Can You Kill a Bear with a Bow?

Video can an arrow kill a bear

You may have thought about bow hunting bear, but you worried if you could kill it with the bow. Nothing would feel scarier than angering a bear with an arrow and finding that it won’t die after all.

Can you kill a bear with a bow? Hitting a bear in the right place will kill it easily. You must place the shot well, however, because they are unforgiving if you don’t hit them right. Bear anatomy differs from that of a deer, and you need to consider the angles well before you take the shot.

If you’d like to learn more about how to kill a bear with a bow, keeping reading because we will talk more about shot placement and how to best take a bear with the bow.

Best Place: Aim for a Double-Lung Strike

Bears will move around a lot in search of food, water, cover and mates. Male black bears move a far greater distance than a female bear, but with their constant movements, we must keep ourselves steady. Many times, humans want to act fast when they see their prey moving. The impulse for a rush shot could be one of the biggest mistakes that you could make.

You want to aim for the broadside because it will give you access to a deadly double-lung shot. This leaves you with the best margin for error.

Why aim for the lungs over the heart? The lungs sit in a vulnerable spot where you have a larger target to strike, and the organs sit farther away from large bones, which could stop your arrow.

You must stay disciplined and wait for the right shot before trying to hit a bear. Because of their body type, they can contort themselves into all sorts of strange positions that can make them hard to shoot. Wait for the broadside shot. Hunting bear with a bow offers no forgiveness if you miss.

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Wounded Bears: Difficult to Track

Missing your shot on a bear will make it notoriously difficult to track him. First, the fat thickness minimizes the blood loss. The fat may cover most or all of the broadhead entry hole. That can mean that it requires considerable blood loss before the bear drops. A wounded bear will also be very dangerous to track, and in fact, they pose a graver threat than a healthy bear.

Because of the bear’s loose fitting hide, it can minimize the external blood loss. When the wounded bear hits its feet and runs, the loose hide will move around and prevent a blood trail. Finally, the massive fur on the bear, usually four inches long, will absorb large quantities of blood and prevent you from finding the blood trail as easily. Bears can lose a lot of blood before they drop.

Broadside Shots the Most Effective

You want to shoot a bear with a broadside shot. To get a kill on a bear, you must hit him from the right angle, and that will present you with only a few opportunities to get it right. Hunting from a tree stand might kill the bear, but you have a big disadvantage in that you will only be presented with aerial shots. The bear may drop rather quickly, but he won’t drop fast enough to track him in many cases. You don’t want to take a shot where you kill the bear but don’t find the meat. It wastes the life of the bear.

How Much Draw Weight Do You Need to Kill a Bear?

You will want a bow with 50-pound draw weight or greater to kill a bear. With a grizzly bear, you will want at least a 65-pound draw weight.

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Along with a greater draw weight, you will want a heavier arrow of at least 600 grains. Keep in mind, the greater the weight, the shorter the range, but this is necessary to kill the bear quickly. You don’t want it to run too far because tracking it down will prove difficult. With the broadhead, you will want to choose a tough, solid and deep penetrating broadhead.

Why not go with a much heavier draw weight? You have one problem with doing this. The heavier the draw weight, the more difficult time you will have drawing back the bow, depending on your strength. The average person can only hold 70-pound draw weight for 30 seconds. With a bear, you often find yourself waiting for the opportune moment to take a shot, and you don’t want to have to rush. You may struggle to take an ethical as well.

Good draw weight for a bear will sit between 50 and 65 pounds. Think of the size of the bear you plan to hunt before setting out and get a bow with the appropriate draw weight.

Killing the Bear: Don’t Aim Too Low

Don’t make the mistake of bear hunting in the same way that you would deer hunt. Hunters will often aim low on a deer because of how they typically drop when you shoot them. Bears don’t have the same flight response. Aiming low on a bear could send the arrow flying straight into the belly fat of the bear, which may not give you a direct or fast kill. To get a lethal kill on a bear with the bow, aim for the chest cavity.

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Hitting a bear low may cause him to bleed for a while, but eventually, it will stop bleeding as it turns to water and vanishes. Train yourself on how to aim for a bear because of how we will often enter autopilot once a bear appears. Train yourself to know where to strike.

Should You Kill a Bear with a Bow?

With all this talk about killing bears with bows, I would advise that you at least practice a lot before choosing to bow hunt bear. If you have experience with bow hunting deer, you will have an advantage and may be all right, but I wouldn’t advise a complete beginner to start bow hunting with bear. You should always keep a firearm handy for emergencies because an arrow won’t stop a charging bear.

In a game like this, the hunter can quickly become the hunted. Bears may act aggressively even in cases where you didn’t provoke them.


You can kill a bear with a bow, but we wouldn’t advise that you start big-game bow hunting right off the bat. Bear attacks are rare, but given the nature of this sport, you may be more susceptible to it. To put it into perspective, a Grizzly Bear’s jaws have enough power to crush a bowling ball. An attack less than 10 seconds long has the potential to kill a person. Grizzly Bears have been known to kill a moose with a single strike.

Bear hunting, especially with a bow, is not for the faint of heart. You want to understand the risks before getting started.