Bear Hunting Newbie Recommendations?

  • BigWerm
    Participant
    SW Metro
    Posts: 9603
    #2140142

    Finally got drawn for a tag in Area 51. I’ve never bear hunted before, but have a bunch of buddies that have that are helping me out. But thought I’d post here for some additional input, looking for any tips or recommendations/opinions. What do you like to use for bait? And where do you buy it? I live in the cities and will have a team effort going on to keep them fresh. Any other bait-centric tips? How about for a weapon? I’m leaning toward using my XBow, but have a few rifles and a slug gun I could use as well. Anything else you think is important for a newbie bear hunter to know?

    gimruis
    Participant
    Plymouth, MN
    Posts: 13985
    #2140143

    Area 51

    The top secret classified base in Nevada where they keep alien bears??? jester

    BigWerm
    Participant
    SW Metro
    Posts: 9603
    #2140145

    The top secret classified base in Nevada where they keep alien bears???

    d

    Obviously. Area 51 sounds way cooler than Zone 51 rotflol

    JEREMY
    Participant
    BP
    Posts: 2581
    #2140147

    Smear your self full of honey and jelly donuts and sneak quietly around the woods at sunup or sun down.

    John Rasmussen
    Participant
    Blaine
    Posts: 4959
    #2140148

    I have never bear hunted and I know we are talking about timid black bears and not grizzly’s but I would not be out there with anything less than your slug gun. I would want more than one round in a quick manner if needed.

    Slabtown
    Participant
    Western Wisconsin
    Posts: 37
    #2140150

    Try to bait at the same time every day, preferably at the time you would enter your stand. For bait, I prefer cookie dough if I’m not packing it in far because it is heavy. It holds up well to rain though. I also use spray bottles with immitation vanilla and liquid smoke. Spray it up in the trees to draw them in. Black bears aren’t hard to kill if you get both lungs, but for your first I would recommend a gun. Then get it out and skinned and cooled fast. It it my families favorite game meat and my kids even requested it for birthdays.

    glenn57
    Participant
    cold spring mn
    Posts: 9824
    #2140151

    Personally, I’d use a high powered rifle, tracking bear with all that green foliage suxs.

    For bear bait there is a guy just north of little falls,bi believe his name is Gordon Morris, wildwood bear bait if I recall has everything you need for bait.

    Hope you have some old grease, think fish oil saved. Buy a super soaker squirt gun that super soaker shoots that grease 25-30 feet up into the trees to really get that scent out👍.

    Slabtown
    Participant
    Western Wisconsin
    Posts: 37
    #2140152

    If you buy bait Lucky 7 is a handy place to get it. They are in Cambridge.

    TheFamousGrouse
    Participant
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts: 10714
    #2140154

    Judging the size of bears is a key skill. Bears are difficult to judge because they tend to come in alone and at dawn and last light. Figuring out whether you have a mature bear or a juvenile and being able to do so quickly is a huge asset.

    Use whatever weapon you want to use, but make sure you can shoot it well.

    Know where the vital zone is on a bear and understand where you’re aiming points should be from as many angles as possible.

    Be aware that oftentimes your shot will be close and at a steep downward angle. Know where your point of impact is when shooting between 10 and 20 yards at a steep downward angle that simulates being on a stand.

    Wind direction is critical. I don’t believe there is any such thing as scent control other than wind direction when it comes to bear hunting. You are never going to fool a bear’s nose.

    BigWerm
    Participant
    SW Metro
    Posts: 9603
    #2140157

    Thanks! I will be carrying a sidearm regardless of what weapon I use for the kill. That Little Falls guy and Cambridge guy were both sent already, so I’ll be using one or the other, just not sure on what to buy from them (trail mix, cookies, crackers, frosting etc.). Got grease and some other items lined up already.

    John Rasmussen
    Participant
    Blaine
    Posts: 4959
    #2140158

    I will be carrying a sidearm regardless of what weapon I use for the kill.

    Curious what caliber you plan on carrying?

    glenn57
    Participant
    cold spring mn
    Posts: 9824
    #2140159

    Famous Grouse is spot on. Wind direction is of the utmost importance. Never sit on the ground. Use an elevated stand

    glenn57
    Participant
    cold spring mn
    Posts: 9824
    #2140161

    Thanks! I will be carrying a sidearm regardless of what weapon I use for the kill. That Little Falls guy and Cambridge guy were both sent already, so I’ll be using one or the other, just not sure on what to buy from them (trail mix, cookies, crackers, frosting etc.). Got grease and some other items lined up already.

