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March 2018
Author: Isaiah Joner

Springtime is quickly approaching, and if you are anything like me, you are itching to lace up the boots, strap on the pack, and hit the hills with your choice of weapon in pursuit of a mature bear. There are many options available to hunters who are looking to notch their tags, and I have developed this “cheat sheet” in hopes of helping you get started planning a hunt.

If you are looking for an outfitted hunt across the border in Canada, you have plenty of options. There are believed to be over 400,000 bears dominating the 10 provinces, which gives hunters a target-rich environment. Most outfitters conduct hunts over bait, but spot and stalk or boat style hunts are also popular in certain areas. Average tag cost is around $300 in most provinces, and in British Columbia and Alberta, hunters may purchase more than one permit. Most guided bait hunts will set you back $2,500-$3,000, and your higher end boat hunts can reach over $5,000. Huntin’ Fool has dozens of Endorsed Outfitters in Canada that run high success on harvesting a bear. If you want to have a fun adventure and see new country, then Canada should be on your radar. 

If you would like to stay in the lower 48, there are multiple western states that offer some type of spring bear hunt with tags that can be easily attained. Of those states, there are a couple I would recommend over the others for a fun, successful hunt. The two states I would put at the top of the list for finding a great spring bear hunt are Idaho and Montana.

To many, Idaho is known as “The Potato State,” but to hunters, it is better known as the opportunity state. In some units, hunters can bait or use hounds as methods to hunt bears. If that’s not your style, you can always plan a spot and stalk hunt. Most non-residents who want to bait or use hounds will hire an outfitter due to the amount of work and permits that are required. Tags can be purchased for either $41.75 or $186, depending on the unit, and in some units, hunters may purchase additional tags. If you are looking for a guide that can take you on the wild adventure of hound hunting or sitting over bait, waiting for an up-close encounter with a big bear, most outfitted hunts cost between $2,500 and $3,500. If you are more of a self-guided guy who is looking to take on the challenge on your own, pick a spot on a map or give us a call to start planning your spring hunt.

Montana, “The Big Sky State,” has big opportunities for hunters. Baiting and hound hunting is NOT allowed in Montana, so this is a great state for the guys who like to get out, put on the miles, and spend time behind glass looking for a trophy bear. Though bears are found throughout the state, the majority of the population is found in the northwest region. A non-resident tag is a little more expensive with a cost of $350. Hunters who don’t have the time to find a good area can always book a hunt with an outfitter and pay for their expertise and knowledge of the area. A good outfitter charges $3,000-$4,000 for a fully-guided hunt with good opportunity at bringing home a bear. Again, this is a great state for the self-guided guy who likes the challenge of hunting public ground and finding a big bear. You will not be disappointed if you do your research or make some phone calls before you hit the hills of Montana. If you are unsure of where to start, feel free to give us a call to get you pointed in the right direction.

If little black bears aren’t your style and you want to pursue 8-10 foot grizzly or brown bears, then finding a reputable outfitter in Alaska is for you. Depending on your budget and the size of bear you are looking for, you will have several options. Boat hunts, lodge-based hunts, baited hunts, or camping out in a tent on the tundra are options a guy can look over, depending on their style. Most grizzly bear hunts will range from $8,000 to $20,000, depending on the location, whereas brown bear hunts will typically run $15,000-$35,000. Prices reflect the area, the style of hunt, and the size of bear you are willing to harvest. We work with dozens of outfitters that have quality hunts in Alaska. Most outfitters book hunts one to two years in advance, but they occasionally have cancellation hunts or a few openings for the current year. Give us a call if you are looking to scratch one of these hunts off your bucket list or if you just want more information on how to find the right outfitter.

Another option for hunters who are looking into a brown bear hunt is Russia. Hunts are cheaper there than in Alaska, and the size and quality of bears are still great. We have recently  endorsed one of the best and biggest outfitters in Russia that can help you go over all the logistics of planning a hunt like this. Hunters typically pursue bears by boating shorelines or spot and stalk. These hunts will cost anywhere between $8,000 and $15,000. Travel and permitting will cost a little more, but overall, it will still be cheaper than most Alaskan hunts.

If you haven’t done any of these hunts, I recommend you start planning one. Spring is a great time of year to get out, get boots on the ground, and explore new country or hunts before summer or the busy fall season roll around. If you have any questions regarding any of these hunts, give us a call at 435-865-1020 and we will help you plan your next adventure.