Property ? for you bear hunters out there...

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Property ? for you bear hunters out there...

Post  shedder on Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:43 pm

My main purpose is to hunt Black Bear and I have two options for this particular property:

1) 
Lease 200 acres of low land swamps, creeks, hammocks with limited but some stands of hardwoods such as Cherry and some Beechnut.  With limited Apple trees scattered along the creeks BUT the bears have found a food source in the way of backyard bird feeders that would be near by... almost 1/2 of the acreage would be just about un-huntable swampland according to the forest land manager...ZERO ROADS in here never been logged.

2) 
Lease 200 acres of higher dry ridges with a few small mountain drainage type streams that are abundant with Beechnut trees, Cherry and very few Oaks.  The Beechnuts had an overabundant crop last year and the Forest manager could not tell yet if this year would be a good crop or not.  Its your typical mountain top ridges with some decent deer sign as well...I would not be hunting this property during the deer season just for bear...this tract has limited logging roads with ATV access.

The forest manager is not a bear hunter and is not comfortable suggesting one over the other...He says there is bear sign found down in the low land but figures in the fall the bear would have to be seen in the ridges eating on the beechnuts...
If it were you where would you lease...I am personally leaning toward the lowland somewhat...and with the forest manager calling it "wasted" swamp land...I just may be able to find myself a screaming deal on some super Bear habitat...But was hoping to hear what you would go with...
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Re: Property ? for you bear hunters out there...

Post  ridgerunner on Mon Jul 07, 2014 5:40 pm

What I've learned with bear is they will focus on the hot food source for that time of year.  You could watch them all summer long but if you don't have the hot food source while season is in you can spend the whole season without catching a glimps of one.  I don't recall what dates NY's bear season is.  I think yours is longer so you may have more food options available while season is in.  As I recall your not allowed to bait either.  Here in Pa we have a fairly short season for the most part which goes on for the 3rd and 4th week of Nov (plus the 1st week of Dec if you are in an extended season GMU).  The food sources I focus on are corn, acorns and beachnuts (not necessarily in that order).  Although keep in mind you could have the best food source for bear but if they aren't there that's it, your just not going to see one.  So if I find them hitting an area while bowhunting deer I go back there for bear season.  On those years when bear season comes around and I haven't found any hotspots I head to the mountains and hunt big timber.  I'd say 90% of my bear encounters while bear season is in have been in big timber (99% oak).  With that said I'd lean towards the high country.  Hopefully there's a place where you could set a stand and cover lots of ground.  Remember it may be better sitting on one ridge while most of the acreage your covering is on the next one over.  I've hunted standing corn like that also, get on a high ridge and walk it glassing down every row.


A lot of PA public land swamps get pounded by gangs driving them out.  They kill bear like that but its not for me.  You can find bear denning up in them though.
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Re: Property ? for you bear hunters out there...

Post  shedder on Mon Jul 07, 2014 6:54 pm

The early season opens up I think on Sept 13 this year in the North zone and stays open thru deer season...
There is no baiting in NY.  Early season spot and stalk or setting up on a known food source...spot and stalk on 200 acres doesn't seem the smartest.  I like your way of thinking thank you!
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Post  chukbuk on Tue Jul 08, 2014 6:35 am

That's a challenging decision Shedder!  Beech trees on my last property seemed to not produce much the year after a big crop.  It did not seem to be weather related so much like acorn crops, be a good idea to research them to learn more.  That would be my choice if they are abundant.  Big factor on both properties for me would also be the surrounding properties.  It's nothing for a bear to travel several miles a night to a food source, especially early season.  If you expect a lot of opportunities for early season hunts, then the cover provided by the swamps might be a decent bet if there is a food source in range.  Nothing like a thick swamp for bears!
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Re: Property ? for you bear hunters out there...

