is synonymous with new life and new growth. As the mountains bears call home green up with new growth, elk calves and deer fawns are being born and are very vulnerable. Contrary to popular belief, bears are omnivores and spend more time foraging on bugs and new growth than hunting other animals. But they’re opportunistic and won’t pass up an easy chance at a young deer or elk. Bear hunters help keep predator numbers in check to sustain healthy habitat where all animals can thrive. Hunters work closely with fish and wildlife agencies to ensure harvest metrics are within goal, so wildlife managers can learn more about the population and impact bears have on the landscape.
There’s no better way to beat cabin fever after a long winter than spending time in the mountains, soaking up an iconic Western landscape as bears emerge from hibernation. By getting out there, you’ll increase your odds of finding sheds while spending hours behind your favorite glass in search of bears. The intel you gain during a springtime bear hunt can be valuable for tagging a buck or bull when fall hunting seasons finally open up.
Unlike other Western tags, spring bear licenses can be purchased over the counter, and they’re affordable — less than $200 in some states. The West has plenty of public land and is full of potential for traveling bowhunters who want to try a do-it-yourself bowhunt on a budget. Season dates are long, so you have plenty of time to plan your hunt. Once you have your dates locked in and time away from work approved, get in touch with a biologist familiar with the area you’ll be hunting. Wildlife agency biologists are a great resource for lessening the learning curve when you’re hunting a new species in a new area.
Bear meat is delicious. From canned bear meat to pulled bear meat recipes in the slow cooker to rendered fat, there’s no shortage of ways to get creative with your harvest. Pound for pound, there are arguably more ways to use your bear than any other game animal. If you prefer free-range, mountain-sourced protein to fuel your body, you won’t want to miss your chance at filling your freezer with it this spring. Don’t wait — there’s plenty of opportunity to be had that requires minimal cost and planning, so find a buddy, pick your dates, dial in your gear and hit the woods for bears right now.