Ultimate Guide: Best Crossbow For Bear Hunting

Wondering if a crossbow can take down a bear? The answer is yes. In this article, we will explore all techniques and hidden secrets of crossbow for bear hunting.
By Rebecca Rios | Updated On February 27, 2023
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Crossbow for bear hunting

Ready for the ultimate big game hunt? Bear hunting is at the top of the list for many adrenaline-seeking hunters. But beware, these massive beasts pack a punch! They can quickly retaliate if they feel threatened, causing severe harm. If you’re considering using a crossbow for bear hunting, you’re in the right place. Let’s find out if your crossbow is powerful enough to take down this beast.

Bear hunting is one of today’s most popular and challenging big game hunts. The excitement of pursuing a vicious animal adds to the thrill of the experience. But it’s important to remember that bears can be dangerous when they feel threatened or are wounded.

You can kill a bear with a crossbow, but it takes precision and proper shot placement. Knowing the vital target zones increases your chances of success. Make sure you have the knowledge and skills to quickly and efficiently down the bear.

crossbow for bear hunting
Bear Hunting

Understanding Bear Anatomy

As a hunter, it is important to understand the anatomy of a bear. This knowledge will help you target the vital zones and ensure a quick, humane kill. Here’s what you need to know about the vital zones of a bear:

  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Shoulder Blade
  • Liver
  • Spine

Remember, the anatomy of a bear is different from other big game animals and can affect the positioning of the vitals. Head or neck shots are not recommended, as they can cause errors due to the bear’s thick skull. Shooting the neck can also result in a slow death and make it difficult to retrieve the body.

Similarly, shooting the shoulder area is not advised due to the bear’s muscular shoulders and heavy bones. These shots are unlikely to penetrate the vital organs, even with a high-poundage crossbow. The best approach is to aim for the heart or lungs for a quick, fatal kill.

Best Shots To Kill A Bear

Considering all these factors, it’s important to identify the best shots for killing a bear. To increase your chances of success, you can also improve your accuracy by practicing two methods.

Broadside Shot

To make the most of your bear hunting experience, it’s essential to understand the best shot placement. The heart-lung vital zone, also known as the broadside shot, is considered the best option. This shot pierces the bear’s ribs and goes straight into the heart and lungs, increasing the fatality rate. Additionally, the broadside shot causes bleeding, which makes it easier to track the target with the blood trail. To ensure accuracy, aim between ⅓ and ⅔ of the bear’s chest cavity.

The key to a successful heart-lung shot is precision. Your arrow should penetrate the target’s ribs, go straight through the lungs, and reach the heart. To make the shot even more fatal, try to puncture both lungs. And with a blood trail present, tracking your target will be effortless.

It’s important to avoid the wrong shot placement, as it could only cause wounds and severe injuries to the bear, which might provoke it to retaliate. By better understanding the best shot placement angles, you can achieve a higher success rate in your hunt.

Quartering Away

The quartering-away shot angle is an excellent opportunity for a clean kill when the bear is facing away from you. To achieve this, aim for the area behind the shoulder, as this is the best spot for a direct shot to the vital organs—a helpful reference point for this shot angle when crossbow hunting is the opposite front leg.

When the target is not facing you, the quartering-away shot angle is a technique to consider. Ensure a precise shot on the vital organs behind the bear’s shoulder, opposite its front leg. With this shot angle, you can successfully and efficiently kill the bear.

To avoid provoking the bear and risking potential injury, it’s crucial to understand its anatomy. This knowledge can help you predict where the vitals are, leading to a higher hunting success rate. As a responsible hunter, it’s essential to limit shots to vital organs and uses humane hunting practices.

Patience is also key to a successful hunt. It’s best to wait for the animal to present the best possible shot and limit shots to the vital organs only. You can achieve a clean kill by combining your knowledge of the bear’s anatomy and patience.

Best crossbows For Bear Hunting

Bears come in different sizes and weights, males ranging from 400-1200 lbs and females weighing 300-800 lbs. They have thick skin, heavy bones, and a thick layer of fat on their belly, which is why a strong crossbow is required for hunting.

A crossbow with a base draw weight of 68 kg (150 lbs) and a 450-grain broadhead is ideal when hunting a bear. It should also have a minimum of 350 fps to penetrate the bear’s tough skin. The crossbow’s kinetic energy is also crucial in the success of a clean kill.

For black bears, the crossbow should have at least 40 ft. lbs of kinetic energy, while for grizzlies, it should range from 65 to 70 ft. lbs. The higher the kinetic energy, the better the chances of a successful kill.

