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Thread: What's your plan for solo bear hunting?

  1. #1
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    Default What's your plan for solo bear hunting?

    Getting a downed bear from the field to the table by yourself is a challenge, and if you don't plan, you might end up with spoiled or abandoned meat (not good!). So let's learn from each other and share strategies. Here's mine:

    1) I only hunt within a couple miles of the truck. In the right conditions, bears with a thick fat layer can spoil quickly if left out in the field over night, because their fat keeps their heat from dissipating. I know that if I'm too far from the truck, I may not be able to get all of that bear back home in short order. Hunting close to the truck helps ensure I can do that, and I have confidence that I can make multiple trips if necessary.

    2) I only hunt bears uphill from my truck. Why? Because I'm not crazy. I hike with light loads uphill and heavy loads downhill.

    3) I'll never go back to packing a bear out, and there's no need, since I'm not far from the truck. I'm either using a cart, if the terrain allows, or a sled. I've used a two-wheeled cart in the past, and it was a pain. It was always getting hung up. I used a marsh sled last year, and it worked like a charm. After I shot the bear, I skinned and quartered the animal, hiked back to the truck, grabbed a snack and my marsh sled, and hiked back to the bear. I threw the bear parts in the sled, put the harness on my back, and towed the sled across the forest floor back to the truck. It was slick. Attached are a few pictures from last year: one is of the bear I shot, another is from my game camera showing me towing the sled, and the third is of the sled as I was piling bear parts inside. What's your plan?

    DSCF1241.jpgpulling bear in sled.jpgbear in marsh sled.jpg

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    I plan to call you since we both hunt northern Ca. I mean how far away could you be. :)
    My one wheel cart is better in uneven terrain than any 2 wheeled cart we ever tried and it has brakes so that is a possibility but like I said in the other post I will limit the size of the bear I shoot to one I think I can handle. Last year we did not shoot 3-4 different bears we saw that were way down in the canyon. We never found an easy one so we did not get a bear. Some of that D 3-5 zone is steep.

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    Speaking of what is your plan? If you are going to get a large rug made how do you plan on handling the paws? I can tell you that the very first large bear I helped skin in the field neither of us knew how to handle the paws. I skinned down as close to the feet as I thought I could get away with and then took a saw and cut the leg bone above the paw and let the taxidermist deal with it. He laughed and said he had never seen that done before but we did not make any mistakes for him to try to repair. Deer are way easier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brnsvllyjohn View Post
    Speaking of what is your plan? If you are going to get a large rug made how do you plan on handling the paws? I can tell you that the very first large bear I helped skin in the field neither of us knew how to handle the paws. I skinned down as close to the feet as I thought I could get away with and then took a saw and cut the leg bone above the paw and let the taxidermist deal with it. He laughed and said he had never seen that done before but we did not make any mistakes for him to try to repair. Deer are way easier.
    I wondered the same thing until I saw this guy's video. He's my taxidermist, and knows what he's talking about. You cut straight through the pad. It's not really used in the rug.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDKZ8J66Uaw

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    This is a good topic, looking forward to seeing what others are saying.

    Personally, I haven't killed a bear yet but I have been buying a tag for the past few years. My plan for if I ever kill one while deer hunting (I usually am backpacking solo) is to skin and quarter the bear and pack it out in as few trips as possible. I know that I wouldn't want to do a 5 mile trip multiple times, but I feel like this could work if im closer to my truck/ice. Maybe I'm overestimating the weight of a bear? I could always debone the quarters to save some weight. I've done a ~240 pound wild boar on my back in two trips (only a little over a mile, but it was a 80+ degrees wotj a small, cheap pack).

    A big concern with bears, like you mentioned, is how quickly they can spoil due to the thick fat. Also, the hide and head (and feet) is a whole other weight to consider.

    For me, bear hunting has always been limited to having a bear tag while deer hunting. If I get an opportunity at a bear, the distance I will have to pack everything out will be the number one factor in taking a shot.

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    Get in shape, shoot a bear, haul it out.

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    That 240 Lbs Wild Boar... was that the weight before deboning? Were those two trips with deboned meat? Or did you take bones as well? (I know with pigs the ribs/spareribs are a coveted thing.)

    Also... on another thread like this... somebody was mentioning that when deboning that bear renders much less meat than you'd expect, due to the thick heavy bones and thick layer of fat.

    You guys experienced with taken bears out of the field... how true would you say that statement to be?

    One thing for sure I learned from taken my first deer last year is that I need to be better about ensuring to skin off any and all muscle which is trying to cling to the hide during the skinning process. Adds weight to the hide part, and wastes meat to a small degree.

