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How to Bait for Black Bear

Updated on July 17, 2011

Why a bait station?

Hunting black bear over bait is one of those things you either love or hate. If you haven’t done it you don’t know what you are missing. Bait stations increase your odds of not just getting any bear but getting the bear of your choosing. I feel fairly confident I will get a bear almost any time I go out when I use a bait station. If you are interested in learning basic bear biology the bait station can’t be beat. A well-planned and maintained bait station has the ability to bring in several bear a day frequently more than one at a time. Watching bears up close while you are undetected is a fantastic way to learn bear behavior. Comparing several bears in close proximity will help you brush up on your trophy judging skills. You are able to better determine a bear’s size by comparing individual bears. You can easily spot blemishes such as rubs and scars or unique markings to determine the over all desirability of an individual bear as a trophy. If you want to take a few good bear pictures bait stations are just ticket to set up your own unique bear shots.

Bait stations

This is one of the tree stand I use to hunt black bear.
This is one of the tree stand I use to hunt black bear.
View of the bait station with a black bear
View of the bait station with a black bear

Location Location Location

Like real estate location is everything. If there are no bears where you want to set up your bait station all of bait in the world is not going to bring one your way. Knowing your prey and the area you will be hunting is a must before you decide where to place your bait station. Once you have determined through preseason scouting there are bears in the area you want to hunt you then have to decide where to place your bait station and how to place it in relation to your stand. Knowledge of prevailing winds, thermals in hill country, how the sun moves across the bait, how bears will approach the bait, and the time of day are most active are things you have to think about. Your knowledge the bears territory comes to play here. You would not want a bear to approach the bait from behind you any more than you would want the prevailing wind coming from that direction. Ideally I like to be facing or quartering into the prevailing wind. I also like to have an open field behind me with just enough trees or shrubs to break up my silhouette. The open field will help deter most bears from approaching from your back. Having the bait set up under a canopy with brush covered approaches will also help the bears will feel more secure as they come to the bait.

Thermals are the natural movement of air however unless you hunt in hill country they should not be a big issue. If you do hunt in hill country thermals can help or hinder depending on your set up. Warm air rises carrying odors up while cool air settles into the low-lying areas; cool air is denser so it carries odors better. If you are hunting in hill country where thermals are common try use them to your advantage. Thermals will vary depending on the season and time of day. Spring will bring in warmer sunnier days while the autumn will have shorter cooler days. Early mornings and evenings the cool air will settle in the lower elevations. Mornings and evenings are also when bears are moving the most they are either heading to their bedding grounds for the day or coming out to feed. It is important that you place the stand in relation to the bait so you are able to optimize the smells coming from the bait and minimize those from the stand. You want bait odors to cover as much territory as possible but cover your odors from approaching bears as best you can. All that said a bears olfactory system will not only pick up hundreds of odors to each one of yours they can also determine the direction different orders are coming from. Bears will know you are either around or have been around but as long as they do not perceive you as a threat they should come to the bait.

Bear approaching bait from cover.
Bear approaching bait from cover.

Set Up Your Shot

Using a bait station is probably one of the few times you can position your animal, at least to some point, to set up your shot. This is especially handy if you are hunting with a bow or are new to bear hunting. The longer you have to wait for a bear to wander around until he presents a killing shot the higher the odds are he will wind you or see you move. Most of the time it is easy enough to use brush cleared from the shooting lane along with a log or two and the natural flow of the terrain to position the bear where you want him. The trick is to make it easy for the bear so he does not have to move stuff to get to the food or to make him feel crowed. If the bear has to move logs and brush there is no telling where they are going to land, you don’t need a bush pile between you and your future trophy. Crowd him, he may decide to wait until dark to make a move or just take his business elsewhere.

My favorite shot for bears is a double lung shot I tell the clients to aim at the top of the crease behind the shoulder. I also like the bear to come from behind the bait then turn into it so he is perpendicular to the blind giving the hunter the perfect shot. Yea, I know that’s asking a lot but occasionally it does happen. Most times I can get the bear to come in that way however more often than not he just plops down on his belly and starts eating like a lazy mutt. I find this happens almost always when I use small bait like dog food or popcorn, bait he can scoop with his tongue. If this is a problem there are couple of things you can do to fix it. One thing is go for something he has to work a little harder to get at, most of the time this will keep him standing at least for a while longer. Or you can use a drum with a hole in the side about 1/3 to ½ the way up from the bottom. Chain the drum to the tree so it is positioned for your shot.

This is a good position for the hunter to take his shot.
This is a good position for the hunter to take his shot.

