MT Black Bear this Spring

smw110136

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Apr 17, 2012
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Nebraska
I've done a few week long spring bear hunts in SW Montana 5 out of the last 6 years.

I think I am going to try heading farther north to find some areas with higher bear densities. I'd like to hunt in 106 in either designated wilderness or just some national forest.

That being said, do you MT bear hunters with more experience find it more beneficial to hunt near logging roads that bears are likely to use as travel routes or is it better to just get off the beaten path all together and just hike into a designated wilderness.

I'm curious what works better for guys in the spring time. My time hunting spring bears in SW Montana was a lot of logging road hiking and generated some good success. Curious if roads or no roads is actually better for spring bear hunts.

Thanks!
 

Gerald Martin

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Jul 3, 2009
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Grass and solitude. Doesn't matter whether that comes in the form of gated roads or avalanche chutes in the wilderness. Don't overlook isolated clear cuts, especially ones new enough to not be completely choked with small trees.

I'll take one or two open hillsides or a clearcut surrounded by several miles of dark timber over wide open grassy ridges any day.
 

SteveE

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Jan 25, 2016
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Montana
Gerald is spot on. In 106 you will need to use the logging roads unless you plan on machete cutting your way in. That area is generally very thick and hard to bushwhacked through.
That makes hunting a bit harder which, imo, is why the numbers and quality are better in NW MT.
More habitat that is harder to hunt produces the older age class you are looking for.
 

Randy11

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Jan 12, 2009
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From my experiences, I have a better chance of seeing a bear in steep, rocky roadless areas. However, I think I have a better chance at killing a bear in a clearcut.

I've spent a lot of evenings in jaw droppingly beautiful wilderness canyons watching bears that I know I have no chance of getting to.
 

smw110136

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Nebraska
I'm starting to lean towards a wilderness hunt more and more. I've always enjoyed a few days of solid isolation on backpack elk trips. Haven't done a "true" backpack for spring bear, so its something new to try out. I specifically wanted to go farther north of my general hunting location in SW Montana just so that I can see more bears, even if that doesn't mean its going to actually increase my odds of filling a tag.

I have the fiance convinced to tag along for the hiking and scenery. Throw in a few bear sightings with the chance at a stalk and I'll consider it a success!

Thanks for the info guys, I really appreciate all the info I can get when looking into totally new areas
 

Gerald Martin

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It doesn't have to be a Wilderness for it to be wilderness. Don't expect much competition in the NF if you get off roads and walk.
 

smw110136

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Apr 17, 2012
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Most of our hunts in the SW were only one steep ridge over from where we parked the truck. Generally didn't see anyone once we got out of the drainage with the NF road cutting through it. We won't have a problem putting some miles on. We'll do what it takes to find them.
 

dihardhunter

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Aug 12, 2013
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Columbus, OH
I have no where near the amount of time logged in NW MT as Randy or Gerald or some of the others, but this is exactly my experience from north and west of Libby on FS lands and from the Cabinets.

You'll likely see more bears in the wilderness area scoping out avalanche chutes/meadows, but the bears you'll see on FS are far more killable in terms of closing the distance before darkness, shooting distance, etc.

From my experiences, I have a better chance of seeing a bear in steep, rocky roadless areas. However, I think I have a better chance at killing a bear in a clearcut.

I've spent a lot of evenings in jaw droppingly beautiful wilderness canyons watching bears that I know I have no chance of getting to.
 

smw110136

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Apr 17, 2012
Messages
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Nebraska
Thanks for the advice guys. Still have some time so I am trying to scope out some areas that will be hike in only and then some areas that will be drive, then hike. I'm just hoping I can find some old access roads that someone else will be hiking in on too. That's part of the challenge. Thanks again for the input. Back to the maps!
 

Montana4Life

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Jan 31, 2012
Messages
65
Location
Montana
I actually thought I might run into some bears this year opening weekend but with the recent snowfall in the mountains where I bear hunt it may be the end of April before things green up. The grass in my yard is getting green so I do have hope! Spring bear hunting is some of my favorite hunting as I rarely run into anyone else. I don't intend to harvest another bear unless it is a real brute or has the diamond on the chest!! Getting out hiking while the wildflowers are blooming is enough for me. I have had significantly better luck seeing bears in the spring than in the fall and also tend to find them up high on clearcuts or down low in creek drainages. Good luck to all that get out this spring. Looking forward to seeing some pics!
 
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