You likely realize there’s been some hubbub over the years regarding bears and hunting them over bait. If you think it’s like shooting fish in a barrel you’ve never hunted a mature bruin that uses dense cover and nocturnal conventions to live an apparition-like lifestyle right under your nose. Sure young bears may hammer bait like birds at your bird feeder, but rarely do seasoned veterans saunter right in with a target painted on their side.
Regardless of the debate, I enjoy spring bear hunting. You get to interact with the animals. You get to view numerous animals and if you’re lucky, you get to shop for one that fits your definition of a “great hunt.” Even so, there are times when I like to turn up the dial on spring bear hunting for just a touch more action. My first step to an extra jolt of adrenaline is to hunt bears at ground level. Plant yourself on their turf and face-to-face for an experience you’ll never forget.
You can hunker in a ground blind, but for my last few hunts I simply retreat into the brush and try to blend into the backdrop. A savvy bear will circle and catch my scent, but some of the big wilderness bears I’ve been hunting in northern Alberta just don’t seem to care. They still march right in giving me enough of hunting buzz to literally cause my arrow to shake from the rest. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.
The other strategy I’ve been employing hits right home with predator callers. I use a prey-in-distress call to speed things up around the bait when the bears shift into low gear. Lulls or nights when nothing seems to be clicking are ideal times to squeal like a rabbit, or bawl like a fawn. Even when the action is good I like to toss a few calls out just to make sure a new world record isn’t waiting in the bush for darkness to cloak his raid.
Since bears wander from bait to bait or looking for a sow in heat, you can call occasionally all day long. You just never know when a new bear will be within earshot of your calls. Several call manufacturers also sell calls that imitate estrus bears so it may be wise to invest in that call as well to round out your bear-calling arsenal. And since bears are considered dangerous when protecting a food source or on the hunt, be on your toes! You don’t want a hungry bear stalking you and biting into your backside while you’re focused on the bait in front.
If you have a spring black bear hunt over bait on your schedule consider a ground assault complimented with calls. It could be the adventure of a lifetime!
True North Outfitters
North Alberta Outfitters
Carlton Calls/Bear Call