Killing a Bear with a Crossbow

Can a Crossbow Kill a Bear?

Hunting bears is nothing new, and in some states hunting is used to assist wildlife organizations in controlling bear population. However, hunting bears with a crossbow is much more of a specialty than mainstream. 

In this article we will look at what is required from your equipment to hunt a bear.

How Powerful Does My Crossbow Need to Be?

While we will always stress skill and experience as the most important factor when it comes to hunting bears with a crossbow, there are some minimum equipment requirements.

You will need a crossbow with a minimum of 370 FPS and it’s recommended to use a 400-430 grain arrow. It is also important to use a cut-on-contact broadhead.

Where should I shoot a bear?

Shot placement is crucial. Regardless of what type of bear you are hunting, shot placement is key. While the target organs of a bear—the heart and lungs—are quite large compared to most game, the chances you will get a good angle is a lot smaller. 

For black bears, there are only a few angles that are safe to shoot from. These are when you have a clear broadside shot with 80-100% of their vital area exposed. From here you need to aim at the chest cavity. Some hunters will shoot a shot first into the center of the shoulder to immobilize the bear but we recommend aiming straight for the heart, lungs, and liver.

At other angles, the bear’s heavy and large frame will obstruct the vitals too much and a shot is more likely to injure and not recover the bear.

Is This True for the Largest Bears (i.e. Kodiak and Polar Bears)?

The vitals of bears such as Grizzly’s, Kodiak, and Polar bears are in relatively the same place as smaller black bears. 

The minimum equipment requirements stated earlier would also be suitable for hunting even the largest bears but shot placement is arguably even more important. Hunters may feel more comfortable using a more powerful crossbow to guarantee penetration and it is advisable to hunt with at least one other person present. This should be an expert guide.

Hunting Kodiak bears is only possible in Alaska and non-residents require a guide to legally hunt. Hunting these wild and remote animals is challenging and keen hunters will need to become familiar with the official guidelines on hunting Kodiak bears before traveling to the region.

While being outlawed in the United States in 1972 (except among Alaskan natives), Polar bear hunting is still legal in Canada with a list of requirements including being accompanied by a guide and that the meat is given back to the community. 

What Brand of Crossbow Is Best for Bear Hunting?

As with hunting any game with a crossbow, performance and reliability are hugely important. However bear hunting presents more challenges to crossbow hunters than most other game, mainly because of the potential risks involved. 

That’s why, when it comes to bear hunting, performance and reliability are taken up a level.

How important is reliability?

While a bear’s vital organs are quite large, often the actual effective aiming point you have is roughly the size of a softball. This is accounting for different shot angles and how the bear moves. 

With such a small target, and a game that can run at upwards of 30 mph, you want to make sure that your equipment is reliable enough to fire perfectly the first time. If you miss the first shot, the bear will either run away or run at you. To put it into perspective, a charging grizzly can cover the length of a football field in about six seconds, so don’t plan on getting a second shot in time.

How important is performance?

Bears are built to endure all kinds of weather conditions and carry a lot of weight. Because of this, they have thick hides, a relatively high fat density, and heavy bones. 

That means your arrow will need to carry sufficient energy to penetrate the hide and be equipped with a strong broadhead that can stand up to hitting bone. 

Brands we trust for bear hunting

The two crossbow brands that we have the greatest confidence in for bear hunting are Ravin and TenPoint. Both brands have sufficient FPS even at the lowest price point and are renowned for their build quality and reliability. 

Should I Have a Firearm as a Backup?

When hunting a bear with a crossbow, having a firearm as a backup will seem like a complete no-brainer to some hunters, and totally unnecessary to others. We would encourage you to make up your own mind on whether you think it is important by understanding the reasons both for and against.

How do you prepare to hunt a bear with a crossbow?

Work your way up to hunting a bear. The physical characteristics of a bear mean that accuracy and experience both in technique and your equipment is essential. A moose or Cape buffalo have a similarly thick hide and fat density to a bear but they are not as dangerous so are better for gaining the essential experience required.

Finally, you must think about how you are going to move your successfully harvested bear after the shot. Planning a bear hunt isn’t just about your choice of equipment. 

At Borkholder Archery, our goal is to help you live the best experiences so you have exciting stories to share with your family and friends. 

In this instance, we want to use this as an opportunity to emphasize that the most important thing to remember when hunting a bear (or any game) is to never take a shot unless you are certain to take the game quickly and ethically.
And when you’re gearing up for your next crossbow hunt, don’t forget to talk to our hunting experts if you have any questions.

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Why Equalizing the Weight of Non-Lighted Arrows is Important

When choosing Firenock lighted nocks you have an option use the weight match nock system.

There is roughly a 23 grain difference when adding Firenock lighted nocks. It can result in lower impacted points at distances of 30 yards and beyond, and also change your front of center percentages.

There is a simulated weight that attaches to your nock just the same as the lighted nock that will make all of the nocks weigh the same. This will ensure your arrows all fly the same.

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