There is a lot of debate over the most effective time frame to bait bears before the season.  In some regions, laws regulate baiting time frames, but in other places you can bait bear year-round.

The variable that ties them all together is that you can’t hunt until the first day of the season. What you’ve done up until that point is irrelevant compared to the answer of this question: Do you have bears visiting your bait site on opening day?


Is it better to bait for three months before the opener or is it more effective to bait much closer to the season? Everyone has an answer and there isn’t a wrong one. However, challenging your own ideology on baiting bears in your region may be just what you need to do to increase your odds for success.


The concept of the 10-day bear bait has many advantages and has been proven effective.  This can be a great method to harvest those wily, hunter-shy mature boars. It’s financially friendly and it’s easier. Sound like the cure all for your bear baiting woes?

Maybe it is.


The Rational Mind Frame


When you are new to bear baiting it makes rational sense that the longer you bait the better, or as long as the law allows. You would think that bears would never get tired of the endless supply of sweets and goodies, however, that’s just not the case. They do get tired of unnatural food. Every bear is different but it has been my observation that a bear, especially in the fall, will hit a bait hard for 10 to 14 days, and then begin to lose interest.

 Why they quit is up for debate as well. Much of it has to do with the availability of natural foods. In spring bears respond to bait until the grass is green. In the South, Upper Midwest and East, fall bears respond well until the acorns and hickory nuts hit the ground. It could be vice versa in the northern bear woods which are dominated by late summer berries. Bears may respond to bait better later in the year, just before they enter their winter dens.

Aside from attractive natural food sources pulling them away, we can assume that a bear’s body would eventually respond to massive amounts of sugar and processed carbohydrates the same way a human would – they become lethargic and want to eat something different. I’m convinced that a bear’s taste buds aren’t like ours and definitely they don’t think like we do. A bear doesn’t receive conscious enjoyment from indulging himself the way humans do; he is simply in the business of gathering calories. Whether he gets them in the form of white oak acorns or donuts, it does not matter. Hunger and instinct are the drivers of his actions and both push him to gain massive amounts of weight any way that he can. Eventually, his body tells him that he’s had enough of the unnatural food and he begins to ignore man-made baits. Some bears stick with the donuts longer than others, but they all follow this pattern.


Will and Adam Beason’s Success


Will and Adam Beason of western Arkansas started doing a 10-day bear bait several years ago with great success. Basically, they put out 500 to 1,000 pounds of bait two times before the season starts. There are a several positives to this type of hunting and they are convinced that it has helped them in killing five 20-inch-plus bears in the last 10 years. Also, they are doing this in a region that isn’t known for consistently producing giant bears.  The key to their success with this method rests on one fact about their area – the bears are already there. This is the key to this type of baiting. If it takes a week for bears to find the bait, you’ve probably messed up by baiting so late. However, if they find your bait quickly every year, you might try waiting until closer to the season.


Over time the Beason’s have developed a system of baiting that works for them. Here are five reasons why you should consider a short bear-baiting session:

 1. Less Human Involvement Means More Daytime Bear Activity


Older bears are more difficult to fool, just as an older whitetail buck is much harder to kill than a doe. Trophy – class animals are more sensitive to intrusion and skittish to unnatural human activity. Big bears are the same way.

Some northern wilderness bears aren’t like this, but most bears in the lower 48 are afraid of humans. If they know you’re there they won’t come in. By reducing the overall amount of disturbance in the baiting area, older bears are going to feel more comfortable at the bait site.  Two to three trips to replenish the bait before the season opens may be better than more numerous trips spread out over the course of a month or more.

I see it every year: the biggest bears will use my baits in the daytime for a while, but they gradually become increasingly nocturnal. By waiting until a few days before the season opens to put out your baits, you’ll have a better chance because you’ll be hunting during the “honeymoon” phase of the big bears’ interaction with your bait. Sometimes less is more.

 2. Bears Stick Around


The primary feature of the 10-day bear bait is that the bears don’t lose interest in your bait before the season starts. We’ve seen a trend of bears hitting the baits hard for 10 to 14 days and then trailing off. By only baiting for 10 days, you’ll have a better chance of holding onto the bears you’ve got. Especially where there is natural mast competition.

 3. It’s Cheaper and Less Involved


In today’s world one of the biggest challenges of baiting bears is finding the time and finances. In Arkansas we are allowed to start baiting 30 days before the season opens. Many people wear themselves and their wallets thin baiting for the entire legal timeframe. Unless you are baiting in your back yard, most hunters are driving a good distance away to put out bait. When you account for fuel costs alone, reducing the number of trips to the bait site to 10 days can make sense without jeopardizing your chances for success.

The 10-day bear bait also involves using less bait. Gathering bait can one of the most arduous tasks of the season and it can be expensive, especially if you are buying bait from commercial bait distributors.

 4. Established Baits Don’t Need Months of Preparation


Established baits in good areas don’t need much time to get going. My best bait sites start getting hit within a day or two. Just as a bear remembers a productive white oak ridge or a good berry patch, he’ll remember a well-stocked bait site. The animals may even start visiting an established site before you start baiting in the fall or spring.  I’ve had guys say they’ve seen bears arrive on the very same day of the year multiple years in a row. The players in the natural world have a phenomenal way of keeping track of time.


 5. Use Commercial Scents to Get Jump-Started


The only potential negative of the 10-day bear bait is the bears not finding it in time for the season opener. Like I’ve said, this technique is best used on an established bait site that the bears are familiar with. A key component of this style of baiting is using powerful commercial scents to jump-start the bait. It would also be a good idea to do some extensive scent drags with used fryer oil, especially on the first day of your baiting. I personally suggest Northwoods Goldrush as a grease additive. It’s incredible stuff.

Another addendum to the 10-day bear bait would be to go in a month before season one or two times and put a small amount of bait and lots of scent. The intent would be to let the bears know you are in business. This will draw their attention to the site without over-feeding them or inundating the area with human activity. Later, when the 10-day mark rolls around, put out the massive amounts of bait necessary to keep the bears in the area.

Give the 10-Day-Bear-Bait a try and you might find that it is easier, less expensive and more productive. Good hunting!