Bear hunting????

The Beast’s of the North woods. Behaviors, Hunting Stories, Pictures, Tactics, Q&A.
The Rav
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Bear hunting????

Unread postby The Rav » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:14 pm

Okay, you guys are getting me hooked, (at least in thinking about it). First off, I must admit I've never really had much of an interest in hunting a bear. That being said, it would stand to reason that I don't know much about it. I know this much, that if your going bear hunting you need to do your homework first. I believe the first step would be a bunch of scouting to see where they are hanging out. I know what bear tracks and bear scat looks like. But, what are the more subtle signs that you would look for to indicate that a bear would be in the area? Since I'm trying to plan a week my first week of vacation to go north for a camping/deer scouting trip, I thought now might be a good time to start learning a bit to add some bear scouting into the mix. When you do find some bear sign, where do you go from there? What is the best type of terraine to look in?


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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby Liberty-Hunt » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:32 pm

For me the most important first sign is excrements... (If is as a softs can, it's a big one).

The best place for me is a transition, with a dirts swamp a river with Beaver (is best breakfast), a mature wood and a "young" one. He love to sleep in the calm and deep swap aria...

Learn with an experimented guy for beginning as I did, is the best for not loosing time and a lot of energy...

Hope that help?!
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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby Mike Foss » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:14 am

There are so many things you need to know. What State do you plan on hunting in? What are the regulations(laws), can you buy a tag over the counter or do you have to apply for the tag and how many years will it take.

Once you receive a kill permit and know where you want to hunt talk to some local bear hunters, dont be scared to knock on some doors, some might be willing to help or give you some advice. If there is a local bear guide ask him to tag along to learn the ropes but let him know your intentions. Hunters are always welcome to come along with me on my baiting excursions.

Baiting techniques will be different (refer to regulations) from State to State. I always look for a nearby water source. Bears love security, so the thicker the foliage the safer they feel. Dont make the mistake of thinking whitetail hunting is the same as bear hunting because they are not. Its a close quarter hunt. Bears are problem solvers. When on stand, in the world of whitetails if a deer smells you they are gone in an instant, if a bear smells you chances are he will hang around (sometimes you not even knowing it) trying to figure you out, are you there or have you just been there, is it safe to come to the bait etc. Wind direction is so critical, if its wrong dont hunt your bait station.

You have never hunted bear before, its just like starting a new job, the longer you do it the better you get at it.

Attached is a picture of a bear territorial tree, the gentleman is a past client. Different bears will mark this tree by scratching it and leaveing there scent just to let other bears know "I am in the area".

There is much more information that I can give you. If you want to PM me (anyone) with your phone number I am more than willing to give you a call to discuss bear tactics.

Mike
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PLB
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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby PLB » Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:25 am

I agree Mike but man how do you play the wind when it seems those big ol boars come in downwind regardless. Or do you think they use the same trail regardless? We have had some monster bears in daylight on camera all summer in recent years but come season they start coming after shooting hours and we end up taking lesser bears!One area of my bear hunting I would like to improve is playing the wind! Any advice would be great! :D
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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby dan » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:44 pm

P.L.B There are several ways to play the wind. Indeed,big bears circle and once they know they are being hunted, game over. One way is to use a barrier. A road, a beaver pond, a clearing, etc. so that the bear can't circle downwind and catch your scent. When I do this, I don't like to completely cut off the bear. Give him a little room to "wind" the bait, but in a way that puts him where you want him, not 100 yards downwind. Another way is to put your stand in a tree on a hill and get up as high as possible and try and blow your scent over the bear...
Many guides talk about conditioning bears by putting out an old used shirt with your scent on it, but I personally don't believe that is a good tactic for two reasons. 1st, adding human scent on purpose is a bad idea. The more big bears feel a human presence, the more nocturnal they will become, or maybe just abandon the bait all together.
2nd, I believe there is a huge difference to a bear between fresh human scent and old human scent.
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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby Mike Foss » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:16 pm

Dave

Ya those big educated bears are hard to get, but they can be fooled. There are so many variables when picking a spot or setting up a your bait station. Here are my thoughts on the perfect setup. The bait station is set up so the hunter will use a climber tree stand in good cover, that way those bears dont know where you will be sitting when its time to hunt and yes most seasoned bears now what a tree stand is or know its un-natural and will often check it out. By the time the season opens most bears will be used to human scent and the entrance trail that is used for baiting. When baiting dont sneek in, let those bears know your coming, also bait in the evening once in awhile (just before dark). Dont always use the same bait, mix it up some. Mature bears will almost always check out that entrance trail or even use it before approaching the bait station, so make sure your entrance trail does not go by the tree the hunter will be sitting in. Trail cameras are self explanatory and will give you an edge. Hunt only when the wind is to your advantage.

