Many regions of the country regulate the amount of time before season that you bait bears. Some places out West allow you only to bait seven days before the season, while in Arkansas we can bait 30 days before the season. In other places there is no time limit and you could bait all year if you wanted to. However, what is most advantageous if your goal is to kill a mature bear on opening day? There are many pros and cons.
Huge clouds of smoke billowed skyward, blacking out the sun, as a monster wildfire burnt its way across the boreal forest of Northern Alberta, forcing over 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray to flee their homes. This would become the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta’s history and probably the costliest disaster in Canadian history. For the next few days I watched the news for updates. The graphic videos taken by Canadian news reporters showed the massive exodus as the fire destroyed thousands of homes and forced the evacuation of several cities, including Fort McMurray. I watched the Royal Canadian Mounted Police escort hundreds of vehicles south, along Highway 63, the only route into and out of Fort McMurray. I recalled the many times I had driven up and down that same road going into, and returning from, a wilderness bear camp. The glowing embers raining down on the hoods of automobiles in the evacuation convoy was surreal and eerily beautiful. The Canadian newspaper, “The Guardian” reported that the fire began on May 3, 2016 and that by May 16th, it had spread across 930 square miles of Canadian bush and was heading towards Saskatchewan.
Baiting black bear can be one of the most exciting and effective ways to hunt them. If you’ve never ran your own baits from start to finish, then you might have a hard time appreciating how much work it can be, but also how rewarding success is. The murmur that baiting bear is easy is a farce told by those who’ve never done it themselves. Targeting older mature male bears over bait is a significantly underrated challenge.

Black Bear Bait Theory

From a Minnesota Veteran

Bear hunters subscribe to a number of theories about why their baits work and there is no one best way to invite a bruin to dinner. Here's Brian Bachman's baiting theory, based on 35 years of experience in his neck of the woods.
2020 was a record year of people getting into the outdoors. That could make it a little difficult to find cheap bear bait for the barrel. Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned vet a little preparation goes a long way, start thinking about bait now.
Faithorn, Michigan resident Mark Hanna bagged one of the biggest black bears ever killed in the state on the evening of September 25, 2019 while hunting over bait in the Upper Peninsula’s Menominee County. The enormous bruin had a dressed weight of 640 to 650 pounds and a live weight of around 730 pounds. Even though the monster bear was taken out of the woods with the help of nine men in an effort to get an accurate weight, it was difficult to locate a dependable scale capable of handling the beast. The fact that temperatures were warm complicated matters. It was necessary to skin and butcher the bear as quickly as possible to avoid losing the hide and meat. Several scales were tried to weigh the whole bear without success.
By now the luscious summer landscape of green has yielded its glory to the depths of autumn. The oncoming winter is on the horizon, temperatures are cooling and the black bear is at the peak of its fall feeding frenzy. Bear hunting over bait is a strategic tool used by wildlife management agencies to harvest their target number of bears in the different regions of North America where spot and stalk hunting just won’t cut it, like Arkansas. Baiting fall bears is as exciting as it gets in bear hunting. Why? Wildlife managers and hunters are capitalizing on the ancient biological process that has enabled black bears to be the most successful bear species on the planet, which is their fall hyperphagia. During the late fall there are many things lined up in favor of the diligent bear hunter. Bear hides are at their peak quality and bears are at their top weights.
Bears don’t use their ears to find food. Neither do they use their eyes as the primary tool to locate food. As we all know, bears use their nose as their primary sense to direct them towards food. When baiting bears, scent is the primary attractor. Understanding scent and having quality scent is the foundation of successful bear baiting. Step two for a successful bear bait is providing quality and diverse bait that provides the bear with the food it wants. In this article we’ll focus on bait scent dispersal and how understanding the prevailing winds and thermal currents will help you choose the right bait site. Secondly, we’ll talk about some types of bear bait.
I would be the first to admit, fall bear hunting just isn’t at the top of my to-do list every year. Living in Colorado, there’s just too many other opportunities to sink my teeth into, with hunting mule deer, antelope and elk always making it to the top of my list. That being said, as primarily a bowhunter, my western season generally comes to a close towards the end of September. And with November whitetails still a month away, October can be a great time to match wits with a fall bruin looking to put on some pounds before winter.
Many times it’s not the knowledge of “best practice” that dictates our baiting schedule, but rather finances, time or other restrictions. However, understanding these strategies might help you in future years. Remember this: baiting is a conservation management tool designed to help game agencies accomplish their management goals. Bear baiting is under fire in many arenas, even inside the hunting community. We bait bears so we can be selective in our harvest, and it should be our goal to harvest older mature males in most scenarios. Be careful how you talk about baiting bears and especially how you post things on social media. Baiting bears isn’t easy and it’s a ton of work! It’s all about the journey, not the destination.