    Soo hoping I can get myself down into the bear spot before first light. Because of the distance to get there (7 mi, 1850 ft descent), and being solo, I'll have to start the hike-in like at 2:30am-3am or so to make it down there before light. In this particular spot if I'm going to have a chance at all it has to be during the Archery period. There's no real good reason for them to be there during regular Fall season. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't apprehensive about attemtping Bear with Archery while solo. In Cali... can we not carry a backup sidearm during Archery Bear? I'm only bothering to ask because it's just one tag for either... not like you're specifically opting for Archery-Only as with deer. I mean... if I have to I guess I'll go without gun backup. But it does make me nervy as hell to be in their house without a gun. Especially since I had another critter (BobCat) creep up on me out there to within 25ft.

    Took about 2 hours to haul out maybe 115-120 Lbs of deer a total of 4 miles that was mostly a slow gradual downhill. I figure more weight... and going uphill... for 7 miles... that it'd probably take like 4.5-5.0hrs or maybe even more... due to the increased rest breaks I'd have to do... and it'd have to be done/begun at least when sun is pretty close to setting so that will mitigate the heat issue for me as much as possible. But I know I wouldn't be able to make 2 trips. At least not solely on foot.

    Been considering a single-MtnBike-wheeled carrying system I saw. But won't have enough time to get my brother to make it for me this year. So been considering riding the downhill trek on a lighter hardtail MtnBike I have to lesson the time factor to get down in there and possibly provide me with a set of wheels I can drape the pack over to push back up the hill to keep the weight off my back perhaps? Only thing is even though going back outta there is on a road... that first like 1 mile on the return is very steep for a road. That part on foot really takes it out of ya. Most of the pain on going back up though is the high amount of time with the pack on and the heat build-up on my back. But I do know that pushing a bicycle uphill for a long time can be strenuous too for how it tires-out your shoulder muscles. Either way, I'm stubborn as all get out. So if I get lucky... at the very least, the maximum amount of meat from the bear I believe I can possibly carry will be brought with me and the rest I guess I'll just have to look at as tribute to be paid back to the forest, unfortunately.

    On that note... if it's summer time... lets say upper 80's minimum for the highs... would any of you think any meat left behind would even be worth going back down in there to fetch? Wouldn't it go bad by the next day?... if not found and eaten first.
    "None of us was born knowing ANY of this! If someone else can do it, YOU can TOO!" - TheGDog
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    I'll be hunting with my buddy, he's taken a bear before during general season. We're gonna head out for archery and general season in the D14 area. Im not too worried about not having a side-arm, although I wish I could. But these aren't grizzly bears. I know black bears can be just as dangerous, believe me I've studied that. My family and friends think Im a bit crazy to attempt to take a bear with a bow, maybe it's naive bravado but Im not really worried about that. I'm more worried about how to get the meat out and not letting it spoil or go to waste. Im very interested to hear how you sucessful guys have done it.. As in what all you need, what to consider.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGDog View Post
    That 240 Lbs Wild Boar... was that the weight before deboning? Were those two trips with deboned meat? Or did you take bones as well? (I know with pigs the ribs/spareribs are a coveted thing.)

    Also... on another thread like this... somebody was mentioning that when deboning that bear renders much less meat than you'd expect, due to the thick heavy bones and thick layer of fat.

    You guys experienced with taken bears out of the field... how true would you say that statement to be?

    One thing for sure I learned from taken my first deer last year is that I need to be better about ensuring to skin off any and all muscle which is trying to cling to the hide during the skinning process. Adds weight to the hide part, and wastes meat to a small degree.

    Soo hoping I can get myself down into the bear spot before first light. Because of the distance to get there (7 mi, 1850 ft descent), and being solo, I'll have to start the hike-in like at 2:30am-3am or so to make it down there before light. In this particular spot if I'm going to have a chance at all it has to be during the Archery period. There's no real good reason for them to be there during regular Fall season. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't apprehensive about attemtping Bear with Archery while solo. In Cali... can we not carry a backup sidearm during Archery Bear? I'm only bothering to ask because it's just one tag for either... not like you're specifically opting for Archery-Only as with deer. I mean... if I have to I guess I'll go without gun backup. But it does make me nervy as hell to be in their house without a gun. Especially since I had another critter (BobCat) creep up on me out there to within 25ft.

    Took about 2 hours to haul out maybe 115-120 Lbs of deer a total of 4 miles that was mostly a slow gradual downhill. I figure more weight... and going uphill... for 7 miles... that it'd probably take like 4.5-5.0hrs or maybe even more... due to the increased rest breaks I'd have to do... and it'd have to be done/begun at least when sun is pretty close to setting so that will mitigate the heat issue for me as much as possible. But I know I wouldn't be able to make 2 trips. At least not solely on foot.

