Editor’s Note: While bear baiting is illegal in a small number of states where it is viewed as an unethical means to a hunt, the vast majority of states that allow bear hunting also allow baiting.
Bear baiting is one of the essential keys to a successful bear hunt, but without a sound strategy for baiting, you will not attract bears to your location.
Baiting for bears is takes thought and preparation. Just throwing some food out in the woods, at a random location, is not going to cut it. To do it the right way, you have to plan ahead. If you properly select, prepare and maintain your baiting site, you will reap the rewards this fall.
This is essential to successful baiting. Before you begin baiting, get out in the woods and do some scouting. Look for bear activity and search for signs of larger bears. You want to be sure there are bears in the area and that they are of a size that is worth your time.
If you pick a location that only holds smaller bears or has only occasional bear traffic, all your time and effort in baiting will go to waste.
The best locations are areas that bears travel past regularly. High-traffic areas will have plenty of signs of bear activity and a water source nearby.
There are many types of foods that will attract bears, but hunters often overlook the obvious. If you are trying to attract bears, why not use the foods that bears naturally feed on?
Bears are opportunistic animals and will often feed on whatever is available. This may include dead animals, berries, fish or acorns. Try using the carcasses of dead beaver, raccoon or coyote. Dead fish, such as suckers or carp work well. The smell will be sure to draw bears toward your location. Regulations vary from one region to the next, so make sure the natural foods you select are legal to use as bear bait.
Beyond natural foods, meat scraps, grease and bird seed can be effective baits. Some hunters like to use sweets, such as donuts, maple syrup, cookies, etc., but keep in mind that higher protein foods have been proven more effective at drawing bears to your location.
Bears have big appetites, but in order to make your baiting site more attractive than the other food sources available, you need to put out a spread that no bear can resist.
Especially when you first begin baiting, it is important to use a high quantity of food. One or two food items are not going to work. You need to offer the bears a feast they cannot resist. Once the bears have found your location and are actively feeding there, you can reduce the quantity, but make sure you have enough to keep them coming back for more.
It is also important to check your baiting site often to ensure there is food present. If there is no food left, the bears will stop coming.
The smell of rotting food will draw bears toward your bait site, but the smell of you could drive them away.
When moving to and from your bait site, it is important not to alert bears to a human presence. In order to reduce the chances of leaving your scent behind, make sure to spray yourself with a scent killer each time you visit your bait site.
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