Bears rely on their keen sense of smell for locating food. Bears are also attracted to sweet smells and will not hesitate to eat an easy meal. Baiting is extremely effective for bear hunting but not legal in every state with bear hunting. Homemade bear baits are easy to make and prepare in the field.
Bear baits typically contain a large amount of sugar and chocolate. The bait is designed to release a sweet scent, and bait makers add different artificial fruit flavoring to the baits. Typical ingredients also include grease and fat. An easy bait recipe includes marshmallows, artificial sugar drink mixtures, brown sugar and a small cup of water. The bait is burned and distributed around a hunting stand.
Field Preparation and Distribution
Preparing the sugary bait in the field requires a pot and a propane camping stove. Use a pot that does not have value, because it will be designated as the bait pot only. The pot will be filled with a thick sugar-based residue that is difficult to clean. Add all the ingredients to the pot in the field, mix them with a stick and cook this on high heat until it is a burned pile of goo. Use the stick to spread the bait on rocks, stumps and trees. Distribute it in places where the bear must work to reach the bait. This distracts the bear and holds it at the location.
Choose bait locations that encourage the scent to travel. Bait on the edge of a clearing and near streams and lakes. Bears travel through the forest but frequent meadow locations, and baiting the edge of the meadow is effective. Also use sugar-based baits on bears that are familiar with human foods. Mountain town trash cans receive frequent visits from black bears, and the animals quickly gain a preference for the human food products.
Baiting bears is illegal in many states. Baits are not used in California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico or Nevada. Baiting remains legal in Wyoming, Alaska and most of the Appalachian and eastern woodland states. The legal restrictions are always changing, and baiting may become outlawed in more states to prevent the bears from associating sugar with humans and residential areas.
Zach Lazzari is a freelance outdoor writer specializing in hunting, fly fishing and the general outdoors. He guided fly fishing trips for 10 years in Colorado, Alaska, Montana and Patagonia-Chile. Zach lives in Montana and splits time between the river and keyboard.