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March 2019
Author: Isaiah Joner

Growing up in northwest Montana, I had a passion for all things outdoors and cut my first deer tag when I was 12 years old. I was always trying to find a way to get out of school and into the woods. I never hunted bears in the spring as it wasn’t something I gave much thought to. We always hunted bears in the fall when we could glass for them in clear-cuts on berry patches as we road hunted for grouse. It wasn’t until 2011 when I started spring bear hunting, and this was also when I started my guiding career. I had been hired on as a guide for Cody Carr’s Hunting Adventures in Plains, Montana. The very first night out, my client shot a beautiful 6'3" black bear. As the week went on, we saw over 20 different bears and everyone in camp was having a good time. This was when I realized I had been missing out on great hunting opportunities for years. The spring bear season is a hunt everyone should consider, and these are the reasons why.

Most outfitters in the western lower 48 along with Alaska and Canada offer spring bear hunts. If you have wanted to get out west or you have been thinking about booking a hunt with an outfitter, spring is the time to go. Black bear hunts are typically very affordable, and it is a good time to get to know the outfitter before you start writing checks for bigger hunts. Most bear hunts are three to five days, so it is something you could even squeeze into a family vacation.

Unlike archery elk hunts during the fall where you are hiking miles a day on little sleep, spring bear hunts are pretty laid back and fun. Depending on the style of hunt you choose, whether it’s sitting a bait or driving logging roads and glassing, most hunters aren’t going to have to log miles a day on foot. However, there are instances where hiking is critical, but typically it’s not that bad. Most days start with a good sit down meal and a hot cup of coffee around the table before making your way to your spot. The best bear hunting is in the evening, so it’s not important to be racing out the door early in the morning.

Spring is a great time to get out west or up north to admire the beautiful landscapes since bear hunts are typically a few days long. This gives hunters time to do a little sightseeing as well. Several clients that I have guided over the years have shown up in camp with their family. After the hunt, they would enjoy a few days of traveling around the area, checking out landmarks. This is a good time to spend with your family while sneaking in a high success hunt.

I would argue that once you experience your first bear hunt, you will be trying to find a way to squeeze one into your schedule every year. From the beautiful landscape to the adrenaline of seeing a true bruin, there’s a lot to look forward to. It’s also a great time to hone in and sharpen your hunting skills. Bears are smart animals, and it is fun to try to sneak in on them with your bow or test out your new gun setup. I’ve learned a lot from bear hunting that has made me a more successful hunter overall. We have several great outfitters that have great spring brown bear hunts. We have outfitters in Alaska and Russia that are harvesting giant bears each year. These are not budget hunts like a black bear hunt as they run anywhere from $14,000 to $32,000, depending on the size of bear and location. If any of these hunts are of interest to you, give me a call. I would be happy to answer any questions and put you in contact with a great outfitter.