Bear habits

Thread starter #1
So I am working out the details to go on my first bear hunt next year. Trying to find someone to go with me because things just seem more fun when you have someone to hang out and relive stories with. I have looked at coopers creek, swallow creek, chestatee, chattahoochie, Cohutta and NF land. Still have a lot more narrowing down to do on location. My plan is to go during bow season hopefully. Maybe I’ll get lucky and be able to take the wife up for a scouting trip one day this summer. I have done a lot of reading on this forum to try to figure out as much about bears as I can before I make it up to hunt them. It seems like food is the name of the game. Find the fresh sign and if it’s hot hunt over it. Sounds like the closer to bedding the better. Some years it will be at different elevations and will take a lot of boot leather to find that. My question mostly pertains to bear movement around/through terrain features. Do bears mostly travel on top of ridges, the top 1/3rd, or something different? Do they take the same route every day that they are on a food source regardless of wind direction? If you bump a bear off a food source, do they generally return quickly or are they pretty well spooked? Additionally do bears return to bed mid day (in general) or do they feed all through mid day too? How far will a bear travel from bedding to food in an afternoon? Or will they bed close to a hot food source no matter the cover? I’m sure I will have about a million other questions as I prepare, but I am all ears for listening to things that might increase my chances at success.
 
Bears just travel everywhere, top, 1/3, all of it.
Bears aren’t as keen on a particular wind direction as deer, but they have a WAY better nose.
Depends on how badly you spook them and how prevalent food is. If they can get better food nearby, they will leave. They’re not married to a “home” like deer, although they have a core range.
Bears are feeding machines, and I’ve never seen one bed except in a tree lap in winter. I’m sure they lay up, but it’ll be near or on food, they’re not like deer. They don’t do the same thing every day like deer. You’re looking at bear through a deer hunters eyes, and you really cannot. Find the food, and watch the wind-especially on your approach.
Food. Food. Food/water. Cover next.
 
Thread starter #3
Great info! Thanks for the answers. You are right about the deer hunters eyes as that’s all I’ve ever known. Is there anything that tells you a bears core area? A specific kind of sign? Or if you find sign you can just assume it’s A part of that bears core range?
 
Theres so much territory to cover it can be overwhelming.

My best advise is to just pick a area and go scout. (do it now) I seem to have pretty good luck by picking a creek. I scout up thru it to the ridge line. I then turn up or down the ridge for aways. If possible i come out a different creek. You almost get two areas for the price of one. Look for white oaks stands. On a normal year these are key.
Keep a look out for a bunch of limbs with leaves on them. They will be scattered around under oak trees. This a tree a bear was climbing before they started droping. I would put this area on my list of places to check when bow season starts. You can find scat now. Check red oak trees. It can be hard to see though if not fresh.

Prepare to be discouraged. You will scout acre upon acre and see little to no sign. You just have to keep going until you find a few spots.

Theres lots of info in the bear forum from people who have years of experience at actually killing bears. You can spend hours reading on any topic you can think of.

The search button is your friend!
 
You’re looking at bear through a deer hunters eyes, and you really cannot.
Can not express this enough!! A lot of guys go from hunting deer to hunting bears, and become frustrated at the lack of success because they spend a lot of time hunting them like they do deer.

Bears will travel up, down, across, and all but backwards on ridges. In my experience, they're not nearly as predictable as deer are in their movement and how they travel the terrain. That being said, I find them a much easier target than mountain deer.

Food is definitely the name of the game, and they have great noses, so play your wind right. I don't think they travel the wind as religiously as deer do, but they'll bust you quickly. If I spook a bear off of a food source, I usually just hang out a while because even if that bear doesn't come back (which they usually do), another will be along shortly. I'm no expert, but I do get lucky enough to tag out on bears most years by hunting the food sources they're using. Find the food, and if there's fresh bear sign on it, sit tight.
 
Thread starter #6
What dictates hot enough sign for yall to sit over? I struggle with that on my local central Georgia WMAs. I walk, find fresh sign, and keep walking looking for hotter and hotter sign. Will you keep walking until you find something less than 24 hours old? Are you ok with 3-5 day old sign? Obviously fresher the better, but what are you willing to sit over? I fully expect my first bear trip to be a lot of hiking and not much action. But I am sure looking forward to it. How crowded do the WMAs generally get during bow season?
 
What dictates hot enough sign for yall to sit over? I struggle with that on my local central Georgia WMAs. I walk, find fresh sign, and keep walking looking for hotter and hotter sign. Will you keep walking until you find something less than 24 hours old? Are you ok with 3-5 day old sign? Obviously fresher the better, but what are you willing to sit over? I fully expect my first bear trip to be a lot of hiking and not much action. But I am sure looking forward to it. How crowded do the WMAs generally get during bow season?
You'll know it when you see it. Idk how else to say it. You'll just know. And if you ignore it the first time, you won't the second. Lol

Crowded? That depends on how well this forum motivates people plus all the unknown covid crap.
Usually, you'll have your reign of the place in archery.
 
I hunt Cohutta, which is hit or miss being crowded during archery season (crowded being relative to cohutta). As far as what qualifies as "fresh enough," it depends on the time of year. Early season, I don't sit on sign more than a day or two old, unless of course its underneath a good food source like a white oak that's dropping. Often times, the trees that the bears are using for food are marked by bears climbing them before the acorns started dropping. These are usually good stands to keep an eye on as bow season starts.