Post  shedder on Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:01 am

That's my dilemma the ridge top parcel with the beech connects to the Adirondack Park and I'm sure I could find some food sources in there somewhere if the beech were not dropping.  The southern low land parcel would have the regular food source because the home owners are feeding the bears I guess inadvertently every night...either way the bear have found the food and I'm sure the food will consistently be there...my thoughts were in the low land swamps they may very well be bedding in that parcel so where ever they went to feed I could have a chance at them each morning...coming back or in the evenings on the trails leading to/from the food so that I would get them in transit before the food source when they get all nervous.
I'm going there tomorrow morning to decide...
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Re: Property ? for you bear hunters out there...

Post  chukbuk on Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:21 am

I think you can count on the swamp hummocks for bedding!  Probably some neighbors that feed them on purpose, 2 of our cabin neighbors do.  Just talked to one of them this morning.  They have triplets that have been stopping in along with one he estimates well over 500lbs!
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Re: Property ? for you bear hunters out there...

Post  MEhunter on Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:28 am

The issue with the thick nasty swamp land to me would be getting a shot at one. You're going to have to be close to see one if it's that thick and having a bear come close to you without the use of bait can be damn tough. If you could use bait I would absolutely go for the thick low lying area, as you would have more luck getting them to come to a bait in a thick dark area as appossed to an open area. Without the use of bait I would hunt the open ridges in the beeches. You probably would have a better chance at seeing one at distance up on the ridges or even catch one up in a beech tree eating. The majority of the feeding they do in beeches, that I've found any way, is up off the ground. They generally don't wait for them to fall and rather climb the tree, sit out on a branch, pull all the limbs to them and basically rake the beech nuts off the branches. If you come upon a stand of beeches just look at the trees for claw marks, you can see the ones they have been up. Also look for what I call a "bear nest" in the beech trees. That's what they form when they climb out on the limbs and pull the branches towards them. It pretty much looks like a giant squirlles nest in the trees. You will also notice a lot of freshly broken off beech limbs on the ground. Couple pictures of "bear nests" below. They stick out like a sore thumb in the fall when the leaves are gone. You can find them before the leaves start to fall as well, just have to look harder because there are more leaves on the other trees in the way.







Fresh claw marks.


This all being said I would focus my time on the open ridges. Like I said before I think your chances of catching one at a distance feeding would be much higher than getting one up close and personal without bait.

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Re: Property ? for you bear hunters out there...

Post  MEhunter on Tue Jul 08, 2014 11:44 am

Once the other berry crops start popping up in the summer the bears will stop using the bird feeders as well. They really only hit the bird feeders here in the early spring. Might be different down there if there is less feed, but bears don't like human interation, so if they can stay away from the houses they will do so. Any areas with rasberries or other berry trees around? We always find areas in the summer where you can see where a bear has sat down in a berry patch and raked all the berry trees into their mouth. I would try using some of the bear insense sticks if they are legal in your area. The wild berry ones work awesome up here in areas that are plentiful with rasberries and blueberries.

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Post  shedder on Tue Jul 08, 2014 1:10 pm

Amazing info right there!! THANK YOU!!
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Re: Property ? for you bear hunters out there...

Post  shedder on Tue Jul 08, 2014 7:44 pm

I think the double ridge thing may work in the upper parcel that connects to the Adirondack Park...

There are a couple of ridges in the low area that look promising as well...
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Post  TheCReW on Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:57 pm

Interesting thread, and great pictures of the 'bear nests'. We do not have those here as they have limby conifers that they sleep in, but we have bear trees that I guess are similar. Every once in awhile you will come across a pine tree with all the bark worn off and if you look closer you can see claw marks all over it, and the bears sleep in these few trees regularly. Of course, the big old bears don't bother sleeping up in the trees, even where we are with wolves all over. My only advice would be to base your decision partially on visibility, bears are masters at staying hidden and are incredibly quiet too so they can be  very tough to get a look at in thick lowlands. We spot and stalk hunt them late in the spring and in the fall, and visibility is always the second most important consideration (after food). Good luck!

