For the guys who hunt the ground with a bow. I was wondering what you have to say about black bear encounters hunting the ground. Years back I was in a treestand well before first light and I had a bear walk through just under my stand. I could see his shadow. While it freaked me out a little, he just came and went really. I have seen a few videos of bears climbing trees that hunters are in. That looks a little more scary but I doubt a bear can or would launch a full blown attack someone in a stand as the bear needs to hold on to the tree. Maybe I am completely wrong on that too. I like to hunt the ground (no blind) and I was wondering if anyone can share some experiences or advice with such encounters on the ground. In most of the videos of treestand hunters that I mentioned they stayed completely motion less and the bears were literally on top of them. I can't imagine this exact scenario on the ground. You would be at an incredible disadvantage allowing a bear to get that close. Please share your thoughts on what you should do..
Your post got my attention. I credit you for finally motivating my registration as a member. I wanted to reply on your topic and questions.
I have had a lot of encounters with black bears, and a few Alaskan brown bears, on the ground over the years and want to assure you that fearing black bears, in general is unwarranted. A couple of points of guidance and then I can share a few experiences where I had a problem and I was the one that created it, not the bear.
Points of guidance. First, it is very important to respect them and remember that when you are in the woods/wilds you are on their turf. Second, stay calm, pay attention to the bear(s), and enjoy the encounter. Third, think about the needs and security of the bear(s), and don't do anything to stress or create concern on their part. Last, If the bear focuses its attention on you, you have already violated the third point and you need to calmly give way and move away from the bear. Put more space between you and the bear with as little disturbance and drama as possible.
I could tell many stories about encounters, quite a number at less than 20 feet, and several at less than 5 feet. I will share four up close encounters..
Getting between mom and cubs. Yes, I did this. When I was in my 40s I loved trail running to stay in shape. One outing I came around a group of pine trees on a trail corner and ran right into a momma with her three cubs. It was a total panic for all involved. I jumped over one cub that ran between my legs as I was trying to do a 180 on direction. The other two cubs went opposite directions with one going up a tree. Momma took off following and protecting the remaining cub that didn't go for the tree. I regained my cool, kept quiet, then reversed course and left the scene.
Bear coming up the tree while bow hunting. I have had people tell me this encounter should be in Outdoor Life. I will keep it short. I fell asleep in my bow stand. My bladder woke me up. I decided to climb down the tree to pee in a mock scrape I had nearby. As I was climbing down my tree steps I hear a funny sound, but that sound really didn't register with me until I got to the last step. I then heard the sound right between my legs. I spread my knees wide and looked down past my crotch to see the snout of a bear about 10 inches from my bottom. I went back up the tree as fast as I could, jumped over the branch into my stand, and then made my mistake. I roared at the top of my lungs at that bear. The bear then proceeded to come up the tree after me. I grabbed by bow and nocked an arrow. It was nearly up to me. I drew back the bow and was shaking so bad the arrow flew off the rest sidewise and fell to the ground. I stuck the bow out between me and the bear to block its progress and with my free hand pulled another arrow from the quiver. I held the arrow by the fletching end and repeatedly slapped the broadhead into the bark inches in front of the bear's nose. That caused the bear to reconsider. It slowly backed down the tree and left. That was the first of five bears I saw that evening.
Bear not giving way. I was walking into a bow stand about an hour before first sign of daylight. This was back in the days before headlamps had LED lights. They were not very bright and didn't throw a long beam. I had a packbasket on with my heavy outer layers, lunch, and thermos in it. While walking my eyes were focused on the circle of light in the trail 10 feet in front of me. All of a sudden that circle of light came upon the back feet of a bear -- facing me! As I lifted my head up the light panned up the body of adult bear that was standing on the trail. It was clear it was not moving. I froze, and without saying a word I quietly slipped off my packbasket, placed it on the ground in front of me, then I turned and walked away. The bear stayed put to inspect my packbasket and didn't follow me. I came back later after it got light out and was lucky that the bear hadn't done any damage to my pack or contents.
Being stalked by a bear. One evening I was bored in my bow stand. I hadn't seen a deer. So as twilight approached I decided to change tactics. I left the stand and located a nearby deer run that would lead in the direction of my truck. My plan was to still-hunt that run back to the truck and use fawn bleats to get a doe to come within bow range. I was hunting with a recurve and shooting instinctive at the time. I had an arrow nocked and ready to draw as I crept along. I was about 75% of the way back to the truck. The light was fading. I heard a branch get pressed into the ground on the run behind me. I slowly turned, coming to full draw as I did. Moving full bore down that run at me was a 300-pound-ish bear. I stayed still and didn't move other than to keep my aim on the head-neck area of that bear. When it was a few yards from me its demeanor completely changed. It realized I was something very different than the fawn it was expecting. It side-stepped off the trail to the right, slowed slightly and was looking at me with a sideways glance as it began passing by -- less than 4 feet from the tip of my broadhead. I still vividly recall how that bear almost instantly went from predatory kill-focused to what I can only describe as "oops, excuse me, sorry, my mistake, didn't mean to disturb you, I will just be on my way". I had a bear tag in my pocket, but I let that bear go. That bear could have done me some damage. I decided one good turn deserves another and did not release that arrow. I watched him run away.
So there you have four things not to do. Don't be running around in bear country when there are short sight distances. Make some noise if you do. Don't growl or roar at a bear. Don't walk around in bear country in the dark without enough light to help keep you as far away from a bear as is possible. Don't use or do things that make a bear mistake you for prey.