When your hunt begins do the old 2 in 1 out trick. Each time you hunt have a friend go in with you to bait, but wait until the hunter is totally (thumbs up) set up and ready before you replenish the bait station, then leave. Hopefully you get that bear you have been wanting. Most of you are thinking that climbing tree stand might make to much noise and spook those bears at the end of an unsuccessful day when you go to get down, it could, but remember I mentioned baiting once in awhile in the evening. Have your same friend come in after shooting hours and bait while you get down. Anything spooked would be done by the baiting routine which they are used to
and not by the hunter climbing down.

I have personally have done this in the past and it has worked. I had this big bear that would always come in after the hunter (client) left his tree stand at the end of the night (trail cameras told me so), so after day 3 I told the hunter I was coming in 20 minutes before shooting hours to bait then I left. To make a long story short, that bear was always close by, heard me bait and leave, 10 minutes later I heard that hunter shoot that bear.

Photo is from one of my clients from last year. Bear is already done. 639lbs Scores BC 21 2/16
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AC Rider
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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby AC Rider » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:23 pm

I partially agree with you Dan - Yes, no scent is always better than some scent. When I lived in bear country, and was sigle ;) , I would bait at least every other day, sometimes every day. I would purposefully leave my scent, hug trees and spray bug juice around. With near daily exposure to me those bear would train like a dog. I never killed a young bear then - always 6 to 8 year olds (per MN DNR tooth aging). I also had daytime activity 80% of the time. Nowadays I can only bait once a week and my bear success has dropped off dramatically because they don't expect me or associate me with good food - just an intruder.
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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby chadhaucke » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:25 pm

Hey Mike, I am just curious. Who is doing the mount on that slob.
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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby PLB » Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:02 pm

Thanks for taking time fellas to give me some pointers! We usually bait three times a week Sun, Tues, Thurs, starting in mid July. But last year my brother and his buddy baited every day for a week prior to the season opener. I didn't agree with this as I thought it would make the bears lazy and feel they could fill up and then come in at dark whenever they wanted. I think you should lighten up your load and trips prior to season opener to make the bears try to compete and beat the other bears to the bait? What to you guys think?
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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby ravenjake » Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:15 am

Hey Chad,

The taxidermist I used was Nature's Way In Green Bay, Wi. Jeff Champeau. Here is his website..

www.natureswaytaxidermywi.com

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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby Schultzy » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:00 am

I know what bear tracks and bear scat looks like. But, what are the more subtle signs that you would look for to indicate that a bear could be In the area?
I Inserted could Instead of would In your quote. It really depends on the surroundings you have but where I bear hunt I like area's that are low, cool, and dense looking. Bear to me like thick area's, they feel more safe. I've baited In both types of woods (thick and not so thick, low land and higher land) and by far I've had much better success In thick low lying area's. One thing to remember too, bear are starting to pack the fat on so they get warm quite easily so these dark low lying area's benefit them In keeping cool. One other thing I've noticed too Is bear seem to like a mature like type woods. 10 year old clear cuts don't seem to hold bear although they could feed In them but It's not a place one would be bedding and or hanging out frequently. Old mature tree's make a woods dense and safe for them.

Baiting techniques will be different (refer to regulations) from State to State. I always look for a nearby water source. Bears love security, so the thicker the foliage the safer they feel. Dont make the mistake of thinking whitetail hunting is the same as bear hunting because they are not. Its a close quarter hunt. Bears are problem solvers. When on stand, in the world of whitetails if a deer smells you they are gone in an instant, if a bear smells you chances are he will hang around (sometimes you not even knowing it) trying to figure you out, are you there or have you just been there, is it safe to come to the bait etc. Wind direction is so critical, if its wrong dont hunt your bait station.