    I don’t know what lucky 7 in Cambridge has but Gordon has anything a bear will eat. We had good luck with rolled oats, and he had more donut filling flavors than you could shake a stick at.

    Personally the sooner you get it the better your choices. Bring one of your experienced buddies with to go grocery shopping!!🤣🤣

    glenn57
    Participant
    cold spring mn
    Posts: 9824
    #2140163

    And try toi keep your baits set up as far apart as possible.

    B-man
    Participant
    Posts: 5152
    #2140166

    When it comes to human scent, I like to get the bears acclimated to me.

    They know humans are baiting, no reason to try and hide it.

    A lot of times it’s hot when you’re hunting, and you’re going to be sweating and stinking in the stand, just like you do when you’re baiting.

    I like to intentionally rub my sweaty back against trees around the bait so they get used to me. I’ve even left a stinky t-shirt in the stand before.

    It’s never failed and I’ve killed bears directly down wind in 80+ temps with my bow more than once.

    Nothing wrong with using your crossbow, just wait for a good broadside or slightly quartering away shot. If the bear is eating the bait, wait until he reaches forward with whatever arm is on your side to really open up the vital zone when using a bow/crossbow or lighter caliber.

    Even if you place your stand downwind of the bait, bears often come from that direction to smell if there’s another bear already on it. Unless your stand is 200 yards away there’s a good chance he’ll smell you anyway when you think you have “the right wind”

    If they only smell their stinky human feeder-person they’ll still come in, and sometimes even climb your tree to say hello lol (it’s scary and fun at the same time)

    TheFamousGrouse
    Participant
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts: 10714
    #2140170

    I will be carrying a sidearm regardless of what weapon I use for the kill.

    As far as weapon choice goes, the very notion of hunting a bear seems to bring on an arms race mentality that quickly leads many to conclude that the only suitable weapons are as follows:

    – Firearms – A 416 Rigby or a cartridge with “Nitro Express” in its name. Even though nobody knows exactly what either of these words means as they relate to rifle cartridges, it sounds badass and like something you certainly must have for bear hunting.

    – Bows/crossbows. If you’re crazy, suicidal, or deliberately fish for muskie, you may of course choose a bow, but it should have a draw weight of no less than 150 pounds and it must fire a broadhead with a name that could easily have been plucked from a Marvel movie title. For example, The Rage X-Treme 3D-XT TurboSlayer II.

    The reality is that black bears are not difficult to kill and baited black bear shots are going to be at very close range, so even moderate rifle cartridges have plenty of steam to kill a black bear.

    On the converse, it doesn’t matter how big the bullet or broadhead is if cannot hit what you’re aiming at.

    I know dozens of hunters who have killed black bears and the worst that has ever happened was one guy shot a bear with a bow and even though the animal was well hit, it still had enough left in the tank to spin and attempt to make a fast exit. Unfortunately, on the way out, it ran solidly into the ladder that happened to be propping up the ladder stand he was sitting in. He didn’t come out of the stand, but it certainly got pretty exciting there for about 30 seconds.

    BigWerm
    Participant
    SW Metro
    Posts: 9603
    #2140171

    As far as weapon choice goes, the very notion of hunting a bear seems to bring on an arms race mentality that quickly leads many to conclude that the only suitable weapons are as follows:

    Hahaha yes it does, and I messaged John directly on his caliber question so as not to diverge the thread into a uhhh…caliber measuring contest.

    Kelly Jordan
    Participant
    Fort Atikinson,Wisc
    Posts: 325
    #2140176

    12 Ga. Slug gun, at close range, punch a big hole, hard to beat.

    glenn57
    Participant
    cold spring mn
    Posts: 9824
    #2140181

    BigWerm, with all this expert advice rotflol your almost assured of getting one. devil

    Any plans for the hide??? I’ve had a rug made, shoulder mount and 3 pillows made from 2 hides.

    buck-slayer
    Participant
    Posts: 1499
    #2140182

    If your baiting use your bow to easy if you use gun.

    B-man
    Participant
    Posts: 5152
    #2140190

    Another tip I’ll share that I was taught a long time ago:

    When you’re baiting, after you dump your bucket, bang it loudly on a tree next to the bait.

    The bear(s) in the area will get accustomed to the sound, and after a few weeks of baiting it becomes a literal dinner bell. If you have multiple bears hitting the bait, it’s like the pistol going off at the start of a race.

