Black Bear Fall Elevation

jkomm

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Jun 11, 2019
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Hello everyone,
I'm new to the forum and the western hunting world in general. I've hunted my home state of Michigan for a few years and I'm planning on hunting in Colorado Unit 12 during the muzzleloader season this coming September. I'm trying to do my homework as far as what to look for to find bears. From what I understand locating food sources at the lower elevations is the most important part. I really don't have a good grasp on what elevation promotes what kinds of growth/food sources and can't find much to read about it either.
As of right now, I'm looking at a few drainages in the area that I've found, all at around 8400 feet. I figured that would be a good place to start. If anyone has any advice to offer as far as hunting, scouting, finding berry patches/food sources, or helpful material I should read, I would very much appreciate it.
 
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Guy

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Pretty sure if you stacked Michigan on itself several times you wouldn't get to 8,400' elevation... :)

So, where are you hunting?

In Washington, a state with an abundance of bear critters, they're often found at much lower elevations in August and September, but the berries sometimes ripen earlier up high... Gotta watch the weather, hope to catch the berries when they're ripe. Remember that the bears aren't as discriminating as people are re the taste. :)

Also, if there are abandoned homesteads in the area, with old fruit trees... Watch those! :) Bears love 'em.

Guy
 
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jkomm

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Sorry, guys. I'll be hunting in Colorado. I hadn't thought about the berries ripening at different elevations at different times. I'm going to get there a couple days early, so hopefully I can get some quality scouting time in.
 
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wllm1313

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Are you hunting elk/deer and picking up a OTC with caps tag?

In that unit you have everything from oak brush down low in the north to alpine in the south. I've never hunted that unit but I would probably pick a spot in the transition zone where I could glass into aspens in the morning and then hike down lower and find a hillside covered in oak brush for the evening.

Colorado hunt atlas
https://ndismaps.nrel.colostate.edu/index.html


Fall concentration area.
108028
 

jkomm

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Thank you for the info! I'll only be hunting muzzleloader bear, just the OTC tag not the concurrent rifle one. I'll be driving/hiking in from the southern border of the unit. I've never hunted an area this large before and I have little to no bear hunting experience. I think the drainage I'm looking at would provide the things you're talking about. It looks like there's a fair amount of oak above the drainage with some thicker cover mixed in. My concern is that it might be too low though. Here's what I'm looking at:
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wllm1313

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I can't get to into the weeds as I've never hunted that unit but those look like decent glassing nobs. Might try to have a backup location down lower just in case you aren't seeing bears in any of those spots after a couple of days.

Also talk to the area biologist, they can usually give you an idea of where the bears are that time of year.

You should be able to get a bear out no problem in 2 trips or 1 super heavy one... so I would limit myself to a 2-3 hours hike from truck in terms of distance.
 

jkomm

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Thanks guys, I really do appreciate the help and advice as someone new to the backcountry game. I'll definitely look into contacting a biologist over that way. I'm limiting myself to 3-4 miles out from the ATV as far as packing one out.
 

Guy

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Haven't hunted them in Colorado, only Washington. Good binos, doing lots of glassing particularly early and late, is important.

Find the food source, and watch it. Berries, or whatever they're eating in your area, at that time. Biologist ought to be able to steer you straight on that. I like watching the berry patches, as well as old abandoned homesteads with old fruit tree orchards... Have seen several bears at the same time in a small, abandoned orchard.

Don't know if it's legal in Colorado or not - but - I have also called in a bear with a doe/fawn bleat, a mouth-blown call. That bear came in with a whole different attitude! It was looking for something to kill and eat! It was smaller than I wanted to shoot, maybe 200 pounds or so? And fortunately the bear didn't push the issue, but wow! That was quite a rush, having one respond to the predator call. Bear was about 20 yards away when it decided I was not a hurt deer, and was not suitable for eating! :) HOWEVER, it didn't move off far, it circled around in the brush, staying within pretty short distance of me. I think it was looking for that meal that the call had promised. I didn't want to have to shoot that bear, so I left, but I kept a wary eye out for it on my walk out to the Jeep.

About a week later, I shot a bigger bear doing good ol' spot & stalk.

Bear hunting is pretty cool. Enjoy! :)

Guy
 

Twolftg

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I am no expert and never hunted the area but I tried to go back last fall to fill my un filled Montana tag. The one thing I learned was just like spring follow the green. Specifically where in was it was dry as a bone up high but when you got down low in the drainages, that's where you found all the bear scat. The area I was hunting went from 8000-3500 and it seemed most activity was under 4500.
 
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