    Been considering a single-MtnBike-wheeled carrying system I saw. But won't have enough time to get my brother to make it for me this year. So been considering riding the downhill trek on a lighter hardtail MtnBike I have to lesson the time factor to get down in there and possibly provide me with a set of wheels I can drape the pack over to push back up the hill to keep the weight off my back perhaps? Only thing is even though going back outta there is on a road... that first like 1 mile on the return is very steep for a road. That part on foot really takes it out of ya. Most of the pain on going back up though is the high amount of time with the pack on and the heat build-up on my back. But I do know that pushing a bicycle uphill for a long time can be strenuous too for how it tires-out your shoulder muscles. Either way, I'm stubborn as all get out. So if I get lucky... at the very least, the maximum amount of meat from the bear I believe I can possibly carry will be brought with me and the rest I guess I'll just have to look at as tribute to be paid back to the forest, unfortunately.

    On that note... if it's summer time... lets say upper 80's minimum for the highs... would any of you think any meat left behind would even be worth going back down in there to fetch? Wouldn't it go bad by the next day?... if not found and eaten first.
    Leaving meat behind in the forest is "wanton waste". Wardens and sportsmen look at it as one one worst violations made by hunters. All your planing should be centered around getting yourself and all the meat out in prime condition.
    The OP has is right.
    There wasn't enough room in the boat.

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    dthome Youtube has changed a lot of things for guys trying to figure things out but I don't think that video was available on our first large bear. I doubt I will personally be involved in that situation again but you never know so understanding how to skin the animal properly is certainly helpful.

    A little bit off topic but how many bear rugs, horns or any other type of trophy items do you really have room for? At this point for me it is a meat hunt more than a trophy hunt most of the time. JustGuy says he takes smaller animals because they are better on the table and I am beginning to think in some situations he has the right idea.

    Gdog the bike deal sounds interesting and we have used a one wheeled cart for almost 30 years and if you can get one to an animal they are very helpful.

    Mr Luckypants I never thought about just exercising more to get in shape. What great idea. I guess all of those pro athletes that retire around 35 should have just worked out more and they could have played forever. Who cares about old injuries or age. Maybe some of us have ailments that will not go away no matter how much we exercise but thanks for the input. Some of us are way past the age of being able to "just get in shape" and others will never be physically able to pack out large animals without help. I guess those of us that cannot pack out an elk or a large bear should just shoot rabbits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGDog View Post
    That 240 Lbs Wild Boar... was that the weight before deboning? Were those two trips with deboned meat? Or did you take bones as well? (I know with pigs the ribs/spareribs are a coveted thing.)

    Also... on another thread like this... somebody was mentioning that when deboning that bear renders much less meat than you'd expect, due to the thick heavy bones and thick layer of fat.

    You guys experienced with taken bears out of the field... how true would you say that statement to be?

    One thing for sure I learned from taken my first deer last year is that I need to be better about ensuring to skin off any and all muscle which is trying to cling to the hide during the skinning process. Adds weight to the hide part, and wastes meat to a small degree.

    Soo hoping I can get myself down into the bear spot before first light. Because of the distance to get there (7 mi, 1850 ft descent), and being solo, I'll have to start the hike-in like at 2:30am-3am or so to make it down there before light. In this particular spot if I'm going to have a chance at all it has to be during the Archery period. There's no real good reason for them to be there during regular Fall season. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't apprehensive about attemtping Bear with Archery while solo. In Cali... can we not carry a backup sidearm during Archery Bear? I'm only bothering to ask because it's just one tag for either... not like you're specifically opting for Archery-Only as with deer. I mean... if I have to I guess I'll go without gun backup. But it does make me nervy as hell to be in their house without a gun. Especially since I had another critter (BobCat) creep up on me out there to within 25ft.

    Took about 2 hours to haul out maybe 115-120 Lbs of deer a total of 4 miles that was mostly a slow gradual downhill. I figure more weight... and going uphill... for 7 miles... that it'd probably take like 4.5-5.0hrs or maybe even more... due to the increased rest breaks I'd have to do... and it'd have to be done/begun at least when sun is pretty close to setting so that will mitigate the heat issue for me as much as possible. But I know I wouldn't be able to make 2 trips. At least not solely on foot.

