“Bear Bait CSI” 2007 Bear hunt – part 2
|General Hunting - Preparation|
The whole CSI thing is very popular right now. Even my daughter in law is getting her degree in forensic science. In my case here with bear hunting, the CSI or Crime Scene Investigator is me, the bear hunter, analyzing not only the entire setup before baiting starts, but all the evidence left behind after the bait is hit. The key actions are first, to carefully observe, and secondly, to adjust accordingly.
In practical application that means two things. One, is the calculated setup of the entire bait scene area. And two, is to meticulously take in all the evidence left behind after the bait is hit. Sometimes I sit for a whole hour looking at the bait area before I even set up a tree stand, or pick the exact location for the bait staging area to be in the first place. Even before that, I scout the woods and the general area to assure that bear habitat is there and that bears are there. In my case, we have bears all over the place starting in the spring, so it’s just a matter of picking the right spot to hunt.
Picking the right spot to hunt isn’t too difficult. Finding scat is one good indicator, but more importantly, there needs to be water nearby. Bears are fatting up for hibernation (called hyperphasia) and like being in swamps and in water to stay cool, especially during the day. Also, bears like very thick forest cover and edges, like tall swamp grasses, buckbrush or hazels, etc. to travel stealthily from place to place. Once a good spot is identified, location of the bait and your tree stand is the next step. Of course it is always a challenge to find a suitable tree once a good location is found. The bait and your stand should be situated so that if the bear looks up to you, you are back-lit by the setting sun, thus somewhat blinding the bear to your detail. Your tree should be wide enough to conceal your form. I use real fresh cut, or artificial oak branches to fill in if my tree lacks sufficient leafy cover.
The logs on the bait should be placed in such a way that the bear will roll them off with its paws. Think about what direction the bear will present itself at the bait to perform this action. You should arrange your bait and logs so that the bear will be standing broadside or quartering away when it rolls the logs off the bait and/or when it starts to eat the bait. Lastly, your tree stand should be at a 45-degree angle to the bait, either right or left depending upon whether you shoot right or left. That way, you will perform a minimum of movement to get into position for a shot once a bear is at your bait. Bears might not have the greatest eyesight, but they can detect movement in a heartbeat. So, your stand should be angled so that all you have to do is draw back without twitching around in your stand and getting busted.
If you pull less than 50-pounds draw weight for archery, your stand should no be further than 20-yards from the bait. Even the sharpest well placed arrow has a challenge getting through the hide of fall bears with thick hair and fat layers. My own stand is 11-yards from the bait and I pull 47-pounds. Last year my shot was a pass thru at that distance.
Summary for the bait and stand set up:
I have actually crawled around my bait setup before hunting season, looking around, and up at my stand, to get a bears eye view of the various approach lanes, and the bear’s sight picture of me in the tree. The bear will know I am there, but if I am concealed well enough and hold still, it will get comfortable and ignore me.
The next CSI is reading the Bait Scene after the bait is hit, especially the first time. You should have initially presented a wide assortment of bait offerings. Bears, like people, desire variety but have favorite things. They go for certain foods faster, like donuts, grease, black oil sunflower seeds, sweet corn and meat scraps. But, put a lot of things out and take careful note when the bait is first hit, what is be left behind or is partially eaten. That will tell you what to put out more of next time. It is always better to put too much bait out, because the last thing you want is to have the bait all get eaten and the bears abandon the site.
The second things to make careful note of is, where are the bears coming from? Even after that first baiting, you will see beaten down trail areas coming from low spots or a swamp area. By the third baiting, multiple bears may be coming in from multiple directions and the trails may fan out from the bait site like the spokes of a wagon wheel. DO NOT venture too far into the woods around the bait. If you need to find out where perimeter trails are, get as scent free as possible, make one trip outside the bait area to look for a perimeter trail, and then get out fast. I don’t say that because of your being in danger. I say it so you won’t stink up the woods and make the bears abandon the bait after all your hard work. It is good to know where perimeter trails are, since bears usually circle an entire bait area through the woods before actually approaching the bait. But don’t booger up the woods by walking around too much. Bears are very afraid of humans and are rarely a danger, but you should have a side arm none the less. You should replenish your bait, making plenty of noise so the bears associate your coming and going with food showing up. And then you should get out of the woods pronto, to keep your scent at a minimum. Your noise serves as a dinner bell.
You may want to make minor adjustments to your stand setup, the positioning of the logs, and your cover leaves after the bait is hit. I have had perfect setups and then bears starting using some oddball trail where I was in full view from their approach trail, which was no good.
Summary of bait hit and adjustments:
Next week is bear opener and I am very excited as I am every year! Bears are the smartest animal I hunt which makes the entire challenging process a lot of fun. They have outsmarted me more times than I care to admit. They have lay in wait for me to leave my stand night after night, and then hit my bait ten minutes after I exit the woods. They are stealthy, fast, totally silent going through the woods, and can pattern me faster than I can ever pattern them. The hunt is on!
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