Grizzly bears can be identified in-game obviously by their enormous size, but also by their loud growl, and by their panting, thumping sound when running. In Single Player, two strikes from a bear can kill Marston, while in Multiplayer, one strike is fatal.
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 the player 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.
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 found in the following locations:
- 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. Taking the road north out of Manzanita Post and going west usually spawns bear as well. Sometimes, bears can be seen on the road north of Manzanita Post, attacking passerby NPCs.
- 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. Bears will not follow the player inside, so they can shoot them 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 in a random encounter, but this is very rare.
- Bears tend to respawn quite fast in and around the burned down circle of cabins at Bearclaw Camp. They will respawn here within minute intervals.
- On the southeast road that leads out of Manzanita Post, near along the border with the Great Plains.
One-shot Kill Weapons
The player can kill a bear in one shot (by aiming 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 bears on foot. This makes them somewhat less dangerous than the cougar, which is impossible to run away from on foot.
- 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.
- 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 them 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.
- 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.
- 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—including bears —will not only leave the player 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, the player will be faced by almost unending waves of bears; this can be very profitable, and they 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 are spawned 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 them while they are still on the ground.
- A good technique to safely hunt bears involves wading into Aurora Basin, which stays shallow all the way across. This way, bears cannot get to the player, and the player can exit and enter the lake with ease. This technique is useful in case others show up while the player is in the process of skinning.
- A good way to save one's progress when killing bears is to purchase two horse deeds, and after a bear is skinned, select one of the deeds in the satchel. This automatically saves the 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, or vice versa. Wolves and bears will fight one another.
- The player's mount will usually whinny when a bear is approaching.
- In order to receive the largest amount of overall profit for hunting bears, use a revolver. Revolver rounds cost the least of all ammunition types in the game, and the weakest weapon in the class (Cattleman Revolver) can adequately put down bears with three shots to the snout/face. It is obviously recommended that the player use revolvers with more firepower (Schofield Revolver, LeMat Revolver etc.) in order to use the least amount of rounds possible.
- 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.
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 the bear weak enough to finish it off with the hunting knife.
- While it requires 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, that 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, run to the side of the bear, 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 allows 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 it, and start slashing. It is very easy to keep running around and staying behind the bear while slashing at this point. The player should be able to kill it effortlessly.
- 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 horse instead of the player. This is another easy way to complete the Master Hunter Challenge that requires the player to kill a bear with a knife.
- Be aware when a bear is knifed one time, it will start to run away.
- A 100% healthy bear can survive more than 15 knife slashes, so it is definitely recommended that the player shoots 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 shot leaves just enough health for a knife slash to kill the bear.
- Bears are capable of killing a horse with a single strike, making it advisable to hunt for them while on foot if the player doesn't want to risk losing their horse.
- 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 an NPC 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, when going through Tall Trees in 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.
- Strangely, neither black bears nor Mexican grizzly bears, which were prevalent during the time and location the game takes place, appear in any form. Black bears would eventually make an appearance in Red Dead Redemption 2.
The player must kill at least 18 grizzly bears to earn the following Trophies/Achievements:
Kill every animal species in the game in any game mode.
Kill and skin 18 Grizzly Bears.