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Thread: Judging Bears at a Distance

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    Question Judging Bears at a Distance

    I'm planning a bear hunt this spring. I'm a lifelong Alaskan with plenty of hunting experience, just never hunted bears before.

    I'm curious how you guys judge bears at a distance before you begin the stalk. What do you look for in determining which bears are shooters prior to the stalk? Is there a reliable way to determine sex at a distance so that you don't stalk a sow, only to realize it's a sow when you get up close? How can you insure that there are no cubs outside your field of view when you're still far away? Any judging tips are appreciated-

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    look at the ears it's the #1 way in judging a bear, short spread with radar ears= small bear, wide spread with more smaller rounded ears= big or bigger bear and of course if the head looks like a 5 gallon bucket it's usally a huge bear

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    Big Stick
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    Stature/stance is foremost.

    "Girls and kids" simply walk different than the men. Boars have VERY rounded facial features,while Sows are more angular. Ears are a barometer as well,and the further they are away from the top of the head,the better.

    Posturing is a great indicator,as is behavior.

    Easy to discern sex,from a mile away.................

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    I'm planning a bear hunt this spring. I'm a lifelong Alaskan with plenty of hunting experience, just never hunted bears before.
    I'm curious how you guys judge bears at a distance before you begin the stalk. What do you look for in determining which bears are shooters prior to the stalk? Is there a reliable way to determine sex at a distance so that you don't stalk a sow, only to realize it's a sow when you get up close? How can you insure that there are no cubs outside your field of view when you're still far away? Any judging tips are appreciated-
    Depends what your looking for.....and where your at.
    Me personally I don't need to have any more giant bears so if there's no cubs with it.............I watch it for a while to make sure it has no cubs and sure it's not a cub that your glassing..... then it dies!

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    AKJOB- First off I would suggest a quality spotting scope. The most important piece of equipment for a bear hunt when it comes to sexing and judging bears from a distance. I am assuming you are hunting brown/grizzly? Much different from black bears.

    An excellent and much recommended video is "Take Another Look" that you can view at most ADF&G offices. Excellent for learning how to tell a sow from a boar. It explains the differences between the two and then at the end it shows shots of bears and you can pause the video and make the call. Then if I remember right it says something like, "Have you made your choice? Lets take another look". It then shows the shot of the bear again and tells its sex and describes how to tell the difference.

    The face and head are the two main ways to tell a sow from a boar and with a good spotting scope it can be done from a long ways off. What you want to look for is a long neck, a long blocky muzzle, and a head that looks small in comparison to the body. The ears also play a part as they only grow about 3cm in the bears life. The head grow around them. But be careful because an 8ft sow will have small ears in relation to her head. She will also have a shorter and fatter neck and a fatter, bigger looking head in relation to her body than an 8ft boar who will tend to look a bit lanky. He isn't done growing yet and hasn't filled out. A big boar (9-10ft) sorta resembles a pear with legs in regard to the large body and smaller looking head. They also move methodically and appear to move slow as they don't have to take as many steps to cover ground. A smaller bear looks to be moving faster because they are taking more steps. Big boars also rarely run or look playful. They stroll or may lope for a few paces then slow back down.

    A bears coat is also a good way to tell a sow from a boar. Boars tend to be darker in color and have shorter fur with sows having a more luxerious coat and lighter color. Though in the spring boars may be lighter colored, but the fur will look short compared to a sow. If you can, look over as many bears as possible before commiting to a stalk unless you have no doubt it's a bruiser. Any doubt, pass on it. Trust me when I say it is hard to talk yourself out of it once commited. Been there and done that!

    As for determining if a sow has cubs, you just have to really look and make sure. Sometimes they can be quite a ways behind her if she is moving.

    Here is a link to an article I found on how to judge sizes of bears. It should help you out. Good luck and make sure to try to see that video before you go. It's really informative and a big help.
    http://www.larryrivers.com/brownbearsize.htm

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    Member SoggyMountain's Avatar
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    I don't stalk bears, but I've seen a boatload of them.

