Spring Bear Hunting

Nemont

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In todays Bozeman Chronicle.



Black bear hunter looks at a lot of bruins before pulling trigger
By NICK GEVOCK, Chronicle Staff Writer

Mark Dobrenski has a passion for hunting big black bears.

Dobrenski looks over up to 60 bears a year before shooting one. He strives to find a boar with a skull measurement around 20 inches in the Boone and Crockett measuring system, which combines the length and width of the skull.
"To me, bear hunting is the dry-fly fishing of hunting," he said. "It's mostly catch and release."

Of course with bullets instead of barbless hooks, the "catch" Dobrenski refers to is looking at bears through a spotting scope. In other instances, the catch involves moving in on a bear for a closer look, but Dobrenski said even then he often lets a bear go.

The key to spring black bear hunting, serious bear hunters say, is patience. They say picking a spot where you can see open hillsides and glassing is the best way to spot bears.

But be prepared to stay for hours, parking your butt behind a spotting scope, Powderhorn Sporting Goods co-owner George Dieruf said.


"If you sit there long enough, you're going to see a bear if it's a good area," he said. "A lot of people sit for 10 minutes and move on."

Spring bear season opens April 15 throughout the state, although the closing date varies depending on the district. Hunters must buy their license by April 14 in order to hunt the spring season.

Dobrenski, a bear hunting guide and gun salesman at Bob Ward's Sporting Goods in Bozeman, recommends finding a spot where you can look into as many canyons as possible.

He's found such a spot on a ranch near Cascade, where he guides, that provides a view into 13 different canyons that attract black bears. When just days out of hibernations, bears are extremely hungry and looking for grass to clean out their systems, and are drawn to grassy areas.

They'll hit avalanche chutes in mountainous areas, or other south-facing hillsides in rolling country, where the grass first greens up.

Hunters should watch the edges of timber, where bears creep out to forage on greens and overturn rocks in search of grubs. They'll also take advantage of any carrion lying around.

Bears move a lot in the early spring because they need calories to make up for the fat lost in hibernation.

"In spring they work awfully hard," Dobrenski said. "They burn a lot of calories for what they get."
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