Planning my first hunt!

Thread starter #1
I've been creeping on this board for a few weeks now and have found much of what I’ve read helpful, but it’s time I reached out for some additional help. Over the last month or so I’ve developed a strong urge to go black bear hunting. A buddy and I are in the process of planning a weekend trip to give it a shot. I haven’t done any scouting so I realize the chances of harvesting a bear are low and that this trip may be more of a scouting/educational trip than anything else, but I’m ok with that. Here are some questions that I have if anybody doesn’t mind:

Rules and Regs:
I understand that no bear under 75 pounds can be taken, nor can any Sow be taken when her cubs are around and that you can’t bait or use dogs.
-Are there other regs I’m missing, beyond rules that might apply to individual WMAs?
-My plans are to drive up from the middle part of the state to the North Ga Mountains, am I understanding it correctly that I can hunt any WMA on that particular WMA’s specified dates so long as I have my big game hunting license?
-Can anyone explain the difference between a check in and a sign in hunt? I’ve never hunted a WMA before.
-Are WMA’s the best place for me to begin trying or are there other public land areas that would work better?
-From what I can tell, the best WMAs for bear hunting look like Blue Ridge, Chattahoochee, Cohutta, Coopers Creek, and Chestatee. I figure all of these lands are good if you know what you’re doing. Any one place in particular might be better for a beginner?

Hunting Tips:
My thoughts are that we spend the first full day basically just scouting. I’ve read that during a particular season acorns will typically fall in mass in high OR low elevation, but not both. So my thought was to find out which one was the case and either head up high or down lower and spend the first day looking for places with good food sources, mostly white oak acorns, and as much bear sign as I can find. Scat and tracks. Any tips for a novice in this area would be greatly appreciated!

Gear:
Is there any special gear I might need that I wouldn’t have already because of deer hunting?

Please feel free to throw anything you think I should know at me. Thanks so much to anyone who might have read all of this.
 
#3
I suggest you read all the forum posts. There’s tremendous information scattered all through. It’s getting a bit late to catch bear on the feed so don’t delay your hunt too long. I too was a newbie bear hunter last year. I knew nothing, read every post, and started hunting a bit late, saw one bear going away from me as I was walking a forest road. That said I hiked miles and mikes noting white oak groves near gaps, and was better prepared for this year.

This year, I reread all the posts, went back to the areas noted last year, have now seen 10 bear this year, harvested one, missed one.

Get a reg book and you’ll see the WmA rules including sign and check in hunts. You can download the ga DNR app and use that for the check in requirement which beats having to find a check in station which could be a large drive from your intended hunting grounds. As said in an earlier post, the wma hunts are limited after bow season, but the national forest isnt so much so.
 
#4
I would Spend your time anywhere between 3200-3500 in elevation. I saw 3 bears this weekend between those elevations and did not see much sign anywhere else in elevation.

For gear, Make sure you have good socks and boots. keep them laced tight. As well remember on shot placement, bears vitals are a bit ****her back so dont shoot to far forward. I aim for 6 inches in front of center of the bear and you should pinwheel the lungs.

Besides that, good luck and stay safe
 
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