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The American black bear is widely distributed across the United States and Canada. Twenty-eight states and all Canadian provinces have hunting seasons for black bears, with Maine having perhaps the largest bear population of the Lower 48. Typically found in forested regions, this species is adaptable and often found near civilization. Which area for black bear hunting to choose depends on whether your preferred hunting method (baiting, over hounds, etc.) is legal, and whether you want a classic black skin or a different color phase skin, e.g. brown, chocolate, cinnamon, red, or blonde. Color-phase bears are especially common in the northwestern United States. A rare bluish-gray color phase in Alaska is known as the Glacier bear, and the all-white Kermode bear occurs on several islands in coastal British Columbia.
For the effort that is involved in preparation of a successful black bear hunt, including preparing bait sites, training hounds, etc., black bear hunts are relative bargains. They start at about $1,500 and seldom reach over $5,000. The most expensive propositions you see on BookYourHunt.com are usually fly-in or boat-based hunts in Alaska, which often come as package trips with a number of other species included in the price.
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Baiting is by far the most popular way of hunting black bears. By studying tracks and marks, and checking trail camera images, the outfitter can have a pretty good idea what degree of success their hunters can expect. However, baiting is not as easy as it seems. Whether you’re planning a DIY hunt or hiring an outfitter, you’ll find our blog story on bear baiting useful.15 Feb 2018 Best Outfitters’ Bear Baiting Tips and Techniques
When to hunt Black Bear?
The big question for a bear hunter is whether to choose to hunt in the spring or the fall season. The spring season typically starts after the bruins get out of their dens in April, and can continue through June. Most hunters prefer the spring season because it offers a chance to hunt when most other hunting seasons are closed. Success rates are also often higher during the spring. The early part of the spring season works better for hunting over bait, as the bears make up for the winter fast. Late May to June is better for spot-and-stalk hunting: shorter nights mean bears move in the daylight more, and big males are bolder and more active because it’s rut time and they’re looking for sows. The fall season usually starts in September and goes on until the bears den in November. The closer to denning time, the better the skin and the fatter the flesh.
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Black bears are hunted by a wide variety of methods, depending on the terrain of the region and the regulations of the state or province. In some states and provinces, bears are hunted over bait with the hunter in a tree stand or blind. Some states allow bear hunting with dogs, and in other regions, drives are a traditional and successful method. In western regions, hunts are typically spot-and-stalk, and calling can also be effective.
Why hunt Black Bear?
American black bears are typically the smallest of all types of bears, but in areas where food is abundant, a bear may exceed 600 pounds. They are usually less aggressive than grizzlies, but still account for quite a few maulings and even deaths each year. A certain degree of hunting pressure is necessary not only to keep the bear population in check, but also to keep them associating humans with danger, which acts as conflict prevention. Black bear meat (when it’s not infected with trichinosis) is a delicacy, and its hide, especially in an unusual color phase, makes a beautiful rug. A black bear’s sense of smell is excellent. Although its eyesight and hearing are average. they are very intelligent. Harvesting a black bear is quite a challenge, which is perhaps one of the greatest attractions of the hunt.
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