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Author Topic: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains  (Read 636 times)

Offline Lowcountryswamprunner

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DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« on: June 25, 2020, 07:38:27 PM »
I’m doing a DIY public land bear hunt in October. This will be the first time bear hunting. I’ll do several recons of the area closer to season. But my game plan is to hit the ground running covering as much terrain as possible looking for a food source and fresh sign to hunt on. Any recommendations or advice would be great.

Online Jeff D. Holchin

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2020, 09:17:52 PM »
This will not be an easy hunt, but if you find some oaks that are dropping acorns and can be there at the right time, you might get some chances.  I tried this on the NF land above Clemson when I lived in SC but never did see a bear, just some sign. 

I do know some bowhunters across the border in northern GA, where the bear population is much higher, who have had good action finding bears in producing white oaks; one guy even shot a bear out of an oak tree like a squirrel!
Genesis 27:3 "Take your bow and a quiver full of arrows out into the open country, and hunt some wild game for me."

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Offline Lowcountryswamprunner

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2020, 10:26:43 PM »
Sounds like a mountain adventure that I'm looking for.

Offline Etter

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2020, 06:45:17 AM »
I dont know about the SC mountains. My advice would be to get as close to the ga border as possible.  This is my main hunting passion.  I hunt the NE ga corner area and tend to see a lot of bears.  It’s totally dependent on acorns how tough the hunting is.  Right now Im seeing loaded white oaks at most elevations which will make it a nightmare but we are getting so much rain, there might be a lot of aborting

Offline Lowcountryswamprunner

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2020, 08:54:47 AM »
Looks like I can get right up in the NW corner of SC where NE GA,SC,NC all come together.

Online rastaman

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2020, 10:45:56 AM »
My buddies and I hunt Cohutta Nat'l forest in North Ga.  We sneak, stop,  and listen.  All of our bears we have gotten, we have been able to hear them in the oak trees shaking the limbs.  It's a hard hunt, but a lot o fun.  We always have encounters.
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Offline Lowcountryswamprunner

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2020, 10:56:21 AM »
Slipping around is the plan.

Offline Lowcountryswamprunner

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2020, 10:31:33 PM »
So reading the regs I see where SC bears have to weigh 100 pounds to be legal to shoot. How would someone judge that?  Any advice would be appreciated.

Offline Etter

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2020, 11:14:11 PM »
Depending on when spring green up is, they might not be in trees still by the opener.  They had been on the ground for nearly two weeks before our opener this year

Online Pat B

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2020, 11:38:34 PM »
I live 10 miles south of Brevard, NC and about 2 miles north of the escarpment(Sassafras Mountain) and the NC/SC state line. Lots of bears here. I don't know the names of the SC GMA but between Hwy 276 and Hwy 178, around Sassafras Mountain should be good areas. Greenville and Pickens Counties. There was a 609# bear shot in the mountainous areas of Greenville County a few years ago.
Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes!
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Online Jeff D. Holchin

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2020, 05:41:12 AM »
Mark, judging bear weight is pretty hard; it just takes practice.  I suggest going up to Cades Cove in the Great Smokies some weekend very soon (while the black berries are ripening) and riding the loop a bunch of times.  My family and I were just there over a long Father’s Day weekend and had about 35 bear sightings, with many repeats I am sure.  Saw bear sizes ranging from basketball-sized cubs up to two in the 300 lb range.  PM me your cell number and I will text some photos and video clips with my estimates of their weights.
Genesis 27:3 "Take your bow and a quiver full of arrows out into the open country, and hunt some wild game for me."

Proud PBS regular member - if you are a serious bowhunter, check us out at     http://probow.discussion.community

Online Pat B

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2020, 09:43:35 AM »
Cades Cove is a great place to view wildlife. My wife and I have spent lots of time there over the last 30 years. Lots of bears, deer and now elk for your viewing pleasure. The loop road is a convenient place to get good views but if you park on one of the dirt cross roads and walk along the creeks where fewer folks hang out you can really get good viewing.
 
Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes!
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Offline Lowcountryswamprunner

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2020, 10:32:06 AM »
Cades Cove sounds like a upcoming trip.

Online bluemelonchitlin

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2020, 10:43:32 PM »
I talked to a SC bear biologist awhile back. Got told the best place for bears is around Caesers Head.
Revelation 3:20

Online Kelly

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2020, 11:59:59 AM »
Just look for bears the size of your bathtub and you’ll be fine. 😬 Seriously, a 100# bear will be a year and half old and about the size of a gunney sack, cubs like a five gallon pail, the toughest to tell weight are young females as they tend to be smaller than the same age males.

Not sure when your season opens? But don’t overlook other food sources like berries, apples, sweet corn or even field corn(young milk stage they find delicious) or even persimmons( ? not sure about them since I’m new to living where they are but if deer like them I’m sure bear will too.

Don’t wait to scout until seasons opens, lots of bear sign will be available to be seen now. Walk trails and old overgrown, logging roads looking for turds(larger diameter means bigger bear-anything over 1” is big enough and 2” is very large), sign posts which are bigger bears marking trees, and broken branches of fruit trees from the previous year. Regarding hunting acorns those producing trees closest to their bedding area will be used the most.
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Enjoy the flight of an arrow amongst Mother Nature's Glory!

Once one opens the mind to the plausible, the unbelievable becomes possible!