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Post  shedder on Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:05 pm

Thanks everyone for your time in your response to my thread.  I decided against this lease at this time.  Timing was just not right for some reason.
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Post  Mountainman Vic on Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:20 pm

Well Matt, If you do decided to look for a lease later on for bear, something that I would have taken into consideration on this would have been that low land thick swamp areas tend to get some swirling winds and bear are second to none when it comes to their sense of smell. I rarely see bears in the woods that aren't traveling with their nose pointed into the wind and in my 11 years living in these mountains have only ever had a very small handful of bears with in bow range while I was in a treestand and the ones that I did were all small. So If you were still considering this lease, I'd tell you that the hardwood ridge lease would have been my choice because it would possible allow you the chance to spot a bear and the make a stalk on it. Which is much easier on a bear than a whitetail.

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Re: Property ? for you bear hunters out there...

Post  shedder on Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:03 pm

Mountainman Vic wrote:Well Matt, If you do decided to look for a lease later on for bear, something that I would have taken into consideration on this would have been that low land thick swamp areas tend to get some swirling winds and bear are second to none when it comes to their sense of smell. I rarely see bears in the woods that aren't traveling with their nose pointed into the wind and in my 11 years living in these mountains have only ever had a very small handful of bears with in bow range while I was in a treestand and the ones that I did were all small. So If you were still considering this lease, I'd tell you that the hardwood ridge lease would have been my choice because it would possible allow you the chance to spot a bear and the make a stalk on it. Which is much easier on a bear than a whitetail.
Thanks Vic,
I for sure have changed my thinking on which part to lease after reading all of this excellent advice.  I would be going for the upper ridges if I were going to go for this lease.  I for sure am not a bear hunter...YET and know when to just sit back, listen and learn!!  I think I learned more in this post than I have stumbling around in the woods the past 5 years "bear hunting"!!
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Post  Pa. Bowhunter on Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:38 am

Just go with BOTH !! A bears nose is an awesome weapon !!! Both spots actually sound good but they both have their faults. Mainly wind. I know I have sat up in Vics area , checked the wind and it was perfect. Had a dozen elk within 10 yards with no problems. The wind shifted and from behind me on the gasline a bear took off. Then add in that they rarely make a sound and it gets tougher. Myself , I would also check the ridges but man its tough to beat a good swamp ! But it also depends on just what is in the area. Unlike Vic , my hunting partner and I have had many bears walk well within bow range , but we also have ALOT more people in the area. Put it this way , the Sinnemahoning Sportsmans Club has more guys in it the night before the bear opener than what is in the entire area the rest of the year  Very Happy !!!!! Just get in the woods and look around very closely , if they are there you can find them.
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Re: Property ? for you bear hunters out there...

Post  shedder on Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:32 pm

Pa. Bowhunter wrote:Just go with BOTH !! A bears nose is an awesome weapon !!! Both spots actually sound good but they both have their faults. Mainly wind. I know I have sat up in Vics area , checked the wind and it was perfect. Had a dozen elk within 10 yards with no problems. The wind shifted and from behind me on the gasline a bear took off. Then add in that they rarely make a sound and it gets tougher. Myself , I would also check the ridges but man its tough to beat a good swamp ! But it also depends on just what is in the area. Unlike Vic , my hunting partner and I have had many bears walk well within bow range , but we also have ALOT more people in the area. Put it this way , the Sinnemahoning Sportsmans Club has more guys in it the night before the bear opener than what is in the entire area the rest of the year  Very Happy !!!!! Just get in the woods and look around very closely , if they are there you can find them.
Rick too funny!  I thought about just this...seeing if they would throw in 100 acres or two of this low wasteland into a  lease for wasteland price if I picked up a portion of the ridge top...trying to get the best of both. Scary the wavelength we are on!!
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