Black Bear Hunting: What Beginners Need to Know

An in-depth review of black bear hunting. Black Bear Hunting: What Beginners Need to Know

You’ve heard of hunting deer and other animals, but have you ever heard of black bear hunting? It is said that black bear hunting should be on every hunter’s bucket list. There are guided and unguided bear hunts, and, of course, you need to be a little more careful than you would out on a hunt for a whitetail deer, but it is an adrenaline rush for sure. It is estimated that every one out of 20 to 25 bear hunters bags a bear on a yearly basis, those are pretty good odds. With that being said, hunting any type of bear is risky business, they don’t have razor sharp claws and teeth for nothing. If they feel threatened, hungry, or have young with them, they will kill you. That’s why as a beginner to this type of hunting, you need to know everything you can before you walk into the woods to begin the hunt. 


It is also important to note that many states feel that controlling the black bear population is extremely important, so hunting them, as with any season, is allowed at certain times of the year. Before, going on a black bear hunt, it’s important to check your state’s rules and regulations so that you don’t have trouble with your local Game Warden.

Of course, you know you need the right gear and the right knowledge before the hunt even begins. So, in this blog, we’ll go into everything you need to know about black bears, the gear, the hunt, and even some safety tips to get you started because as with any hunt, safety should come first.

Keeping that in mind, read on below for our blog on black bear hunting and everything you should know to help you have a successful, yet safe, hunt.


Black Bear Hunting Gear Needed

No matter where you are hunting for black bear, there are going to be a few types of gear that you need. In this list, we will recommend gear, as if you’re staying out on the hunt a while, and assume that you might be going out of the country to hunt, though some of this gear should be taken on any black bear hunt you’re on. So, pick and choose what’s needed for your situation and leave the rest.

  • A passport
  • A rifle or a bow, according to what you want to hunt with
  • At least 20 rounds of ammunition or 12 arrows
  • 3 or 4 shirts
  • 3 or 4 pairs of pants
  • 3 or 4 t-shirts
  • A jacket
  • 5 or more pairs of socks
  • 1 or 2 pairs of boots
  • Long underwear
  • 1 or 2 pairs of camp shoes, such as sandals or flip-flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • A belt
  • A facemask
  • A knit cap
  • One or two pairs of medium and lightweight gloves
  • Gear for if it rains
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • More batteries, always more batteries
  • Something to read
  • Camera with a charger
  • Toothbrush, razor, etc.
  • Chapstick
  • Aspirin
  • Insect repellent
  • Cell phone and charger
  • A head net
  • One medium sized day pack
  • Sleeping bag
  • A pillow
  • And a hunting knife
  • Salt for the hide

You might not need all of this gear for a hunting trip, but it’s better to be safe than need it and be caught without it, don’t you think?

How to Get Prepared Before the Hunt

Check Your Seasons and get Your Licence

The first thing you want to do is check the hunting season for black bear in the area and the state where you live. For instance, in Montana, fall hunting season runs from September 15 through November 27, with hunters needing to procure their license before August 31st. It’s important to note, that some hunters go ahead and get their license, even though they aren’t planning on hunting black bears, just in case they run across one on an elk or deer hunt. Also, in Montana, if a hunter shoots a bear, he is responsible for getting that carcass out of the woods and making sure that the meat stays fit for consumption. In other words, you’re not allowed to shoot a black bear just for the fun of it, then leave the carcass to spoil in the woods.

These are the laws in Montana, that’s not saying that the seasons and laws run the same in your neck of the woods. Make sure that you check the seasons and rules for your particular state to be on the right side of the law.

Find a Good Taxidermist Ahead of Time

Many beginning bear hunters make the mistake of not finding a good taxidermist before the hunt begins. Then if they bag a bear on the hunt, they are scrambling to find one that can do the job in time. Not only that, but a good taxidermist will tell you everything you need to do to ensure you get the bear back to them in the shape they need to mount or make a rug out of the hide.

Think Before You Shoot

As long as the bear is not charging or threatening you, you need to think before you shoot. In most places, it is illegal to shoot a bear cub or a mother bear that is with her cubs. Don’t act hastily and make that mistake, because not only is it illegal, it is immoral as well and a decision you will regret.

Think Again Before You Act on the Shot

This one is something to think seriously about. You need to time when you make your kill carefully. If you are three days from the trailhead and the weekend is looming, you need to be sure that you can take care of the meat and hide to get it back to the taxidermist. If you can’t, then you need to think again before shooting. Remember, it’s illegal to waste a big game animal.

