Recovering Wounded Bears

Thread starter #1
With another bear season behind us, I thought I would post up some info that might be helpful should you find yourself in the situation of a wounded bear that can't be located.

I am a member of the blood dog network in Georgia and every year we talk to several hunters that have lost bears to wounding and never thought to call in a blood dog to assist. The truth is there is a pretty big shortage of blood dogs in the mountain counties as compared to Central and South Georgia. Some counties down there have 4 dogs listed in the tracking network. The trackers listed in the Northern areas of Georgia cover as many as 10 counties and I am one of those. We even get calls to track as far away Tennessee and Kentucky. The point being that a tracker may not be close and to compound the matter, many of thedeer tracking handlers wont allow their dogs to track bear and hogs. Some dogs simply will have no part in tracking a bear.

Our tracks for bears are most often for archery hunters but we do get a few for rifle hunters too. When we encounter hunters that didn't call we are often told that since the bears was tracked a 1/4-1/2 mile that it was not recoverable when this is just simply not the case. A bear is arguably one of the easiest big game animals to dispatch with a well placed shot but at the same time a poorly hit one can travel miles before dropping over dead. They often don't bleed well and this is often mistaken for a non lethal wound. A bear is extremely easy to track for a well trained dog- even when there is no blood. A good cold nosed dog can work 36+ hours post shot but obviously sooner is better.

I say all this to encourage everyone to look at the GON blood dog list and find a tracker far in advance of the bear season that is willing to track bears. Find a back up as well because during the deer rut we are often backed up by 3-5 calls per day.

Lastly, it is very difficult to know exactly where an arrow or bullet hits on a bear at times. Even in good lighting conditions that big black blob can seem to swallow an arrow making a great hit poor and a poor hit look great. I have multiple hunters report great hits on bears that turn out not so great and even a couple that thought they missed only to have the tracking dog find the bear very dead a short distance away. When in doubt, consider calling in a dog. Never ever give up on a bear that you know you hit well enough to kill it without calling in a dog. We have recovered several that were dead as far away as 3.2 miles and recoveries at 1/2 to 1 mile are common on gut shot bears that are pushed by the hunter. These are often still alive 20+ Hours.

Here a few pictures of a good blood dog at work on several bears that would never have been recovered without him. A great dog can really turn a bad day into a happy ending. There are several GREAT dogs available in Georgia to help you.

To find a tracker near you, you can search the GON list or go to unitedblooodtrackers.org and then click on "find a tracker" page.

Good luck in the coming bear season and I hope this information is helpful should you ever need the help.
 

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jbogg

Senior Member
#4
Great info Jerry! Thanks for sharing. Along those lines, what is your opinion on shot placement? I have seen a lot of different opinions on the web. The diagram recommends holding on “the middle of the middle”, but others have said hold about 4” forward of that point. I am still working towards my first one so I would be interested to hear the opinions of some experienced bear hunters.
 

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Buckman18

Senior Member
#5
Jbogg, I know you directed that Q at Jerry, but I hold just forward of that dot. Some of the bears we've shoulder shot have ran and ran and ran. ALL the bears we have shot slightly forward of center punched went practically no where.
 

Big7

Senior Member
#6
Good looking dog!

I want to know if bear is good to eat?

Not really abundant in my woods and I would have to go way north or south to get one.

Just wondering if it would be worth it?
One of the few game animals or fish I haven't got yet.
(Southeastern States, anyway)
 
Thread starter #7
I am not a proponent of the "middle of the middle" but only because it leaves 0 room for error. Very slightly back is certainly a gut shot. I would hold forward of your green dot 4-6".

Big 7-bears are fine eating. Trimming excess fat is a good idea. I just pressure canned one that my son took by my house. Tried several different spices in the jars.
 

Nugefan

Senior Member
#8
jerry russell;11073431. I just pressure canned one that my son took by my house. Tried several different spices in the jars.[/QUOTE said:
that sounds awesome ...
 
#11
First bear I shot was hit in the green dot area. I was split second to late when he trotted into the cross hairs. We tracked that dang bear for hours with dogs that night. He made a big circle and bedded down a dozen times and bled more than any animal I've ever followed. He made it back to where he was shot and that's when we lost him. Dogs couldn't make heads or tails after that. Looked the next day for hours and never found him. Since I've shot or tried to shoot between the green dot and shoulder with good success for the most part.

Have you ever tracked any bears that have circled back to where the were originally wounded? Guy that help track that night called it after the second time the bear bedded up. He said one of us needed to keep a eye behind us. Sure enough after a 3/4 to mile circle he made the loop. He said he's seen that several times.
 
Thread starter #12
First bear I shot was hit in the green dot area. I was split second to late when he trotted into the cross hairs. We tracked that dang bear for hours with dogs that night. He made a big circle and bedded down a dozen times and bled more than any animal I've ever followed. He made it back to where he was shot and that's when we lost him. Dogs couldn't make heads or tails after that. Looked the next day for hours and never found him. Since I've shot or tried to shoot between the green dot and shoulder with good success for the most part.


Have you ever tracked any bears that have circled back to where the were originally wounded? Guy that help track that night called it after the second time the bear bedded up. He said one of us needed to keep a eye behind us. Sure enough after a 3/4 to mile circle he made the loop. He said he's seen that several times.
I can't recall ever tracking one that returned to the exact location it was shot. With deer it is quite common but bears most often line out.

We get called on a large number of gut shot bears and if it is suspected that it is a gut shot I prefer to wait 15 hours minimum and longer if possible. Bears will often travel a very short distance when gut hit but will go incredible distances when bumped. We often find them alive but weak after 12 hours. We track in Canada as well and no weapons are allowed within the tracking party so we simply back out and come back in 3-4 hours. Oddly enough, my Bear dog will tell me when we are close to a live bear and will slip away quietly. If the bear is close and dead, he is vocal. This was not a trained behavior just something he did since he was a pup.

Most recently we tracked a Dawson County bear that was gut shot. We entered a thick blowdown area from the hurricane and Bear Dog indicated a live bear VERY close. We looked everywhere and the hunter said "there is nothing here" and wanted to continue. I told him the dog is sure we are on top of this bear and he IS alive. As we continued to discuss it, I looked over to see the bear a few feet away staring at us from a hole from an overturned tree.
A good dog is worth his weight in gold.

I can't post his tracking videos here but we have several on our YouTube channel. I think they would interest both bear hunters and Hound lovers.
 
#13
Thanks for the info Jerry. Am I correct in thinking that's a bavarian mountain hound you're using there? Been thinking about getting one but my wife claims 14 dogs is enough hahaha
 
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