A bear can be identified in-game by its loud growl, and by its panting, thumping sound when running. In single-player, two strikes from a bear can kill Marston, while in multiplayer one strike is fatal enough.
They can be hunted, skinned, and sold for large amounts of money at General Stores throughout the game. Like many predatory animals, they will often respawn very rapidly, so it is not uncommon to encounter another bear immediately after skinning one. After killing a bear, it is recommended to wait for two or three more to come so that you can kill them all off before skinning them. Although the player is impervious to attack while skinning, the bears may sometimes wait until the player is finished skinning and immediately strike Marston afterwards.
There are two types of bears in the game: the brown bear, which is a light-colored kind, and the grizzly bear, a darker gray kind. The darker bears can withstand more shots than the lighter bears, sometimes taking up to three buffalo rifle shots in the body before dying.
Bears are some of the several animals infected with the undead plague of Undead Nightmare, appearing as undead bears with the same strengths of their living counterparts, but also weaknesses of their fellow undead beings.
Bears are usually found in common locations like:
- Broken Tree with the help of bait.
- Anywhere in the wooded area of Tall Trees.
- The half-open area northeast of Cochinay is an effective area for hunting bears. The player will often encounter a bear within minutes of arrival and if shooting it, the player almost always starts a seemingly endless wave of bears.
- Wandering around Manzanita Post during the afternoon. They will not be attacked by the residents.
- Directly east of Manzanita Post, sometimes in packs. Also, taking the road north out of Manzanita Post and going west, there are usually bears in that area. Sometimes bears can be seen on the road north of Manzanita Post attacking passers-by.
- West of Wreck of the Serendipity. Bears can also be found in the marsh surrounding the Wreck of the Serendipity with the help of bait, although this is rare.
- The surrounding area of Beecher's Hope.
- Bears sometimes spawn on the little stretch of land west of the Aurora Basin cabin. If possible, retreat to the cabin, but keep a good eye on the door. The bear will not follow you inside, so you can shoot it easily and safely.
- Near Montana Ford.
- Bears can be found in the Great Plains on extremely rare occasions. More commonly, if the player puts bait near the forest area right outside of Beecher's Hope near the Great Plains, one or two bears may appear. Also, they can be seen here being hunted by an NPC, but this is very rare.
- Bears tend to respawn quite fast in and around the burned down circle of cabins, at Bearclaw Camp. You will find Grizzlies and normal Bears respawn here within minute intervals.
The player can kill a bear in one shot, right between its eyes, using these weapons:
- Buffalo Rifle
- Bolt Action Rifle
- Carcano Rifle
- Shotgun (The Pump-action and Semi-auto are best, and even then it's best to wait for it to get close before shooting)
- Throwing Knives
- Explosive Rifle
- Rolling Block Rifle
- Springfield Rifle
- LeMat Revolver
- The player runs slightly faster than the bear. This makes them somewhat less dangerous than the cougar, which is impossible to run away from on foot.
- It is impossible to block a bear attack with the knife block feature.
- Entering Dead Eye just before a bear strikes may reduce the amount of damage the player takes and prevents the character from falling over.
- Listen for their easy-to-hear growl just before the attack.
- The free single player Hunting and Trading Outfits DLC includes the Expert Hunter Outfit which doubles the resources obtained from all animals, including bears.
- Throwing Knives and Tomahawk are almost always a one-hit kill when hit in the face.
- Using a stagecoach, cart or any similar vehicle ensures safety from predators, as all animals—from beavers to bears—will not only leave you alone, they sometimes flee.
- After killing a bear, the chances of meeting another bear increases. It is quite probable that after killing one or more bears, you will be faced by almost unending waves of bears, this can be very profitable and you might be able to earn Bearly Legal in one session if this occurs. Needless to say, however, that this is also a very dangerous situation.
- The situation referenced above can become incredibly dangerous when hunting more than one bear at a time. There have been several reported instances of players triggering a nearly unending rush of bears when they encountered, and subsequently killed, a small family of bears just southeast of Tanner's Reach. The end result was a pile of upwards of twenty-five grizzly bears.
- Hunting bears just south of Beecher's Hope can prove to be extremely dangerous as well, since it is an open area and bears must spawn behind Marston.
- If there are two bears, kill one as fast as possible because if the player is knocked down by one, the other will kill or maul the player while they are still on the ground.
- A good technique to safely hunt bears involves wading into the Aurora Basin, which stays shallow all the way across. This way the bears cannot get to the player and it's quick to get in and out of. This is useful in case others show up while the player is in the process of skinning, and the water kills them, should they come in.
- A good way to save your progress when killing bears is to purchase two horse deeds and after you skin every bear, select one of the deeds in your satchel. This automatically saves your game.
- During "Spare The Love, Spoil The Child", it is possible to get the bear stuck inside its cave. This allows the player to easily stab the bear and earn rank eight for the Master Hunter Challenges.
- Bears may be big, but they make almost no sound (however, they do breathe very heavily). When alone, it is recommended to turn off your music, walk slowly, and listen carefully. Regularly use the 'look behind' function, as the game can spawn bears very close to the player's position.
- If the player climbs onto a rock or boulder, neither bears nor cougars can reach them. However, before climbing back down, ensure there are no predatory animals in the area, as they tend to travel in packs and make almost no noise.
- If there is a nearby pack of wolves, lure the wolves towards bears and grizzlies. Wolves and bears/grizzlies will duke it out.
- The player’s mount will usually whinny when a bear is approaching.
There are a few ways to kill a bear with a knife:
- The player can use a rifle or repeater and shoot it around three times in its body, which should, in turn, make them weak enough to finish them off with the hunting knife.
