by Clay Newcomb

BHM Publisher

It’s Wednesday, September 23, 2015, and we are now three days out from the opening of the Arkansas black bear season, and seven days from the Oklahoma opener. Despite the heavy mast crop and falling acorns, the bears are hanging on the baits surprisingly well in some areas.  Three days in the Arkansas bear hunting world can be like an eternity, and things can change fast. However, things are looking good.

bear bait

Three full bait barrells from Big Woods Bear Bait in Wisconsin. Also we were using some Big Woods Big Bear Scents, too. We only put out this much bait if they are eating it.

            The bears are responding well to the higher quality bait that we are using from Big Woods Bear Bait. It was a grueling trip from Arkansas to Wisconsin, but it was worth it. Frosting, gummy candy, cookies, apple pie filling, graham cracker pie filling, salted almonds, and chocolate-drizzled kettle corn seems to be holding them well.  Just this week we started with some meat scraps and pork fat. I’m anxious to see how they will respond to that this year.

big bear

They don't get much bigger than this big male. He's our target bear on this bait. He's been showing up a lot. 

            On September 17th, we put out two crammed-full barrels of bait with candy and sardines covering the tops of both barrels. More than seven bears (not including cubs) devoured the bait in just a few days. When we checked the bait yesterday there was scarcely the remnants of a popcorn kernel on the ground. The bear are eating like they’re starving.

            Saturday is the Arkansas opener, and my hunting partner, James and I, will re-bait and check cameras on Friday. From the information we gather, we’ll make our final decision as to where we’ll sit. Currently, we’ve got four baits in Arkansas and two in Oklahoma. I don’t know if I will hunt the morning or not. I may wait until the evening to hunt, depending up when bears are showing up. I definitely don’t like hunting at daylight, as you’ll spook bears going in.

big arkansas black bear

            Secondly, I prefer to bait heavy the day before season, and slip in and hunt the next day without baiting. From studying pictures, I find that the larger bears usually are more active the second day after baiting.

big bear

New bear on bait. Just showed up this week.             

I will be shooting my Mathews No Cam this year. I’ve been hunting with Mathews since 1998, however, I do love the traditional bows, too. In all honesty, I shoot the No Cam more accurately than any bow I’ve ever shot.  I’m not a competition shooter, but I do like to feel confident with my equipment. The bow is a  little bit bigger than what I’m used to, coming from a short DXT, but I really do love the bow. Hopefully, it will be laid across the brilliant hide of an Arkansas and an Oklahoma black bear in the next 10 days.

big bear

A bear I call Batman because of his big, curled ears - reminded me of a bat! He's big.             

Baiting bears on your own and hunting them has got to be as exciting and fun as any hunt on the planet. I love local hunting. It’s more valuable to me to kill a bear or a deer at home than it would be to travel to North America’s hunting meccas and do it there.  Will stay in touch. - Clay

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four bears