    Been considering a single-MtnBike-wheeled carrying system I saw. But won't have enough time to get my brother to make it for me this year. So been considering riding the downhill trek on a lighter hardtail MtnBike I have to lesson the time factor to get down in there and possibly provide me with a set of wheels I can drape the pack over to push back up the hill to keep the weight off my back perhaps? Only thing is even though going back outta there is on a road... that first like 1 mile on the return is very steep for a road. That part on foot really takes it out of ya. Most of the pain on going back up though is the high amount of time with the pack on and the heat build-up on my back. But I do know that pushing a bicycle uphill for a long time can be strenuous too for how it tires-out your shoulder muscles. Either way, I'm stubborn as all get out. So if I get lucky... at the very least, the maximum amount of meat from the bear I believe I can possibly carry will be brought with me and the rest I guess I'll just have to look at as tribute to be paid back to the forest, unfortunately.

    On that note... if it's summer time... lets say upper 80's minimum for the highs... would any of you think any meat left behind would even be worth going back down in there to fetch? Wouldn't it go bad by the next day?... if not found and eaten first.
    You cannot carry a side arm during archery season.
    If you cannot carry all the meat out, you really shouldn't be hunting there.

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    Unfortunately where I'll probably be there's no way I could get a cart in or out. So I'll make multiple trips, maybe get a friend to help too. A cart would be nice though

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    How about an electric mountain bike? For a seven mile hike it would be a no brainer.
    Ride it in and use the motor on the way out.
    While it may be a little frowned upon by some- I would much rather have more folks hunting which helps protect the sport. Also- none of us want to see spoiled/wasted meat.
    So if an electric bike helps get people into hunting areas and back out safely- I am a supporter.

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    Great topic. A few things:

    1. Game carts, and/or a mountain bike is prohibited where I'm hunting this year. Game carts, in some situations can work great (where legal).
    2. I hunt fairly far from my truck, although it would be great if bears were closer to where I park my truck.
    3. Like most of my bear hunts, it's very similar to an elk hunt. Using multiple game bags, skin and quarter bear. Pack out hide, and a quarter - hang the rest, in game bags, in the shade. Repeat until all of bear is in the truck.
    4. Help is always nice!
    5. If you're not comfortable with paws or head, leave them on and have taxidermist cape the remainder.

    Good luck fellas, looking forward to some trophy photos!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by dthome View Post
    You cannot carry a side arm during archery season.
    If you cannot carry all the meat out, you really shouldn't be hunting there.

    Do you think if I was successful at taking a bear in that area... since there is a road that pretty much goes down all the way there just about... that I could perhaps talk a DFG into driving me back down for a second trip since you're not allowed on that road without special permission?

    RE: "wanton waste" - I'm not wanton to waste anything (lil humor)... but I just don't see how I'll be able to take it all with me.


    Anyhoo... this is all conjecture at this point... chances are likely if I get a shot opportunity it'll probably be on one of the youngr smaller ones I saw on the cam photos, which realistically would be perfect for me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGDog View Post
    Do you think if I was successful at taking a bear in that area... since there is a road that pretty much goes down all the way there just about... that I could perhaps talk a DFG into driving me back down for a second trip since you're not allowed on that road without special permission?

    RE: "wanton waste" - I'm not wanton to waste anything (lil humor)... but I just don't see how I'll be able to take it all with me.


    Anyhoo... this is all conjecture at this point... chances are likely if I get a shot opportunity it'll probably be on one of the youngr smaller ones I saw on the cam photos, which realistically would be perfect for me.
    I doubt it, but you could always try. Just know that once you've called, you've alerted CDFW to the fact that you've killed a bear, and some of the carcass is still out there.

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    I suppose I'd better start making sure to take a whole 'nother complete set of hiking clothes then... so that should I happen to luck into a bigger one, I can change out the uber sweaty gear, do a quick wipe-down bath... and try one more hike-in and pack out I suppose. There would definitely be a nap taken in-between in there before attempting to go back down in there though.

    I already bothered to order more game bags y'day just in case, so that I can carry 3-4 of'em with me down in there. When I'd thought about it before... I had figured tie rope to one of the trees near the cliff overlooking the creek and hang the meatbag over the cliff on some paracord. Figured unless the bear figured out how to pull the rope back up, that might be my safest bet, keeping the meat mid-way up that sheer vertical rock wall. Figure Cats and Bear couldn't climb that vertical rock face.

    Man... I'd really have to make sure enough nutritional support was left back at the truck for my return. Possibly even 'nother round of the Blood Pressure meds and the various NSAIDS I'll need as well. Maybe stop and throw some Toe tape around 'em on the hot spots to.

    Meh... dammit... guess I'll have to start doing the stairmaster while wearing a daypack and we'll stuff 2 Gallons of Crystal in it to better emulate the work.
    Last edited by TheGDog; 08-12-2016 at 02:30 AM.
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