    When the season opens and it’s actually time to hunt, walk into your stand just as you would when baiting. Go through the same routine with the same normal route. Dump your bait, bang the bucket, but now immediately climb into your stand waytogo

    Another tip, remember that you’re baiting the bears, not feeding them. A couple gallons of bait is plenty, especially if you’re able to bait with any frequency. They don’t need to eat a barrel of bait everytime they stop by. Make it a treat, not an endless supply of food.

    glenn57
    Participant
    cold spring mn
    Posts: 9824
    #2140197

    Another tip I’ll share that I was taught a long time ago:

    When you’re baiting, after you dump your bucket, bang it loudly on a tree next to the bait.

    The bear(s) in the area will get accustomed to the sound, and after a few weeks of baiting it becomes a literal dinner bell. If you have multiple bears hitting the bait, it’s like the pistol going off at the start of a race.

    When the season opens and it’s actually time to hunt, walk into your stand just as you would when baiting. Go through the same routine with the same normal route. Dump your bait, bang the bucket, but now immediately climb into your stand waytogo

    Another tip, remember that you’re baiting the bears, not feeding them. A couple gallons of bait is plenty, especially if you’re able to bait with any frequency. They don’t need to eat a barrel of bait everytime they stop by. Make it a treat, not an endless supply of food.

    bingo…spot on!!!!!!!!!! waytogo waytogo

    big_g
    Participant
    Isle, MN
    Posts: 21629
    #2140267

    Learned a few tricks from the guides when hunting in Canada… use the Glade gel bathroom scents, hang a berry flavored in the tree. Also, like said, try to bait at the same time if possible, on a schedule. Then when you plan on hunting, bring a friend with, while baiting, sneak into your stand and then the friend leaves. If a bear has been waiting in the wings for the bait, they should come in shortly after. Also, like said, judging size in crunch time is fun, put a measuring stick in the ground by the bait, it will help judge size some ! Good luck and have fun !

    John Rasmussen
    Participant
    Blaine
    Posts: 4959
    #2140268

    – Bows/crossbows. If you’re crazy, suicidal, or deliberately fish for muskie, you may of course choose a bow, but it should have a draw weight of no less than 150 pounds and it must fire a broadhead with a name that could easily have been plucked from a Marvel movie title. For example, The Rage X-Treme 3D-XT TurboSlayer II.

    Oh Mr Grouse you really have a knack for making me bust out laughing. Thanks for always having something to add my friend. jester

    Nice Fella
    Participant
    Posts: 457
    #2140271

    12 Ga. Slug gun, at close range, punch a big hole, hard to beat.

    This X2^ If you use a crossbow, don’t be overconfident in it’s 310 fps or whatever. I’ve tracked a bear that was hit by a xbow in the swamp, in the dark, on hands and knees with flashlights, lanterns and sidearms, etc. It is not fun, especially when the blood trail goes away, (but it is kind of an adrenaline rush). I guess the story is that bears have lots of fat layers and can “seal up” a wound. You want to put them down, NOW. I know it’s not for everybody, but I dropped mine with a 250-gr from a .50 cal muzzleloader. The only downside is not being able to see anything for a couple seconds after the shot while the smoke clears! Knowing you only have one shot at this also causes you to focus intently on the vitals and make a good kill shot. No followups.
    I also second the idea of placing your bait and then scurrying up into your stand. Even better if you can go in with a buddy, perhaps on a wheeler, you get in stand and he places bait and then drives off. Bears will come in after all that commotion as well.
    Good luck – it’s a great experience.

    Alex Fox
    Participant
    Posts: 318
    #2140286

    Congrats on getting drawn BigWerm. My cousin and I have hunted zone 51 several times. I’ll try and give you a quick overview of what I’ve learned.

    We get our bait at Lucky 7 Bear Bait. They deliver to an actual address, luckily my cousin doesn’t live far from where we hunt. I think I ordered 1600 lbs of food plus delivery for just over $300. Beings it’s this late, you may have trouble finding a lot of what you need. But they should have a selection of good stuff.

    How much food do you need? How many bears are you feeding? I ran through almost all of my food baiting every other day and feeding 3 bears. Coincidentally, the bear I shot was not ever seen on any of our cameras. So I was feeding 4 at any given time, plus all the other critters that snack on the food.

