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River Valley Outdoors
Finer points of baiting bigger bear
I’ve overheard folks complaining about how easy it is to take a bear over bait. Their common statement usually goes something like this, “Ya, you just throw out some donuts, the bear comes in, and you shoot it.”
These same folks probably never hunted for bear in Maine. Luring a small bear into a bait site is fairly easy – just leaving trash out or bird feeders full will usually bring small bear into camp.
Successfully luring a mature bear in to a bait site takes quite a bit more work, and offers the bear-baiting hunter a real challenge. Older bear don’t get big by just waltzing into a bait site, looking for free donuts.
To draw a big bear out of the deep woods a hunter must completely dedicate a whole month of baiting before the actual hunt. Hauling heavy bait buckets out to the most remote parts of the forest, every single day for a month, is costly, time-consuming, and physically demanding – but, mature bear prefer the deepest, most remote section of the woods, and they want large portions of food every day.
Taking a medium-sized bear satisfies many first time hunters, but at some point many hunters make a decision to take a trophy boar. At this stage of the game, it might be better (easier and less costly) to hire a guide. If a hunter determines that they can handle the extra effort and time in the field, then consider these fine details that can make the difference between taking a mediocre bear or a trophy boar.
First off, a hunter must find an area where a particularly big bear hangs out. Adult male bears can range up to more than 100 square miles, so pinning one down to a specific location takes a good knowledge of the woods.
Find one of the deepest and darkest swamps around and drag a rag soaked in an attracting scent to an area that would make a perfect bait site. Attracting scents that work include, anise oil, Liquid Smoke, lobster leftovers, etc. Hang the rag with the attracting scent near a bag of sweets on a wire between two six-inch trees, spaced approximately 15 feet apart and at least five feet off the ground to discourage smaller bear. Remember, once a bait site gets hit, load the site up with at least a five-gallon pail of goodies every day.
Hang the bag of goodies up as usual, and douse the area below the bag with bacon grease or leftover grease from a local restaurant. Make sure to scuff up this area so the loose soil forces a bear to leave an impression of its paw to help in determining its trophy potential.
Generally speaking, a hind paw print with a length of seven inches or more indicates a bear over 300 pounds. The hind print looks very similar to a human footprint with claws where the toes would be. A front paw-print, five inches or more in width means a bear of a similar size.
Trophy bear hunters must then work out a strategy to minimize all unnatural odors. Bear have excellent scent detection, so hunters have to go the extra mile to avoid contaminating the bait site with foreign odors.
Use scent-eliminating products to shower, wash clothes, and gear – then use scent-eliminating spray around the site to finish the job. Wear rubber gloves when handling bait and make sure to place the stand down wind of the bait.
Hunters will never completely eliminate all of their scent, but minimizing these odors as best as possible avoids scaring off larger, more experienced trophy bear.
A true trophy happens to be in the eyes of the beholder, and often depends upon the amount of effort expended to achieve the end results. At some point a novice bear hunter finds himself sighting in on a bear that remains a trophy to him, no matter the size.
A huge amount of satisfaction comes from baiting a trophy-sized black bear into your own site, dropping the handsome beast, and then memorializing the memory of the hunting effort by placing the mount in the home. It’s an odd thing, but, the amount of satisfaction usually depends upon the degree of effort expended. The more a hunter puts into it, the more the trophy means – no matter if it happens to be an average 150-pound bear, or a humongous, 250-pound-plus animal.