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I have fired 12 shots at PA black bears......but I have yet to tag one. None of them were good shots-all running through thick brush or out kinda far. I've hunted with several groups of guys who were putting on drives, and always had a lot of fun, but my desire is to get one while hunting on my own.
I was interested in hearing some tactics info from you guys who hunt alone and have had success. Do you sit in stands on escape routes and wait? Do you track them? Do you still hunt through known areas and walk up on them? Whatever?

I hunted a new area this past season and found a thicket that had no less than 10 sets of bear tracks leading in to it in the snow. I circled the entire thicket and not one set of tracks was coming out. I got on a set and followed it for a while, but only succeeded in pushing out a sow with cubs that another hunter missed.
I never have trouble finding where they are. I just have trouble closing the deal.

What tactics do you use???
 

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I’ve killed a couple in Pa., and shot at 2 others while hunting alone. I used to watch the edges of standing corn, until I figured out the bears didn’t arrive until it was completely dark. Now I try to get close to their bedding area nearer the river, which is about 3/4 from some cornfields up on top. It’s a crapshoot, bears will come up these trails, but there’s a bunch of ways up the hollow. And sometimes they don’t break cover and move until dark. I hunt every evening of the season in the hollows now, usually from 3pm till dark.
 

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Bait!!!🙃


I never shot at one in pa. This year was the closest i have come. Pulling my bow up and one comes running in and stops 35 yards wide open. Only have my bow about half way up. Every bow season i have bears in range. Only when the season isn't in!
I know a fellow that has shot 6 out of the same treestand in rifle bear season.
 

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tactics vary wildly based on terrain, food sources etc. If hunting ag land, find cornfields that the bear are spending time in and sit all day at the most likely entry/exit routes. If hunting big woods, find the food and focus on food sources close to very thick cover. Also, it helps to focus your time where bear densities are highest, especially if hunting with a bow.
 

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Haven't closed the deal either. I hunt sign & food. Pretty much a crap shoot once typical first day pressure starts. Hoping that the Oct Early ML Bear Season proposal is passed as that's when I seem to see more bear vs any other time of the year.
 

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Shooting that bear while hunting alone is only a small part of the deal, the deal isn't closed until he is laying on a tailgate.
I never shot one alone but have seen them here in 3D with bear still open the first week of antlered deer. Depending on the situation, unless I had others that I was hunting with around to help with the drag not sure I would even take a shot.
With the State Park and SGL not allowing driving on closed roads or allowing ATVs its a muscle all the way drag out.
 
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Something I think is worth adding to this thread is that the different areas of PA (NW, NC, NE, etc.) all ledge to different habitat types for bear hunting. In NC PA you might be hunting more steep river valleys with lural or 10 year old clear cuts that are stupid thick. In NE PA where I do most of my bear hunting you'll find more bears in swamps. Having permission to hunt a corn field might be more universal across PA than anything else. I find unless the food source is ag a significant amount of mast crop is eaten already by bear season.

I hunt with a large driving party during bear season. However, the past several years I've been really thinking about trying to bear hunt (during the deer season overlap) on my own. I wouldn't give up the comradery of hunting with the crew and it's just so much fun, but after bear season is over everyone does their own thing. I know I hunt very hard and often wonder how successful I would be by myself. Sneaking through a swamp or a thicket to find a bear would be taking inches in hours on a clam day. Depending on how far the bear is in there it could be a day long venture. I know of a few areas that are way back in there. I think this coming season I'm going to try areas where they might be entering and exiting some of the bedding areas or escape routes when pressured.

One thing I've noticed throughout the years of hunting with a driving crew is where the bears come out of the swamps is usually the same spots or general areas year after year and bear after bear. Things get really interesting when the stander doesn't down the bear right away though. I also believe they enter the swamps in the same general area also.
 

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I should add that I hunt the NC part of the state. Ridges and valleys, steep hills, laurel, no agricaulture. etc.
 

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Hunt the thickest stuff you can find, laurel, clear cut's, briars and swamps. That's where they will be. Or walk until you find fresh tracks and follow them.
 

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I still hunt the laurel and play the wind. Know what thermals are doing to your scent. I’ve found bears bed on the same hills year after year even when food is a couple ridges away. I’ve killed 2 with rifle this way and 1 with the crossbow. My best friend has killed 3 this way also. I’ve never had luck hunting the food still hunting because so much of that feeding is done at night. I like hunting close to game trails in the laurel where the leaves are smashed flat from bear traffic. Most laurel has many game trails and in our part of the Sproul State Forest bear trails out number deer trails. Sounds like you are in a high density bear area already and the wind is your enemy. A bear’s nose is alot better then a deer.
 

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Ive gotten 3 in pa with a bow and came close to my 4th this last yr. so heres my 2 cents scout 20 times more than you would for a 140 class buck. I start hanging cams in early june about 9 of them sometimes more then go up 3 1/2 hr drive in 3 weeks to check and move them starting around field edges and food then moving back used trails 100 yrds or so then back up in 3 weeks for the same checking and moving and trying to find any type of pattern to show this goes on all summer and fall as the season gets closer its every other week. then using archery season to hunt and scout at same time all this and knowing by the time the season comes in their patterns will change but its worked for me
this past year I watched over 15 bear over the summer and saw bear everytime I was in a stand,many within 20 yrds but still couldnt get a shot being near a travel route to food is the key .
 

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We've gotten 4 bears out of my camp. 3 were shot while deer hunting from deer stands during the first week of rifle. The only bear shot in bear season was back in 1996. I was set up on a mountain side, one bench down, overlooking the hill. The very next year, I saw a bear in the exact same spot. but couldn't get a shot. Never saw one again there.
 

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I hunt solo a lot in bear rifle season in the big woods in 2G and it’s tough. I’ve had success but it takes luck as well. When scouting an area especially a new area I like to use satellite images of the area when there are no leaves on the trees. You can see the laurel thickets and brushy areas much easier. I think bing maps used to be this way but seems all sites with satellite images get updated from time to time.
 
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Quick story: This is back when the first day was on Monday, pre-cell phones, and in the area of Emporium. My buddy and I were around 17-18 years old and as we were walking out of the woods on Monday afternoon, we identified a nice spot to return to on Tuesday morning. Tuesday morning comes and my buddy drops off the logging road a few hundred yards before this new found spot. I continue on to the new spot and when I'm about 100 yards away, I see a flashlight shining at me to let me know a hunter had the same idea as me, and had beat me to this spot. I back out, and continue on up the logging road another couple hundred yards and decide to sit until daybreak. As daybreak comes, I hear 6 shots back toward my buddy, and as I said, this is pre-cell phone. So I start walking back down the logging road to see if my buddy was the one shooting. My buddy had the same idea as he wasn't aware that I had moved further down the road and we meet near the newly identified spot that I had been beaten too. From the road, we can see the hunter and could tell he was the one who had shot from the way he was moving/walking. Again, with my buddy and I being 17-18 and have yet to see a black bear, we decided to go take a look. Turns out, the hunter was lucky enough to harvest this 200-250lb black bear, but this guy had to be at least 70 and was hunting alone. He wasn't in the shape to drag this bear the 2 miles back to the truck, so my buddy and I did it for him. He did offer us $20, but we couldn't take his money.

I just hope that when people decide to hunt big game by themselves, they have a plan for what they'd do after the trigger is pulled. I've hunted plenty of areas where cell phone service wasn't an option, and you'll most likely need help. I know I'd help anyone that needed it, as I've yet to harvest a bear but have drug 4 out of the woods for others, but you may not be so lucky to rely on strangers. I just hope that when the day comes that I need the help, karma is in my favor.
 
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