Judging Trophy Bears

Sponsored by: ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent

By: Bob Humphrey

Black bears can be among the toughest big game animals to field judge. If your goal is a big bruin, here are some tips to help you determine if what you see is what you want.

Be patient – Several different bears may visit a single bait station. Adult males have larger home ranges and may take longer to find your bait. Females have smaller home ranges and may visit bait more often.

Set up a scale – Black bears can look deceptively large. Place a marked stake at your bait station to gauge the size of bears you see. Large adult male bears tend to be taller than 33 inches when standing on four feet. Females and younger bears are shorter than 33 inches at the shoulder.

Now this is a trophy bear.

Look for these characteristics:

Large/Adult Male Bears…

• have stocky legs and a massive body with a belly that hangs closer to ground;

• approach bait with more confidence and slower, more deliberate movements;

• have heads that are large and rounded (like a basketball), ears look smaller, neck is thicker and ears to nose form an equilateral triangle.

Small/Young Bears…

• appear to be “all legs”;

• approach bait nervously, frequently looking over shoulder or turning around;

• have heads that are more streamlined and pointed; ears to nose form a skinny triangle.

• Ears look larger and closer together and the neck appears longer and thinner.

Be Still – All bears are cautious around bait sites because they represent an unnatural concentration of food; and bears seem to know, or learn, that it attracts their only two predators – man and bigger bears. This is especially true of older bears. They may circle a bait for minutes, even hours, even bedding nearby before finally coming in. You may not see them or hear them, and it’s vitally important that you remain quiet and motionless.

Author with his trophy bear.

This becomes particularly challenging on warm still nights – often the best nights for bear hunting are also the best nights when the bugs are out. Bug suits and head nets can help, but nothing repels mosquitoes like a ThermaCELL. And though they can certainly smell it, bears don’t seem to mind the odor of a ThermaCELL.

Remember –  to keep all your outdoor adventures biting bug free, be sure and take along : ThermaCELL