Self-Filmed Video: Big Cinnamon-Phase Black Bear

You never know what will show up at a black bear bait site, and this Manitoba bowhunter has a lengthy encounter with a big cinnamon-phase bruin with a unique throat patch.

Self-Filmed Video: Big Cinnamon-Phase Black Bear

In the YouTube video below, David from Rattling Junkie is bowhunting black bears in far western Manitoba (about a 6-hour drive northwest of Winnipeg. The action is from 2017, but it’s as exciting now as it was then.

Turn up the volume to hear the various black bear vocalizations. This is some of the best bear audio I’ve ever heard. If you’ve ever wondered what an angry black bear sounds like, you’ll hear it in the early parts of this video. Trust me, it’s fantastic. And you’ll see firsthand how submissive bears act around a dominant boar.

So I don’t ruin the video with spoilers, I ask you to stop reading here and watch the video before reading my comments below. (Viewing tip: The video is 12-plus minutes long, but everything from 8:20 until the end is basically a replay with music. You won’t miss anything meaningful if you stop watching at that point.)

Monday Morning Quarterback Comments

As you saw, David had the big cinnamon bear at the bait for nearly 15 minutes, and he drew his bow three times, waiting for an ideal standing broadside shot. When it comes to shot selection, I’m all for playing it safe. More on that in a minute.

It looks clear to me the bear has spotted David in the poplar tree; several times the bear stops and looks directly at him. Does the bear know David is a hunter/predator? Bears don’t have great eyesight, and my guess is the bruin thinks (can bears think?) the stationary blob in the tree is another black bear, one that climbed there when he first approached.

I’ve hunted bears in Canada several times, and I’m always amazed by the high percentage of bears that seemingly don’t care I’m sitting in a treestand 20 to 40 yards from a bait site. When they get downwind of me — and black bears have a tremendous sense of smell — they don’t care about my odor. Perhaps there’s enough human odor around the bait barrels that they ignore my odor drifting down from the treestand.

I’ve even had standing bears place their front paws on a couple ladder stand rungs and look directly up at me. Distance from their nose to mine was only 10 feet. And when I waved my arms and yelled, “Get outa’ here!” (like they can understand me, right?) they simply dropped down on all fours and slowly walked back to the bait. Because they are the apex predator in the remote forest, it’s possible some bears fear nothing.

Why did David wait so long to release an arrow? It’s true that shooting a bear when it’s sitting or lying down isn’t ideal because shoulders and leg bones cover more of the animal’s heart/lung area. I did, however, think there were a couple opportunities to shoot the bruin when he was broadside and moving very slowly. 

The big bear leaves the bait site a few times to chase away other hungry bears, and David is fortunate it returns each time. I’ve certainly watched big bears charge away only to never return.

David eventually kills the bruin, and as you saw, he hits the bear a bit too far back; at the moment the arrow hits, the bear is quartering-toward slightly. Not ideal. I laughed when David tried stopping the walking bear with a classic fawn/doe bleat. Sure that works well on a whitetail, but I’d never seen it attempted on a bear. And the boar eventually does stop — maybe because of the sound, maybe not — but the result is a quartering-toward target. In my opinion, the absolute best time to shoot was exactly when David bleats; the bruin is close, moving very slowly, and its front leg has moved forward.

As shown below, David’s bear has a unique heart-shaped throat patch. The hide squared 7 feet, 1 inch, and the skull measured 18 15/16 inches. FYI: Minimum score for a Pope and Young black bear is 18 inches (skull length plus width).

Congrats, David, on arrowing a magnificent color-phase bear!

P.S. Click here for more on hunting in Manitoba.

David’s big cinnamon-phase Manitoba black bear had a unique heart-shaped throat patch.
David’s big cinnamon-phase Manitoba black bear had a unique heart-shaped throat patch.


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