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Yours for better bowhunting, Kelly

Offline Lowcountryswamprunner

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2020, 10:32:09 PM »
Thanks for all in the info. Went today and pounded this dear target

Online Silent footed

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2020, 01:08:57 AM »
Hey man, my approach on bears, which has led to several pass ups, has been to still-hunt through broad areas of oak Forest (white or red it does NOT matter. White is best if it's a mast year and you can find enough of them however).
Spend a week at least, still hunting 8 hours per day (bears actually feed at noon up here (not sure how the heat affects them down there though).

If it's dry, you can still still-hunt despite the noise. Just go slower and don't worry so much about the crunches unless it's dead a dead quiet day. But MIND THE WIND! Larger bears don't have many predators and are a nose-oriented animal and hence sometimes can he a bit unaware when gorging on a food supply and you can get away with a bit of noise and movement while stalking. But the nose is what you want to be careful of.

I have had really good luck with fruit trees/groves on pieces of abandoned homesteads that are hidden away in now regrown state forested areas up here.

A strategy I used last year up here in the mountains during the quietest days was to mark fruit groves on my topographic map, and then look on the map for surrounding funnels like saddles, benches, pinch points, etc leading towards the food source (or water source) (see Jim hamms book on deer hunting and read the funnel chapter to learn how to recognize funnels from topographic map). Take a novel and sit all day on the heaviest traveled funnels. A bear could come through at any time (you'll see a ton of deer too). If it's an abandoned fruit grove, and you find bear crap at a funnel, and it's full of apple stems then you are golden. He will come through there again. You just need to be there.

 Also, water is scarce up high in the mountains because the peaks and ridges are above the water table. Usually there are seeps down on the mid-slopes and there will be streams in the valleys.

Streams are not good for sitting but excellent for still hunting because they mask noise and ease your travel and provide access to quite a bit of country along their length.

However, If you can find a seep on the mid slope of an oak ridge or ravine head (i.e. stream sources), then you will see every type of animal known to man visiting it. (It's how I squirrel hunt with my bow). You might have luck with any adjacent funnels to the seep as well. But the seep is the magnet because all animals at higher elevation will be making trips there as it is the nearest water source.

Also, bears go where the food is (they're basically just a stomach and nose with legs in a lot of ways)
When there's no fruit or nuts, they wander about turning over rocks and shredding logs for insects and grubs, etc. The only thing productive at this time is still-hunting. But when a good source ripens (like cherries in summer or oaks in fall) they flock to  forests with those species and gorge for weeks until it's past (often having shifted seasonal home range by miles) When it's acorns, same. Apples, same. Spring greenup they flock to South facing field slopes for the tender grasses same. 

Also, sign you find in summer will be irrelevant in fall because they will likely have migrated toward oak forests or fruit groves that were devoid of food during summer and vice versa. (But sign found in summer can indicate there is a bear population and you should be trying to figure out the nearest fall food source from there). When I scout I look less at bear sign and more for food sources that will be producing in fall (fruit orchards, abandoned fruit groves, oak Forest, isolated water sources, and all funnels within and surrounding them. This will require boots on the ground every weekend for several months prior to season. And also plenty of time at home with your nose pointed at maps.


Hope this helps.


« Last Edit: June 30, 2020, 01:17:42 AM by Silent footed »

Online Silent footed

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2020, 05:08:52 AM »
For scouting, I just want emphasize  though. When summer scouting, scout for fall bear habitat, and NOT fresh bear sign. For fall, you need small isolated water sources near groves of nut bearing trees. This is where all the bears will be since in October they are gorging 20 hours a day (hyperphagia). In fall, the bears won't be where you're finding them now because the food sources are different and they will have relocated possibly quite some distance to get there.

Look for areas with beech and oak trees (I prefer red oaks because they produce reliably. But if with binoculars you can see acorns developing in the white oaks then it will be a mast year and you want to concentrate on groves of white oaks and forget about the reds). Treat beech trees like white oaks too as they have mast years and bust years as well. Nothing more frustrating than still hunting along through a beech grove with claw marks on every tree trunk from last year and no beech nuts on the ground this year (I know from experience).

Beech trees are a mid slope dominant tree. So it's possible to find seeps of water where they grow.

I like to mark and label every funnel I ever find in these areas with my phone using Google maps. I suppose that's not traditional, but I can go to an unfamiliar area that I walked through once in my life January of last year and walk right to a dynamite funnel and sit down and start seeing deer because it wasn't scent contaminated, and then hunt another one a mile away on day 2 and do the same thing again in another uncontaminated area. Kind of a hidden bonus to mapping tools.

Best of luck to you brother.

Offline Lowcountryswamprunner

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2020, 09:36:19 AM »
Thank you for all the great information. It’s been great!!!!!!!

Offline allanburden

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Re: DIY Black Bear Hunt South Carolina Mountains
« Reply #19 on: July 04, 2020, 02:16:46 PM »
Been chasing our mountain bears since 2010. I've been blessed to spy a few over the years but none close enough for me to let an arrow fly. Jocassee Gorges and Mountain Bridge Wilderness area both have decent bear populations and thousands if not tens of thousands of acres of land. I always take the week off and camp, plenty of options in the Andrew Pickens district of Sumter National Forest, and plenty easy to get away from anyone else if you're willing to put boots on the ground...but it's work getting away from the FS roads. It's my favorite week of hunting all year and I drive up once a month or so depending on my work schedule to explore and nail down my hunting areas each year. Glad to see another bear hunter with stick and string. Have yet to run up on another trad guy or girl while up in the hills!
"Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another." Ernest Hemingway

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