Much has been written about black bear hunting and there are multiple methods and tactics to hunting them. We will touch on bear hunting over bait, as the other methods also usually encompass the use of bait.
Bear hunting over bait is a popular method and we offer this type of beer hunting Northeast Wilderness Outfitters. Bait sites are established 30 days prior to opening day and baited consistently so that the bears know where there is a regular supply of feed as they put on weight for hibernation. The success depends on the availability of natural feed, however there are a few things that can be done to ensure active sites even on a year with an abundance of natural feed.
Picking the proper location is one of the key things to consider when placing a bait site. In our area we have been using some of the sites for over 30 years. These sites are known by the black bears that inhabit the area and we commonly see that there is bear activity at the site before any bait is placed for the year. Try to pick an area without a lot of activity. We try to find locations that have a large tract of land around it with no roads or human activity for several miles. This allows the bears to approach the bait site without exposing themselves.
After you find a good location you need to place the bait. Quality bait is important. When I say quality, I do not mean edible for human consumption. If you place a sour/spoiled bait it may be consumed but not as well as if it were fresh. We have used a wide variety of bait over the years, from meat scraps to donuts. All of it worked, but the fresher bait always worked the best. One year we have many barrels of bait that had gotten wet and turned sour. When that was placed out on the sites the bears would feed on it, but not as much as when we placed a quality food source on these same sites. Once you get bears hitting the sites the main thing you must do is feed them. If the bears walk in and there is no bait they will move on to another source, many times it is your competition.
Next you want to determine what type of bears are visiting the sites. This is done in several ways such as checking for tracks, claw marks on the trees and hair where a bear has rubbed to name a few. We also use trail cameras. You can spend hundreds of dollars on a trail camera that will take a quality picture, however you risk the loss of that expensive camera if a bear decides to check it out. You can find decent cameras that will give you the same information without spending a fortune. We commonly find cameras for under $100 that work perfectly for us. Watch for sales and people selling used cameras. If you buy used, I strongly recommend trying the camera before the final purchase. I recently purchased five cameras and tried each of them while at the seller’s house to ensure they all worked. This only took a few minutes of extra time but in the end, I was certain I was purchasing working cameras.
Once you have your active sites, and you know what you have visiting on them, it is time to place a stand or blind. Either one works well and has its benefits, and pitfalls. Whichever you choose is purely personal preference. When we place a stand or blind, we try to be on the western side of the bait if possible. This ensures that the sun is not in your eyes as it is setting in the afternoon. Wind direction is another factor although, in my opinion, not a complete end game. With the swirling winds we commonly get I am certain the bears know a hunter is on the site the majority of the time they arrive.
Now that the bait is placed, you have bears visiting, and your stand/ blind is in place, it is time to hunt. When to hunt is always a question. We want the hunters on the site when the bears are there. This is where scouting with trail cameras comes into play giving you a good idea at what time the bears are likely to visit the location you have chosen. You will have to decide for yourself when that is, based upon your scouting. The one thing to remember is that you cannot take a bear if you are not at the site when it arrives.
We wish you luck if you choose to bear hunt in the future. We also hope this information will help you to decide to take up the challenge and work of placing a bait for bears.