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Alaska Department of Fish and Game


Online Bear Baiting Clinic
Bear Biology and Natural History

It is the responsibility of each hunter to learn all he or she can about species they intend to hunt. This is equally important -- and highly recommended -- for bear hunters: Bears have unique characteristics and habits, and learning about them can increase your odds of success as well as improve your own safety.

Senses

  1. Smell – All bears have an outstanding sense of smell. It is their most important sense for hunting and for avoiding encounters with humans. Bear baiters should consider this when selecting a baiting site. Be conscious of prevailing winds in your selected area.
  2. Eyesight – A bear’s vision is comparable to that of humans; however, bears can also see very well at night. As with most wild animals, bears are very alert to movement so when sitting in a stand, keep all of your movements to a minimum. Move your eyes first and then slowly rotate your head when scanning the woods. When ready to take a shot, slowly raise your arms, selecting a time when the bear is engaged in your bait.
  3. Hearing – Bears hear at least as well as humans do, so it is important for a hunter to stay quiet while in a stand. Keep this in mind when considering the materials you use to build and establish your stand. Also, be smart when selecting your clothing. Select materials and outer layers that are silent when you move.

Food Habits

Black bears are creatures of opportunity when it comes to food. However, they do follow certain predictable patterns. In the spring, freshly sprouted vegetation, including grass, horsetails, and poplar buds, are an important food source for bears. Bears readily scavenge winter-killed animals, and in some areas black bears are effective predators on young moose calves. As summer progresses, feeding shifts to salmon if that resource is available. In areas without salmon, black bears rely primarily on vegetation throughout the year. Berries, like devil's club and blueberries, are an important late summer-fall food item. Ants, grubs, and other insects help round out the black bear's diet. Male bears also prey on cubs.

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