BEAR HUNTING TIPS
-- Scouting is important. Since natural foods don't appear to be scarce this fall, scout for areas where there's fresh bear sign. There's a good chance bears will remain in that area. Bears tend to wander less when food is plentiful. When scouting, look for droppings; bedding areas (scratched-out depressions usually at the base of a log or tree); and active trails with fresh tracks.
-- Look for bears in the thickest cover you can find, such as: swamps and bogs; mountain laurel/rhododendron thickets; north-facing slopes; and some river bottoms. Bigger bears are notorious for holding in thick cover even when hunters pass nearby.
-- Organized drives are effective. Hunters working together often increase their odds of taking bears, especially those bears holding out in thick cover. Develop plans to drive likely bear hideouts and follow them to the letter. A minor slip-up by a driver, flanker or stander is all any bear needs to elude even the best-laid plans. As with any drive, it is important to know where each member of the drive is and that everyone keep safety first and foremost in mind.
-- Hunting on stand early and late in the day gives hunters a great chance to catch bears traveling to and from natural feeding and bedding areas. Hunt areas that provide cover to traveling bears and ensure there are either feeding or bedding areas near where you plan to hunt.
-- Use the wind to your advantage. If a bear gets a whiff of you, you're busted as a hunter. Bears have an outstanding sense of smell. They often let their noses lead the way as they travel. Always place yourself downwind of the bear when hunting on-stand or driving. Bears are cagey enough without giving them more advantages.
-- Stay focused and assume nothing. Black bears blend in well in forest settings at dawn and as dusk approaches. Blink or spend too much time looking one way and you can miss a bear. Even though bears are quite heavy, they often are surprisingly quiet moving through the forest. You may see a bear before you hear it coming. Staying alert and remaining vigilant are critical