Tag Archives: bait

Mixed bag on the bear food front

14 Aug

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor
Posted on August 9, 2012

Grand Rapids, Minn. — With bear baiting set to begin Aug. 17, hunters across northern Minnesota are curious about the competition they’ll have this year – not from other bear baiters, but from the natural stuff provided by forests of the state.

The answer, according to a few who’ve been among the brush, berries, nuts, and bugs, is that it’s variable across the bear range, but no particular part will be completely devoid of natural foods.

That’s the word from Karen Noyce, a DNR bear research biologist in Grand Rapids. And, generally speaking, it’s good news for bear hunters who would, come the Sept. 1 opener, prefer those bruins instead visit strategically placed baits.

The season runs through Oct. 14, and there are 6,000 bear tags available in 11 permit areas. In the “no-quota” area, an unlimited number of permits are available for purchase over the counter.

For what it’s worth, the early spring has affected many natural crops, Noyce said. In north-central Minnesota, she said, the hazelnut crop looks great, and red oak acorns appear to be another good natural option for bears. The berry crop has been marginal.

In northwestern Minnesota, there’s a recent phenomenon that will challenge bear hunters, according to Doug Franke, DNR wildlife manager in Thief River Falls. That’s the proliferation of corn crops in that part of the state – one known for agriculture, but not necessarily a lot of corn.

New corn varieties better adapted to the growing season and soils of the northwest have changed that, Franke said.

“The wildcard (regarding bear hunting) is there’s a lot of corn in the area this year,” he said. Bears especially like corn during certain periods of its growth, and conservation officer reports this week indicated the crop was getting a lot of attention from bruins.

Beyond the field corn, Franke said much of the berry-type products in the area are “very patchy, spotty.”

The hazelnut crop in the area was “mediocre at best,” and acorns looked OK in some places. Franke said drought affected some locations in the northwest, “but some areas got shots of rain at the right time.”

“Overall, I’d say there’s a marginal (natural) food crop in this part of the state, and that baiting will be OK,” he said.

Most of Franke’s work area is in the “no-quota” zone.

On the other side of northern Minnesota, Brian Bachman lives in the Brainerd area, and guides bear hunters near Ely.

As for Brainerd, Bachman, of the North American Bear Foundation,” said hazelnuts were in good shape, the berry crop was limited, and that acorns already are littering the forest floor.

In the northeast, “There are no oak trees, so I don’t have to contend with acorns,” he said.

The blueberry crop was poor, he added, possibly due to a late frost – or, more accurately, perhaps, an early spring.

What competes more often with his baits in the Ely area are pin cherries and choke cherries, according to Bachman, who this year will place 75 baits for 25 hunters he has coming to camp.

Unsold or any surplus bear-hunting licenses were to have gone on sale earlier this week, and may be purchased by anyone who wishes to do so.

The bag limit this year is one bear in quota zones and two bears in no-quota zones. Legal shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Also, a person may not place bait for bears on or after Aug. 17 unless the person has a 2012 bear license or is operating under the direction of a person with the license.


2011 Black Bear Report : II

16 Sep

This information is as of 09-15-2011


A few more bears were registered this week.

Bluewater Outdoors

(218) 444-BAIT (2248)


Bear hunters are reporting more activity at night on their baits and a “bear or two” is registered each day.

Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094


Bear reports have been favorable.

Redding Sports and Spirits (218) 763-2191


Bearhunters report a bumper crop of acorns and not much activity at baits.

Swanson’s Bait and Tackle (218) 675-6176


Bear hunters continue to experience good success, but many are stating that they are becoming most active at night.

Dr. Tackle Sports (218) 647-8657

Mort’s Dock (218) 647-8128

2011 Black Bear Report : I

12 Sep

This information is as of 9/8/2011


Bear hunters report good activity just before dark.

Bluewater Outdoors: (218) 444-BAIT (2248)


Bear hunting reports have been mixed with 15 bears registered and other hunters struggling to get baits hit.

Chalstrom’s Bait: (218) 726-0094


Bear hunters are seeing action at their baits, but a lot of it is taking place after dark.

Ben’s Bait and Tackle: (218) 326-8281


One bear had been registered as of Tuesday morning.

Swanson’s Bait and Tackle: (218) 675-6176


Bear hunting seems to be best just northwest of town.

Delaney’s: (218) 732-4281


Bear hunters and guides are reporting good bear activity with baits being hit and several big animals shot.

Mort’s Dock: (218) 647-8128

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Opening Success

8 Sep

It always seems to me that it is very hot on the Minnesota Black Bear Opener.   I thought it would be interesting to see if it actually was.  Here is some data from the Farmers Almanac for Grand Rapids (Zone 26), MN.  I understand that the temperature is very different in other parts of Minnesota, but here is a frame of reference.

Heat Vs Harvest

The average high temperature is 75.7°F, a low of 53.8°F with an average harvest of 291.5 bears from Zone 26 each year since the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) started recording data.

So it is not all that hot and it is reasonably cool in the evenings. You can review the numbers and come to your own conclusions. I see that hot years have fewer bears harvested and in cooler years higher success. You have to take into account the entire summer and food available. Best scenario is little food with a cool opening day.

It is going to be interesting this year to see the harvest numbers since there are fewer hunters and the number of bait sites allowed has been reduced to three per hunter.  As most bear hunters know the opening success rate drops exponentially after the first day.  If you are lucky enough to be in an area that there is little pressure you should have little to worry about.

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Only Three Bait Sites Allowed

6 Sep

A change in baiting regulations is causing confusion among many of Minnesota’s 6,000 bear hunters just as the season gets underway.

