Of all big-game animals in North America, bears are among the toughest to judge in the field and for first-timers--all bears, even yearlings, look huge. A few tricks from noted New Brunswick bear guide Charles Lindsay (lindsaysportingcamps.com) help clue in hunters.
"Look at the body first. A truly big bear carries himself differently than a younger, immature bear. They will have a swayed back, large gut, splayed legs and little daylight between the belly and the ground." In addition to physical characteristics, try to judge his attitude.
Lindsay continues, "A big bear has an air of dominance and surety surrounding him when he comes into a bait." After the body and attitude, turn to the noggin as an indicator. A large bear's head will appear blocky with ears that are small and spaced far apart. Spend plenty of time looking a bear over before pulling the trigger, as mistakes are common and many a hunter has radioed back to camp reporting "the new world record" he just shot, only to walk up and discover the bear somehow shrank considerably.