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Staff Article

Robert Hanneman

Hunting Bears with Hounds

By Robert Hanneman

March 2015

Hound hunting in the snow

Very few states in the west allow the use of hounds to hunt bears. For those who enjoy Black bear hunting and have already taken Black bears over bait and through spot and stalk, running them with hounds can add another dimension to the sport. It is definitely an adrenaline rush listening to the hounds and following them through varying terrain, looking for a trophy bear. The western states that have legal bear hunting with hounds are Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. See the table for information on each state.

Since outfitters generally have more money wrapped up in dogs and gear, hound hunts tend to be more expensive than spot and stalk or baited bear hunts. Most hunts will be conducted by turning them loose off of baits or driving roads with a strike dog up on top of the dog box. Once the strike dog hits a scent he will open up. At that time the hunters will get out and look for tracks and sign. If it is the size of bear you are looking for, all of the dogs will be GPS collared and turned loose on the trail. One of the biggest differences I have found while running bears is that usually a lot more hounds are put into the race than on a Mountain lion hunt. Mountain lions may run hard for a while, but they get winded easily and usually tree within 1 mile of being jumped. Most lions will easily tree with two or three hounds. Bears, on the other hand, usually need more pressure from a number of gritty hounds to be put up a tree. Bears have great endurance and can run all day, so without a lot of aggressive dogs a big old bear may just walk for miles with the dogs barking 20' behind him. Another reason to put a lot of dogs into the race is that some big bears won’t tree and just bay up on the ground.

Western bear hunting reference table

This would not be a good situation if you only had a few hounds in the race. Most hound hunters I know will turn out 6-12 dogs on a race for bears.

Hunting Black bears with hounds is a very physically demanding type of hunt, and if you are not in good shape, you are not going to have a very enjoyable hunt. Once the bear is in the tree the kill can sometimes be anticlimactic, but it is everything up to that point that makes the hunt. A lot of you probably read “Where the Red Ferns Grows” as kids, and there is nothing more enjoyable than watching a good pack of hounds work out the track.

If an adrenaline-packed hound hunt for Black bears is what you are looking for, then be sure to call Jeff here at the office and book yours today!

Boone and Crockett black bear table