How to Bait Bears Better
This fall will be my first time hunting black bears in Wisconsin. To say that I’m excited would be an understatement. I’ve never been exposed to hunting bears before and while I will not be doing the baiting for the stands I’ll be hunting, I am working hard to learn as much as I possibly can about baiting and hunting black bears. These tips on how to bait black bears better are a great starting point on getting these big bruins by your bait piles this fall or spring.
How to Bait Bears
Every expert bear guide that I’ve talked to has said that consistently killing big black bears takes a ton of hard work and patience. Some people think that it’s easy and it really is not. Bears are really smart and to kill big, old ones, you need to have everything in the right spot, down to where you place your trail cameras. You also need to make sure that you win out the best and biggest bears in your area so you have the first crack at them.
As with any type of hunting, scouting and research is one of the most important things that you can do. Sometimes people get lucky, but to consistently kill big, mature animals, you need to put in the time. Some good resources on scouting from long distances away are internet topo maps, local biologists, DNR harvest data and calling the DNR in that area for good public land spots. If you have private land permission or own some, knowing the lay out and putting on some miles on foot is a good way to scout the area. Secluded, heavy cover is great spots for bears and if the sign is there, can lead to some great baiting sites.
2. Get Away from the Crowd
Another tip that pertains to a lot of hunting, is get away from the crowd. Tougher walking and access areas can give you some of the best hunting spots around. Bears feel safe in these areas that people won’t go, so if you can get to them, you could find some monsters. You can either drag your bait to a tough to reach spot for a better chance at killing a big bear, or hunt near the road with the chance of killing small ones. Your decision?
3. Good Baiting Site Locations
Finding the perfect baiting site will allow you to pull multiple bears in, funnel them through good bedding areas and get you in and out without too much scent being left. Rivers and streams are sometimes good funnels that will push bears in a certain way, but you want to be sure that you keep wind direction in mind when placing bait sites and tree stands. Make sure that you have the prevailing winds drifting your bait scent to where the bears spend most of their time.
4. Smelly Baits
To attract bears you need to get them to smell your baits, otherwise you’re just hoping that they stumble upon your bait pile. Now, depending on what your state allows determines your bait stink. Some states like Wisconsin do not allow natural baits (fish or fish oils) but others do. Stinky fish is a powerful attractor, but so are many bear baits that you can purchase. Keep bears coming back with smelly baits and good bait food.
5. Scent Control
Human scent is going to be around the bait, that’s how it gets there but you need to be conscious of scent while baiting and hunting. If the wind is wrong, bears can tell if you’re in the area and while younger bears will still come into a bait pile, mature ones won’t. Check your cameras when you bait and only hunt the bait if you have a bear worthy of killing coming in. There’s no need to saturate a bait pile with scent if you’re not going to kill a bear there. Check the wind direction before you hunt and be sure that the wind isn’t blowing towards where the bears will come in.
Hunting bears over bait is not a slam dunk and everything from your type of bait to where the stand is hung plays a big role in killing a big bear. Be sure to get started with these tips and put your own big bear down over a bait pile.