Planning a switch in bear-hunting strategy
There are a couple of reasons why I’m changing my fall bear baiting strategy this year. The first is I simply don’t have a lot of time to make the four-hour round trip to my hunting area. The second is there is a lot of hunting pressure in the immediate area I’ll be hunting, and I’m thinking a tread-lightly strategy might be a good idea.
I know of at least four other hunters who will be baiting within a mile of my bait site. I also know at least two of those hunters are going to be baiting with trail mix, which is my go-to bait. That means the bears are going to have lots of options for filling their bellies, but also plenty of hunters checking sites and running cameras.
So I’m going to take a hands-off approach this year.
I’m going to go in this week and set up my site – from bait to camera to stand – and then leave it alone until I can hunt it. Even though I’m hunting the no-quota zone in Minnesota where bear numbers aren’t great, I know at least one bruin should find my site. Hopefully, he’ll get comfortable feeding there while not getting a snootful of human scent every time he visits.
Of course, this also means I’ll have to be extra careful about scent when I do commit to hunting my site, but that’s pretty much the case anytime you bowhunt bears. Their sniffing abilities are nothing short of impressive, so playing the wind is a no-brainer.
This strategy is far different than the bait-a-little-every-day idea, which gets the bears accustomed to a set amount of food each day and theoretically creates some competition. I don’t believe that strategy will work all that well in my area this year given the amount of hunters who will be putting out bait. The idea that there will so many bears to create some competition and produce daylight movement looks good on paper, but I don’t see it happening.
So it will be an experiment to see whether a hands-off approach is a good bet for pressured bears. If it is, you’ll certainly get the chance to read about it.