    Backdrop - what is near them that gives you a point of reference?

    Gait - (Big Stick nailed this) A large bear will have a pigeon-toed swagger because his broad shoulders recieves his fat head, and that is transferred to his feet. They just aren't dainty about their movements.

    If you are close enough to judge the fur, then Tiger also made a point. The young and the females tend to be fluffy.

    How far away do you intend to start a stalk?

    All of this, and I'm assuming you're hunting browns this spring?
    "...just because we didn't agree with you doesn't mean we didn't have good discussion. It just means you missed it." -JMG-

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    Bearbuster,between your forum name and you subtle ways of saying,"it dies", shows your a real boost to the hunting community.Just another killer.

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    Perhaps he should harvest it like an ear of corn or bale of hay? NOT.

    We kill - that is what hunters do. I am sick of the hunting community bowing down to the anti-hunters and tree huggers.

    They are real hard to skin when they are still alive!

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    Default adding to my comment

    The hunt is more to me than just a kill. But I was not always that way. When I was a young beginning hunter - the kill was all that I cared about. As I have aged as a hunter I have come to love the chase and experience as much as the hunt - BUT, nothing brings more satisfaction to an already successful outing, for me, as a kill.

    Anything less is just a hike in the woods. Who leaves their bow at home on a hunt?

    Sorry to rob the thread. I am pretty unexperienced at bear hunting and would like to hear more.

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    yup...once again ,plenty of killers.

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    Sent you a PM. No need to mess up this thread with BS.

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    Yes your macho,,,your name proves it.Ive took plenty of game but i dont degrade the game or our lifestyle by calling myself a killer.

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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    big spring browns will be very lanky, lots of legs and long torso and long neck with a small head....from a distance thats about all your gonna get, a long neck is a big indicator as is the small head, distance between front and back legs (belly) is big too, get one that just looks long in every way and it'll be a big bear, they don't get fat till fall usually so think skinny and long.
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
    Master guide 212

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    Bull,,sending me all those private emails stating how macho you are isnt changing anything...Your still just a killer...No respect for the game.

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    I suppose you shed a tear in memory of your fallen prey whilst looking to the heavens in forgiveness? Gimme a break.......

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    Quote Originally Posted by danthedewman1 View Post
    Bull,,sending me all those private emails stating how macho you are isnt changing anything...Your still just a killer...No respect for the game.
    Is there really any need to take the thread in this direction? Hunters kill. Thats what we do. If you prefer not to use that term, don't. That doesn't mean anyone else should avoid using it. That has nothing to do with what the OP asked about and I hope the mods will delete all of the posts (including this one) that are irrelevant to the question.

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    Default judging bears

    Generally speaking, judging bears is something that you just have to practice and get better at. Several good tips so far. I would add that if the bear's belly appears to be hanging low to the ground, you're probably looking at a good size bear.

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    There's nothing wrong with tact, but hunters kill, i grew up on a farm in Michigan and we killed our dinner there also. I much prefer to do my hunting, killing and eating in the woods not the feed lot, but the end result is the same. Animals die and i'm happy with a full stomach. When it comes to bears in my experience if it doesn't look big or your not sure it isn't. Good tips below. Bear sausage is great, and try cutting the loins thin and frying in oil with pancake batter, or any other batter. That even made one of the blacks i took over in unit 9 the last of august taste good. Could be that any real meat beats freeze dried.

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    Member Bear Buster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danthedewman1 View Post
    Bearbuster,between your forum name and you subtle ways of saying,"it dies", shows your a real boost to the hunting community.Just another killer.
    Never was one for "PC", pretty much a straight shooter.....I apologize if that was to straight forward for you...I'm sure there will be plenty of posts on this subject, hopefully you may find an acceptable answer to your liking

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by danthedewman1 View Post
    Yes your macho,,,your name proves it.Ive took plenty of game but i dont degrade the game or our lifestyle by calling myself a killer.
    What term would tickle your fancy in place of "killing" ?, geez some people!

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