1. Hunt with a partner.
Not all bears are bold when they come to a call, but do you really want to find out without backup? Have a partner watch the backdoor while you focus on the front door. Some bears charge boldly, especially those backed by sheer size, but most will come looking for danger and a meal at the same time.
2. Call where bears want to be in the spring.
Like elk and deer, bears have certain areas they like better than others, and densities vary depending on the habitat in an area. Visit with a local biologist to gather information on bear densities and habitat preferences. In the spring, bears first look for grass to jumpstart their digestive system. Thereafter they eat anything. The smell of a carcass can draw them from miles.
3. Watch the downwind alley and glass with your Nikons.
Like all predators, bears like to circle for a downwind confidence boost, but they may ignore the wind if they’re the baddest bear in the woods.
4. Have ample openings to see incoming bears.
Black bears can be as sneaky as a mountain lion and be on top you without warning. Large openings all around you guarantee you’ll see them before they make you look for a change of underwear.
5. Focus on big prey.
Spring black bears are hungry as they emerge from winter dens so use elk calf distress calls or fawn distress bawls. Anything will work, but these represent bear-sized meals. Other E-sounds to try include goat, sheep and pig distress pleas.
6. You can use any commercial call on the market to make your own distress calls.
Diaphragm calls work especially well for calf or cow distress calls, but if you gag on diaphragms check out easy-to-use calls that have internal reeds such as the Johnny Stewart Custom Kid Call. Since bears are opportunists and omnivores, any prey in distress is likely to get a second look from a hungry bear.
7. Watch bears react.
If a young bear approaches and suddenly bolts it may mean Mr. Big is about to hit the scene.
8. Carry enough gun.
Even if you want to hunt with a bow it’s a good idea to arm your backup partner with a beefy firearm. If a bear decides to challenge you for a meal, a bullet or slug might be a better choice than an arrow for guarding your ground.
9. Don’t be afraid to call to a distant bear.
If you’re using spot-and-stalk tactics and see a bear in the distant, use your calls to bring it to you if you don’t have a shot.
10. Keep an eye out for other predators.
If you call in grizzly crossover country you might lure in a curious humpback. And of course you could call in a wolf almost anywhere out West these days. Be prepared and know your target.