Keep Track of the Celebration Period

When you bag your first black bear, you’re, of course, going to be happy and jumping for joy. You’ll want to ride it around in your truck and show all of your hunting buddies what you did. Make sure to not overdo that celebration period, however, because driving it around all day could cause it to waste and earn you a ticket for the waste of a big game animal, and this is a ticket you don’t want to have to pay.

Follow Your Taxidermists Instructions to the Letter

It’s extremely important to follow the instructions given to you by the taxidermist you found before going on your hunt to the letter. From the skinning of the bear to preserving the hide until you get it back to town and into your taxidermist’s capable hands, this is the best way to ensure that all meat and hide is saved, and you aren’t given a ticket for doing something the wrong way.

Keep it All Legal

There are quite a few laws and regulations that you need to follow when it comes to hunting for a black bear, not just getting a license and making sure bear is in season. You will want to follow these instructions to a tee or you could be in serious trouble.

These are just a few of the rules and tips that you are going to want to follow when you are a beginner heading out on a black bear hunt. There are many more out there, so do your research well and don’t forget to check your state’s seasons and rules before you go.

You can’t talk about going on a black bear hunt without throwing some safety tips in there. Remember, this isn’t as safe as hunting for elk or a whitetail deer. In our next section, we will delve into the safety tips you need to follow when you’re out on your hunt for the black bear.

Safety Tips for Hunting Black Bear

You need to be careful and follow safety rules, no matter what you’re hunting. However, you need to be even more careful when you’re hunting bear. It is well-known that these large and extremely powerful creatures can hurt, maim and even kill you with ease. With that being said, read on below for some safety tips that you should learn, remember, and practice diligently because, after all you want to hunt the bear, you don’t want the bear to be hunting you.

Learn the Difference Between Black and Brown Bears

While a bear is a bear, it’s only hunting season on the black bears and you don’t want to be in violation of any laws. Also, there is a difference between your average black bear and the grizzly that will rip you to shreds before you can blink. Read on for a slight description of each below.


Black Bear: The average male black bear weighs anywhere from 130 to 660 pounds. They have tall ears, no noticeable shoulder hump, and a straight face. They also have front claws that are from one to two inches long.

Brown/Grizzly Bear: The average brown male grizzly bear weighs around 600 pounds, sometimes more and has short round ears, humped shoulders and a dished face. They also have front claws that are from two to four inches long.

It’s best not to get to close to either to try to decide which is which, but this is a way to tell from a distance.

Be Prepared

Making sure to obtain all necessary permits, weapons and gear is extremely important before you head out on a hunt. Make sure to make a list and check it twice. The last thing you want is to get out on the trail and find that you left half of your gear at home.

Remember, There’s Safety in Numbers

The expression, “There’s safety in numbers,” has never been truer than when it comes to bear hunting. If at all possible, go hunting with a small group of your friends or other hunting buddies. If you must hunt alone, make sure that family and friends know when you’re leaving, exactly where you’ll be and the trail you’re going to be on, and exactly what time you plan to be back. It could be the difference between life and death, if you’re mauled by the very bear you’re hunting and no one knows where you are, or no one is expecting you home. By leaving instructions behind, if you don’t show back up at your scheduled time, a search party can be sent out, one that might very well save your life.


Abandon the Smell Goods

Bears have a very keen sense of smell and the smells of lotions, body washes, shampoos, and other items can travel to them quickly. It’s also important to make sure that you keep any food you have around camp properly stored in containers the bear can sniff out. The last thing you want is to find the bear you hope to hunt in your camp without you being prepared.

Other Safety Tips

  • Know your Seasons
  • Aim your hits the right way
  • Hike in groups and make loud noises, because a startled bear is a dangerous bear
  • Set up cooking and food at least a 100 yards from where you’ll be sleeping
  • Put garbage and leftovers in sealed containers right away
  • Don’t sleep in the same clothes that you cooked a meal in
  • Leave the dog at home, they can lead a curious bear back to your camp without meaning to
  • Keep food out of the bears reach, such as up in a tree

This concludes our blog on black bear hunting and what you need to know as a beginner. Remember, be prepared and always be on the lookout, because you never know when you will run up on a bear and they are fast, fierce and deadly if provoked. Until next time, happy hunting, everyone!


  1. Independent Record: What You Need to Know Before Hunting Black Bear
  2. Cobra Archery: Bear Hunting Safety Tips 
  3. Big Game Hunting Adventures: Black Bear Hunting Gear List