Food for Thought

Black bears are opportunistic when it comes to food. However they have certain dietary needs depending on the time of year. For some time I have been experimenting with foods based on bears seasonal needs. I believe you can use different types of foods targeted for the season that will increase your odds of bringing in mature boars. I have found when I just leave food I just get bears big, little, boars, sows just bears. However when I target food that I think should meet a bears normal cravings for a particular time of the year I get a larger percent of boars coming to the bait although not necessarily big boar. My theory is seasonal food will bring in more bears in general including larger more dominate boars. As I said earlier bears are opportunistic feeders however depending on the time of the year they have particular nutritional needs. A bear coming out of hibernation has just spent months living off stored body fat and amino acids created from recycled urine. His first few days out he just hangs around and does a little grazing on the new growth while his system adjust back to a normal diet. Spring and early summer bears have higher ratio of proteins to carbohydrates in their diet. Proteins come from two sources plant and animal. Animal protein is primarily from insect’s ants, grubs, and hornets. If opportunity presents itself larger boars will take newborn fawns and moose calves as well as smaller bears. Plants are highest in protein before they leaf out or before flowering. Early summer bears do the majority of their growing, by growing I mean they are developing bone and muscle, major weight gain from body fat comes later. Mid summer when plants start to produce fruits and berries their diet starts a transition from a high protein to a higher intake of carbohydrates. By late summer the change is complete their diet has become high in the carbohydrates they will use to pack on body fat they need to survive the coming winter.

All this said the best advice I can give you is what my old friend & mentor once told me back in my early days in Alaska. “If you want a wolf you gotta get out amongst them”

A successful hunt with a nice black bear.
A successful hunt with a nice black bear.


1. Black bears lips are not attached to their gums along with their tongue can be manipulated to pick individual tiny objects like ants or berries.

2. Black bears can double their weight in the summer when food is plentiful.

3. Boars can exceed 7 foot in length though 6 foot + is more the norm.

4. Alaska has the highest population of black bears with approximately 100,000 while Texas has the lowest with somewhere around 50.

5. The fertilized egg will not attach to the uterus wall until the sow reaches optimum weight.

6. Siblings from the same litter may have different fathers.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I have spent many years baiting bears and have been out smarted many times by the big ones. Mature bears will almost always circle a bait site as far out as 100 yrds before they come in to feed. Bear hunting over bait can be very frustrating if its not set up right. Hunt smarter not harder. Shoot straight and leave the mommies and babies alone.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      when a bear is in your back yard and it takes your kid off the back pouch

      who you going to call a hunter

    • profile image

      jana young 

      5 years ago

      you are all disgusting hunting for sport. bears hunt for food and will be aggressive if they feel threatened. You should be ashamed of yourselves. maybe you will be eaten by a bear and it would be justice

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Adam, you have no clue to what it is you speak of. Funny thing is I see no attached photo of your bear! These Americans (capitol A) all have great bears, any true hunter.. unlike you're self knows a trophy is in the eye of the hunter. Your opinion matters less than you know. Some of these Americans use this "150lb" of meat to feed families so who are you to pass judgment on any of them? Your negativity is not required nor desired, feel free not to comment with such disrespect.


      "How dare us humans do such a crime?"

      Really, you must be joking.... perhaps you should driving your Hybrid car around, you know how many bugs you murder with your windshield? Might as well stop drinking water while your at it, stealing an animals home is a crime too is it not? Your (for lack of a better word) "point" is invalid....

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      typical american shooting little bears and calling them trophies not one big bear in all those pictures americans seem happy shooting small 150lb bears lol

    • g-girl11 profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the info. I lived in PA my whole life and never saw a black bear, but now they are everywhere, including my own yard! I wrote a hub about it and read your hub for some facts. (Although I wasn't trying to bait for black bear, I was trying to do the opposite and avoid them!) Can't believe they ate moose calves! They are beautiful, though. I enjoyed your hub and linked it to mine.

    • profile image

      alaska hunter 

      7 years ago

      first off we don't just kill bears for fun we shoot them to eat where i live there is no stores so you cant just run out and get stuff from a store i live in alaska 80 miles from nowhere so if we don't get moose,bears and stuff we will die and why do we live like this cause we cant stand the citys of the u.s. with all the killing rape, and ppl getting robbed why don't you dis like the deer hunters that kill for fun not for food they want a rack i`ll take meat over a rack any day of the week. you should be living with shame have you seen how they kill cows you eat....... agaistbearhunting4eva

    • Cathleena Beams profile image

      Cathleena Beams 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      I am crazy for black bears (I even wrote a hub about it), and I'm feeling so sorry for that bear you successfully caught. Unfortunately, they are easy to bait since they will follow their noses right into a hunter's trap!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great hub. Thanks for putting together so much useful info. It's important to help new folks along. I'm a life long Alaskan outdoorsman and consider hunting an integral part of my existence. The ethical/philosophical discussions here are interesting. The "anti" kid has a good point - killing sucks. I'm pretty certain that very few hunters enjoy it.

