Let’s spend this column talking about the giants and how to beat them. I’m not talking about the New York Giants or the San Francisco Giants; I’m talking about big, giant male bears. The kind that turns heads everywhere bear hunting is discussed. The kind everyone wants to kill, even the meat hunters that say they aren’t interested in targeting big bears. It might surprise you to learn that there are a few people who consistently kill giant bears. The biggest bears in the area are in danger when these guys find them and target them. I’m going to tell you a little bit about those guys, those bears, and how they kill them.

First of all, there are four guys I know personally who have consistently killed some huge bears. I am not talking about 350-pounders; I am talking about 500-600 and even larger adult male bears. These four guys do things differently than most of us. I am not going to give you their names other than one guy, because he agreed to allow me to use his name and some photos.

With one exception, these four guys do not know each other; their only connection is that they are people who I know. The only other thing they have in common is that they know how to find and kill huge bears. One of them is a guide, but he is not a traditional guide. He does not advertise his guide service, he does not have a bear camp, and his price is the highest I know of. He takes one person at a time, and when that person kills the giant bear he targets for them, he calls the next hunter, and so on. His baits may be 200 miles apart. He might sleep in his truck while he is between baits. Giant bears are not behind every tree, and he will look anywhere for one, literally anywhere. He might find one giant in a county on one side of the state and another four counties away. He’s not exactly your traditional bear hunting guide.

Jesse is one of these guys. He killed the overall Minnesota State record bear in 2017. In 2022, he also killed the second largest bear in the state ever killed with a muzzleloader. It just missed the muzzleloader state record by 1/8-inch. The last three bears he killed averaged 580 pounds. I did a YouTube video interviewing Jesse about some of his strategies. Do a search on YouTube for “How to Hunt Giant Black Bears with Jesse Koskiniemi.” Trust me, it’s worth your time to watch it.

While talking to each of these friends separately, I have been fascinated by the fact that even though they do not know each other, their techniques have so much in common. They have refined their hunting strategies by learning what works and what does not on these giant bears and, not surprisingly, the bears have taught them each some of the same lessons. So what are these guys doing differently than the average hunter? Let’s look at some things they have in common.

They hunt the fringes

Not all giant bears live in classic bear habitats or the big woods where we imagine traditional bear hunting. All four of these guys hunt the edges where the bear habitats meet agricultural land. There may be patches of woods only a couple hundred acres—or even less—surrounded by pasture, hay, oats, soybeans, and corn. Huge bears live in these areas. There is little hunting pressure, so the bears can grow old and fat. These big bears are reclusive creatures that don’t spend any significant time in areas where the bear population is high. These giants are loners, living out their lives on the fringes of typical black bear habitats.

They target individual giant black bears

While most of us are out looking for an ideal bait site and then hoping to have a chance at a big bear that would come to a great location. These four guys are doing it differently. They are out looking for a giant bear and then baiting for that specific bear. That’s right, they are finding the bear first and then targeting that one specific bear. They spend their summers walking the edges of woodlots where these bears enter the cornfields, looking for huge tracks, piles of scat the diameter of a pop can, and areas where corn and oats have been flattened by bears.

Once they find the giant bear, they begin to learn as much as they can about it. They use trail cameras and personal observations to figure out where these bears spend the bulk of their time. Then they choose a bait site that will be right in the bear’s core area. It’s hard to get a giant bear on a bait site during the daylight, so the bait location needs to be right on the bear’s front porch. This is usually a thick, nasty, damp bush that is difficult even to walk through.

They do not strike until the moment is perfect

You don’t just go hunting for a giant bear when you feel like it. You don’t park yourself in a treestand day after day. The wind must be right, the bear activity must be right, everything must be perfect before they make their move on these big bears. You’re likely to only get one single chance, so taking unnecessary risks with movement, sketchy winds, or noise is not the way to hunt giant bears. No opening day sits for these guys unless it all comes together. It may be days or even weeks before the conditions are perfect and it’s time to make a move. They hunt with precision, not volume.

They don’t mind eating tag sandwich

If you’re going to target giant bears, you’re going to have to accept that you might come up empty-handed. While these guys do consistently kill the giant bears, that means they are ignoring even what others consider the big ones. And that reduces your chances of getting one at all. This kind of hunting isn’t for everyone.

It may or may not be for you. But I thought I would dedicate one of my columns to this topic because I thought you would find it fascinating. I sure do!