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2011 Bear Hunting in Minnesota –  By Linda K. Burch

Week 1, Baiting

We all have religious experiences in life. I just had one with my Sawzall. READ MORE…

We all have religious experiences in life. I just had one with my Sawzall. I mean this with all due respect. Religious experiences can be spiritual or soulful. This one was soulful. I am bear hunting this year while at the same time, helping with my mom who just went into assisted living. So, I am very distracted this year. I remembered to buy my bear hunting license and accumulate some bait. I put up my tree stand. But I missed baiting opener by a day but was saved by a new regulation in Minnesota that now allows the use of barrels for baiting.

That was 3 pm in the afternoon and I had no logs chain sawed for a bait crib yet, so the barrel discovery was a Godsend. I had a 55-gallon plastic barrel at camp with a hole in it nibbled by mice near the bottom. The new Minnesota regulation said the barrel must be chained to a tree. At that moment I had a catharsis as I realized that every item I needed to make a bait barrel was around my cabin somewhere and I just needed to gather all the components together and build it.

So, I pulled out my Sawzall, a tool less formidable than my chainsaws, but one I had not yet used. I needed to pound pilot holes with a screw driver in the barrel lid and the top area of the barrel so I could loop heavy chain link through them. I also needed to cut a 6 inch diameter hole in the side of the barrel so the scent of bait could waft out and the bears could reach in for a taste. The Sawzall got the job done pronto, and within one hour of realizing I missed bear baiting by a whole day, I had my ATV trailer loaded with donuts, grease, meat scraps, my barrel with chains and a handgun for protection, of course.

This year I was a bit more scientific about my bait and hunting stand locations. My previous bait location was close enough to a dirt road where people coming and going had ruined hunts for me in the past, so I moved the bait location deeper into my property. Prevailing winds are from the west, southwest or northwest usually. So, I located my new stand due northeast of the bait and I brushed it in well with branches and a Camoflex leafy system so I would not be spotlighted by the afternoon sun. Bears like being near water so I picked a location near the edge of a huge swamp. Bears like thick cover, so I located the bait in thick hazels and buck brush. Bears have a keen sense of smell, so I cleared a hunting stand approach trail that was NOT the same trail that I traveled to do the baiting. I marked the stand trail with reflectives for my after dark exits. Bears remember smells and get used to them, so I sprayed insect repellent on a bandana and tied it to a tree near the bait so the bears would get used to that smell.

Two days later, my bait was hit and cleaned out. I was ecstatic since this was a brand new bait setup and not proven like my other location was where I had hunted for years and harvested two bears.

I replenished the bait but the bears have not hit it now for three days.

Bait offerings, once they go rancid, should really be cast aside and replaced with fresh bait items. Your area should also be doused with aromatic scents like maple bacon grease, hickory smoke flavoring, a honey burn or donut filling dabbed on some tree trunks as scent wicks.

Bear opener is in a week. I might be sitting over dead bait, or I might be looking down my arrow at another bear rug. You just never know. Bruins are wily. You can do everything right and never get a shot off. You can be driven away by gnats or mosquitoes. You have to put in your time to have success.

Next….Baiting Part 2.

Note: the bear in the videos at, is the bear I am hunting this year.

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