Some states don’t allow the surefire method of baiting for spring black bears. But don’t toss the towel in yet —instead, put your predator calls to work for the chance at an adrenaline-charged, face-to-face bear meeting.
As omnivores, bears dine on a large menu, which includes critters that scream when in peril. The food list is as expansive as the digital library on your electronic caller, but make sure electronics are legal. For Western hunters, start large.
In the spring bears look for easy and big food sources. Elk calving areas are hotspots during May and June. Bears clean up afterbirth and hunt newborn calves with a vengeance. The squalls of a calf in danger can bring a bear running from nearby cover. Use a cow call to make the sound, but go with a higher pitch and increase the intensity. Set up on the edges of known elk nursery areas and you could be within earshot of a hungry bruin.
Keeping with the “supersized” concept, bears also aggressively hunt for newborn deer fawns. Many companies manufacture hand or digital calls that mimic the sounds of a fawn in distress for predator hunting. Even the throatier bawls of a bleating adult deer can make a black bear swap ends and head your way. May and June are again top fawning months, but the sound can work anytime during spring. Set up downwind in woodland openings and field edges.
The eat-anything attitude of black bears means they seldom ignore the volume of any dinner bell. If deer sounds don’t work, try an appetizer. Keeping with that theme, use predator hunting favorites such as rabbits, hares, rodents, birds and well, almost anything. Make it sound dire and tasty.
When calling bears, it’s wise to include a partner who can watch the backdoor and even back you up with a firearm if the big bear density is high.
Images by Mark Kayser