Hunting

Prepare for the Bear Hunt – Fiddlehead Focus

The black bear hunt begins on Saturday August 27 with Youth Day.

Black bear hunting begins on Saturday August 27, with Youth Day, and general hunting begins August 29. Bait sites have been established and maintained since July 30. Trapping season and hunting with dogs begin on September 1 and September 12, respectively, and it is legal to tag two bruins a year; one each by hunting and trapping.

The bear population continues to grow and the annual harvest is not large enough to stem the growth, with COVID-19 preventing many non-resident sportsmen from travelling.

Skyrocketing gasoline prices and a noticeable increase in the cost of many bait foods are very likely to reduce the number of hunters who maintain a personal bait site or two. Some will put off baiting for a few weeks or more, while others will turn to scouting and bear hunting, visiting myriad regional grain fields, crab apple orchards, patches of raspberries and daisies. chokeberry and beechnut ridges.

For those wishing to establish a bait site, a drive of more than 20 minutes is unlikely to be required anywhere in Aroostook County. Many hunters use their own land, but it is usually not difficult to obtain permission from regional farmers and owners of large wooded estates. Then just pick a location away from regularly used roads, ATV trails, and hiking trails, and away from homes, camps, or even distant farm storage buildings.

The forest and fairly dense ground cover around the bait site makes the bear feel safer and I try to be at least 100 yards into the woods from the dirt road where I park my vehicle to bring the bait to the location. A nearby stream, pond, or swampy area helps keep the bear close to a baiting area. It is necessary to clear a path through the brush, locate a tree for the bait container and another for a tree stand. If a hunter intends to use a portable ground blind, space must be created to position it at a preferred shooting distance, which varies depending on whether a rifle, handgun, or gun is used. ‘a bow.

Greg Palm put bait in a barrel and now hooks a ball of strong-smelling attractant to a wire to bring the bear long distances, adjusting the location of the bait ball with a long stick. (Courtesy of Bill Graves)

The final step is to secure a bait container to a tree with wire, cable, or chain so that it cannot be carried into the woods by a bear. I’ve seen all sizes and shapes, from a five gallon bucket to a 55 gallon drum. It is important to position the container to keep other pests away from the food and to cover it with a heavy material so that only a large bear can access it.

It is important to use an attractant scent at the bait site to accompany the smell of food that the wind blows through the woods. I hang a football-sized bacon scented sphere created by Bear Scents LLC of Wisconsin that lasts for weeks, dissolves slowly, and gives off a delicious aroma. There are also gels, sprays, powders, fryer oil additives and scent pads to install for the season or use every baiting visit, and anise, honey, bacon, strawberry, blueberry, jelly donut and dozens of other flavors that lure the bear to visit, then are swept away on their feet and fur so that other drizzles cross the scent trail and also visit the baiting area.

Whether your bait site is for food hunting, photography, or just animal watching, it’s a lot of work and more expensive than ever this season. The chances of even seeing a bear, let alone being shot with a rifle, bow, or camera during regular hunting seasons, are very limited. So it’s time to make a choice: either establish a bait site and postpone for two or three weeks just before the four-week season, or choose another style of bear hunting.

Despite the opinions of non-hunters that baiting is unsportsmanlike and an easy way to catch a bear, the annual success rate remains below 25%. If you think about it, you are much more likely to spot traveling deer and moose than a black bear. Another couple of factors which are expected to affect considerations and which have notably changed over the past two years are the unusually hot September weather and dry conditions which affect natural food sources.

Bear season is fast approaching. It’s time to decide where, when and how to hunt this year.