When most bowhunters think about black bear hunting, they conjure up images of sitting over a pile of bait waiting for a bear to come eat dinner—not that there’s anything wrong with that. But there are many places where baiting bears is either impractical or illegal. That’s where stalking or calling fall bears become the go-to tactics. How’s it done? John Schaffer, from Schaffer Performance Archery in Minnesota, has killed a pile of bears over bait, but when he wants to give his bowhunt a bit of an edge, he puts down some boot tracks.
“Bowhunters looking for a little fun should consider hunting black bears by stalking them,” says Schaffer. “It adds an element of excitement when the animal you are stalking can kill you.”
And that’s a huge advantage for bowhunters. Schaffer believes that because black bears aren’t afraid of much, it’s actually easier to stalk them than animals like deer or elk.
“Bears are high up on the food chain,” Schaffer explains. “As a result, they do things and react to things differently than deer. When they walk next to high brush or boulders, for example, they don’t spend much time worrying about what might be sneaking up on them. As a result, the advantage goes to the stalker.”