By Nick Hopkins
Location is extremely important to achieving a successful bait site. Start by looking for tracks and scat in dense, dark areas, old timber growth near water and around spring food sources. Basically, you'll need to find the where the bears want to be. Pick a spot that will allow the bait scent to travel easily and quickly into areas that you think will be holding bears, such as the head of a canyon or multiple canyons. Note the prevailing wind direction and look at areas on the upwind side of these target areas. If you need help picking a spot, your local wildlife biologist, local hunters, and a little research online can help point you in the right direction. You will still need to scout on your own, however, to confirm your suspicions. Hunting in an area with a higher bear density is a great idea especially if you’re new to baiting bears.
Scent is extremely important when it comes to baiting bears. The key is to put out as much scent as possible, especially if it’s an un-established or new bait site. At BoarMasters, we offer all kinds of different types of scents, attractants, sprays, pastes and feed additives to help the bears not only find your bait site, but hold them there. First saturate the baiting area and nearby foliage completely with a strong commercial, oil-based scent product. My personal favorite is our Bear-ly Legal Raz Donut Spray, do this each time you re-bait. This acts an alarm clock for the bears as they normally don’t wander far from an established bait site. Each time that fresh smell enters their noses it won’t be long until they come check it out. Now remember their good noses will also pick up human scent just as easily. These sprays can help mask your scent as well. They are sticky and oily and built to last so do not spray on yourself or your clothing. Its also very unsafe to do so, but do keep yourself and your gear as free from human scent as possible and limit your time and activity around the bait sites. Get in and get out! BoarMasters also offer pastes for smearing on the logs, concentrates for making your own syrups and sprays, and our most popular product is our Bear-ly legal feed additives. This is an extremely powerful powedered-feed additive that will turn a pile of bread or dogfood into a pile of supercharged bait that bears just cant resist! Mix 1 oz of this product to 50 lbs of bait and watch the bears go crazy for it. Its and extremely addictive product and has several uses. Also don’t forget our Sow Bear urine w/sexglands. Use this at the end of May during the rut. Visit our website at www.boarmasters.com for more information on our products.
Using commercial scents is key to establishing a new bait site. Note the prevailing winds in your area and place baits on the upwind side of regions of ground that you think will be holding bears. Bears love wilderness!
Bears are very leery when they approach a bait site making the proper setup is very important. Here are some important points to ponder. When choosing your stand location, pick a tree downwind of the bait site. Now this wont always work as weather patterns change, but if you pay attention to the thermals in that area and can nail down the average directions. This will be a huge point in your favor. Next, Try to keep the bait site in an area where the bear doesn’t have to walk into, or cross and opening or clearing. This can cause them to be very uncomfortable. Give yourself plenty of time while working on your set-up. Even if this is your first setup make sure it’s your best! Clear all your shooting lanes and brush around your tree stand or ground blind as good as possible. If you are using a barrel make sure to chain it tight to the tree so the bears can’t change its position. Make sure you have quick, easy, and quiet access in and out of your stand or blind. Set up so you will have a quartering away or broadside shot. If necessary, build a crib or blockade to funnel the bear to proper shooting position. Make sure they can’t sneak bait out from behind the crib. Keep your shot distance within your comfort zone and weapon choice. Finally, don’t get caught messing with your set-up on the night you come to hunt. This will contaminate your setup with fresh scent and may stop the bear from coming in fully to the bait.
4) Condition the Bears
One of the biggest mistakes hunters make when learning to bait bears is not allowing the bears to become comfortable or conditioned to the bait site. Bears like feeding times to become a routine. Try to re-bait at the same times each day. If you are re-baiting daily or couple times a week make sure to supply them with just enough to keep them coming back for more. Be consistent. Hang trail cameras and pay close attention to those times. This will tell you when the best times to bait are and when the best times to hunt.
Bears are very tricky and extremely smart. Hunting a bear over bait may seem easy, but it is in fact very challenging, especially if you are targeting a mature boar. There will be times, for example, when you have everything perfect, but still cannot get a nocturnal bear to show himself, or still have bears circling and winding you. It is a game of out smarting each other. This is a great time to try different tactics. Sometimes the smallest changes in routine or bait can make all the difference. Try placing only half the bait you normally use at the bait site for example. After that big bear shows up after dark a few times to an empty barrel he may change his pattern to get their earlier before the other bears eat all the bait. You can also try introducing an intruder scent. This is where our Dominant Boar Bear urine comes in handy, This is an excellent way to trick the bears into thinking he has a competitor at the bait site, 9 times out of 10 he will monitor that bait site more closely to see who is encroaching on his territory.
Nick Hopkins, president and founder of Boarmasters Scents, with a nice Idaho bear.