The silent emergence of black fur into view is an indescribable feeling that keeps all bait hunters coming back season after season. For me, the first five seconds of seeing a bear stirs an initial adrenaline rush and an abrupt increase in heart rate. This epitomizes the excitement of hunting bear over bait. How can such a big animal move so quietly? The question at hand, however, involves the point of view from which you’ll perceive the majestic entry of Ursus Americanis. Will it be from an elevated tree stand or eye-level from the ground? Several factors play into this discussion, and both have pros and cons.
Baiting bears is simple, but when it comes to the execution of a bear-baiting plan many realize the difficulty and complexity of the task. How much bait do I need? Where do I get it? What do I use? How soon before hunting should I put it out? These questions need answered, and everybody has an opinion.
I learned early on after baiting over 10 sites for multiple years and having varied results at each. I could have predicted the outcome of some of the sites, but others surprised me. Outfitters and serious bear baiters agree, certain locations are better than others and it isn’t just chance. Bait sites that produce big bears year after year have some common trends. Here are seven characteristics to great bait sites. Every site will not have all of these characteristics, but are the trends of the best I’ve seen.
Variety is the spice of life, and it’s also a key to a good bear bait. Bears are like humans; they've got individual preferences. I once heard of a bear that despised lemon-flavored pies so much that he raked his tongue with his paws. Bears are also driven by biological urges that push them towards feeding on optimal food sources that achieve their strategic goal. A bear’s goal is to “get fat quick.” Having multiple options for quality types of bait in different categories creates nothing but positive outcomes.
October 1st is a day I won’t soon forget. Five years of effort and hustle culminated into my best day of bear hunting. I was bear hunting on private land in Oklahoma for my fifth year. In 2015 I took a 360-pound 20 8/16” bear and was thrilled, however there was a larger bear on the property that I named Batman. He wasn’t just “bigger” he was a lot bigger. He was extremely wary and rarely showed up during the daytime. It's hard to beat an older-age boar's nose. They understand the game. They live long because they come in downwind when they approach the bait – it’s that simple. Or they are 100% nocturnal. They rarely make mistakes. I knew to harvest this bear I was going to have to get extremely lucky, or find a way to be totally scent free - and luck can't be trusted. Your typical “wash your clothes” in scent free soap and spray down is a joke in the bear woods when you’re after a world-class bear.
This was my second trip hunting brown bear. Strangely, I didn’t feel the pressure I did on my first hunt. Overcoming the fear of not bringing home a bear was realized in 2014, but it wasn’t nearly the struggle I thought it would be. The satisfaction of simply being able to hunt The Last Frontier was satisfying in its own accord. In some ways, Alaska is the magical and mysterious place I thought it would be, and it other ways it wasn’t. I was hunting the “mecca” for North American big game, but the region is no respecter of its own reputation. The title didn’t take away the challenges that every hunt brings with it. Time constraints, bad weather, and travel limitations of wilderness hunting are the reality. However, we would overcome all these challenges on this hunt-of-a-lifetime.

Quebec’s Boreal Bruins

By Brian Strickland

Prior to this, I had traveled to Canada several times to hunt bears and whitetails, and on all but one of those I made the long drive from my Colorado home. The one time I decided to fly I ended up waiting nearly two days for my bow to arrive behind me. Needless to say, when our feet touched the sweet Canadian soil on this trip, we were more than happy to see that all our luggage had arrived as planned. It was now time to jump into the rental car and start the eight hour journey north into the Canadian Boreal forest.