Friday, February 20, 2015

Bear Hunting Over Bait

         For the first time Bear hunter, the art of Bear hunting can be frustrating. To get you started in the right direction it's important for me to tell you that Bear hunting can be frustrating. You have to go about Bear hunting like no animal you have ever hunted. There are many tips and tricks that I have learned the hard way that will help you on the right path of being a successful Bear hunter.
Auther with a public land Bear harvested in Michigan
       For the most part, most of my referencing will be towards public land Bear hunting, not to say these tips won't help for private land, but I have witnessed many successful harvests come from public land, including my own. I for one actually prefer hunting public land. Not because I think the bears are bigger, usually they are not, but because I can decide between key areas that give me the best advantage to harvesting a bear.
      One rule I always stick to when placing a bait site is to always walk into the wind to the bait. You can also walk with the wind crossing your face, but none the less, make sure the wind is not blowing towards the direction you believe the Bears will come from. This may seem like a no brainer to some, but it is very important for hunters just starting out. While we are talking about wind, it is also very important to know that bears can smell very well. It's believed they can smell up to ten times better than a deer. But a bear's nose is not the only nose to worry

 In most states, it is legal to hunt bear with hounds. With that being said, I dont think I have to explain what hounds hunt with. A hound can pick up a bear's scent from over a quarter mile away. That also means the bear sitting on your bait site. To avoid this fiasco from happening, it would be wise to make sure the next accessible road down wind of your bait site is far enough away. I have nothing against hunting with hounds, but imagine sitting in your stand and hearing half a dozen hounds coming your way. Make sure to utilize all mapping tools to make sure your bait site will not be comprimised by hounds from down wind.
ellite imagery is a great scouting tool.

     Satellite and topo imagery, accessible by the internet or your local geological service, can be the difference between a bear rug and tag soup. I use Google Earth and It gives me a good idea on areas where I should consintrate my scouting efforts. Like most, I have a full time job and cannot scout as much as I would like. Not to mention my Bear camp is three and a half hours away from where I live. While utilizing these tools makes scouting more convienent, it's best to know what terrain to look for.
       Areas of interest are swamps, marshes, thick timber, spuce and pine flats and hardwood islands in the middle of swamps. If you have any experience at looking at satellite imagery, you can usually tell the different between hardwoods and swamps. First of all, swamps will appear much darker. Water is also a key factor. Bears need water just like any other animal. If you can find areas with scattered blue berry bushes or other natural food sources, those are great areas for baits as well. Bear usually already frequent these areas and placing a bait in the area will add to the attraction and keep them in the routine of coming to that area. Having the right bait also helps greatly.
A sow and a cub using a bait site
      When placing bait on the ground, you have to keep in mind any regulations concerning the containment of the bait. In Michigan you are not allowed to use anything made of plastic, metal, glass, rubber or even crafted wood to contain bait on public land. To solve this issue, I contain my bait by placing two large logs next to each other, with about a one foot gap. I place my bait in the middle of those logs and follow up by placing smaller logs and sticks on top to cover the bait. That way raccoons and other woods dwelling critters can not get to the bait. Having the right bait helps greatly.
      I choose not to use any soft baits that can absorb water. Because I hunt public land and cannot contain my bait, I use corn, candy, and oates. Breads or doughnuts, although very effective, soak up water and go bad. This is bad when you can only bait a couple times a week. As I said earlier, my Bear camp is three and a half hours away from where I live, so I only bait two, maybe three, times a week.
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       Most bait hunters will tell you that you have to bait every day. I will tell you that is not true. Baiting every day is obviously going to help, however consistancy is the key. If you can only make it out to bait every two or three days, then do it exactly every two or three days. A bear frequenting a bait knows it's eating what a human is putting out. To keep bears coming in, they need to know that there is going to be bait there every two or three days, or however many days apart that you bait. Just last year, I harvested a bear after only baiting five times in about a month. Because I was consistant, I killed the bear an hour before dark on my first sit. So much for having to bait every day.
       Although everything I have mentioned up until now will help you in your efforts to harvesting a bear, one thing is key. You can have the right bait, stand site, bait consistantly and have all the top notch gear, but what bear hunting over bait is all about is confidence and patience. Confidence and patience are key to success. No matter if you kill a bear on the first sit ten years in a row, you have to be ready to wait it out and believe that all your preparation will pay off. This is Alvin Sitkiewicz with Michigan Gone Wild signing off. Be sure to check us out on Facebook, Youtube and at Stay Wild!