Images Courtesy of Become 1
By Tracy Breen
Bear season is upon us. One thing many bear hunters discuss in bear camp is the proper place to shoot a bear. A bear is not a deer. Many first time bear hunters aim at a bear like it is a whitetail, but that is a mistake which often results in a wounded bear that is never found. Below are a few tips to help you make sure you make a great shot on a bear this spring.
A Bear Is Not A Whitetail
A whitetail is a sleek animal with muscle definition and a front shoulder that is easy to see. Therefore, knowing where the vitals are located and where to aim is easy. A bear, on the other hand, is covered in thick hair and have a large belly. Bear hunting experts will tell you that there are several inches of fat and hair on a bear’s belly so if you shoot low and tight to the shoulder like you would on whitetail, all you would hit is hair and fat. Bear outfitters often tell hunters to hit the middle of the middle of a bear. By center punching a bear, you will hit lungs, heart, or both. The vitals on a bear are positioned further back in the animal than a whitetail’s vitals. Center punching the animal gives you a little bit of room for error if you don’t hit the bear in the center of the lungs and heart.
Broadside Shots Only
On deer, a quartering away shot or even a slightly quartering forward shot is a shot most hunters will take. When bear hunting, wait for the perfect broadside shot. A broadside shot increases the odds of a double lung shot and a complete pass through. A complete pass through shot will result in greater blood loss and a better blood trail. Bears don’t always bleed well, especially when they only have an entrance hole. Fat and hair often clog up the wound on a bear, resulting in a poor blood trail after the shot. An entrance and exit wound makes finding a bear after the shot much easier. Many seasoned bear hunters won’t shoot at a bear unless it is completely broadside because experience has taught them a quartering shot sometimes means going home empty-handed.
Hunters sometimes make the mistake of shooting a bear that is sitting at a bait pile, standing on its hind legs, or in an awkward position as it eats out of a barrel. When sitting or standing, hitting the vitals on a bear can be more difficult. Making this type of shot may seem straightforward or easy, but it can be difficult. The vitals on a sitting bear are often compressed and harder to hit. Picking the perfect spot on a bear that is standing up can be difficult in the heart of the moment. Resist taking a risky shot at a bear that is not standing broadside. The bottom line is: if you want to go home with a bear, wait until a bear is standing still and broadside before letting an arrow fly.
Film Your Hunt
Film your hunt. Fourth Arrow Camera Arms makes great arms that make self-filming extremely easy. If you do make a questionable shot and don’t recover your bear quickly, being able to go back and look at your footage and determine where you hit the animal can help you decide if you should keep looking for your bear or wait until the next morning. When you let an arrow fly or shoot a gun, it can be difficult to determine where you hit a bear because they have so much hair. Being able to watch the shot on film in slow motion will help you determine where the animal was shot.