Bear Hunting On Your Own
Bear hunting ground in Idaho and the fitness perquisites for that journey are what I know best. However, if you're going to hire a guide then the game will change. I have sat in a guided bear camp and it was about the easiest hunt I've ever been on. We were in the middle of the north fork of the Clearwater. We road in on ATV's and sleds, and hung out at camp all day until evenings. We didn't do any of the baiting, we just got dropped off and sat a few hours in the evening each day. I felt like I gained weight on the trip from the unhealthy menu options of camp and the lack of activity throughout the day. This is probably par for the course, unless you're using hounds. If you're going to tree a bear, be prepared to keep up with 4-legged dogs that can tame any mountain and negotiate dense bush and tangled terrain. Hound hunting is physical, and you better be in shape if you want to keep that bear at bay long enough to earn a shot.
Baiting Baiting bears DIY style is a ton of fun but it is also hard work. Usually we start baiting mid April and can end up running baits into June. We bait two times a week and drive over a 100 miles one way - it's a commitment. Hauling in bait and getting away from roads and easy access is how you find a mature boar. The harder an area is to reach, usually the higher quality of bears you will find. When you have a 50 gallon barrel to put on your back, plus grease and grub, and a cooking stove, you know you're in for a great workout. An ATV can only get you so far, so be prepared to make several trips just to bait and set-up your stands and ladders. You might be hauling in a chainsaw as well to create shooting lanes and help guide the bears' approach to your bait.You have to find country that has cover, a water source nearby and somehow a way to get the wind to cooperate when you sit the stand. Either way, it takes a couple of seasons to really perfect your set-ups and find areas where big bears want to reside. We don't burn vacation time to hunt bears, so a snapshot of our weekly routine mid bear season when baiting goes like this: Wednesday - get off work and drive straight to Idaho. We find discount bread stores on the way and load up on pastries - like literally a truckload. By the time we get to our destination, we unload the ATV, tie down the stove and buckets of bait and ride off in the fading light. Once we get to where we are going, hike in and cook up some grease and smoke out the surrounding area. You'll know immediately if your bait is getting hit, usually it takes a few days for the bears to find it. I strongly recommend putting out some scents in the area and utilizing a trail camera that can be locked up from curious bears.
Some folks put little honey dishes five or six feet off the ground against a tree so the bears have to stand up to get into them. If your camera can get pictures or video you should be able to tell if you have a male for female and get solid intelligence on the bear's size. Once you've baited in the dark, head back to the truck and bomb run home so you don't miss work. Remember, we save our vacation time for the fall. Friday Night - we do the same program, bait in the dark, pull cards out of the cameras, and head back to base camp. We usually hunt bears in the morning and evenings leaving the entire day to scout for bear sign, glass ridges, and explore old abandoned logging roads with fresh grass. If you can do this weekend after weekend you will get your opportunity. It's a school of hard knocks so be prepared to cut your teeth on a steep learning curve. Now, let's talk more about finding bears on their feet for spot and stalk opportunity.
Spot And Stalk If you want to shoot a bear off of the ground it takes a special mindset. You need country to pore over and you may have to sit in one spot and glass and grid repeatedly until a bear materializes. Bears can pop-out of nowhere at any given time so you're best to glass areas where you are seeing green grass and tons of bear scat. I have found a few magical abandoned logging roads that produce bear encounters every year. These places in Idaho usually are behind locked gates that require a five to ten mile mountain bike ride. Logging outfits are notorious for seeding the roads when they're done logging and this makes for prime bear areas - especially when you have a mixture of cover and a water source.