    • Rain Defence profile image

      Rain Defence 

      7 years ago from UK

      I've never hunted before, but the thought of being out in the woods with bears, potentially angry bears if the shot goes wrong does sound like it would get the heart rate up. Do you get nervous/excited still, or are you such an old hand at it that you don't feel that way any more?

    • louromano profile image


      7 years ago

      Owe ! Great hub . Thanks.

    • CZCZCZ profile image


      7 years ago from Oregon

      Interesting hub and I never knew this much before about using bait for hunting. Ive always been an avid fisherman never got into hunting. Was interesting to learn more about this practice so I am more informed about how it is supposed to be done legally.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks man its really good info so thanks

    • Akhomesteader profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Alaska

      Go for it

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      is your real name charles... if so can i shake your hand

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      hello i was wondering if i can use some of your info about bear hunting for a class project and if so what name would you like for me to use? thanks for your help.

    • Akhomesteader profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Alaska

      I live in a remote area of Alaska where we weren't allowed to hunt moose for almost 15 years. Do you want to know why? Every spring bears, mostly black bear hunt out moose cows that were calving. While they were to weak to protect their young after giving birth bears would take the calf from the cow and eat them. For years bears and wolves devastated the our moose populations. It wasn't until the state implemented a predator control program that targeted bears and wolves that mama moose could raise her calves without fear of them being eaten in front of her. Up here many of us do not have the luxury of a neighborhood grocery store, here we have to depend on local resources. Our two main resources are ungulates and salmon.

      There is no shame in hunting I hunt to feed myself and my family. The shame is on you. You and others with the attitude animals are some kind of scared icon. You profess love for an animal yet you spew hate for other humans. Society has become so far removed from the natural world that to many of you have forgot that in order for something to live something else must die. Whether you live on moose or broccoli something must die so that you may live. Whether you like it or not it is a fact of life.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Okay, you might think it involves skills it does but why not shoot one of those rubber ducks or something and not a living creature. Ive never understood you guys what if that was your mom getting shot and there is nothing you can do about it. how dare us humans do such crime this should be not only illegal but FORBIDEN! if i was a bear i would kill all humans and rip there eyes out! way to go humans keep it up, but remember..... Shame!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Boarmasters Wildlife Attractants manufactures some very very powerful bear bait attractants.

    • profile image

      realist jeff 

      8 years ago

      We all would not be here if our ancestors did not hunt. A real logical question is...Why do you not hunt. Bears are beautiful, magestic be respected...but when you cook em' get all the fat off first.

    • Jodyofthemoon profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice article! I found some more great bear tips over here:

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image


      8 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      Really good HUB, I'm from Alaska and spent lots of time in the bush mining for gold. If you get a chance check out my Alaska Hubs. I'll be following you.

    • moonlake profile image


      8 years ago from America

      I know bears have to be hunted but I hate it when they kill the female bear with cubs and I don't like hunting with dogs. Your right bait for bear is no different then bait for deer.

      We just had a baby bear at our house and he was just lost without his Mom crying and following us around the yard.

      Good hub.

    • Teddletonmr profile image

      Mike Teddleton 

      9 years ago from Midwest USA

      I had an ole man once upon a time tell me, you are either a hunter or the hunted.

      How to Bait Black Bear, is a truly a great hub full of useful insights, thanks for taking the time to write it.

      I agree with you, food plots for whitetail deer is no different than using bait for a black bear. Oh by the way they both make a mean chili...

      Hunt hard, be safe.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Even thou I am against hunting and killing animals. I have to admit, there is a certain skill involved in hunting and i respect that.

    • Akhomesteader profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Alaska

      I live in one of the highest concentration of both brown and black bears. They are so bad there hasn't been a general moose hunt in ten years. Black bear has become our staple meat. I see no difference between baiting bears and food plots for deer. This country seem to have a Walter Mitty attitude when comes to hunting predators.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • JimmyTH profile image


      9 years ago from Indiana

      Probably a lot of people might think baiting is no fair, but even though I haven't hunted for many years I do understand it and hey, might as well shoot the bear when he's happy. The shots I took that I really regret were the foolish ones that wounded and caused more suffering than necessary. The shots that are easy might not seem fair to some people, but they're more humane.

      Lots of dead animals in the stores down here, I intend to clean up the carrion before I go hunting again. Always liked the hunting part, never liked killing things, but it's a good skill to have.

      Nice article. Where I'm from the local people used to trap black bear in their back yards, it was a staple food. They've been re-introduced (people ate them all before) and now they do pretty well. They haven't eaten any people yet -- well, just parts of some people, not an entire person so far.


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