Black Bear Hunting Gear List: Set Up for Success with the Right Gear


August 20, 2023


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Black bear hunting is a special kind of hunting, often practised at outfitters or wildlife reserves. Anyone embarking on this adventure can expect a thrilling experience, but harvesting a black bear has to be earned. To be successful, you must pay great attention to details, stay almost completely silent, avoid all disruptive movements, minimize odours, keep your emotions in check… There may be a lot of guidelines, but following them will ensure a positive hunting experience. Before you head out to your blind, either on your own or with a guide (if you’re hunting at an outfitter), you must start by gathering all the essential black bear hunting gear list. This is the first step towards a successful hunt. Claude Bissonnette, hunting specialist at SAIL, shares his advice on the best way to gear up and prepare for an experience you will not soon forget.

In this article, you will discover all the essential black bear hunting gear list:

  1. The best equipment for black bear hunting
  2. Weapons of choice for black bear hunting
  3. Preparing the area for black bear hunting
  4. Black bear hunting clothing essentials
  5. FAQ

The best equipment for black bear hunting

Like any hunting, black bear hunting requires specific equipment.
Some items are not always necessary, such as attractants when you are hunting at an outfitter – the guides there will already have prepared the hunting grounds with bait. In this particular case, bait takes the form of barrels placed around the area, on top of which there is usually some food that the bears like. When hunting “freely,” of course, it is up to you to bait the animal.
In terms of the equipment you need for bear hunting at an outfitter, there are really only a few essentials. One of the most important is perhaps the scent spray (fir, spruce, etc.), used to cover up human and artificial odours. Bears have a very acute sense of smell; they will immediately pick up on unusual scents. Do yourself a favour and increase your chances of success by spraying your clothes beforehand.
When hunting outside of outfitters and wildlife reserves, both in Quebec and Ontario, a trail camera (or several) can be of great help if you want to get insight into the bear populations in your area. You will also find a precious ally in a Thermacell mosquito repeller. These handy portable devices can protect you from insects, which happen to be very active during bear hunting season; they are a must-have if you want to avoid being devoured by mosquitoes as you wait in your stand or blind.
If you’re hunting with a bow or crossbow, a rangefinder can be very useful, enabling you to accurately gauge the distance between you and the bait – and also the animal that might show up. If you’re lucky enough to harvest, you will need a good hunting knife. There are many good quality models to choose from; just take your pick from the wide selection available at SAIL.
Last but not least, given the specific hours of the day during which bear hunting occurs, be sure to bring a good flashlight to help you get around when it gets dark.

Weapons of choice for black bear hunting

You can hunt black bears with a bow, crossbow, or firearm; just make sure you stick to the allowed hunting period and have the appropriate licence.
If you don’t shoot archery or prefer firearms, you have plenty of options. All types of rifles of .270 Win calibre and above can work (.300, .308…). The most common are the 30.06 (Springfield) and Magnum calibres. There are also some “bear-specific” models, like the more manageable and shorter 45 to 70 Win calibre lever-action rifles.
Whatever your black bear hunting weapon of choice, make sure you practice before the main event. Ideally, you should practice at the same shooting distance you will face once you get to your hunting spot. Remember that good preparation will increase your chances of a successful harvest. If you want to learn more about hunting with a crossbow, we have some basic practical tips to get you started.

Preparing the area for black bear hunting

black bear habitat

Bear hunting at outfitters does require good equipment, but the beauty of it is that you don’t have to prepare your own blind or stand. When hunting on your own, you will have to do everything yourself.
Black bear hunting happens in the early morning or late afternoon. The optimal approach is to lure the bear with the right food and attractants and wait patiently nearby. Outfitters and wildlife reserves usually have a number of well-maintained hunting sites in their territories.
Black bear hunting is a rather “stationary” hunt; the goal is to remain as discrete as possible, and particularly to minimize odours. Once in the blind, you will have to be patient and keep as still as possible. Remember to bring the essentials listed above, and do not overlook your comfort as you may have to spend long hours waiting.
Consider using trail cameras to “prepare the terrain” and increase your chances of success. If there are multiple stands available, you can set up a few cameras and position them in a way that allows you to keep track of game movements. If the area has good network coverage, the images can even be sent directly to your cell phone.

Black bear hunting clothing essentials

During firearm hunting season, the first piece of hunting clothing you need is the mandatory hunter orange garment or fluorescent bib. In Ontario, the garment must be visible from all sides and paired with a same-colour head cover.

When it comes to clothing, stick to the well-known multi-layer technique to adapt to the season and temperature. Keep in mind that you will likely be stationary for quite some time, so don’t underestimate the importance of comfort as you gear up. In 2024, the black bear hunting season runs from May to June and September to October, depending on the area. Mornings and late afternoons can get chilly!

Still, it is preferable to wear relatively light and breathable underwear to keep from getting too hot when the temperature rises during the day. It’s also always wise to pack a waterproof hunting jacket in case it rains.

For stealth purposes, focus on “noiseless” clothing (often polyester). When black bear hunting, cover your face with a mask and try wearing a camouflage net to protect yourself from mosquitoes (or carry a Thermacell device!).

Always be mindful of odours: wash your hunting clothing with dedicated products (scents of fir, cedar, etc.). In the morning, spray your gear to get rid of any human or artificial smell, and remember to use a natural-smelling oil to clean your weapon.

As for hunting boots, you should adapt to the current black bear season. If you’re going hunting in June, you may want to skip the heavy leather boots; a pair made of rubber will do the trick.


In Quebec and Ontario, the season for black bear hunting goes from May to June and September to October, or up to November in some areas. Thanks to the valuable advice of Claude Bissonnette, SAIL hunting specialist, you are now well-informed and ready to gear up for the season. 

If you want to go further and fine-tune your black bear hunting skills, discover our tips for maximizing your chances of harvest, written in collaboration with the FédéCP! 


How to hunt black bear?

Where to hunt black bear?


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