So far in our current series, in P1 and P2, I’ve discussed my personal history in this type of hunting, why hunt black bears using bait, what bait works best, chosing locations and why, time of baiting, securing site, and spring or fall- which is best?
P3’s theme concerns: SETUP of bait and specific location, and WHEN to hunt – time of day and weather conditions.
After the general location has been settled: Private land or Public (Crown Land), it’s VERY important as to where the bait is located on that piece of God’s earth:
It was previously mentioned that on CROWN Land several stands could be placed at various angles to the bait SETUP with it still in view. The main reasons being: direction of sun (if visible) and wind, and to confuse bears. Bears can quite easily discern the exact location of a hunter if he/she is at the same spot each hour and/or day of the hunt. So the SETUP of the bait is critical for that reason alone as well as others.
1) It should allow the bear (you want to shoot) a sense of security in approaching the bait. They will be cautious anyway, especially the more mature ones. And if other bears of less maturity are attending the bait without harm, they will take note of that as an important indication of safety. But that alone is rarely sufficient for the one you may want to shoot to turn up during “rush hour”. Mature bears are independant and NEVER enjoy “crowds”! So they will choose the timing of their approach, and it may be after midnight!
So, I’m NOT talking of a commercial type setup like a “supermarket” for multiple bears, but rather a low-key single owner of a small corner store that sells the likes of chewing gum as you enter or are leaving the store. A “niche” store, if you will… The same idea for locating a bear bait in a niche in the bush or trees – unobtrusive and partially hidden where bears have to pick a “dark street” to find what and where their noses leads them to. A “crowd” will not be found there fighting for scrapes on Black Friday, but it’s a “store” where adults will go down that dark alley to find what’s “forbidden”!
Did you catch an image of what’s intended?
<This is 100 yards (lazered) downhill from my blind. Bears approached the barrel from behind-right, over the deadfall. In scouting out the area, I got to know where the bears were coming from. Yep, it worked!
2) Your stand should NEVER allow smell or sense to give you away! That means: The further your location is from that SETUP the better! Of course your hideout should be as hidden as the bait setup! And the more distance – that’s still reasonable within the confines of the chosen location – the better. In practice of that principle, 150 yards is much better that 50 yards. At 50 yards, the bear you may want to shoot will know your presence (whereabouts) long before he emerges into daylight. At 150 (minimum) he may feel safe anyway unless he’s previously been wounded or fired at by a hunter.
3) And a tree stand is better than a ground blind (where possible) under most conditions as it gets human scent above ground level, especially if several persons are involved in your hunt. And it gives a better view of the surrounding area.
Yet, in a DIY hunt, bears become accustomed to your smell and associate it with groceries being delivered. So I didn’t even try to camouflage my smell or be quite because those sounds made in the delivery of the goods was like a dinner bell!
The best TIME of DAY for hunting:
Actually, there isn’t! When they feel safe – and they’re smart and know when we’re in our blind or stand – we avoid those times if it’s too regular. So vary your timing! Once I started using trail cams, that was a mega lesson on when I should be in my stand… Variably!
And, if possible, have alternate geographical locations – for a bait setup on the same property or distinct properties – so as to give bears as much trouble as possible in getting to know your system. My two locations were too far apart (one Crown and the other private) for that idea to be practical, but what I did do was vary my days and timing at the same location. I might even skip a whole week of hunting or baiting to keep bears guessing – sometimes losing some but gaining others. In other words, vary your technique and practices within the confines of the timing of the hunt, whether that is for a week or whenever you can during the season.
<This blind has lots of very interesting stories to tell if it could speak. So I’ll just mention a few here and others in the next blogs. This is Crown Land in Haliburton Highlands, about an hour’s drive NNE of where we live. I purchased it new as a remnant piece of indoor-outdoor carpeting that might be used on a patio or deck. The artwork – bites and tears – was by a large male black bear that I hunted, off and on, for a couple years. It’s near the top of a ridge, facing west, with the bait setup 100 yards downhill. It was late October with a skiff of snow on the ground. The most prevalent wind direction was from SW, so scent was carried off toward the NE which was basically a crosswind. Stormy weather usually had easterly winds from which we were protected by the ridge still raising behind us, and thick woods.
That’s all for now but that’s my former, most beloved rifle in a Ruger No.1 .45-70 LT (long throat) with the fixed 4x Burris that had a 5.5″ eye relief (It’s now on my oldest son’s Winchester M94 in .356 Winchester). But the story to be told here is that I could leave this setup and sneak away for a walk, scouting or for food/drink/warmth in my van without being detected by a bear at or near the bait. The trail to this blind was distinct from the one below for bringing in food to the bait site.
Just something to consider in doing your own.
Here’s something interesting: Two boar bears showing up at private land bait sites, separated by two years and forty miles at the exact same time on the clock. Both are good males that could have been shot if the hunter had been in his stand!
And both images from my trail cam.
Till the next… RIFLES and CARTRIDGES for a bear hunt over bait… Plus a bear’s psychology.