- While it requires some luck, the easiest way to knife a bear is to get the random encounter where an NPC is being chased by one, then simply run alongside it and knife it. It may lash out at Marston if he is very close to its head, but it will otherwise be so busy chasing the NPC it will never attack. Since bears run more slowly than humans, it will never actually catch its victim.
- This is also a useful tactic: Place bait at Aurora Basin, equip the knife, and stand on the edge of the bank. The bear will charge the player, knocking both of you into the water where it can't fight or get out. Simply walk up and knife him.
- In multiplayer, a very easy way to kill a bear with a knife to get "Spartan Survival" is for the player to mount their horse and run to the side and slash with their knife. This may take a few tries.
- The player can lock on to a charging bear with their combat knife. Center the screen on the bear's head. Once the bear comes just close enough to almost touch the player, swing the knife. If done correctly, the player will kill it with one clean slash across the bear's face. Timing is everything, and if done incorrectly, it is probable that the player may die. Saving at Manzanita Post, and having a ready supply of medicine is advised. One may practice the required timing in multiplayer, making it easier for the single-player challenge.
- One famous bear spawn point in multiplayer is Bearclaw Camp. This location just happens to have a large road in the middle that often has one or more persons walking or on horseback. If a bear gets too close, it will charge them. However, the horseback rider will not fight back and will attempt to outrun the bear. This becomes an excellent chance to strike. At this instance, the player may sneak up on the bear while it is charging the horse. If the player can get at least three quick stabs, the bear will die before it has a chance to even turn around.
- If you are struggling to melee kill a bear for the Master Hunter challenge, be aware that there are three separate missions in West Elizabeth ("At Home with Dutch", "For Purely Scientific Reasons", and "Spare the Love, Spoil the Child") that involve facing off against a bear. All of these missions "checkpoint" the player immediately before the appearance of the bear.
- Bears get confused and scared when the player lassos them, making them flee instead of attacking. Shoot the bear a few times to weaken it, then lasso it. While holding the rope, get up behind the bear and stab it a few times. This will allow for a relatively safe bear hunting session and is also an easy way to complete the Master Hunter Challenge that requires the player to kill a bear with a knife.
- One good way to kill a bear involves stocking up on medicine. Get 5 medicines and then save the game. After that, go to Tall Trees and look for a bear. When a bear is spotted, dismount and let the bear attack. Immediately press select/back and use medicine. As soon as the player is able, run towards the bear, get behind him and start slashing. It is very easy to keep running around and stay behind the bear and slash at this point. The player should be able to kill it with no problems.
- Another good way to kill a bear is to be on foot and start to chase it. While it is running around the player should call their horse and try to get close to the ear. It will attack the mount instead of you. This is another easy way to complete the Master Hunter Challenges that requires the player to kill a bear with a knife.
- Be aware when a bear is knifed one time, he will start to run away, this makes the Master Hunter Challenge very hard.
- A 100% healthy bear can survive more than 15 knife slashes, so it is definitely recommended that you shoot the bear first then knife kill it for Master Hunter Rank 8.
- Sharpshooter rank 7 of single player requires the player to kill three bears, each with one bullet. Shotgun shells cannot be used as they do not count as bullets.
- Shooting a bear at close range in the head with the Henry Repeater allows the player to kill the bear with one to two stabs with the melee knife, as the Henry Repeater just barely can not one-shot kill it.
- Bears are capable of killing a horse with a single strike, making it advisable to hunt for them while on foot if you do not want to risk losing your horse.
- The Buffalo Rifle and both sniper rifles are effective if the player has time to take aim; in general, a player in bear country should equip the Semi-Auto Shotgun in case they encounter one suddenly.
- For the Sharpshooter Challenge, use a Buffalo Rifle, Bolt Action Rifle or a Springfield Rifle coupled with Dead-Eye to hit the bear in the head when it is dangerously close.
- The player can easily kill a bear with a throwing knife or a tomahawk.
- The goods recovered from a single bear when skinned will sell for a total of well over $100 in Mexico, so it is highly advised to sell the goods from dead bears in Mexico.
- In Multiplayer, a bear will kill a player in one hit, making them more of a threat than in single player, whereas the player can survive two hits.
Weapons to avoid
- High power Pistol - The player runs out of ammo fast, and if they don't move quick enough, they may get killed.
- Cattleman revolver - highly ineffective; it will take an excessive amount of shots to kill a bear.
- Any sniper rifle if the player is close.
- Bears will roar in front of the player if they enter a spot where they cannot attack them. For example, standing on a rock or a structure.
- In single player, if someone runs into a bear in a settlement (usually Manzanita Post or Beecher's Hope) the bears will not attack, as they are scripted to be peaceful in these locations.
- In Multiplayer, if the player rams a bear with a Super Bull around 20 times, it will kill the bear.
- Sometimes, going through Tall Trees on single player, the player will see wolves chasing and attacking a bear.
- When chasing the player, bears are scripted to stop and turn around upon reaching the border of Tall Trees. However, in some instances, bears may spawn on the wrong side of the border, i.e. in the Great Plains, and Hennigan's Stead on rare occasions. This allows for the bear to chase the player anywhere within the confines of that region, including Blackwater, due to a lack of programmed borders to prevent the bear from doing such a thing.
- Ironically, neither black bears nor Mexican grizzly bears, which were prevalent during the time the game takes place, appear in any form.
There are two available rewards involving the hunting of Bears.
Kill every animal species in the game in any game mode.
Kill and skin 18 Grizzly Bears.