BOWHUNTING WORLD
February 28, 1990

BAITING UP BLACK BEAR
By Otis “Toad” Smith

When it comes to baiting up a bear, you
can throw some meat into the woods on
a hope and a prayer, or you can plan and
design a functional bear bait.
Bear hunters who are consistently successful at baiting up bear
lay out a well planned bait –
one that will get a bear to feed on a regular basis, one that
will give the hunter the knowledge of which direction the
bear will come from and will force a bear to expose himself broadside to the hunter.

When a bear bait is laid out it must be set up to take
advantage of the prevailing wind direction. In the area that
I bait bear I can usually expect to have a wind coming
from the west. This being the case, my set tree is always
located southeast of the bait, and the trail I use to get to the
bait must also come from the southeast.

It pays to set up an extra bait or two for a south or an
east wind. but only hunt the baits that have the wind to
your advantage. It’s better to not hunt than it is to spook a
bear from a bait, because once you spook a bear it might
be days before he will venture back onto the bait or he may
turn into a night feeder.

For this article, we are going to assume that you have
done your scouting and have located an area that has bear.
We are going to also assume that you have picked out the
site for your bait and that you know which direction the
prevailing winds are coming from.

The accompanying illustration shows how I prefer to
set up a bear bait. The illustration indicates the prevailing
wind direction and shows the set tree located on the down
wind side of the bait. A bait setup like this illustration
would allow hunting with any wind direction except south
or southeast.

You will see in the illustration that a barricade is built
around the bait. It works best to place the bait at the base
of a tree and use the tree as a anchor point for the barricade.
Barricades are a useful tool because they prevent a
bear from approaching a bait from the rear. A barricade
will force a bear to expose himself broadside as he comes
around to feed.

To construct a barricade, use poles that measure two to
three inches in diameter. Either nail down or tie one end of
the pole to the tree, and rest the other end on the ground.
Build the barricade at least five or six feet high and if you
use nails, make sure you pull the nails when you’re finished hunting.

The illustration shows three cut trails coming into the
bait. When the bait is first established it works well to lay
some scent trails out into the bush. The scent trails are
dual fold: By laying a good scent trail, hopefully the bear
will find the bait faster and it will train the bear to come to
the bait on a designated trail.

Make sure you consider the wind direction when laying
out the scent trail. When done properly, the bear will
approach the bait upwind of the set tree.

Bear are like people, they will always take
the easy way, so make it convenient for them.
Cut the trail the last 50 to 75 yards as it approaches
the bait. Trim and cut the trail so it is
an easy route to the bait. Bear will naturally
use the cut trails every time. In essence you
will be training the bear to use the same route
each time they come to the bait. The hunter
has a distinct advantage if he knows where the
bear will approach from.

Ingredients to make a strong sweet smelling
scent can be purchased from most any
grocery store. All that is needed are small
bottles of concentrated mapleline and annise.
Mix two bottles of the mapleline into a gallon
of water along the two cups of brown sugar.
Then mix two bottles of annise in a gallon of
water. One-gallon plastic milk jugs work well
for this because of the built in handle.

Once you have the jugs mixed, punch
some sprinkle holes in the jug lids. With a jug
in each hand, walk away from the bait sprinkling
the two scents as you go. Spread the
scent for a quarter of a mile out into the bush,
then turn around and sprinkle your way back
to the bait on the same trail. Lay three trails,
in three directions from the bait. Hopefully a
passing bear will stumble onto one of the
scent trails and follow it to the bait.

Another handy item for spreading scent
are plastic spray bottles like those you use to
wash a car windshield. Carry two of the spray
bottles one filled with annise the other with
the mapleline. At the bait, spray the entire
area. Set the bottle nozzles so they will shoot
a stream, and shoot the stream as high as possible
into the surrounding trees. Lay as much
scent around the bait as you can, the riper the
smell the quicker you will get a hit.

Every bear hunter will have his own special
combination of bait that he feels is best.
What it all boils down to is cost and availability.
When you are baiting a string of baits it
can get expensive. Two of the best attractors
on a bait are beaver and venison, but neither
one is very feasable. Unless you have access
to large quantities of beaver carcass and large
volume freezer space it is out of the question
for the average hunter. The same goes for venison,
so you’ll need to find a suitable substitute.

The answer is beef. Beef trimmings are
available at a reasonable cost from locker
plants or large grocery stores. The main base
of your bait should be fresh beef, bear like it
fresh. Its a good idea to offer more than just
beef on a bait. Bear are like humans, foods
that appeal to one bear may not interest another,
so give them a mix.

A bushel of oats mixed with a gallon of
molasses and four pounds of brown sugar
makes a tasty and sweet smelling addition to a
bait. It never hurts to throw on some windfall
apples, sweet corn or pastries if they are available to you.

Once a bear is working the bait,
he will tell you what he does and does not like.
On the first baiting use about 50 pounds of
bait. Once the bear begins to work the bait,
then really load it up. Put on enough bait to
hold the bear there until your return baiting
trip.

Trails To Bait And Tree
You will notice in the illustration that the
hunter uses a trail coming from the south to
get to the bait. The purpose of this is to prevent
the hunters scent from blowing towards
any bear near the bait. Once you have the bait
established, refrain from walking down the
cut bear trails. Go directly to and from the
bait on your own trail.

Never walk from the bait to the set tree,
approach the set tree as the illustration shows.
If you walk from the bait to the set tree, bear
will get in the habit of doing the same thing as
they are quite curious. Its best to keep the bear
on the cut trails and around the bait. Even if a
bear comes to the bait on your trail, he will
still offer a broadside shot as he walks by.
Cut shooting lanes from the set tree to the
bait and to the trails leading to the bait. Pile
the brush that you cut from the shooting lanes
between the set tree and the bait to discourage
the bear from going to the set tree. It is alright
for the bear to go to the set tree, but when it
does this it leaves the hunter in a poor shooting
position. It also discourages the bear from
coming in behind you. It is best to keep the
bear in front of you where you are controlling
him and his movements.

Shooting Position
Bear are tough animals for an arrow to
penetrate. They are muscular and are protected
by layers of fat and thick hair.
If you put a sharp arrow through a bear’s
lung, he will die fast, even faster than a deer
and he generally won’t run as far. Bear do not
bleed heavily on the outside because their fat
and thick hair seals the blood inside the animal.
So, it is very important to cut a large
entrance hole and a large exit hole to insure
good bleeding.

Tree stand height plays a large roll in arrow
penetration. The lower you are to the
ground, the better your chances are for total
penetration and the larger target you will
have. If you get too high in a tree your target
becomes smaller and much harder to penetrate.

I think that a tree stand should not be more
than six or seven feet above the ground and
should be between 15 and 20 yards from the
bait. The stand should be far enough from the
bait to minimize body movement noise, yet
close enough to give you a high confidence
shot.

It does not matter what kind of bow you
shoot, be it a compound, recurve or long bow.
As long as the bow can deliver a heavy arrow
to the target with enough force to gain total
penetration. Penetration is the name of the
game when it comes to bear and arrow speed
means very little. Concentrate on your ability
to deliver a heavy arrow accurately. I’m not
saying that you can’t kill a bear with a light,
fast arrow, but that you can kill a bear much
more efficiently with a heavy arrow.

The bear hunting technique that I have described
and illustrated in this article is by no
means the only way to bear hunt. It’s just one
of many bowhunting bear techniques that con-
tinue to provide the bowhunter with a challenging
experience that he or she can appreciate and enjoy. >–>

ARCHIVED BY
WWW.ARCHERYTALK.COM
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED