Black Bear Baiting

It’s finally that time of year when we start our black bear baiting season.

In Maine, you are aloud to start baiting bear about a month before the season opens.  We are lucky enough to have many nice people give us permission to set baits on their land.  All our sites look very promising with bear sign already around them!  Blueberries, torn up logs, and scat are everywhere! Just this weekend barrels went into place and were coated with rich smelling bacon scent, donuts, grease, and other delicious treats.  Cameras are in place and I await the results.  Since the sites are in Maine we usually give them about 3-4 days in the beginning until we check them.  The bacon scent we use is one of the keys to our success.  It is highly potent and we spray it on the trees surrounding the bait.  It leaves a residue on the leaves that can stand a couple of rainstorms still smelling strong.  This will instantly bring in the bears.  But it’s really not that easy.  A successful harvest equals much hard work and toting in bait 2-3 times a week at multiple bait sites is not easy.  This is not including the scouting of the sites and tree stand hanging that is all done earlier in the season.  In New Hampshire, baiting is only aloud on the first day of the season.  So we will continue the same process in about a month from now.

Countless hours of peeling bait, getting chocolate stuck in your nails for days, and just plan old exhaustion from trying to fill a 55 gal drum full of treats for the up coming season is a lot of work!  We have bow hunting stands and some gun stands and trying to find that “perfect” tree in a thicker area is sometimes impossible.

Most of our sites from previous years already have bears checking them out.  This year I have noticed that the bear activity is like 3 years ago.  The activity is high and I hear a lot of reports from fish and game of bears being very active in local dumpsters, chicken coops, and camp sites.  We had a very mild winter this past year and I believe they are gearing up for something bigger this winter.  Black bears are one of my favorite game to harvest and this year I plan on hunting in Maine with my bow and New Hampshire with my muzzle loader.  Some tips and tricks I have found to be very successful are:

  1. When entering a bait site to feed, make sure to whistle or make some other noise that is distinctive to feeding time.  Bears will be close to the site and it will become a routine for them.  We have pictures of bear at the sites 4-5 minutes after we leave them.
  2. We use 55 gallon drums at the site to leave bait in.  I can use this drum as a reference to sizing up bear.  We also cut a hole in them and chain them to a tree making it harder for the bear to drag away.  The opening is set up for a perfect broadside shot.
  3. Frosting is a great trick around the opening.  They tend to spend much time licking this keeping them in a fixed position for a while.  Sometime bear will reach in the bait grab something and walk away to eat.
  4. If you don’t want your camera to get destroyed do not touch it with your bait scent at all…even human smell can sometimes anger a mature bear.  Believe me we have lost a camera or two to this during deer season.
  5. When getting into a stand make sure everything is cleared out around it…the bear will be near and you don’t want to give yourself away.

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