Field judging grizzly bears is notoriously difficult, and can sometimes be the hardest part of the hunt. From black bears to brown bears, they’re all hard unless they’re huge. There is no mistaking a huge bear! Sometimes the decision to shoot is an obvious one, and that’s the goal on any grizzly bear hunt. But most often, you’re just looking for a good mature male.
Grizzly bears have to work harder than brown bears do to make a living.
Because of that, they don’t get as large as their coastal cousins. Their diet consists mainly of berries, roots, bulbs, rodents, insects and whitebark pine nuts, but they supplement their diet with moose, elk, mountain goats and sheep.
An average male grizzly weighs about six hundred to seven hundred and fifty pounds. But occasionally a monster comes along with weights of twelve hundred to fifteen hundred pounds and standing nine and a half feet tall.
Field Judging Grizzly Bears
The first thing to determine is the gender of the grizzly bear you’re looking at.
This can sometimes be difficult, but there are visible differences. Sows have thin snouts with narrow heads, their shoulders aren’t as muscled, and they have thin legs with very skinny ankles. A dead giveaway is seeing them pee…a sow will squat. Some people say that a sow will be lighter, and the older a male gets, the darker it gets. The jury is still out on this method.
If a grizzly bears ears look small and are on the sides of his head, it’s probably a shooter.
You’ve all heard about the big head with small, wide-set ears right? If you haven’t, that needs to be the first thing you look at. If the ears look small and are on the sides of his head, it’s probably a shooter (especially if he has battle scars on his face, or a big crease between the muscles on his forehead), but there are some more things to look at first in our opinion.
Boars will have big blocky heads, much like a big male dog does. Their shoulders are massive, and a big boar will have heavily muscled legs that carries all the way down to its paws. A boar also moves differently…slower, more methodical.
A big boar will have a huge neck that is sometimes thicker than the head.
Look for big shoulders, and defined muscles throughout the rest of his body. A big, sagging belly is a good indicator, but not every big boar will have this. A mature male will appear to be long and thick. A mature boar will also have an attitude. He’ll walk like he is in no hurry and has a swagger to him like a cocky person does.
Another good way of field judging grizzly bears is by the tracks.
If you can find a fresh track, measure the width of the front pad and add an inch to determine how many feet long the bear is. This is a surprisingly effective method of estimating what a bear will square.
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