Written by Erik Labrie

The month of May has dawned on us faster than we could have thought and it’s time to talk a little bit about the wildly misunderstood tactic of hunting the magnificent Black Bear over bait. Baiting as a strategy for any animal is controversial not only in society, but within the hunting community as well. This time of year, our social media floods with pictures of bait-setups, previous year harvest, stories, tips, and just about anything you can think of on the subject of coaxing a bruin in underneath your tree. Unfortunately, so many people don’t understand what bear baiting really is and how it can be an effective hunting strategy. With this blog I am going to explain some of the process of baiting for Black Bear.

Every experienced bear-bait hunter has their own special recipe or secret ingredient that they guarantee will bring in the biggest baddest boars. But, the concept of baiting for Bears is really a quite simple and relatively affordable process, however, time-consuming.

After establishing a bait-site, cleaning a trail in and decently sized bait area within shooting distance of your tree stand or blind, you’re ready to haul in some barrels, secure them, and fill them with your own creative concoction of goodies. It is important to modify your barrels in a way that allows the bears to retrieve enough of the bait to keep them coming back, not so big that they can feed heavily, and not so little that they lose interest. Both common mistakes made by bear hunters. For example; cut holes in the side of your barrels big enough for a bear to shake, roll, and even scoop bait out with their paw but, not so big that the bear might be able to get their head inside and empty your bait in a few short hours.

Try not to focus too much on what you’re filling your barrels with, use what you can afford or have ease of access to and remember that you need a full season’s supply. It can take a couple years for a bait to become established and well known to the resident bears. Maintaining a steady and constant bait supply is probably the most important key factor in establishing a successful bait in as little time as possible. Visit your baits often and replenish the stock whenever there is evidence of bears feeding. Some great affordable fillers for your barrels are;

- Rolled or whole oats

- Cheap dog food

- Bulk kernel Popcorn (can be time consuming to pop)

- Expired deli and bakery items

- Meat and bone scraps

There are also plenty of suppliers for bulk bait if you have multiple sites on the go and need a bigger reliable supply.

Along with adding restaurant fryer oil to my barrel mix for flavor, I like to splash it on a few big trees and on the ground around the bait. The oil soaks into the ground and will give off a strong smell for quite some time. A good scent attractant is a crucial element to bringing in the most potential visitors to your bait. Baiting supply companies such as; Anderson’s Long-Range Baiting have created a few different scent attractants. From several different flavors of scent spray to the Beaver-Stink Bags, these are great and very effective tools that are quick and easy to use. Some other readily available options are;

- Concentrated juice

- Juice crystals

- Pancake syrup

- Fryer Oil

- And pretty much any sweet stinky thing you can think of.

Although on paper this whole bear baiting thing seems pretty easy, it does take a lot of physical work and time to build up and establish an efficient and successful bait. Don’t start folding your bear tag the first time your barrels are shaken up and chewed on. Any experienced bait hunter has spent hours upon hours in the stand without laying eyes on a bear, even at an active site. Trail camera pictures and time sitting in the stand with your trigger finger put away can give you a lot of information about the local bears and their individual personalities and patterns.

Now, I’ve explained the basics of baiting for Black Bears, with a little more research and some time in the field you’ll be all set to get your baits up in time for a great spring. Our Non-Typical Team have already filled barrels across Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Stay up to date with great tips, tricks, and anything else you can think of this spring and summer while the boys begin filming for the 2020 season of Non-Typical Nation on The Sportsman Channel Canada.

Erik LabrieComment