Watching Out For Cubs

COEngineer

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How long do you need to watch a bear to make sure it doesn't have cubs with it?

I filled an either-sex bear tag last weekend and should have asked this question beforehand. My wife, daughter, and I were spread out along a trail in some fairly dense aspens looking for elk (daughter and I have archery elk tags, the bear tag was a just-in-case tag; wife was just along for the fun) when my daughter spotted a bear. I saw it a minute later and within maybe two minutes I took a nice broadside shot on the bear. Neither of us saw any cubs and the bear was unaware of us until my daughter blew on a predator call. After the shot I had the "Oh crap, maybe I should have looked harder/longer for cubs" thought go through my head, but by then she was dead. Luckily there were no cubs and no signs that she was lactating, but in hindsight I wonder if I would have seen them in those couple of minutes before I shot? I think cubs are generally fairly close to mama, but you guys tell me.
 

wllm

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Watched a bunch of sows with cubs 2 weekends ago. I was kinda surprised how far they were from mom.

Generally speaking I think you have to be waaaaay more careful in the fall than the spring.

Terrain also makes a huge difference, big open hillside v. oak brush. Oak brush is kinda sketchy you may never see a cub.
 

HAP

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Yeah, I’ve had a few chances to shoot and luckily I waited and didn’t because the cubs popped out or it would’ve turned bad real quick. I always try to consciously remind myself to wait and check for cubs. I also try and check the trees depending on the area and situation.
 

Elk59729

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Ennis, Montana
Almost made the mistake of shooting a sow with cubs last weekend. I watched her for at least 10 minutes at 100 yards before a cub finally appeared. Sure glad I was patient!
 

Sytes

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Spring several years back, watched a draw and a nice black bear came out... (HT Bear hunt) I placed my scope and tracked it for a bit at roughly 150 yards. A minute or two later, while giving it time, it began looking back repeatedly. Pulled away from the scope and sure a chit, here comes a cub bounding down to join momma... I video taped the deal with the phone, relaxed, and enjoyed the show then headed back to camp.

Is what it is.
 

MTLabrador

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I saw a sow and cub last week with the cub almost 100 yards away doing its own thing and almost completely out of sight. I agree you have to be more careful in the fall.
 

Sytes

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Crappy part of walking gated grass roads... or even simply driving a back road and... typically calls for a reasonably quick shot. Maybe, just maybe there are a few who come up on a bear that manage the time to watch though typically it's a pretty quick encounter. Not placing judgement... been on that boat.
 

LCH

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Seems like a lot of close calls. I wonder how often it actually happens. I would assume fairly often.

Certainly, the best thing to do is self report. I bet that most lactating sows go "unrecovered" though.

It's definitely an ever-present thought anytime I have a bear tag in my pack.
 

std7mag

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In PA, they typically do drives.
Somone see's a bear, they unload on it.
If it's a sow with cub/cubs, others in the group will harvest them.

A stop at the check stations is rather revealing. 200lb bear followed by a 35lb bear.

Personally, i'm against that, and don't participate in drives.
 

COEngineer

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In PA, they typically do drives.
Somone see's a bear, they unload on it.
If it's a sow with cub/cubs, others in the group will harvest them.

A stop at the check stations is rather revealing. 200lb bear followed by a 35lb bear.

Personally, i'm against that, and don't participate in drives.
In CO, it's illegal to take a bear (sow) with cubs, but it's also illegal to bait - which is usually how people get a good look at a bear before shooting it. So, it's a bit of a conundrum.
 

buffybr

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Years ago when I still worked for the US Forest Service, I was coming back to the office late one Friday afternoon when I passed two of my coworkers parked on the side of the road. I thought it was strange that they were parked there so I turned around and went back to them. I asked them why they were there and they said it was all over our FS radio that a bear had attacked a member of one of our trail crews near there.

About then our Law Enforcement Officer and a Sheriff deputy joined us. Our LEO gave me his AR-15 and he and the deputy both had shotguns with 00 buckshot and we started up the trail to where the trail crew was. Somehow I led our group up the trail and we got to two of the crew members with their radio up one tree and 100 yards up the trail was the third crew member who had been attacked by the bear. He was higher up a large spruce tree than I thought a person could climb.

It had been over an hour since the first call for help came over the radio, and just as we got to the tree with the injured crew member a black bear came out of the brush and charged us. The FS LEO, the deputy and I all fired simultaneously and killed the bear. We then helped the injured crewman out of the tree. He had been attacked on the ground, and every time he called for help to the other crew members the bear would climb up the and bite him in the foot and lower leg.

After we bandaged the man's bear bites and got him down with the other crew members and were waiting for a helicopter from Yellowstone Park, I noticed a little black 3 or 4 month cub running through the brush. I immediately felt sick that we had killed his mother and I was afraid someone would want to shoot him because he was too little to make it on his own.

So when he climbed up a tree, I climbed up after him and was able to pull him out of the tree. I had to hold him with one hand tightly behind his neck and hold his back feet with the other had. If I let go with one hand he would scratch me with his back feed, and if I let go with the other hand he would bite me.

Eventually a MT FWP biologist brought up a 5 gallon bucket with a lid and we were able to put him in it to carry him down. The next day the biologist came back with dogs and found another cub. They took both of the cubs to a wildlife rehab center near Helena where they cared for the cubs for two years then released them.

The injured crew member recovered from his bites and Schnees gave him a new pair of boots. My boss made me get checked out by a doctor who prescribed an antibiotic and I had to get a tetanus shot.

And I can now say that I caught a bear!
 

std7mag

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In CO, it's illegal to take a bear (sow) with cubs, but it's also illegal to bait - which is usually how people get a good look at a bear before shooting it. So, it's a bit of a conundrum.
It's not legal to use bait, or electronic calls here, either.
And we have no spring bear season.
 

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