Spot and stalk is one of the most exciting forms of hunting and a great opportunity for new, inexperienced hunters to gain valuable skills in the field. Learning tips such as how to judge an animal, gaining knowledge of their habitat and learning their patterns, all while building your core hunting skills, is a great way to learn. There are many benefits of the hunting the spot and stalk method compared to sitting stationary in a treestand or ground blind. Benefits such as you are on the same eye level of the quarry, which in the case of hunting bears equals an adrenaline rush. You also have the opportunity to explore the area and learn to read the various animal signs all around you. Plus you are also on the move covering ground so you are getting in some exercise. In my hunting career, there have been few adventures that rival the excitement of spot and stalk hunting black bears on Vancouver Island. The indescribable beauty of the land coupled with chasing dangerous game puts this hunt as one of my all time favorites.
The island of Vancouver offers a haunting, undisturbed beauty that few places on earth can surpass. The dark sandy beaches littered with massive logs, kelp, sea shells, crabs and other tempting snacks left by high-tide provide an endless buffet for eagles and bears to forage through.
The territory consists of hundreds of square miles of pristine, virgin hunting land teeming with wildlife and bursting with bears. Often we would go deep into the foggy rainforest as we trekked down dark old logging roads shrouded in old growth forest. The bears were everywhere, and by day five, my count was up to 93 bears with only a few cubs in the count.
Spot and stalk hunting for black bear requires a few necessities such as excellent optics, comfortable boots, reliable firearms, predictable ammunition, solid transportation, spare tires and plenty of self-confidence. Many hunters and guides will tell you a black bear is one of the most challenging animals to hunt because they have a thick, tough hide which covers a massive layer of fat. Sometimes, even with the best placed shots, the blood trail is non-existent because the point of entry and exit may become clogged with fatty tissue which acts as a clot, making a good blood trail impossible. The bear may still bleed out internally but tracking a wounded bear is a challenge. A shot right behind the shoulder to the heart and lungs is your best bet.
As with any big game, knocking it down as quickly as possible is important, but with island black bears it is critical. The terrain is a challenge, so using a rifle chambered with a cartridge suitable to take down a large bear with one shot is a must.
In the end, I tagged a beautiful bear making this hunt one of my most memorable of all time. From the incredible scenery, to the up-close encounters, and perhaps an occasional Bigfoot sighting made this a hunt of a lifetime.
Which hunting style do you prefer, sit and wait, or spot and stalk? Share your experience with us in the comment section.