Accurate shots are also important and can be achieved within the 20-30 yards range. Although high-poundage crossbows are still considered short-range weapons, it’s essential to have a big and robust crossbow to deliver a fatal blow.

crossbow for bear hunting
Brown Bear Hunting

Best Time For Bear Crossbow Hunting 

Spring and fall are the optimal seasons for bear hunting. The spring hunting season typically begins in June, and in some states, such as Idaho and Montana, it opens as early as April. The fall hunting season takes place from October to November.

During spring, bears emerge from their dens, searching for food and mates. In the fall, they become more active in preparation for hibernation, making it a prime time for crossbow hunting.

If you’re hunting during the fall season, bears can be spotted anytime throughout the day. The best times to hunt with a crossbow are in the morning and early evening, when bears actively search for food. They tend to sleep for an hour or two after sunset and wake up just before sunrise.

It’s important to note that bears may have become nocturnal to avoid people in areas with high human activity.

U.S. States That Allow Crossbow Bear Hunting 

Crossbow hunting is a popular sport in many states across the U.S. 27 states, to be exact, allow the use of crossbows during archery deer and firearm seasons, including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Alaska,  Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana,  Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin,  Indiana, and Wyoming.

In addition, seven states only allow crossbow use during the firearms season. These states include Colorado, North Dakota,  Maine, New Hampshire, Montana, Nevada, and New York. So, whether you’re a seasoned crossbow hunter or just starting, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy this exciting sport.

Best States For Bear Hunting With Crossbow

Here are some of the best states for bear hunting with a crossbow:


Alaska is home to about 100,000 black bears and other species, such as brown and polar bears. This state is a perfect hunting ground for black bear hunting, with bears abundant in forests. In designated areas, hunters can shoot up to three bears per year and hunt with dogs and over bait during spring and fall. Crossbows are only allowed in archery-only hunts with a draw weight of 100 pounds or more, a bolt length of at least 16 inches, and a broadhead weight of 300 grains.


Arizona is great for black bear hunting, with 1,500-3,000 black bears in wooded areas and coniferous forests. Arizona offers a unique and high-country hunt with optimal feeding conditions, with various food sources available all year long. This state permits only the spring season in select units, with crossbows legal in big and small game hunting seasons. The draw weight of a crossbow must be at least 125 lbs.


Montana is one of the best spot-and-stalk bear hunting places in the lower 48, with a good bear population and plenty of hunting opportunities. Nonresident over-the-counter tags are available for $350 in the spring and fall seasons. Crossbows are only allowed during the firearms season, and it is illegal to do baiting, hound hunting, and electronic predator calls. Hunting a grizzly bear is prohibited. After killing a bear, a mandatory inspection must be completed within ten days, and reporting must be completed within 48 hours.


Pennsylvania is great for big bear hunting, with five of the top 20 Boone & Crockett bears in the U.S.

Factors To Consider For Crossbow Bear Hunting

As a hunter, obtaining a hunting license and permits is the first step. To be successful, it’s crucial to have a combination of skills, knowledge, preparation, experience, and patience. Understanding the variables and factors that come into play while hunting is also essential. These factors include


As a top predator in the forest and wooded areas, bears feed on fruits, vegetation, and other plant-based foods primarily. They often have designated feeding spots, though the exact time of feeding may vary from bear to bear. If you want to spot a bear, simply look for areas with abundant foliage, Forbes, or buds – this is where they are likely to be found.


When hunting bears, it’s essential to understand their acute sense of smell. Their nasal sinuses are highly sensitive, allowing them to detect scents from far distances. This sense helps them find food and communicate with others and alerts them to potential threats. As a crossbow hunter, it’s crucial to consider wind direction, as bears can easily pick up your scent.

To remain stealthy, effective scent control is a must. Make sure to position yourself in a downwind location, not to alert the bear to your presence. Consider the bear’s site and choose a suitable spot to stay. You can also reduce the detection risk by masking scent or cover spray to conceal your scent.


Tree stands are a commonly used piece of equipment in big game hunting, and they are meant to be positioned at a minimum height of 12 feet off the ground to ensure your safety from the reach of bears. When selecting a location for your tree stand, it is important to consider a bear’s reach or swatting distance. However, regulations regarding the use of tree stands may vary based on your location, so it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with your area’s specific rules and regulations.


A crossbow has the capability to kill a bear, but to increase the chances of success; several factors must be taken into consideration. To ensure a successful kill, it is essential to aim for the bear’s vital organs and to use a crossbow with the appropriate draw weight and kinetic energy. Additionally, it is important to maintain a good shooting range. To achieve the desired results, practice is crucial.

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