SO YOU WANT TO BOWHUNT BLACK BEARS
by Billy Bowhunter
The next few paragraphs reveal some of the methods of baiting for Black Bear that I have personally used to harvest seven bears in the past five years.
If you can get past the mosquitoes, black flies, finding all of the bait you're going to need, and all the hard work carrying the bait to your bait site, you will be in for one of the most rewarding experiences a BOWHUNTER can have.
Locate a site in the most isolated place you can. Make sure there is lots of cover, preferably backing up to some very dense bush. I use 55 gal. barrels with the top cut off and position it on its side approximately 90 degrees to the tree stand. Use dead logs from the area to make sure the bear has only one way to get to the bait.
The bait can be almost anything you can find lots of, Suet, beef fat or pork fat seems to be a favourite of bears in the spring. Old bread soaked with molasses or used deep fryer grease works well. And don't forget that a bear loves sweets, DONUTS work great. These are just a few of the things that can be used, If you can find a source of other things don't be afraid to experiment. The bear will let you know if they work or not.
After you get all of these things together it is time to start baiting. Put all of your bait in the barrel, don't worry about what order, the bear will figure it out. IMPORTANT: TIE DOWN YOUR BARREL otherwise the bear may walk off with it. I lost one a few years ago and never did find it. Set up your tree stand, preferably in a tree that will break up your outline as much as possible, downwind from the bait. Make the distance about 15 to 20 yards or whatever YOU feel comfortable shooting. You usually need only one shooting lane to the bait. Cover the opening to the barrel with logs to prevent racoons and other animals from stealing the bait. This will also tell you whether or not your bait has been hit.
One of the most important things in baiting for bears is to let the bear know where your bait is. One of the best ways to do this is to advertise, by making a honey burn. Put a small amount of honey in an old tomato can, use a propane stove or whatever you have and cook the honey until you get a yellowish white smoke. Bears can smell this for over a mile. And it will stick to the trees around your bait site.
Another method you can use to get your bait started is to loosen up the dirt directly in front of the barrel and mix in a gallon of well used deep fryer oil. When the bear comes in he will be standing in the oil pad. When he is finished he will wander off to wherever bears go, making a trail of well used deep fryer oil. When another bear crosses his trail he will back track it right to your bait. I call it the GOOD NEWS TRAIL.
These are probably the two best methods that I know of to get a bait going in a hurry. However patience is a virtue. I used these methods on one bait in particular and it took about three weeks, but once it got started it was one of the best sites I ever had. There were at least seven bears using that particular site. I saw six bears at one time until the Pope and Young monster that I shot, showed up and chased them all off. But that's another story.
Another method you might want to try is to get the bear accustomed to your scent at the bait site. Wear an old T-shirt for two or three days and put it in a plastic bag. The next time you visit the site put the shirt on a tree next to the bait. If the bear wants to eat all the goodies you've brought for him he will have to tolerate your scent If you are planning to use bug juice, and believe me you're going to need it, spray some on the trees around the site every time you go there. Be sure you use the same mosquito repellent every time. You are getting the bear accustomed to your scent so when you are sitting in your tree stand covered in mosquito repellent, and he does smell you, he won't be all that spooked. These methods do work. Your wife may throw you out for wearing a T-shirt for three days, or you may get tired of lugging all that bait around, but it will be worth all the effort when that first bear comes in. The most successful bear hunters that I know, are usually the ones that are willing to do the work. So don't give up, stick with it, start a second bait. Do whatever it takes.
REMEMBER THE OLD INDIAN SAYING
An eagle will see the leaf fall
A deer will hear the leaf fall
But a bear will smell the leaf fall
Believe it, the bear has an incredible nose. I firmly believe a bear has a better sense of smell than a deer. So your best bet is to get him accustomed to your scent right off the bat.
I will leave you with one last thought, bear hunting is one of the most demanding ways to hunt that I know of. It would be a shame to do all that work and you forgot to practice your shooting. When you first set up your bait, practice shooting from your stand. When the bear finally does come in PICK A SPOT. Don't try to shoot the whole bear. Pick one hair on the animal and HIT IT.NOTE: For hunting bear in the fall you can eliminate the suet.
Good luck and shoot straight.