Later in the year when the bears aren't nearly as active, I'm much more likely to sit on day or two old sign instead of passing it up because its a decent chance that he's still in the area given that they move around a lot less. I know it sounds gross, but bear scat can give you a good idea of what they're eating in the area, especially late season when acorns are scarce. Find the food, whether early season or late, and you'll also find the bears.

Of course, these are just my experiences, but I don't claim to be good at it.
 

jbogg

Senior Member
As others have mentioned, during bow season fresh feeding sign, specifically fresh bear scat will be key. By the second week of bow season this year most of the Bears had transitioned to acorns. With that being said, the fresh scat from a bear feeding on acorns looks a lot like crunchy peanut butter. Almost the same color and consistency. As the scat oxidizes over a number of days it will form a dark crust until it is almost black. With a little experience you will quickly be able to determine what is worth hunting, and what is too old. The photo shows a pile of acorn bear scat that was less than 12 hours old. I hunted that food plot until dark one night, and when I reentered it at dark the following morning there was a fresh pile of Scat that had not been there the night before.
4CE4AA6E-D811-4422-89ED-D34E140771C3.jpeg
 

hambone76

Senior Member
So I am working out the details to go on my first bear hunt next year. Trying to find someone to go with me because things just seem more fun when you have someone to hang out and relive stories with. I have looked at coopers creek, swallow creek, chestatee, chattahoochie, Cohutta and NF land. Still have a lot more narrowing down to do on location. My plan is to go during bow season hopefully. Maybe I’ll get lucky and be able to take the wife up for a scouting trip one day this summer. I have done a lot of reading on this forum to try to figure out as much about bears as I can before I make it up to hunt them. It seems like food is the name of the game. Find the fresh sign and if it’s hot hunt over it. Sounds like the closer to bedding the better. Some years it will be at different elevations and will take a lot of boot leather to find that. My question mostly pertains to bear movement around/through terrain features. Do bears mostly travel on top of ridges, the top 1/3rd, or something different? Do they take the same route every day that they are on a food source regardless of wind direction? If you bump a bear off a food source, do they generally return quickly or are they pretty well spooked? Additionally do bears return to bed mid day (in general) or do they feed all through mid day too? How far will a bear travel from bedding to food in an afternoon? Or will they bed close to a hot food source no matter the cover? I’m sure I will have about a million other questions as I prepare, but I am all ears for listening to things that might increase my chances at success.
I’m planning on spending some time up there scouting for the upcoming season. Let me know when you plan on going and I’ll join you. I plan to bowhunt with my recurve, hunt the early rifle hunt and again later in the season.
I’m pretty much going to give up a large portion of my deer season and a Fall Salmon trip to devote to learning all that I can.
 

zedex

Gator Bait
I'm always looking out for bear. Of course I am not a professional hunter or guide but I have learned a few tricks.

Bears rarely "out" themselves in wide open spaces. They prefer cover. They tend to travel along creekside, pretty much keeping water close by..

Look for scat. Once found, break it open. Freshness is determined by strong scent, mushy texture and color.

Once I find scat, I'll bait the area. Set up game cameras and food. Know you know what's in the area and who took the food.
Do this for about a week or so. This can establish if the area is a home range or an area of pass through.

A lot of activity is around sunrise and sunset. But, the occasional midday excursion is known. Around here, between 4 and 7pm seems to be the prime time

After establishing the area, remove the cameras , stop baiting and hunt the vicinity.

Some say this method is cheating but I don't think so. You arent hunting over bait or in an active baiting area. You merely tested for their presence.

If you are in an active area, beware. Aside from any physical entanglements with them, they are slick and quick.

Once, after setting the camera, I set a huge chunk of raw beef fat on a stump at the bottom of a hill. Then, I placed a large piece of wood on top of it.

The camera was maybe 100ft away. By the time I walked back to the camera to double check focus, the beef fat was gone. In the pictures taken, the bear was barely visible behind me taking it. I never heard a thing.

Another time, while testing an area, I found a cougar. It was as startled as I was.

Fun times !!!
 
I'm always looking out for bear. Of course I am not a professional hunter or guide but I have learned a few tricks.

Bears rarely "out" themselves in wide open spaces. They prefer cover. They tend to travel along creekside, pretty much keeping water close by..

Look for scat. Once found, break it open. Freshness is determined by strong scent, mushy texture and color.

Once I find scat, I'll bait the area. Set up game cameras and food. Know you know what's in the area and who took the food.
Do this for about a week or so. This can establish if the area is a home range or an area of pass through.

A lot of activity is around sunrise and sunset. But, the occasional midday excursion is known. Around here, between 4 and 7pm seems to be the prime time

After establishing the area, remove the cameras , stop baiting and hunt the vicinity.

Some say this method is cheating but I don't think so. You arent hunting over bait or in an active baiting area. You merely tested for their presence.

If you are in an active area, beware. Aside from any physical entanglements with them, they are slick and quick.

Once, after setting the camera, I set a huge chunk of raw beef fat on a stump at the bottom of a hill. Then, I placed a large piece of wood on top of it.

The camera was maybe 100ft away. By the time I walked back to the camera to double check focus, the beef fat was gone. In the pictures taken, the bear was barely visible behind me taking it. I never heard a thing.

Another time, while testing an area, I found a cougar. It was as startled as I was.

Fun times !!!
Good advice in most places out west, but here in Georgia, feeding bears is illegal.
 
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