You have never hunted bear before, its just like starting a new job, the longer you do it the better you get at it.
Mike hit the nail on the head here as far as I'm concerned. Great post!! Mike, I've found allot of them scratch posts through out the years bear hunting. I get excited as heck when I see them. We don't always shoot bear or actually get to see a bear In area's like this but It sure Is neat to see. We've had bear mark up to 20 tree's at our bait site's after they've hit the bait after the 1st or 2nd time. I love It when that happens and It's usually a good sized bear doing this.

I agree Mike but man how do you play the wind when it seems those big ol boars come in downwind regardless. Or do you think they use the same trail regardless?
In my opinion PLB some times there's nothing one can do, these big guys are big for a reason. A 15 year old bear can be one of the most challenging animals to hunt. Getting them to hit the bait Is one thing but seeing them Is a whole new challenge Itself. Bear won't use the same trail either. I've seen It where they'll come In from any direction. I think bear come from the same bedding spot every time but they just choose to come In to the bait differently because of wind direction, scent, etc. Their not coming Into these baits down wind to just wind the bait to see If were In there, their doing It too wondering If another bear Is there. Many times they won't even come to the bait but Instead get with In so many yards (say 50 yards) and wind check the bait to see If another bear Is there and leave If one Isn't. Competition at a bait site Is what we want. The more competition the better chance of a big guy or just bear In general showing up In light hours.

The more big bears feel a human presence, the more nocturnal they will become, or maybe just abandon the bait all together.
2nd, I believe there is a huge difference to a bear between fresh human scent and old human scent.
100% agree Dan! Here's an example- About 10 years ago we were checking baits. My cousin went In to check the bait while I got the next batch of bait ready for the next bait. On the way In to the bait he runs In to a giant of a bear at 20 yards. This bear he figures was In that 500lb dressed range with a huge P&Y head on him, maybe even B&C. Any how this giant stood his ground against my cousin who Is 6'5" himself. My cousin threw the sack of meat down and slowly walked away backwards back down the bait trail to the pickup. The bear stood there and watched him and never left. This bait never got hit again after this. What a bummer It was. We also notice a huge difference In hits when the hunting season gets close. The more presence we have at our baits the less day light hour hits we get. It definitely has to have something to do with more human presence. For this reason I would like to load up our baits 4 times as much every time we go In so we don't have to check them as much.

after day 3 I told the hunter I was coming in 20 minutes before shooting hours to bait then I left. To make a long story short, that bear was always close by, heard me bait and leave, 10 minutes later I heard that hunter shoot that bear.
Excellent Idea!! Never thought of that, can't wait to try this! We've done the 2 and one where 2 walk In for the start of the hunt and then like you said the other one leaves. We've had some luck with It but not a whole lot.
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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby dan » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:16 am

Nowadays I can only bait once a week and my bear success has dropped off dramatically because they don't expect me or associate me with good food - just an intruder.

Greg, My 1st thought would be that the bears would hit the baits less in daylight when baited heavy once a week, rather than light once a day... I would also think they would eat up the fresh / best stuff 1st day and get board with it by weeks end.
I too, have less action on the once a week baits...
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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby dan » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:18 am

By the way guys... Aint it great to have so many knowledgeable bear hunters on this site to debate tactics with! 8-)
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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby AC Rider » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:42 am

Greg, My 1st thought would be that the bears would hit the baits less in daylight when baited heavy once a week, rather than light once a day... I would also think they would eat up the fresh / best stuff 1st day and get board with it by weeks end.
I too, have less action on the once a week baits...

I once thought I knew pretty much everything there is to know about being a successful bear hunter. Boy was I knocked back down to planet earth... I've now come to the conclusion (reluctantly) that I really don't know why they do what they do - I only have theories :? I've killed 6 bears and I don't think I know much more than I did when I first started hunting them ;) Dan, you may be right.
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Re: Bear hunting????

Unread postby dan » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:58 am

Its all theories Greg... I love debating differing views cause seldom is one person wrong,and one right... Generally there is something to learn from each person debating. There are somethings I, or you would never do, yet it works for someone else. I want to strive to figure out why....
Bears are interesting creatures. Humans really know very little about them.


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