    What do they like for bait. This changes between bears. We had frosting, gorp mix, gummy worms, seeds, molasses, bacon grease, cereal, dog food, you name it. The only thing they didn’t seem to like was the gummy worms and I will never get those again. They came melted in a large brick and we had to cut them apart. Frostings came in 5 gallon buckets, real convenient. My cousin used to get a literal truck load of twinkies from the the Hostess outlet in the NW metro, I don’t think it’s there any more, but unpackaging 1000 twinkies isn’t fun.

    Side arm…always. Bear spray, carried that as well. The first day we went out to bait for my tag, we didn’t bring anything. My cousin, who has done this several times, said we won’t need it on the first trip, but every other trip after that. We dropped off our totes and buckets of food and went to move another stand on his property back to the bait pile. It was 50 yards away and took us maybe 15 minutes to move it. By the time we got back one bucket had been carried 20 yards away. Two totes had been moved. Bare in mind these each weighed 20 or 30 lbs and were sealed. My conclusion, there was a bear watching us the entire time as we dropped off the bait originally.

    After we got done baiting we left our shirts behind tied to the stands. Supposedly got the bears used to our scents. Much like someone before said to bang the bucket to get them used to the noise. I think the bear always knows you are there regardless, but getting them accustomed to your smell can’t hurt.

    Mosquitos will be an issue. No matter how hot, you’ll need full clothing, mosquito netting, and a thermacell to keep you from getting eaten alive.

    Weapon of choice for me was a 308. My cousin has shot one with a bow, rifle, and this year he is trying with his 50 cal hand gun. My brother has shot one with a bow as well on the same property.

    Processing. Emily meats took phone calls no matter what time of day or night. I shot my bear relatively early in the evening, and we got to the store during daylight, but he came in when he wasn’t open to get it cooling down. Service like that I appreciate. He also did the rug for me which turned out great. I also had a Yeti cooler filled with a couple bags of ice. The Yeti kept the ice frozen for several days. As soon as I got my bear I had both bags of ice in it. A good sled, like a small ice sled, comes in handy in both transport of the bear and to keep all the ice/water in one spot. Do you have help with you? Depending on the size of the bear, 2 guys might not be enough. My cousin has a 400-500 lb bear on his cameras this year. That’s no fun to try to lift and strap to a 4 wheeler with just 2 guys.

    Good flashlights. Nothing scarier than looking through the dark woods for a wounded bear.

    Sorry, this got long winded. Hope all this helps you.

    TH
    Participant
    Posts: 408
    #2140287

    I will start by saying I never shoot deer in the head and don’t want to start that debate. My buddy who has hunted the world, told me, if I’m in a stand to shoot them in the head. I shot a 400 lb male from 25 yards in the back of the head. It was lights out dead before it hit the ground. No tracking a wounded bear. The rug looks just fine, no evidence of a wound. I used a 45-70.

    I just picked up a 55 gallon drum of granola from the guy in little falls. He had plenty of goodies. Anything sweet with lots of scent will bring them in. We don’t have any acorns this year, so it should be a good year to get bears into your bait.

    TheFamousGrouse
    Participant
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts: 10714
    #2140296

    h Mr Grouse you really have a knack for making me bust out laughing. Thanks for always having something to add my friend.

    I’m sure I don’t know what you mean, but thank you nonetheless.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m trying to sharpen the 12-inch-long blades on my Rage X-Treme 3D-XT TurboSlayer II broadheads.

    BigWerm
    Participant
    SW Metro
    Posts: 9603
    #2140299

    Sorry, this got long winded. Hope all this helps you.

    Awesome info, and exactly what I was looking for! Thanks!

    bzzsaw
    Participant
    Hudson, Wi
    Posts: 3404
    #2140410

    I picked up 2 totes of chocolate chip cookies from Lucky 7 in Cambridge. These weigh about 400lbs each. It filled a bit over 4 55 gallon drums when I unloaded them. They keep very well in the barrels and are easy to shovel into a 5 gallon pail. The mice can’t get in the barrels either. They cost 100.00 per tote. I also bought some molassis from them. When I hunted previously, I picked out a taxidermist ahead of time. I shot my bear on Friday night and temp was mid 70s. I had it to taxidermist at about 9pm. He had it skinned out and skin was in freezer by 10:30. He quartered it for me to take to processor. Not sure I would have tackled that on my own and don’t have freezer space for it. I had a rug made. If I happen to shoot another one, I will get a shoulder mount.

    A mosquito head net is a definite must too.

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