The change this year prohibits hunters from placing more than three bait stations in the woods at one time. Previously, they could put out an unlimited number of bait stations.

“A lot of bear hunters aren’t aware of the change,” said Capt. Ken Soring of the Department of Natural Resources in Grand Rapids. He said the misunderstanding is widespread.

The bear hunting season opened Thursday.

Bear hunters must send the DNR the locations of their bait registration stations, and many are sending in more than three locations — unaware they are violating the law, Soring said.

“We’re calling them,” Soring said. “They have to abandon some of their bear-bait sites. It’s only fair for other hunters who are following the regulations.”

Soring said the DNR reduced the number of bait stations to three to reduce hunter conflicts and competition over sites.

“We were getting complaints from bear hunters — some hunters were placing baits in a pre-emptive manner,” Soring said. “This still gives hunters a chance to hunt three different areas.”

Hunters still can establish different bait stations if they remove one of their old ones. And each licensed bear hunting outfitter may establish up to three bait stations in addition to three bait stations placed for licensed hunters.

Soring said conservation officers are trying to give hunters a break, but those knowingly violating the law face citations, he said.

Doug Smith • dsmith@startribune.com

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Master Baiter

17 Aug

I believe in two schools of thought when it comes to baiting.  You can place one massive amount of bait at a site until hunting starts or you can  schedule your baiting. Both tactics work great. They both have their drawbacks  as well.

Massive dumps provide a safe environment for the bears to come and  go.  There is no human scent.  They can come and go with no real threat in the daylight or in the darkness.  Their food will always be there.  The problem here is that when  you go to sit in the stand for the first time your scent will be new to the  bears and you might be S.O.L.  The other bad part is that the bear may have never been trained to come in during daylight hours.  The great part is that the bait site may be vary remote or you do not have the time to bait it.  So making one trip may be the ticket.  You might even have a bear that you have been after for a long while and are trying to leave this sensitive area alone.

Scheduling your baiting in small amounts is another tactic. There are two points to this: missed meals and scent.  You  might have some greedy bears that are eating everything.  The big night bear finally figures out to come earlier after a number of missed meals.  He can smell the goodies were there and now he  decides it is time to put the other bears in their place and come in during daylight hours.  When you are the baiter you get to see what the bears are interested in, just like in fishing.  You can keep changing up the bait until you get it right to keep them coming.  You are leaving scent in the area and if you keep your timing consistent you are not  disrupting the bears behavior.  Keeping them consistent  as well.  They do not know if you are there now, have been there, or just  left.  Human scent is a risk verses reward for the bear.  Once it is time to get up into the stand and you have put your scent killer on you will still be wafting human scent into the area.  He will think you were there recently and put his face into the bait, but completely unaware he has a bow sight with the number two pin just behind his arm pit.  Low risk to the bear for the reward of the best foods in the world not available anywhere else in the woods.  They have such great noses that it is impossible for them not to smell you.  Being the baiter is a huge bonus as your scent is acclimated to the bears.  However; if the hunter is not the baiter, her scent might put the bears off.

The moral is that it is good to be the Master Baiter. You get your  scent out there and you also get to get the bear!

Here is an old schedule I ran one year:

Castle Creek Outfitters : Baiting Schedule

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Black Bear Shot Placement

9 Aug

There are many instances when a hunter should reconsider taking the shot at their prey. You aren’t comfortable with the shot, can’t catch your breath, there is brush in the way, etc. When bear hunting you should be aware that there are some shots that should be avoided.

Bears have a very large shoulder blade and humerus (upper arm bone). These act as shields to bullets and arrows. Their heart is well protected behind these if the front leg is back along the body.

Bad Shot:

Good Shot:

The best shot on a black bear is a quartering away shot with the front leg extended forward along the side you intend to shoot. The vitals are all exposed for a proper kill shot.

Quartering Away Shot:

Red Arrows Are Kill Shots (Black Bad Shot):

Take this into consideration before you pull the trigger or let that arrow fly. Nobody likes to chase after a wounded bear at one in the morning in the darkness unless your buddy likes getting his ankle bit just so he can shoot one with his glock handgun.

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2011 Minnesota Black Bear Surplus Tags

4 Aug

Well if you were not on the ball yesterday about getting a surplus tag you are out of luck. Tags not purchased by lottery applicants were made available to unsuccessful applicants August 3rd. There was only Zone 22 in the Boundary Waters left as of 12:30 Thursday afternoon. There is always no-quota. Sales started June 1st.

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What kind of bait do you use?

1 Aug

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Once upon a time…

26 Jul

Night bears got you down? You ask: “What can I do to get them to come in during light hours?”. My first response would be to take the food away each night when you leave the hunting site. Leave some molasses sprayed in a high location for the wind to waft around or at least make the bait appear to have been freshened, but eaten. You want this bear to think he has to get there earlier to get his meal before someone else takes it. Also note the temperature. If it is extremely hot out – the bears are not likely to come in the heat of the day. Try hunting in the morning getting to the stand a good deal of time before sunrise. Let things settle. It is cooler then and it only takes him that one time to slip up to make your day. If you just brought the bait in and he is around to smell it in the cool morning – that might be the golden ticket. Another tactic would be being consistent in the timing of your baiting and then changing it one time. That might trigger a response you want. You can also agitate him by collecting some droppings possibly from another bait sight and placing them at the sight you are hunting. He might come in hot headed, but at least he’s there! Of course trail cameras are going to tell the real story of when to hunt. Even though you have the data – that doesn’t mean you have the whole story. A new bear can come in anytime to change the ending.

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