River Valley Outdoors
Baiting tips for big bear
I could easily see the bait site from my treestand position. Chirping birds sang their woodland songs in a mesmerizing blend that almost put me to sleep as I sat like a statue for one solid hour.
Suddenly the flow of the bird music ended and the woods became as still as a frozen lake. My senses peaked as soon as I noted the abrupt silence, and as if on cue a black bear smoothly shifted from the dense undergrowth to the edge of the small opening created by the bait site. Moving as quiet as a shadow, the handsome bear paused to sit on its haunches about 20 yards from the bait.
I waited for about 30 minutes to see if any cubs might appear, just to make sure a mother bear hadn’t come to the site to feed her offspring. As I waited the bear sat completely still, and then moved toward the food I had placed at the bait site – slow and smooth, like pouring refrigerated molasses from a jar.
When the bear stopped to tip its big head into the food, I placed a .308 caliber round into its vitals. At the shot, the bear flipped upside down and didn’t move.
My first thought came in a rush of adrenaline; “Did I really just shoot my first bear?” As I rolled the bear over to inspect it I realized the full impact of my day of hunting. What started as a process of bringing bait to the location every afternoon for the month of August, ended as a successful bear hunt on the opening day of that September season.
Baiting Mature Bear
For hunters attempting to get the drop on their first bear, the “do-it-yourself” method offers a most satisfying reward. To lure a bear from a forest full of natural food to a bait site takes quite a deliberate effort, requiring a keen knowledge of the outdoors and lots of hard work. Plenty of bear tags get filled each season by hunters that prefer to bait their own sites, and nothing feels better than taking a decent bear unassisted, except tagging a real trophy-sized bruin.
Taking a bigger bear, the next logical step after a hunter takes their first bear, requires further study. Many hunters make the mistake of trying the same setup that initially worked for them, simply sitting at an identical bait site and waiting for a bigger bear to show up. Not to say that this doesn’t happen sometimes, but to bag a bigger bear a hunter must modify baiting tactics to suit a big boar’s finicky nature. Mature bear don’t attain their trophy-sized status by jogging into a bait station in broad daylight, and wolfing down just any old offering.
Hunters will find listed below several of my key points for scoring on bigger bear over bait.
The deepest and darkest swamp in the forest holds the biggest bear. For all practical purposes a do-it-yourself bear hunt for a 300-pound-plus boar, over bait, finds the self-guided hunter traveling to the most remote regions of the state.
There must be plenty of water near the bait site, too; the heavy, thick coat on a mature black bear needs cooling down on those long, hot summer days.
Realize that a bear wants to come into a site from down wind, so place the treestand or blind in a crosswind location that offers a clear view of the down wind side of the bait site.
Give yourself from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. each day for filling the bait station. Putting bait out before this time slot gives smaller, less-dominant bears too much time during the day to figure out a way to get to the food before the big bear come in.
Matching wits with a big, male black bear stands as the ultimate test of a hunter’s baiting technique, and woods skills. If the hunter has a huge, trophy boar in mind, he or she must remain as scent-free and silent as humanly possible to be completely successful.
After cleaning up with the scent-free soap, many successful bait hunters like to use a cover scent similar to the lure placed at the bait site. Anise oil works great for this purpose, when poured on cotton balls and stuffed into vented film canisters and hung from trees around the treestand.
Bagging a trophy-sized bear and having a taxidermist create an appealing mount memorializes a great hunt. Each time the hunter regards the trophy mount; the sounds and sights and smells of the hunt silently emerge from the memory, drifting in slow and smooth as cold molasses – materializing like a dark shadow in the woods.